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20 Sep 2014

When it all started

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How I packed my suitcase and became a freelance translator in the UK

When it all started

As a 7-year-old little girl I had absolutely no doubt about my future: I wanted to become a translator, although I didn’t know anything about the translation industry. I loved studying French as a second language at school and admired all those who could communicate in English. I wasn’t even worried in the least by my mum frowning down at me when I expressed my intentions to her.

Over 20 years on, an MA in Translation in my pocket and some years of experience on my shoulders, I considered starting a career as a freelance translator, despite – once again- my mum’s understandable concerns.

Getting to know the freelance world

The idea of setting up my own freelance translation business crossed my mind almost a year ago. I was living and working in Amsterdam, I loved the city and liked my job, but this scenario somehow didn’t seem to match my professional ambitions and personal life. I got myself thinking about all the pros related to not being committed to any sort of authority in my work environment and which considerably outnumbered the cons. And I got absolutely fascinated by it.

I started to carry out some research into the translation freelance world, read some industry-related blogs and took part in an amazingly interesting and useful business for translators webinar course. And that’s when I realized that even if my financial resources might have been at stake in the early stages of my freelance career, it would have still been worth giving it a try.

Crossing the Channel – easier (and quicker) said than done!

On the other side of the Channel, and back from my long-awaited NY holiday, I was officially and, for the first time in my life, unemployed while waiting for all of my papers to be approved by the governmental institutions. I sometimes found myself struggling to stay focused on my freelance business aims. And, as if it wasn’t enough, I felt the agonizing fear of not being able to get started in the first place.

The plan

Despite being face to face with my fears, I decided to do it anyway. I pushed through fear, did my calculations and started from scratch with a business plan. I sat down at my shabby-chic desk and confronted the white piece of paper straight in front of me, almost undetectable, on the white surface of the table. All the ideas that had been piling up in my mind started to take shape: new equipment, software, business registration, professional memberships, webinars, first marketing attempts, my first ever attendance at a translation conference and first clients. It all happened in less than a month, a short time when I come to think about it now.

The ongoing (finish) line

During these early stages in my career as a freelance translator, I keep on thinking about a quote by Günter Grass on translation, which reads: “Translation is that which transforms everything so that nothing changes”. Like in translation, I am going through a transformation process and I am far from reaching the finish- if ever- line. BUT I’m a step closer to becoming totally self-reliant in my new role as a freelance translator.