Employees | 07.07.2009

The advantages and disadvantages of working as a freelance translator

Karen Rennie, our in-house German to English translator, compares the advantages and disadvantages of translating as a freelancer.

Working freelance can sound like a great idea and has some major benefits. While taking part in a recent ITI event in Perth, Scotland, Karen discussed freelancing with the attending translators. Freelancing requires a lot of discipline – translators may have to work unsociable hours to meet tight deadlines. Interestingly, it appears that freelancers actually spend less time translating due to the time required to manage the business (contacting potential clients, promoting services, handling finances, etc.). Profits can be unstable as there is no guarantee you will always have enough orders. It is not a fixed monthly income. If you work in-house, your salary is fixed and guaranteed and will be the same every month. Translators are up against stiff competition – there are countless freelance translators out there and depending on someone’s personality, translators might find freelancing lonely and a bit isolated.

However, it is certainly not all negative. There are significant advantages to working freelance. Freelance translators don’t have to travel to work every day, there are far fewer noise distractions because they generally work in the comfort of their own home as opposed to a noisy office. Freelancers are able to take holidays whenever they like and don’t have to work around other colleagues’ holiday requirements. Working for yourself also seems to allow a certain degree of flexibility in terms of the texts translated as freelance translators are able to pick and choose and can avoid translating texts they don’t like. In addition working hours can be manoeuvred around other important activities such as childcare commitments or leisure activities. Translators are also able to go back to university/college on a part-time basis because they do not need to select courses that fit around a job schedule.

If you are a freelance translator who would like work with The Translation People, please upload your details to our application page.

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