What are the pros and cons of freelancing?
If you run your translation business proactively enough, it will open up amazing opportunities for you and will change your life by revealing the best that you have. There are many positive aspects, including building up your own customer base, establishing long-term partnerships, and the privilege of being your own boss.
For example, I like to establish working contacts in highly specialized and small areas, as in the end a close relationship is formed with customers who may even become friends. I think this is one of the reasons why I decided to run my own business and not just provide translation services.
However, it is not always that simple. Sometimes you have to start your day by tracking debtor clients or abandoning an interesting project because of the low rate offered. There are also weeks when most of the time you have to sit around and start wondering if you’ll earn anything at all this month.
But after a while you get used to it and find ways to fill your free hours, work on something else. I used to work for large companies, but even though a regular monthly salary instills a sense of security, I would never go back. Those years taught me a lot, but now I love what I do so much, I force myself to develop so powerfully that when I reach my goals, the stability provided by the employment contract will no longer mean anything.
What helps you the most in self-promotion today?
I think it’s decisiveness and constant search. When I started, there were more than enough run-of-the-mill business cards to promote myself. And in 2014 even students think about their design and make them unique and recognizable. You have to observe, tense your minds and not be afraid to go outside the realm of translation in order to understand how other entrepreneurs operate. And most importantly, when you find your path, stick to it and be consistent.
How does your working day usually go?
I work 10-12 hours a day, so I have to get up early enough to keep up with everything. First I have a cup of tea, plan and organize, then choose an urgent project or assignment, followed by a daily dose of exercise. Weeks go by differently depending on where I am and what I’m working on.
If I’m in London, the day usually starts with a trip to the nearest café, where I have breakfast and work for a while. But if I’m in Brussels or Italy, things are different, because I walk the dog early and do my exercises before starting work.
I don’t practice self-discipline to the point of blue in the face, but I’m a man of habit, so organization is paramount: I write lists, set goals, make plans and track their achievement. Even if I only miss one scheduled call or yoga class, this is already an oversight.
If you could change something in your work environment, what would it be?
I think to start renting a small office and move all the “inventory” there. I want to expand the existing workspace: there is not enough room for my appetites. I work on three screens and have a secretary dog, so there should be plenty of room for both!
What advice would you give to those new to translation?
As I wrote in my book, the main advice is to try, and if it doesn’t work, try again. Right after I started my business, there were many mistakes and I lost clients. But she tried again and found new business contacts.
It seems to people that success comes quickly and easily, as in linear projection. But in reality, success is a very complex process that requires compromise, expectation, and admitting failure too. This is a constant study, and sometimes it is very difficult to study.
Secondly, keep an eye on your budget, because in the early years there will be high costs for travel and things that need to be purchased, and no one will cover them for you. If you want to find additional part-time work, do not be afraid to try, because at first there will be a lot of free hours.
Be determined and love what you do. If you succeed, then life will change: you will intersect with people and face situations that will force you to reconsider many of the views and ideas that you had before. Afraid of challenging tasks and unpredictability? Then maybe freelancing is not your calling …