My first year as a freelancer

Firstly, hello and welcome to my blog!

So who am I? I’m a freelance translator and interpreter working from French to English. It’s been about a year now so I’d like to kick-start my blog by telling you what I’ve been up to.

My goal was always to work as a freelancer straight after university, despite the challenges. A lack of financial security can hold graduates back from freelancing but living at home has given me the freedom to develop my business. I also have a freelance position at a PR company, allowing me to pay for expenses, and invest in my business. I’ve used the flexibility of freelancing to make time for learning, learning, and more learning!

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One of the main challenges as a newbie is to gain experience. I think I’ve been lucky as I’ve translated a variety of texts over the last year. I found a mentor through ProZ.com (not a plug, I assure you) and she regularly sends work my way. In exchange for a discounted rate, she gives me feedback on my translations, offers advice and provides me with references. Ideally, every freelancer would have a mentor when starting out. I’ve read articles and forum discussions about mentoring so I hope it will eventually become standard practice. I don’t know how I would have gained experience without the help of a mentor.

Logically the first point of call to get work is agencies. I’ve managed to register with a few agencies and as this first year comes to an end, I’ve started to get a trickle of job offers too. It isn’t easy to get signed up with agencies; there are long application forms, requirements for experience or specific software, reference requests, and so on. It can be tough to convince an agency to take you on without previous experience. For instance, if an agency needs a reference from someone in the translation field, and you haven’t got previous translation experience, providing a reference is impossible. You just have to be patient and keep at it until someone gives you a break.

This brings me to one of the main turning points of the year: Marta Stelmaszak’s Business School for Translators. At the moment, I have to think hard about the utility of paying for courses or events. This is one investment I will never regret. Since the course, I’ve started to look at my work as a business, and Marta has given me plenty of tools and ideas to help me progress. I feel more confident so I’m trying out things I wouldn’t have done before, from tweeting to contributing to forums to starting this blog! The school’s alumni group is equally as generous with their support and advice. I also did Oliver Lawrence’s Clear Writing course so even as I write, I’m going back to reread my sentences and trim them down. It’s hard work, I tell you.

Finally, perhaps my proudest achievement, I learnt to read Gujarati. I am a native speaker but I’d never learnt to write. I’ve always wanted to, and now seemed like a good time as I can make use of it professionally. Of course, I read like a child but it’s so much fun and very satisfying! I also completed Grade 2 Spanish on the Polylang programme at the University of Westminster and I hope to start Grade 3 in September. I did my MA at Westminster and I can’t quite let go yet!

So there you have it – my first year. I’m excited to find out what happens next! Follow my blog and join me on my journey.