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Starting as a freelancer in Spain
Thread poster: Diego Soto de Lucas

Diego Soto de Lucas  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:43
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Dec 5, 2014

Good morning collegues,

I am a recent member of this useful site and I am also new in the professional world. I am thinking about becoming a freelancer in Spain, but I don't know if it's worthy. I mean, as I don't have an extense experience, I don't have regular clients... Dou you think it's worth to invest some money in becoming a freelancer? Or should I wait? The thing is I'm taking into account all the big expenses which I'd have to face, such as the social security and administrator.

So, to sum up, what would you do?

Thanks a lot in advance for reading this post.

Regards,
Diego Soto


 

Tiffany Hardy  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:43
Spanish to English
yes, make the investment Dec 5, 2014

I wholeheartedly believe that you should jump right in and become "autonomo" with social security right away. If anything, this will give you a strong incentive to find enough work to at least cover the social security payments. I know some people who have tried to get started in translation and never really made it because they were stuck in this catch 22 of not wanting to pay autonomo but not being able to get work because they weren't registered.

You cannot work if you cannot issue an invoice. However, you could wait until you have a project offer on the table to register, in case it takes you a couple of months to get a project. But in this case, be prepared for agencies to ask you if you are registered and to have to say "well not yet..." which might be a red flag to your newbie status and discourage them from collaborating.

At the moment social security is 232,94/month but could be less depending on your age. If you charge the stated Proz community rate minimum for EN-ES of EUR ,07 (just to have an idea, not saying you should charge this) you would need to translate 3327 words to meet your quota - equivalent to the daily output of many established translators (or at least close to it).

After you have decided to pay the money (and I would even invest in proz full membership), the next step is to fire yourself up and contact as many agencies as you possibly can that work in your language pair and areas of specialisation. I'm not talking about contacting a dozen or so, I'm talking about contacting a hundred or more. I would also bid on any jobs you see on proz that you think are appropriate (where the membership comes in handy).

Good luck!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:43
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
How committed are you? Dec 5, 2014

Hello Diego and welcome to ProZ.com.
DiegoSDL wrote:
I am a recent member of this useful site and I am also new in the professional world. I am thinking about becoming a freelancer in Spain, but I don't know if it's worthy. I mean, as I don't have an extense experience, I don't have regular clients... Dou you think it's worth to invest some money in becoming a freelancer? Or should I wait? The thing is I'm taking into account all the big expenses which I'd have to face, such as the social security and administrator.

As you say, you have to commit to paying the charges if you're an autonomo (sorry, I know that needs an accent somewhere). That means nearly €300 of your monthly income will disappear into the state coffers. You say you have no clients. Well, that's almost always the case when you start freelancing. It means that work will (probably) be scarce in the first few months, maybe the first year or two. Maybe a part-time job that isn't too demanding but brings in regular income would be a good idea (I'm thinking along the lines of a small amount of shop work or something more in line with your talents - whatever you can get to bring in a few euros).

If you're really motivated about forging yourself a career as a freelance translator, it's certainly worth it. But it will be hard, that's certain. With those language pairs you're entering a particularly tough market and Spanish agencies generally have a very poor reputation on both rates and payment periods. There will be lots of pressure on you to work all hours of the night and day at peanut rates. If you cave in, you'll be slaving away for the rest of your life to earn a crust, with no time to spare to improve your lot. If you can find jobs that are more profitable, and get repeat work, you can start building a reputation as the "goto" person.

If you really want to go ahead, I'd advise you to spend time preparing yourself, rather than going for the first job that comes along. Get your marketing in order (profile, CV, basic quote texts, website...); decide on your target market (remember you'll have potential markets in English and French speaking countries, too) and the best ways to reach potential clients, etc.

Of course, ProZ.com is one of the best places to prepare as there's so much information here and you can even attend free webinars etc. I see you've already made the commitment of paying for membership, so you'll be able to host your website here if you like. But it's also possible to find really poor outsourcers here who pay very little and expect the world (and even scammers), so be diligent about doing the checks.

Good luck!


 

Deborah_Lopez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:43
English to Spanish
Yes, do it Dec 5, 2014

I know that thinking about becoming "autónomo" and paying all the taxes not having clients yet is scary, no doubt.

The thing is that, right now, it is not compulsory to pay the taxes if your yearly income does not exceed the equivalent amount to twelve interprofessional salaries (about 7.200 EUR nowadays). What is compulsory, regardless the money you make, is to have a VAT number (IVA): you have to register in the tax office (agencia tributaria) as an independent prefessional. You need this IVA number to legally invoice clients.

Another thing you have to do is to declare your incomes and expenses (and paying conrresponding taxes) every three months (also in the tax office, with three forms: 130, 349 and 303).

