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The downside of going freelance!

When you tell people you are a freelancer, most of them say things like "Oh you're so lucky, you can get as much free time as you want.", "Yeah, you mean you're a stay at home mom/housewive.", "You don't work, how come you didn't get time to clean the house/cook/go grocery shopping?"

Well most people are wrong. Most people wake up in the morning, go to work, leave work, and then they're free. Most of them work their 35 hours a week (in France), and then they have weekends and holidays and leave their phones and computers at home when they go on vacation.

That's not how it goes for freelancers. At least not in the beginning.

At the beginning you struggle to get clients, so you spend your days behind your screen (weekends included) looking for work opportunities. In time, clients will start coming to you, but first, you have to get your name out there and you can't afford to decline a job, so no matter what day it is, no matter how late it is in the day, no matter when the client you managed to find needs his translation, you accept it and do it, even if you have to work all night long, on a saturday or a sunday. Just hold on, don't give up, it will pass with time, seriously.

Another thing I had to put up with, was potential clients offering to pay me such low rates that it wasn't even worth all the hard work. DO NOT accept those, no matter how desperate you are. First of all, your work really isn't worth it, you have set your rates, and might be willing to lower them a bit now and then if you get a really interesting project, but don't let clients steal from you. And second, there are other translators out there, your colleagues, that might not like it much if you steal clients from them by translating their documents for nothing, and the day you'll need any help from any of them, them might very likely not give it to you. You might think that translators see other translators as competition, that's how I felt in the beginning, but I pretty fast realized just how wrong I was, and consider all translators as my colleagues now. They are always willing to help and might need your help in return one day.

Last but not least, your social life (I'm not talking about social networks here) might get pretty slow. For the same reasons that you don't get weekends or holidays. You are stuck behind your computer, just not to miss the perfect job opportunity.

I know I drew a pretty bad picture of the freeance translator's life here, but there are advantages too...I'll come to those later. I first had to warn you that all is not popsicles and pet shops in a freelancer's life.




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