Advice to freelance translators
I already told you about the downside of going freelance. Let's now take a look at the brighter side of a freelancer.
First of all, you can manage your time as you like. If you need to go see a doctor, or you have a friend in town for the day, you just take some time off. And when you have kids, the ability to manage your work time according to their needs is really precious. Did you ever have a boss who let you have your kids with you at work and work only when they didn't need you to go pee, play, build cabins under your desk? Well, I never did. So I'm really grateful that I could stay at home with my boy and still bring money to the household and do the work I so love. It takes some time to get into some kind of productive routine, but once you find yours, it's great. I for myself work in the morning, when my husband is already at work and my son still sleeping. Then, after lunch, when he's back in bed for a nap, usually letting me work for at least two hours (yes, I know...lucky me I made a big sleeper) and in the evening. That's my daily routine, but then sometimes, he prefers to play all alone in his room which leaves me even more time to work.
The second really great thing about being a freelancer is that you are your own boss. You get rewarded for your work and see your business grow. Of course, like I already told you, it takes some time to get used to, but in the end, it's really rewarding to see exactly how each contract you fulfill roots your work a little deeper. In the beginning, I Kind of used to see the clients as my bosses, but with time, I realized that is not what they are, and now, I see them more like collaborators. You work with your clients on creating something new. Not for them. The final translation you deliver is a brand new product or even piece of art.
Last but not least, going freelance widens your horizons. When I worked as an inhouse translator, the documents I had to work on where always similar one to the other, but since I started working as a freelance translator, I got the opportunity to work in various fields going from commercial to literary through legal, medical and many many more. When looking for how to set up your business as a translator, you'll probably run into specialized translators. I have one advice for you. Do not specialize too early. You might miss something you'd be really good at and that you'd really enjoy. Do not close any doors before even looking at what's hidden behind them. Step by step, your specialization will come to you on its own and if not, you should know that a specialization is not necessary. You can work on several different subjects and still be very good at your job.
This being said, I hope you'll enjoy your trip in freelance adventure land as much as I do.
Good luck to all of you!
One of the major questions I asked myself when I started as a freelance translator was: how much should charge for a translation?
I started by doing some research, I contacted other translators, went through their websites, but the rates went from really cheap to really expensive. At least I got a scale of prices to start with. And then I looked at the whole price issue from a different angle...my own. I stopped thinking as a client (wow that's cheap! No way, out of my budget!) and started thinking as a professional offering a service.
So with a (pretty big) piece of paper and my pen, I wrote down a list of all the things I have to pay for each month...the bills, my rent, food, a little extra for hobbies and leisure times as well as how much I'd like to add to my savings each month for presents and my future. Once I got a total, I added the percentage that would go to our dear government, the taxes and social contributions.
You end up with a number that shows how much you need to be earning each month to live. But as a translator, you don't ask your clients for monthly fees, you charge them for the work they need you to do, no more, no less, it's not their problem if you take a month to translate something that should have taken you a day or two. So next step was to find out how much I can translate, revise and proofread in a month. I didn't translate all month to get there, I just translated for an hour and then with a simple math magic (words translated in an hour x hours I spend translating a month*) I found out how many words I can translate in one month. I did the same with revising and proofreading.
All I had left to do, was another math trick (How much I need to earn each month / Words I can translate/revise/proofread in a month) and there I had my rates per source word.
Then I simply checked I was in the price range I discovered during my research, and that was it.
*THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND:
As a freelance translator, you don't spend all your working time translating, revising, and proofreading. There's also a lot of time you spent looking for new clients, taking care of your website and social media pages, and many many other things. So when calculating how many words a month you can translate, do not forget that you won't spend all your working hours translating.
Second thing, when you work on short documents, it doesn't make much difference, but once you get to longer ones, it can make a big one! Do not forget that in a translation service, revision and proofreading are included. You have to include that in your price as well, otherwise you will be working pro bono when revising and proofreading your translation. And do not think these steps unnecessary. It happens to the best of us to skip a sentence a paragraph or worse, to leave a typo or to misspell a word. Theses steps will allow you to correct most of those!
If you have questions or if you'd like some help setting up your prices, do not hesitate! I'll come back to you ASAP!