Then, when your incomes exceed that minimum amount, you have to register as an autonomo. This is the way I started as a freelance, and I did not have any problem with my clients: as long as I have a VAT number and the invoice is legal and my incomes declared, there is no problem.

Another thing, when finally becoming an autonomo, is that if it is the first time you register you have less amount to pay for two years (fifty something euros the first six months, then a hundred and something and so on).

So that, I really encourage you to do it!

Good luck!


 

Tiffany Hardy  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:43
Spanish to English
excellent point about agency pay times Dec 5, 2014

Sheila makes a good point about how long Spanish agencies take to pay. I have only worked with one that paid me before the three month standard. And my experience with direct clients is along the same line of 90 days (and some don't pay at all until you chase them up). That means that even if you are given a load of work the first month you sign on as a freelancer, you will still need to wait for the money to come in...meaning that no matter how you look at it, it will be an investment when you first decide to sign on, whether that's now or in the future.

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
One suggestion Dec 5, 2014

May I suggest that you take out your CV from the profile in Proz.com? There are scammers out there who steal identities and could use your CV to try to get work exploiting your name.

 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
What I would do Dec 5, 2014

Personally I would take a two-pronged approach:

- On one end, I would definitely start looking for customers using the best of your knowledge. However, unless you are extremely lucky, you will need approximately one to two years to have a relatively stable income. The sooner you start contacting people and scanning the market, the better.

- On the other end, instead of immediately starting to pay the Seguridad Social -- after all, you can register in a couple of days if you land an actual job --, I would invest the same amount (200-250 euros per month) in further training: take courses in specialised translation, invest in good paper dictionaries, attend conferences so that people see you around, etc.

This is an extremely competitive market, there are excellent professionals out there already, and a BA in translation does not give you enough competitive power in my opinion. Have you considered doing a Master's Degree with your university (or another university in your area, for that matter)? That would definitely give you a good headstart. Keep studying and getting training to make the best use of your time and money while you get actual customers.


 

Marijana Asanin  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:43
Spanish to Serbian
+ ...
social security rate reductions Dec 5, 2014

Social security rate is 53€ for the first 6 months, for people who have never been autonomo before. After that is 50% for following 6 months, and 80% for next 6 monts. It means you wouldn't have to pay the full amount for a year and a half, providing you have never been autonomo. This is for +30, I don't know if there are further reductions for younger people.

 

Diego Soto de Lucas  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:43
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Dec 5, 2014

First of all, I want to thank you all. Now I have different points of view in order to take my decissionicon_smile.gif

For additional info, I can't afford at the moment to do Master's degreeicon_frown.gif Maybe in the future, but for the moment I can't. However, I could afford some courses about specialized translation! I'll look for further information about them. Also I'm starting to learn Portuguese to have more chances in this business.

The motivation is not a problem. I've been thinking about becoming a freelancer for a long time and I know some the possible risks. I know I'll have to work a for just peanuts but... Besides you have told me some other that I didn't know so, once again, thank you!

Additionally, I've made some research and it's true that in this moment it's not that expensive to become "autónomo" for a couple of years, so that can be an important factor too.

About my contacts, I've already worked with some companies and they were pleased with the services provided and asked me to keep in touch for future jobs.

Finally, thanks for your suggestion, Mr. Cano. I'll remove my CV file now.

Thanks for asweing so fast! I'll think a bit more in order to take a final decission.

Good luck everyone!


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:43
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Courses Dec 5, 2014

If you live in the Madrid area, you might want to check Cálamo y Cran, Estudio Sampere and Aula SIC. They all regularly offer interesting courses.

Good luck!


 

Toby Wakely  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:43
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
+ ...
social security laguna Dec 7, 2014

Hi,

Yes, there´s a real issue here with social security. It can be a problema especially with low income. There is a lot of debate now on who has to pay and who doesn´t and I have constantly brought this up with my gestor. It is a bit of a "laguna" here so basically anyone who does not pay it does have to be a bit careful as the law does not specify any mínimum income rquired to pay it. Have a look at this post:

http://www.infoautonomos.com/hacerse-autonomo/ser-o-no-autonomo/ser-autonomo-o-no-con-ingresos-bajos/


 

Miguel Megias
Spain
Local time: 08:43
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not an "autónomo" Sep 10, 2015

Deborah_Lopez wrote:

I know that thinking about becoming "autónomo" and paying all the taxes not having clients yet is scary, no doubt.

The thing is that, right now, it is not compulsory to pay the taxes if your yearly income does not exceed the equivalent amount to twelve interprofessional salaries (about 7.200 EUR nowadays). What is compulsory, regardless the money you make, is to have a VAT number (IVA): you have to register in the tax office (agencia tributaria) as an independent prefessional. You need this IVA number to legally invoice clients.

