The 10 commandments of the freelance translator

Have you decided to launch yourself into translation as a free-lance? Or do you dream of ridding yourself of the many demands of certain projects? Here is our compilation of the 10 commandments for the freelance translator for you to stick on your computer and read every morning before you turn it on.

1. Work with enthusiasm

Projects that never materialise, the stress of delivery deadlines… The life of a professional freelance translator is often dotted with obstacles, and your mood has an influence on your work. Allow yourself time to relax, turn off the computer and go for a walk instead of watching your friends’ holiday photos on Facebook or scanning the latest depressing world news.

2. Don’t cut yourself off in a bubble of your own making

Co-working, cafes, parks … The advantage of being a freelance translator is that you can work where you want, therefore, don’t lock yourself in your house! And if you’d rather stay at home on a rainy day, you can always exchange and share useful information on translator forums.

3. Don’t take yourself for Tom Cruise

Turn down impossible projects, like 5,000 words within two hours, for instance. Don’t stack up projects that you won’t be able to deliver on time, or highly technical translations that exceed your knowledge.

4. Look after your reputation

Besides your reputation, your client’s image is also at stake. Avoid Google Translate and any other dubious automatic, machine or online translators; check again and again when you’re not sure of a term; make a final check for spelling errors after you’ve had a break or a rest.

5. Fight against procrastination

Your workplace is a reflection of the way you work. Organise yourself to be motivated on those days you get urgent projects. Don’t put off administrative tasks, put aside a given number of hours a week to do your admin or prepare invoices, for example.

6. Be faithful to your author

While it is important to appropriate a text in order to do a quality translation, you should always try to remain faithful to the style and the nuances that the author uses to adequately transcribe their ideas and message.

7. Don’t work for a pittance

In the world of translation, the competition is fierce, the internationalisation of trade and the development of increasingly powerful technological tools all drive many translators to accept projects at ridiculously low rates.

8. Update your freelancer websites

Don’t wait until you’ve finished a project to start looking for another. Keep ahead of yourself! In times of little activity, especially in the school holidays, make the most of your time to update your details on freelancer sites where you subscribe to find new projects.

9. Avoid bad customers

Avoid those clients who don’t pay on time, those who are constantly sending you new changes, and even those who can’t clearly explain what they need and make you waste huge amounts of time … Identify them and avoid them!

10. Show your appreciation of good customers

Look after your relationships with good customers. If you follow all these tips, you will be able to work in a climate of confidence, on interesting long-term projects without having to think of unpleasant surprises that may arise at the end of the month.

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