You know you’re a freelance translator when…
There’s a reason why freelance translators tend to spend time with other freelance translators – even if their meetings occur solely online. Being a freelancer and working from home is such an incredibly different lifestyle to the normal 9-to-5 working day, and many people who don’t do the kind of work that we freelancers do simply don’t understand what our lives are like.
And as a subset of the freelance group, we have the freelance translation group, those of us who work from home translating documents and other content for clients around the world.
You will know for sure that you are a freelance translator if you can relate to the following points. Otherwise, if you know someone who works as a freelancer, or in freelance translation in particular, the following points may just help you to understand our lives a little better.
Staying organised is a dream that we wish to attain, but things tend to pile up on us. For some reason working from home seems to attract a ton of paperwork, and although we try to stay on top of the mountains of papers, any success doesn’t tend to last very long. You may even see us trying out different paperwork organisational tools, such as filing cabinets or upright trays, but they usually end up collecting dust (or being buried under further mountain of paperwork). Perhaps it’s because, unlike punching the clock at a traditional office job, we don’t have time to waste. If we are working, we want to be working and being as productive as we can be, and it can be hard to justify spending time filing papers when we could be looking for new work, completing the work we’ve already got, or doing something completely unrelated to work. In a 9-to-5 job, it’s easy to justify spending the last 30 minutes of each working day tidying a desk and filing your paperwork. When you work from home, it always feels like that time would be best spent doing something else.
Micromanaging just tends to happen, despite our best intentions to let something go. As a freelance translator, our tiny businesses are like our baby. They started as nothing – merely an idea – and it is solely through our own hard work and good fortune that they have grown into what they are today. At some stage we’ve all read a business book or an article – or even received well-meaning advice from a friend – that we should be outsourcing the less important tasks to make time for the tasks will make us money. While it sounds great in theory, the reality of letting someone take over our invoicing or manage our social media accounts is easier said than done. Remember that saying ‘if you want something done right, doing yourself’? As freelance translators, we fight against this every day.
We don’t envy your 9-to-5 job. Sure, there are parts of a traditional 9-to-5 office job that we would love to have – sick leave and holiday pay being top of the list for most of us, but overall we don’t wish that we were back in an office. Freelance translators do what we do because we love the freedom and autonomy that our job gives us.
The disappointments can be hard to take. It’s not easy when something goes wrong for any professional, but as a freelance translator most of the time we only have ourselves to blame. Even if the mistake or error is clearly the fault of someone else, chances are we were the ones that hired them or outsourced the work to them, and in the end we are the ones who need to provide the solution.