15 October 2014

Freelance translation as a learning process

It has been a long time since I last posted anything here. The year has been a roller coaster, so it has taken me months to be able to think about it conceptually, and therefore to write about it. However, I have come a very long way over the past few months, and since the purpose of this blog from the start was to help anyone treading a similar path after me, it makes sense to revisit the walk.

January and February were disappointing, with little work and little money from translation, and generally with a massive sense of relief that I still had a day job. Those two months had also been rough a year earlier, so by I now assume that they are just a dry patch in my working year. And, come to think of it, that may be quite convenient since those are the school summer holiday months in Argentina. I have to admit, however, that I was not so enthusiastic about the lull back in February.

Two months with little work made me doubt my strategy: I had raised my rates considerably, but I had not managed to find any new clients for a couple of months, which was not great one year into my freelance career, and I was working so little that I actually earned less than over the same period a year earlier.

I was confused and a bit discouraged. Starting out as a freelance translator had almost seemed easy, and then, all of a sudden, it was tough. I wanted to keep moving, but by then I did not really know where I should be going. So I did what one should probably do in such cases, regroup and take one step at a time.

I signed up for the ATA's Mentoring Programme. I needed directions, and the ATA was offering some, so it looked like a good match. The experience has turned out to be fantastic. I got a very nice mentor, and the opportunity to bounce thoughts and experiences off a veteran translator who has seen everything many times more than I have has proved to be invaluable. I can only recommend it, and I promise to devote a full post to the programme once I have completed it, around March.

As planned, I sat my DipTrans exam in English-Spanish in late January. Several months later, I learned that I had managed to pass all three papers in one go. Now, that was obviously what I had been hoping for, but it was more than I expected based on the exam's pass rates. With hindsight, it has been one of the highlights of the year. It was great for my confidence and, while I am not really certain that it has brought in extra work, I honestly suspect it may have.

Having my EN>ES DipTrans prompted two further moves. I signed up to take the exam in the opposite direction (ES>EN) in January 2015, and since I already had some certification in EN>ES I also switched my NYU Certificate in Translation to ES>EN.

During the first few months of the year, a major project kept me busy. However, I almost dismissed it mentally from my freelancing list: it did not come from a 'real client,' but was actually an assignment from my employer. And then it hit me that, surely, all the fuss about networking and word of mouth should apply to past- or parallel-life employers too!

My employer was hiring me to do freelance work. Since I had been working for them for 14 years, it was probably due to the fact that they know I am good. And, from then on, it was just another freelance translation project, one I needed to do, and do well, not just for a certain per-word rate but also for the chance to keep the ball rolling, to make sure people who know me and have worked with me continue to think I am the best translator they can find, and recommend me to their friends!

Beyond all this, the year 2014 gave me the chance to feel like a real, top freelance translator too, but that should be the subject of another post. Let's just keep this one at the start of the roller coaster year, when you are up there on the ride thinking, 'Oh, no! Why did I ever get on this thing?' Suffice it to say for now that I am loving it now and I am determined to hop back on as soon as it is over.

1 comment:

  1. Language is the only way to communicate to others in this world. Not only learning a language would help us, one must try to adhere to the ethics followed. Thanks for submitting a wonderful content in here. This was truely useful to me. Thanks :)

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