Being a translator/interpreter is a complex job and being a freelance professional adds an extra element of excitement/unpredictability/flying by the seat of the pants stuff. Being a translator is also no regular 9-5 job. Your client may suddenly find that they have a large, complex document that they need translated by for tomorrow. Or they may need an interpreter in a complex negotiation in their cutting-edge industry next week. Client education is a large part of being a sane freelance translator/ reliable translation company. Our mantra has become, “The difficult we do all the time, the impossible takes an extra day.”
Staying on top of work is important. Staying in touch with colleagues is crucial. That’s why we sit on committees, coordinate networks, attend training events and socialise with other non-translating business professionals.
We have plans. Lots of plans. Most of us enjoy the job, enjoy the daily challenges we face. But a crucial element regular planning is staying focussed Business plans are a core element: saving for the taxman, the VAT man, pension planning. Learning goals: mastering new software, new apps, new background knowledge. We should also have plans to relax, recharge and take stock. Plans to revise and review what we do and how we do it. There may be no need to reinvent the wheel as we’re rolling along fine, but some fine-tuning of the engine is needed from time to time. Alternatively, we may need to do an about turn and move into a new field/find clients in a new sector.
Questions we should ask include, Which clients are easy to work for? Which jobs do we enjoy doing? Conversely, which clients are slightly too much of a white-knuckle ride? Which clients are slow payers? All of these things are considered by SMEs and should also be considered by sole-trader translators/language service providers. That way we stay sane, stay focussed and most importantly stay ahead of the game providing quality work for quality clients. A win-win situation.