Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
From the beginning, there are some clear advantages: you do not have a boss or a fixed schedule, you do not have to cohabit with colleagues you do not like, you do not have to leave the house to work, you can do what you want when you want. Let’s take them one at a time:
1. Do not have a boss: Indeed, you will have no one to tell you what to do or to give explain. You will be your own boss, and this seems a relief. However, we need to clarify one thing: if you have no one to tell you what to do, then you will be the one who will decide what to do, which requires extraordinary discipline. You have to impose yourself a work schedule, plan your tasks well, manage your time well. In addition, even if you do not have to explain to a boss, you will have to explain to your clients if you do a wrong translation or deliver it late.
2. Do not have a fixed schedule: It is true that anyone can set their work schedule according to preferences, personal circumstances or performance (they are people who work better at night than during the day, for example). But when you have to meet a deadline to hand over an order, there are few possibilities to adjust your schedule to your wishes. In addition, your work schedule must coincide with your customers (obviously those who have the same time zone as you), so you have to communicate with them, which will usually force you to set up a work schedule. In any case, for practical reasons and in order to maintain your physical and mental health, it is advisable to impose yourself a fixed and regular work schedule and to respect it whenever possible in order to avoid prolonging your work schedule, weekend activity and all the inconvenience nobody wants.
3. Do not have work colleagues: This is a two-edged sword; on the one hand, you do not have to cohabit with colleagues you do not like, but on the other hand, you will not have anyone to talk to and relate directly, face to face. For people who prefer loneliness, this will not be a problem, but it can be difficult for more sociable translators. Also, the fact that you do not have to interact with colleagues does not mean you will not have to interact with clients.
4. Do not have to leave home to work: Most autonomous translators work from home, which is very convenient because your work is just a few steps from bed and therefore you do not need to wake up two hours before you start work or handle crowded traffic each day to get to and get out of work, dress nicely or specially arrange, things you would do if you interact with the world outside. However, the fact that your place of work is inside your home is difficult to separate your personal life from work and it is very easy to be tempted to be 24 hours a day at your desk in front of your computer, e-mail and other professional tasks.
5. Uncertainty: This is critical, because if you can not bear the thought of not knowing when you get a translation order or the uncertainty of not having a fixed salary at the end of the month, you are lost. However, this also has a positive side: an employee will barely earn more per month, instead a freelancer can bill more than the previous month if they work more and better. If things go well, a freelancer translator usually earns more money than a hired translator.
6. Variability/irregularity in work: You have to learn to live with this workflow irregularity and learn to compensate the “drought” periods with the “rich” ones. In addition, periods of less work can help you do things you can not do when you have a period with many orders: looking for new customers, improving your knowledge in the field, resting, etc.
7. A freelancer bears all the expenses for their professional activity, including social security contributions. Instead, they can settle their professional expenses.
8. Personal holidays and free days are not paid: One day without work means a day without cash, but instead you have full flexibility to go on holiday whenever you want (in this case, it is advisable to inform your customers in advance).
This is the life of a freelance translator. Like any other job, it has its advantages and disadvantages, but I assure you that if you know how to deal with it, the freedom you get is rewarding. Once you have tasted your life as a freelancer, it is difficult to give up.
If you want to find out about the qualities of a good translator, check out our article on this topic: What are the qualities of a good translator?
[Photo from Unsplash]