A Free Lesson In Freelancing
A free lesson in freelancing to avoid the most common mistakes
Working in any industry in a freelance capacity is tough, daunting and can be very testing on your bank balance. Being in the translation industry means that, depending on your own set of skills, it can be a feast or famine when it comes to finding work. After working as a freelancer for so long, I learnt a few things about making mistakes on a large scale. So, read on so you don’t need to make the same mistakes that I did.
Lesson One: The First 6 Months Are The Hardest
I was unemployed and living off the state. I spent my days going to the movies (at home) and my nights searching relentlessly for work. You learn a lot about yourself when you spend seven hours counting how many tiles you have on your bathroom floor. I have no doubt that those first months, barely keeping my head above water financially, led me to major anxiety issues that took a long time to iron out. I had to borrow a lot of money from my folks, and I am still paying them back, so try and save where you can.
Lesson Two: Make Your Own Work
They say if you want to know how to build a house, build one! If you want to run a business, learn how to do it. If you are trying to make a name for yourself, taking on freelance translation projects for a reduced fee, or even for free, can help you make a name for yourself while also fine-tuning your skills.
Lesson Three: Market Yourself
This is the biggest thing that I could ever teach anyone about making it as a freelancer. And it’s not a difficult skill to master. The hardest part is believing in your skills are worthy enough of advertising over social media. And the more you believe in your commodity as a product, the less self-conscious you will feel about getting yourself out there. And it’s difficult when you are trying to get the experience too, but marketing yourself should be a skill that is taught in classrooms. The trick to marketing yourself is to make sure that your marketing materials reflect who you actually are and not an inflated version of yourself. “To thine own self be true”, and don’t forget it. Trying to be someone I wasn’t for a long time prompted a lot of soul-searching.
Lesson Four: Keep Your Receipts!
Yes, you are self-employed. SELF EMPLOYED. You are running the business of you, so make sure your office, however small (or imaginary), is organised. You will need to file tax returns so keep tabs of what you have spent and on what for your business purposes, which you can do with good hrm software. Having spent most of my work payout on dictionaries and other learning materials without realising they were tax-deductible was my first big mistake.
Learn from my mistakes, and I hope that this will be the start of a very successful journey into freelancing as a translator.