Live your dream: become a freelance translator

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Andreas Protar  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 20:30
Member (2010)
English to German
+ ...
No commitments Jun 30, 2016

Sounds great if you have no other commitments in life. If you have a family to care for, such a lifestyle is not an option. In my mind, society is not built by people who live as digital nomads, but by people who are willing to take on firm commitments in their lives.

Also, I am not sure if I wanted to do without first world amenities all year-round. I also work with my mobile phone, and fast and reliable wifi and internet are things I absolutely rely on.

But it is anyone's choice what they do with their lives, of course. So if you feel like nomading, go ahead...


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:30
Member (2008)
French to English
Pajamas? Jun 30, 2016

Why do people always promote working in your pajamas as an ideal to be sought after? Sounds like a recipe for mistakes and unprofessional work.

I find that if I do my work on the beach or in the middle of the woods, disturbed by waves or birds, I get distracted and make mistakes.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Talk about first-world problems! Jun 30, 2016

John Fossey wrote:
I find that if I do my work on the beach or in the middle of the woods, disturbed by waves or birds, I get distracted and make mistakes.


I think we should celebrate the freedom this unusual job gives us. It's frequently boring and frustrating, and I came into it almost by accident, but it's the best decision I ever made. My wife and I travel for about four months a year, and I've been to well over a hundred countries, but I still work full time. You couldn't do that if you were a stockbroker.

A couple of weeks ago I went for a drink with a group of translators, most of whom I hadn't met before. I asked one where he lived, and he gestured vaguely and said "over there". I was very impressed, since we were on one of the most elegant and expensive residential streets in America.

"Where exactly?", I asked.

"See that RV?" he said. "I just drive around all over the country, and when I find a place with a nice view I stop and do some translating."


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Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A myth Jun 30, 2016

Come on, people. Our home is our office. we need a large screen or two (you cannot do without it if you are editing a text with reference material), a printer (otherwise, how do you print, sign and scan NDAs and SAs?), constant source of power and fast internet. And what about dictionaries that aren't digital? Do you also carry them about the canyons and volcanos?

Which basically means that our home is our office, "ni más ni menos".

When I have to travel during the week, I am worried (if you're flying, there is no internet there, and even if there were internet, you cannot work squeezed in a narrow chair without power, dictionaries, screen, etc.).

Palm trees? Oh yes, I have that in Tenerife, but I find I spend most of the business days sitting in from of my computer at my "home office". I just cannot afford going to see volcanos unless I organise a trip on Sunday (and am free).

"I work 40 hours a week...". Come on, you can't say that. Sometimes you work less and sometimes you work more. It depends on projects, deadlines, seasons, your relationship with your customers, you name it.

We do have more freedom as opposed to a, say, office clerk, but it's all about the freedom to select work rather than the freedom to work less (unless you're doing it on the side and not as a full time activity).

Consequently, I only work in hotels, cafés, under palm trees or volcanos very occasionally, most of the time being spent in my home office either in Belgium or in Spain. And from what I know, most of the full time translators do pretty much the same.


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Not a myth Jun 30, 2016

Merab Dekano wrote:

Come on, people. Our home is our office. we need a large screen or two

Yes, it's called a laptop.


A printer (otherwise, how do you print, sign and scan NDAs and SAs?)

You say to the customer I'm not near a printer right now, please wait a few hours till I am.

A constant source of power and fast internet.

You're rarely far from either of these. Computers have batteries, phones have internet.


And what about dictionaries that aren't digital?

I haven't used one of those since 2006.


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dropinka  Identity Verified
Italy
English to Italian
+ ...
+ 1 Jun 30, 2016

Merab Dekano wrote:

Come on, people. Our home is our office. we need a large screen or two (you cannot do without it if you are editing a text with reference material), a printer (otherwise, how do you print, sign and scan NDAs and SAs?), constant source of power and fast internet. And what about dictionaries that aren't digital? Do you also carry them about the canyons and volcanos?

Which basically means that our home is our office, "ni más ni menos".

When I have to travel during the week, I am worried (if you're flying, there is no internet there, and even if there were internet, you cannot work squeezed in a narrow chair without power, dictionaries, screen, etc.).

Palm trees? Oh yes, I have that in Tenerife, but I find I spend most of the business days sitting in from of my computer at my "home office". I just cannot afford going to see volcanos unless I organise a trip on Sunday (and am free).

