Freelance Careers

Want to freelance as a
Programmer, Copywriter, or Web Designer?

Have you ever considered freelancing instead of being employed at a company? Ever thought of working independently from home? There are for sure thousandth if not millions of opportunities out in the internet that tell you about residual income within one or two weeks, with just as little effort as possible. These programs are promising and promising, again and again…


Freelancers are particular independent contractors that set their own hourly rate and their own time schedule. As a freelancer you live on the constant feed of projects you are working on. One of the main essentials is the portfolio, all the recent projects that have been successfully completed by you.


What opportunities are out there for you? There are loads of employers out there waiting to outsource their projects to freelancers like you. As a freelancer you can choose projects that fit to your expertise. Be it SEO and Web Promotion, Web Design, Web Development or Copywriting. Furthermore you can handle as much projects at once as you want, you just need to keep the deadline.


But where to start off when there is no portfolio you can deliver to prove you work? One good answer may be: Start off by bidding on open projects that have been opened by serious employers. Such a place is called a freelancer marketplace, and it may be one of the places on the internet to quickly find projects that fit to your skills.


One of the advantages of such marketplaces is that your reputation is increasing as you complete projects. For every completed project you are being rated by the project manager/employer along with a short review. And everyone knows that better ratings bring you more valued projects… Also consider that it is also possible to freelance part-time to earn additional income to your actual job.


At you get the chance to sign up completely free and bid on any open project. If you win the project you get contact information and other details concerning your project. Also there is a possibility to open a secure escrow account for absolute secure payments. This way you cannot be tricked!


Furthermore there are several RSS feeds available for easier access to new projects. Stay up-to-date with any new project and be the first who bids on it, that, by the way, improves the likeliness that you are chosen as the final freelancer to work on the project. RSS feeds are available for any category.





Translation Work - A Guide for the Freelancer

I work as an Italian English Translation Project Manager at the translations agency Axis Translations.

Everyday me and my colleagues see larger numbers of enquiries from translators seeking work. I hope that some of my observations will help you be more successfull.

1) Update and scan your computer for viruses
How many translators CV’s get caught by an agencies firewall? I don’t know. It seems to happen in waves. We will have a batch of translators emails in a few days and then none for ages. But generally the email is deleted!

2) Put your details in the subject section of the email
If you are applying for a project posted on the web, put a reference to it in the subject box. The reference number for instance. If you are applying generally, list the languages in which you translate.

Why is this important? Simply translation agencies get a stack of emails each day and you want to be found. The translation project manager wants to be able to pick out the enquiries for their project with ease.

For general enquiries, you want your details to be saved in the right place. If the agency can see your languages they can copy your mail into the right languages section rather then putting you in the dreaded ‘look at later pile’.

3) Don’t apply for something you are not
We always look for translators to translate into their mother tongue and write this in our adverts. But we always get a loads of CV’s for people who do not fit the bill. For instance I post a job for a Italian>English Translation and get a CV from a Dutch native speaker who is fluent in neither language.

4) Don’t forget to provide rates and the rest of your ‘required’ information
When I am looking for a new translator and I have a number of applications, my shortlist will not include anyone who has missing information. I regularly see people who have missed their rates off the application. If a translation PM has opther options, they probably won’t chase a translator for further information.

5) Contact Info
I am not talking about address here. I am thinking of mobile phones.

Once a job has been confirmed the translation PM will wish to have the assignment placed with a translator ASAP. If they can’t find another number for you they will be likely to move further down the list and call the next translator…….your competition.

I hope my short list of tips for translation applications assist not only translators, but also translation PM’s.!

Freelance strategies in the translation business

One of the main challenges for freelance translators is to find suitable clients, and once they have found them, one of their main concerns is how to retain them. As a freelancer you may well find that working for translation agencies rather than for private clients offers both peace of mind and a more reliable flow of orders.

As a professional freelancer you are doubtlessly well aware of the many benefits of freelance work. Most of these will be associated with themes such as independence, freedom and – if you are lucky – considerable revenues. However, you may also have discovered a number of serious downsides to this kind of work. The one cited perhaps the most frequently is the ongoing pressure to attract clients. Although we know of no research to verify it, there is a law in the translation business which states that a freelance translator who has no work, is not a good translator. The opposite is also true: a good translator will never be at a loss for work. Even so, your order portfolio as a freelancer will also depend, at least in part, on your commercial skills in attracting clients, offering your services to potential clients, and building up networks. Once you have found enough clients for a sustainable business, moreover, you may find it difficult to balance your capacity with their needs.

