26 March 2013

Professional freelance translator? Me?

Despite being a born linguist, it had never dawned on me that translation could become a full-time, "serious" job. When I started to get restless about my work as a journalist, after 13 years in the same news agency, one friend recommended that I pursue something I really love. I just shrugged and thought, "There's no money in languages, I cannot make a living out of that." Another friend said, "You don't have to look for a pre-existing job, start something of your own." I shook my head and replied, "I don't have what it takes to set up a business, I'm too scared of risks and too conservative to walk off the beaten path."

Within weeks, however, I had changed my mind. I could mitigate some of the fears by holding on to my old job. The price of that sense of security was burning some midnight oil, but it was probably a good idea. And it soon became apparent that there was room in the Market for the skills I had been keeping locked up for all these years. It turns out that not only am I a good translator - I knew that much! - but that people are actually prepared to pay for my services. Seriously!

I don't really know how it happened. I just bumped into things, put one foot in front of the other. And it all unravelled - fast. I found Proz, which I never knew existed. I opted to become a paying member, on the grounds that it was the only way to really test it. I also joined Translators Cafe, though I did not give them any money, and I signed up for just about anything I could find online. I went out into the world of translators with a very modest financial goal, just to make some pocket money. And on my first month I managed six times that amount. Add to that the fact that I was having a blast... and I was ready to keep going.

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