Another thing you have to do is to declare your incomes and expenses (and paying conrresponding taxes) every three months (also in the tax office, with three forms: 130, 349 and 303).

Then, when your incomes exceed that minimum amount, you have to register as an autonomo. This is the way I started as a freelance, and I did not have any problem with my clients: as long as I have a VAT number and the invoice is legal and my incomes declared, there is no problem.

Another thing, when finally becoming an autonomo, is that if it is the first time you register you have less amount to pay for two years (fifty something euros the first six months, then a hundred and something and so on).

So that, I really encourage you to do it!

Good luck!


Dear Deborah,

I'm not an autónomo, I'm a spaniard who lived and worked for many years in Venezuela and now has returned to Spain, mainly because the sountry is very safe and I can find whatever I need (not so in Venezuela). Now, I'm 80 (yes, you read correctly!) years old, I've no Seguridad Social nor money to live on and one of my assets (I'm an engineer) is that I am bilingual English/Spanish.

So, what should I do? Get the IVA number? How do I make a "legal invoice"? As you can see, I know how to write in English but I'm very ignorant about the spanish law on this subject.

Many thanks for your kind answer.

Miguel


 

Monika Jakacka Márquez  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:43
Member (2006)
Polish to Spanish
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
old forum posts Sep 10, 2015

Miguel Megias wrote:

Deborah_Lopez wrote:

I know that thinking about becoming "autónomo" and paying all the taxes not having clients yet is scary, no doubt.

The thing is that, right now, it is not compulsory to pay the taxes if your yearly income does not exceed the equivalent amount to twelve interprofessional salaries (about 7.200 EUR nowadays). What is compulsory, regardless the money you make, is to have a VAT number (IVA): you have to register in the tax office (agencia tributaria) as an independent prefessional. You need this IVA number to legally invoice clients.

Another thing you have to do is to declare your incomes and expenses (and paying conrresponding taxes) every three months (also in the tax office, with three forms: 130, 349 and 303).

Then, when your incomes exceed that minimum amount, you have to register as an autonomo. This is the way I started as a freelance, and I did not have any problem with my clients: as long as I have a VAT number and the invoice is legal and my incomes declared, there is no problem.

Another thing, when finally becoming an autonomo, is that if it is the first time you register you have less amount to pay for two years (fifty something euros the first six months, then a hundred and something and so on).

So that, I really encourage you to do it!

Good luck!


Dear Deborah,

I'm not an autónomo, I'm a spaniard who lived and worked for many years in Venezuela and now has returned to Spain, mainly because the sountry is very safe and I can find whatever I need (not so in Venezuela). Now, I'm 80 (yes, you read correctly!) years old, I've no Seguridad Social nor money to live on and one of my assets (I'm an engineer) is that I am bilingual English/Spanish.

So, what should I do? Get the IVA number? How do I make a "legal invoice"? As you can see, I know how to write in English but I'm very ignorant about the spanish law on this subject.

Many thanks for your kind answer.

Miguel


Hello Miguel,

You can find a lot of useful information among the posts in ProZ.com forum.
For example, I guess that this one can provide you with some helpful information:
http://www.proz.com/post/950993#950993

This post is old, so the amount of Salario Mínimo Interprofesional is not up to date (nor the percentages of VAT / IRPF). If you need updated information, please, contact me in private and I will pass you a file with all this information (I use to participate in small seminars at my university and I use it to share this information with students which are about to graduate and start their career).

Regards,

Monika


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Private limited company? Sep 10, 2015

One option is to register a private limited Company in the UK (my choice). There are advantages and disadvantages to it, but for me it swung the pendulum in that direction.

No “seguridad social”; your company is a different entity from you. No VAT (up to 80k GBP or so a year), no “liquidaciones trimestrales” (just once a year, company tax, basically), no minimum capital.

You’ll need a business bank account (I actually had to show up at a London branch; stupid and expensive, but true). And an accountant once a year to prepare statutory accounts, and I also use a cloud-based accounting software; it makes your life easier.


 

EngToEsp
Spain
Interesting Oct 9, 2015

Merab Dekano wrote:

One option is to register a private limited Company in the UK (my choice). There are advantages and disadvantages to it, but for me it swung the pendulum in that direction.

No “seguridad social”; your company is a different entity from you. No VAT (up to 80k GBP or so a year), no “liquidaciones trimestrales” (just once a year, company tax, basically), no minimum capital.

You’ll need a business bank account (I actually had to show up at a London branch; stupid and expensive, but true). And an accountant once a year to prepare statutory accounts, and I also use a cloud-based accounting software; it makes your life easier.


Merab, this is really interesting.

But, as far as I know one has to pay taxes and declare in the country were the main residence (the longer time) is. So, I don´t think people living regularly in Spain could take this option.

But, yes, it is a very interesting option.


 
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