"I work 40 hours a week...". Come on, you can't say that. Sometimes you work less and sometimes you work more. It depends on projects, deadlines, seasons, your relationship with your customers, you name it.

We do have more freedom as opposed to a, say, office clerk, but it's all about the freedom to select work rather than the freedom to work less (unless you're doing it on the side and not as a full time activity).

Consequently, I only work in hotels, cafés, under palm trees or volcanos very occasionally, most of the time being spent in my home office either in Belgium or in Spain. And from what I know, most of the full time translators do pretty much the same.


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Michal Fabian  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:30
Member (2012)
Dutch to Slovak
+ ...
Digital nomading not the same as trekking Jun 30, 2016

I have yet to see a Thai AirBnb (bungalow on the beach for 5 EUR/night, anyone?) that does not offer fast wi-fi connection and is further than a 5 min. walk from a printer.

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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:30
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
If you have no bills and you charge .03 a word... Jun 30, 2016

... you can do quick, sloppy "translations" with no research, you don't have to stress about quality, deadlines or accuracy, you guarantee yourself a steady stream of work from clients who don't care about what they are buying as long as it's cheap.

Then in 20 years, you realize you have no assets, no savings, no place to live, no job experience...

[Edited at 2016-06-30 21:45 GMT]


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:30
Member
Italian to English
We're all different Jun 30, 2016

The truth is, we're all different. I prefer to work in my own office, then head out to the park or wherever to relax, rather than miss the two. I know that I could not work on a tropical beach - it's just not me. But I bet there are tons of people out there who can. But it's not a competition - the important thing is finding a lifestyle that suits you personally and professionally.

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Robin Dufaye  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:30
Member
Spanish to French
+ ...


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I agree with Philgoddard Jul 1, 2016

I am a "digital nomad", I like my job and I focus on quality, but I do not criticise other translators because they prefer to work in their office...
I charge fair rates and I even make some savings.
What is wrong with that?


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Anke Fierke  Identity Verified
United Arab Emirates
Local time: 22:30
Arabic to German
+ ...
Let's not forget the aim ... Jul 2, 2016

Let's not forget the aim, which we should have in mind when producing translations for our clients, which is first and foremost accuracy.

How this accuracy will be achieved, is a combination of individual circumstances and preferences and should not be judged upon.

Whether this happens at the beach or in someone's office is up to each individual. Producing an accurate translation requires more than just sitting in an office. Sitting at the beach does also not mean that a translation turns out bad.

Let's agree that everyone is different.


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TalTranslations
United Kingdom
English to Hebrew
Also possible when you have children Jul 2, 2016

Andreas Protar wrote:
Sounds great if you have no other commitments in life. If you have a family to care for, such a lifestyle is not an option.


Not necessarily.
I know a family who travelled around the world for one year. They have 2 children in elementary school and made an arrangement with the school to teach the children while traveling.


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Inese Poga-Smith  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:30
Latvian to English
+ ...
I never experienced something like that Jul 4, 2016

I have most likely bad clients, probably always have had. I have spent numerous hours on research because medical stuff is what I specialize in. I also need 2 or even 3 screens to efficiently translate. I need them large, as well, because I totally damaged my eyesight while translating for long hours and many years.
Your story sounds like a fairy tail to me. Being for so many years in translation industry (30+), I have never felt it was a dream job I had. I have cried at computer, yes, when I was literally passing out and there was a risk of not meeting the deadline.
I also could not work under palm trees.
Even if I could focus on translation while traveling I have never had that well paid jobs. Last 3 years have been a disaster. Well, this is somebody's dream come true, but I have also never met a translator who sees the translation and typing, and wrist cramps (large jobs, short deadlines) as a pure entertainment.
I have never felt too happy being a freelancer either. Realistically, the only freedom one has is being able to accept, decline offers and work during any hours and wherever one chooses. There are no benefits, no sick leaves and vacations paid by the boss, and I personally have experienced a lot of advantage taking. A lot.
Well, enjoy your dreamy life! I certainly cannot share your excitement because there hasn't been any for me. While I like dealing with tricky terms and getting jobs done decently, I am translating to earn whatever money. I work at the desk unfortunately.


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Robin Dufaye  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:30
Member
Spanish to French
+ ...
Inese Jul 4, 2016

[quote]Inese Poga-Smith wrote:
Well, enjoy your dreamy life!

I never pretended to have a "dreamy life" and I feel sorry for you.


[Edited at 2016-07-04 07:42 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-07-04 07:47 GMT]


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