In view of these considerations, it might be a good idea to offer your services to translation agencies as well. The rates they offer may not be as high as those of private clients (understandably, as the agency will need to safeguard its own profit margin and deduct a suitable amount from the client’s payment before passing it on to you), but once you are well established in their files you may find their constant flow of orders a great relief compared with the situation in which you have to attract business yourself.

In fact, working for a translation agency offers a range of significant advantages. One has to do with capacity. When you work directly for a large private client, capacity is clearly a limiting factor, as you will not be able to take up all their translation requests – especially as you have other clients to tend to as well. Of course you would not have any more capacity when working for an agency, but the agency itself would. By spreading translation work over different translators, agencies can obviously absorb far more work from individual clients, which makes it possible to develop a more or less exclusive relationship with them and for you to gain specific experience of their organization and terminology without necessarily having to do all their translations. This suggests that, overall, not only your capacity but also your professionalism will benefit from working for agencies. Freelancers will usually not be able to benefit from the type of feedback supplied by colleagues and quality supervisors at an agency. There are also advantages for the client, as companies that hand out translation orders to different freelancers will not benefit from any coordinated effort to safeguard consistency in style and terminology that an agency can offer.

Another true advantage of translation agencies is that they will enable you to specialize in particular areas of preference. With private clients this is far more difficult to achieve, as the pool of clients to pick from would obviously be much smaller compared with those in a larger agency’s files. For example, a successful translation agency that specializes in tax law will probably have all the major tax firms on its files, which means that by working for that agency you would be introduced to a broad spectrum of practitioners in your field of specialization.

If there is one disadvantage to working for translation agencies it must be the word rates that they offer, which are usually lower, considerably lower even, than those a trusted freelancer would receive in a direct relationship with a private client. This is obviously not unreasonable, as the agency has its own overhead, provides added value services that both the client and the freelancer will benefit from (terminology management, layout and editing tasks) and, most importantly, provides you with work without any need on your part to attract clients. And don’t forget that while the rate per word may be lower, the constant flow of orders that reliable freelances tend to receive from the agencies they work for should more than make up for that in terms of sustained and sometimes even more or less predictable income levels.

One further drawback of working for an agency is that it will not be considered ethical for you to establish direct contact with their clients with the purpose of working for them directly. To the more entrepreneurial of freelancers, this means that the more they work for agencies, the smaller the number of interesting companies they would still be able to work for independently.

To sum up, as a freelancer you basically have two options when it comes to attracting orders: working for private companies directly and working for them indirectly through translation agencies. Either option brings benefits and disadvantages, especially as regards pay and professional development. Private clients tend to be more lucrative, but you will have to attract them, convince them of your qualities, and retain them while the chances are that your capacity will not be sufficient to fill all their orders. On the other hand, translation agencies usually offer lower rates, but they take all the marketing off your hands and will offer you as much work as you want once you have established yourself as a reliable supplier. In addition, you will be able to benefit from coordinated feedback from the client, the agency’s experts and fellow freelancers alike. The preference for either option depends on your commercial appetite, and your need for security and feedback from peers.

How to become a successful freelance translator?

Most translation agencies are wary of admitting new freelancers into their networks. After all, it takes a while before it really becomes clear whether a freelancer can live up to their expectations: does he/she stick to agreed deadlines, offer a consistent level of quality, consult relevant reference resources, deal effectively with various registers and specialisations (commercial, technical, medical, financial, IT, etc.)? Many translation agencies begin with a ‘trial period’ in which they closely monitor the work submitted by new freelance translators. To reduce the risk of a fiasco – and avoid the associated costs – translation agencies normally only accept applications from freelance translators who have had at least two or three years’ fulltime experience in the translation business.

