Pros and Cons of being a Freelance Translator

Very few people can seriously say that they dreamed of being translators when they were little, especially because it is a hidden profession, in which the best quality you can have is to be completely invisible. But it is almost impossible not to think that our work as translators is a dream come true when we have enough clients and the pace of work that allows us to organize the day and enjoy free time when you want. Of course, usually you have to respond to requests for last minute and various emergencies, but getting up every morning to go to nothing but the desk without anyone to force or control you, is a quality that is not available to everyone.

freelance translator

Being positive, let’s start with the main advantages of being a freelance translator:

Positive aspects of being a freelance translator

1. Organize your own work schedule.

One of the main advantages of being a freelancer is the flexibility of working hours, which is, decide when to start and when to end your workday, to advance work during the weekends to have more free time from Monday to Friday, etc.

At YBD, we work with a large team of freelance Chinese translators, undoubtedly, the most important positive aspect is the absolute freedom to organize your time and work whenever you want. This does not mean that work schedules will change radically, since the hours of work are the same for everyone (in the end we all end up working always from 8 to 5, and surely sometimes more), but let’s say that it allows you to reconcile work, life and family in a much more feasible way, without having to go to an office or respect schedules that can sometimes be arbitrary.

This advantage has a double edge, however: no power or inability to disconnect and work from Monday to Sunday without weekends, holidays, etc.

2. Reducing transportation costs, clothing, lunches, etc.

The second most important advantage of being a freelance translator is the ability to work from home to avoid traffic jams, public transport costs, investment in clothing, cafes and lunch expenses, etc. You can not imagine the amount of monthly money that employed persons spend by working away from home.

3. Avoid time thieves.

Another important advantage of working independently from home and perhaps less discussed is that working alone avoid many of the so-called thieves of time and multiply your productive hours. Thieves of time in an office include conversations, consultations of other colleagues, the temptation to lengthen the mid-morning coffee in a good company, etc.

4. Do what you like.

The fourth positive aspect, and certainly the most important (at least from my point of view, although surely all my colleagues in the profession agree) is the possibility, which could even be called ‘luck’, to work on something that you are passionate about. Sitting every day in front of the computer, learning languages, expressions, words and being able to transfer ideas, for example, in many cases with an obvious social function, is a pleasure that can hardly be put into words, however contradictory it may seem. In this society in which languages are increasingly important, the work of a translator becomes more important than ever and, from a personal point of view, allows us to access content and read it in such a way that our knowledge is more intensely fixed.

Negative aspects of being a freelance translator

Everything in real life has its pros and cons and the work of a freelance translator is no exception. The major disadvantages of this type of work are:

1. Isolation.

There are people who cannot stand working alone, having to face the problems of the projects without the support of a team, organize their own working hours, etc. Self-employment is very lonely and requires a lot of willpower to not abandon it for other more interesting activities.

2. The labor costs.

Work independently involves a substantial monthly pay of a fixed fee to Social Security, an amount that does not depend on the turnover or the number of translation projects you have at that time.

But besides that, self-employed professional translators take care of other important costs such as maintenance of IT equipment, payment of electricity bills, water and heating our workplace, etc.

3. Multitasking.

A basic feature of freelance translator is that it is a multitasking professional: not only translating texts, but also handling business functions of looking for new projects, preparing invoices and tracking payments, etc.

When I was preparing this post, first of all, I prepared a list of the positive and negative aspects of becoming a freelance translator. I think it goes without saying that the list of negative aspects was infinitely longer: you have to look for clients constantly, you have to take care of the quotes, you have to work from Monday to Sunday, the cousin / nephew who has spent a summer in London translates just as well (must be the same child who also paints all the abstract paintings), people will think that you do not do anything just because you work from home, to make a start will cost a lot, especially when it takes you to get a good salary that allows you to live from this, etc.

However, all the negative aspects of the world that could be enumerated in this and successive blogs are not comparable with the joy of being able to work on something that you are passionate about and that will teach you something new every day. Also, you may be lucky enough to meet people like yourself.

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5 reasons why marketers don’t want to work with freelance translators

Is your business ready for a new adventure and you are going to do business across the border? Then one of the first steps is to translate your website. Of course you want your overseas customers see your best possible presence online. The translation of a website can be done in different ways. You can outsource the task to a Chinese translation agency, a colleague who can translate well or you can entrust it to a foreign intern who’s responsible for translation.

Sometimes marketers translate their websites using a freelance translator. Why? Freelancers often say they deliver the same quality as a translation company at a lower rate. However, would a self-employed linguist at the end meet their expectation? In this blog I give five reasons why marketers do not have to work with freelance  translators.

freelance translators


1. A freelancer does not correct his/her own work

The translations of freelancers are not checked by another  translator. The result is that careless mistakes and misinterpretations should be corrected by yourself. Checking of translations is an important part of the translation process. Translation is a people business and people make mistakes unfortunately.

Always double check the translations of freelancers before have them go live. Translation companies often work with ‘translation pairs’ consisting of a translator and a proofreader. Therefore, the quality is guaranteed.

2. Freelancer has little affinity with the target group or type of text

Affinity with a specific audience improves the quality of a translation. Young translators, for example, are more well versed in the terminologies of hip clothing than translators who are at retirement age. Companies often serve different audiences. Each of these groups use different writing styles, therefore producing works that are never far apart from the audience.

Translation companies work with a large pool of translators. Because of this there is always a translator available that best suits the target audience and maintains the strength of the texts.

3. Freelancer does not have enough availability and can not deliver fast enough

Freelancers are self-employed and often work for multiple clients simultaneously. It is possible that your trusted freelancer just accepted a job from another customer, and you want the translation as soon as possible because of an important deadline. That of course is not a pleasant situation and you will look for another freelancer. Only you now run the risk that this person has a different writing style and still has to learn about the audience.

How do language service providers solve this problem? Even if in a translation agency, things can happen that the translator who translated you earlier texts isn’t available. In a translation agency, however, who has experience translating into tons of texts, there is a translator and proofreader. This proofreader is also familiar with your business and previously translated texts and therefore can take over the translation and ensure consistency and quality.

4. Freelancer can not support technically

Freelancers usually do not have the software that translation agencies use because it is too expensive. The latest generation of CAT software (translation software) handles translation efficiently and provides you therefore cost savings.

Translation companies can  translate xml, html or XLIF exports with the latest technology. The translation software can also recognize repetitions in the text, and therefore an agency can very efficiently handle translations. In addition, translation agencies work with project managers who have experience in managing translations and therefore can provide the necessary technical support. Freelancers unfortunately often cannot provide this support.

5. Selecting good freelancers takes a long time

The percentage of translators meeting the quality standards is very low. Many people overestimate themselves and think they can translate well. Unfortunately, this is usually not the case. It takes a lot of time before you find a freelancer to suit your translation requirements and quality standards. A translation agency takes care of the selection process and provides directly the translators that are carefully selected and speak the language of your target audience.

Monitor the quality and cost of your translation

The experience of your users will be largely determined by the content. A good translation is crucial. So make sure that you turn to a translation firm who has a translator familiar with the target texts, produces consistent quality and a proofreader performing a correction on each translation.

Translations of a translation agency are often done by a translator and a proofreader. This “translation couples’ are supported by a project manager with technical knowledge on how to get repetitions in texts. In addition, a project manager can support you in the efficient processing of translations in your CMS or e-commerce platform.