Freelancing: tips on how to run your own business

The need for language services is growing every year as businesses around the world are continually becoming more global. As a freelancer, you are able to benefit from this by offering your professional services to different organisations, companies and private clients at any location.

However, starting your own business is hard work. In order to get assignments from LSPs, agencies or direct from clients means sending out a lot of mail, making phone calls and using your contacts, references and previous experience to create an effective network.

Make sure your communications are always professional and well-written and that they give a true representation of your abilities and skills and, most importantly, be patient, you will not have a full agenda in just a week’s time.

Being your own boss though is undoubtedly very exciting. You are responsible for yourself, your taxes and your accounts.

Of course, as an independent contractor you have the flexibility of making your own schedule and choosing only assignments that will work for you, but you need to be disciplined. If you set your hours and treat your work as a business, you can slowly build a client-base in your own professional working environment.

As you are location-independent, your professional environment might be your own private home or a co-working place. That is often one of the main reasons freelancers love this career path. You are free to choose any place to work. No need to travel if you don’t want to.

And you are free to apply for a variety of assignments that are suitable to you. Also, every new assignment brings with it a new learning experience. Learning is as important as keeping up with your skills and keeping up with the ever-changing trends in the T&I industry.

When you are not on an assignment, you will probably be spending time dealing with clients, maybe trying to negotiate reasonable rates. This is never easy. You want to price smartly to match your experience. But at least you are able to set your own fees, which, incidentally, you don’t have to share with anyone. However, if you are working for an agency, you are bound by their protocols.

Freelancing means, however, you will be spending a lot of time on your own. Sometimes a day or more passes and you might not have spoken to anyone. This you can avoid by joining a platform where you can communicate with peers and other professionals.

In general, a T&I freelancer who sets up an own business will have a degree or diploma in Linguistics, Translating or Interpreting. Besides a relevant education, clients might look for a language specialist who also has accreditations or certifications with certain translation associations or they may look for people with an extensive experience in a particular field. To get more information on education or training courses, please have a look at my previous blogs.

For youngsters reading this piece, the EU parliament offers various traineeships to obtain experience in the translation or interpretation field.