Business clients
In their attempts to introduce themselves directly to companies, freelancers usually find it difficult to gain access to the people that matter and, once they are there, to secure orders. Companies tend to prefer outsourcing translation services to partners that are able to offer comprehensive solutions. They look for agencies that can fill their translation needs in a range of different languages, are always available, can take on specialised texts and have the procedures in place to ensure that all deadlines are met. In view of their need for continuity, capacity and diversity it is hardly surprising that many companies select an all-round translation agency rather than individual freelancers. An agency may be more expensive than a freelancer, but the additional service and quality guarantees justify the extra investment.

Tips to achieve success as a freelance translator
What steps will you need to take after graduation to develop into a successful freelance translator?
1. After completing your studies, it’s best not to present yourself on the market straightaway as a freelance translator, but first to find employment at an all-round translation firm and spend a couple of years there to gain the necessary practical experience. As a salaried employee your income will be less compared to what you might potentially earn in a freelance capacity, but don’t forget that without experience you’re never going to be successful in the first place. In many cases, you will be assigned to a senior translator who revises your translations, monitors your progress, and makes you aware of your strengths and weaknesses. This will enable you to acquire the skills and baggage you need on your way to becoming a professional translator, and will give you the opportunity to experiment with various types of texts and disciplines.
2. If you can’t find a position in paid employment, try to find a post as an (unpaid) trainee. A translation agency may not have the capacity or resources to take on new staff, but it may still be able to offer you an excellent training post to help you gain practical experience in a commercial environment. A traineeship may serve as an effective springboard for a career in the translation business, perhaps even within the same agency that offered the traineeship.
3. After having whetted your skills at a translation agency for a number of years, you may decide that the time has come for you to find your own clients. Ideally, you should move on to a part-time contract so that you have enough time to recruit clients and work for them, and enough money to live on. It is important to make clear arrangements with your boss at this stage, to avoid a conflict of interests. The best strategy is to send your personal details and CVs to a selected group of professional translation firms and translation departments within companies and governmental institutions, explicitly referring to your work experience. Don’t forget to highlight your willingness to do a free test translation.
4. Make sure to register as a self-employed person with the relevant tax authorities and seek their advice if necessary.
5. Once you have managed to find enough freelance work to keep yourself busy for around 20 hours a week, you might consider terminating your employment contract and devoting the extra time to attracting new business. In 20 hours most experienced freelance translators tend to earn around as much as a full-time translator in salaried employment.

These are obviously very general guidelines, and your personal career may evolve along quite different lines depending on your preferences, skills and personal conditions. Whatever your circumstances, however, you will find that experience and a certain amount of business acumen are the things that matter most in a successful freelance career.

Tips To Help You Start Your Own
All-Round Translation Business

There is no shortage of translators who take the plunge and set up shop as self-employed freelancers, but few have the ambition or the spirit to start up their own all-round translation agency. This is not surprising, of course, as the establishment of a full- scale translation agency is a quantum leap compared with what it takes to launch a viable freelance practice. Nevertheless, the intellectual and financial rewards of business ownership can be substantial. Below I will discuss various aspects you will have to take into account should you consider beginning your own professional and all-round translation business.

translation agency, freelance translator, women at work, home based work, starting you own company

Article Body:
There is no shortage of translators who take the plunge and set up shop as self-employed freelancers, but few have the ambition or the spirit to start up their own all-round translation agency. This is not surprising, of course, as the establishment of a full- scale translation agency is a quantum leap compared with what it takes to launch a viable freelance practice. Nevertheless, the intellectual and financial rewards of business ownership can be substantial. Below I will discuss various aspects you will have to take into account should you consider beginning your own professional and all-round translation business.

All-round translations
First of all, what is meant, in this particular context, by the term ‘all-round’? Basically, it refers to the scope of your product. As a freelancer your output would be confined to your own language combination and degree of specialisation; as an agency owner you will be able to supply your clients with translations across a whole range of source and target languages and disciplines, including commercial, technical, medical and legal documents. In theory, your range would be limited only by the number of staff you would be prepare to contract.

Internal organisation
If you want to establish your own translation company, you would be well advised to find a competent partner first – unless you are willing to hire staff right from the start (which, in most cases, is not a recommendable procedure). Ideally, your business partner should be a person whose qualities are complementary to your own, if only because in such cases the division of tasks is usually quite obvious (and a potential source of conflict is removed). There are good reasons to separate responsibility for product quality (i.e., the quality of the translations) from organisational responsibilities (order processing, account management, etc.). These two roles do not go together very well in practice, and the associated skills are not usually combined within one and the same person anyway.

