6 MYTHS ABOUT FREELANCE TRANSLATORS

Photo by Baher Khairy on Unsplash
Photo by Baher Khairy on Unsplash

Being a freelancer in today’s age is THE thing. More and more employed individuals decide to take the freelancing path to follow their dreams and passions.

 

This is admirable and exciting!

 

But what is the clients’ perception of freelancers?

 

For most of them, the categories the freelancers fall into are more or less clear. They are graphic designers, photographers, artists, data collectors, accountants, counselors, administrators and so on.

For translators though, the general opinion dances around #interpreting, #proofreading, #editing, #voice-over or #transcribing. When our clientele is mainly formed of translation agencies, this entire apparent hotchpotch is considerably smaller if not nonexistent. Agencies know what they require and who does what.

 

But, when dealing only with direct clients the distinction between different areas of language entrepreneurship fades.

 

This is one of the main streamlines of myths created around the “Translator”. I found that some of the considerations below still exist for so many clients and busting these myths is sometimes a hard path to take.

 

Translators, interpreters, editors, copywriters: it’s all the same 

Although a translator, an interpreter, a proofreader, and a post-editor might seem the same thing to a great number of people, in fact, they couldn’t be more distinctive. More than once, clients approached me with a translation project to find out that in fact, they needed a machine translation post-editor. The difference might not seem that big but judging by the amount of time and work you need to put into an MT post-editing job compared to a translation project there is quite a significant difference.

 

The evergreen mix-up between translators and interpreters has generated a significant number of online articles and even direct clarifications with so many possible clients. Well (as you might have already guessed), the two of them are quite different.

 

Translators work with written texts and interpreters deal with spoken language and translate orally in conferences, formal and informal meetings, court hearings and governmental meetings.

 

As a translator, have you ever been approached by a client to translate for a meeting? I have. And, it’s sometimes challenging to explain that this is not exactly what you do as a translator.

 

Translators have more time on their hands

For some reason, people tend to imagine the life of a freelance translator as perpetual spurs of holiday and a bit of work here and there.  As we all know, as much as this picture is appealing, it couldn’t be further away from the truth. A day’s work can be anywhere from 6 to 12 hours and you need to remind yourself to take a break or else you will be glued to the chair for the rest of the day. When it’s not busy – and that happens too, oh yes! – we have other things to work on like our online presence, training sessions or conferences to attend. Not to mention that in all of this, most of us make time for family, kids and their schedules and socializing. So, more free time???

 

Lower quality

Some direct clients find it easier to trust an agency for many reasons like the quality they will get in return for the higher prices, a quicker turn-around time, the safer feeling they might get that they entrusted their project to a big company. Although all these aspects might be justified in some cases, freelance translators don’t offer a lower quality of translation than an agency. Keep in mind that even agencies work with freelance translators to whom they assign projects on a collaboration basis.

Choosing to work independently and not as an in-house translator doesn’t diminish the quality of your work nor affect the hard work and passion you put into every single project or your turn-around time.

 

Lower rates

Every translator has a rate card. Even though negotiation on certain projects has its place in the translation business, going way below the general minimal rate just to get a project it’s unlikely to bring many benefits. Know the value of your work and charge accordingly!

 

Translators work in their PJs

Well, maybe we do! But, regardless of how easy it’s to imagine that freelancers work in their PJs, it’s certainly not an everyday rule. To be honest, it happens more the other way around. You have a meeting then you start working on a project. Then you have a webinar or training and a networking event and then you translate some more. So, you notice it’s almost morning and you haven’t even seen your PJs in two days!

 

Translators can translate anything

Most translators have a specialization area, they found a niche, an audience they are referring their work to and targeting it accordingly. Some are specialized in the technical field, energy, enology, medical, legal, marketing, patents and many more. As a client, it’s most advisable to find a suitable translator who is used to dealing with the type of documentation you need. This way, they ensure not only a high quality of the translation but also a possible quicker turnaround time.

What other myths that could be crashed could you add? 

IUSTINA IKERT

Out of passion for words and languages... You can find me translating, proofreading or copywriting marketing and communication materials for different sectors in English, French, Italian and Romanian. When not in front of my computer I am certainly following my passion for good books or my affinity for painting.

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