Find suitable office accommodation that includes at least two rooms: one library-style room where you can work in peace, and one nerve centre where the business is done. Make sure you have at least three computer workstations (one spare station is no luxury) and an office printer, a telephone switchboard with at least two external lines and a fax. Get yourself a straightforward high-quality accounting programme with a CRM module and document your working methods in detailed systematic procedures.

Don’t forget to lay down and formalise a number of essential agreements on tasks and responsibilities with your business partner, so as to prevent any misunderstandings.

Business Plan
Once you have gathered all the information you need, you should draw up a Business Plan. Examples of such plans are available at your local Chamber of Commerce, or can be downloaded (for a fee) from the Internet. These specimen copies are structured in such a way that they will assist you in each step of your own Business Plan. One of the main advantages of having a reliable Business Plan is that it will present you with a realistic estimate of the money you will need to get your agency off the ground. If your capital requirements exceed your private budget (and it is quite likely that they will), you will have to present a thorough Business Plan to the bank in order to persuade them that your plans will pay off.

High-quality freelance translator network
The main asset of any translation agency is obviously its network of reliable translators. Incidentally, you need not be a networking freak to build up such a freelance network. Many freelancers will present themselves to you spontaneously as soon as they get wind of your existence; alternatively, you can actively recruit them and check out CVs on a variety of collective freelance websites, such as Translators Café or GoTranslators. The snag is that you will be hard put to appraise a freelancer’s skills if you do not master the language concerned. CV assessment is important, but by no means sufficient: you will need to be able to judge the quality of a freelancer’s actual output before entrusting him or her to your clients!

To obviate this problem, check your own network of colleagues or friends for highly-educated native speakers of the language concerned, ask several freelancers to submit (free) trial translations, have them assessed and select the two or three most promising freelancers for each language combination you intend to offer. Carefully document the strengths and weaknesses of each selected freelancer and list the specialisations. Note that you won’t get a truly reliable picture of a freelancer’s capacity and skills until he/she has had the opportunity to do several translation jobs for you.

Once you have a pool of reliable freelance translators for each language combination, you can obviously also ask them to check and assess trial translations submitted by other candidates.

Another point to bear in mind is that the freelancers you decide to work with should comply with all the requirements imposed by your country’s Tax & Customs Administration. Each freelancer should be able to produce a formal statement, issued by the tax authorities, attesting to his/her status as an independent translator.

Reliable network of suppliers
Your freelance translators are obviously your most important suppliers, but the supply network comprises other parties as well that will need to be carefully selected as you will need to use their services on an ongoing basis. These include the bank, the accountant, the printer and the graphic designer.

Once the internal set-up of your agency is in place, your first priority should be to recruit clients in a systematic manner. For many start-ups in the translation business, this is the most difficult hurdle. Obviously there is a multitude of strategies that can help you attract clients in the business-to-business segment (which accounts for most of the turnover of any self-sufficient translation agency). One very helpful tool, if used correctly, is Direct Marketing. In principle, two different Direct Marketing strategies are available:

1. Internet marketing
One effective and relatively cheap method of generating business in the short term is Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), a term that refers to a variety of techniques to help you strengthen your presence on the Internet, and to help prospective clients find you there. A strong position in Internet search engines will increase the number of times you are invited to submit a quote for a translation job, for the simple reason that you will be more likely to be selected if you are easy to find on the Internet.

Some Internet facility agencies have specialised in Search Engine Optimisation and will be able to improve your search engine rating within a couple of months. Most of these companies charge annual subscription fees. If you want immediate results, ask for an adword campaign.

2. Database marketing
This a rather more expensive client acquisition technique. Call large international corporations and government agencies likely to produce texts for translation on a regular basis, and ask for the name of the person who is responsible for translation services (usually an official at the Director’s Office, Communications or the Marketing Department). Gather the information in a database and mail the contact persons four or five times a year. The mailing could comprise your company brochure, a letter of recommendation, flyers, a magazine for business relations or any other item that will help remind the reader of your name and the level of quality that you offer.

An effective database contains at least 1,000 companies or other organisations, and should also contain the names of the contact persons. It goes without saying that you will also have to invest in continually updating your database.

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