4 Freelance Lifestyle Tips from Successful Translators
Although greatly rewarding, taking that first leap of faith and transitioning to a freelance lifestyle can be difficult. The lack of structure can often be daunting and somewhat discouraging - how can you ensure that you make efficient use of your working hours, and remain as productive as possible? How do you find that perfect work-life balance? Luckily, we have the answers.
This week, I spoke to 4 successful freelance translators from around the world about the advice they would give to anyone embarking upon a freelance journey. With the invaluable help of Anna, Chloe, Rafa and Nicole, I have compiled this freelance lifestyle guide, to help those who are looking to begin their life as a remote worker. From following structured routines to setting your own boundaries, here are 4 ways to perfectly tailor your freelance lifestyle to suit you.
Follow a routine that works for you
Anna is a freelance translator, editor and writer from Barcelona.
"As a freelancer, it’s important to set up your own routines and know what works best for you. Personally, I prefer working from different places to keep it interesting and feel more inspired, so I like discovering new cozy cafés and coworking spaces in Barcelona, my city. When I work from home, though, I get ready in the morning as if I’m leaving for the day but, instead, I only pop out to run an errand. When I come back home after a few minutes I’m in “work mode” - it’s like arriving at the office. This trick helps me be more focused and productive. Otherwise, if I stay in my pj’s all day I end up not feeling good about myself!"
Make the most of quieter periods
Chloe Stout | @chloestouttranslations
Chloe is a freelance translator from Scotland, specialising in the audiovisual and marketing industries.
"One of the best tips that I’ve been given is to make the most of downtime. It can be disheartening, particularly early on, not to have any paid work to do, but that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that you can be doing. I keep a list of things to work on when I don’t have paid jobs. This includes things like planning my social media posts, researching and applying to agencies that I want to work with, or looking into courses that I want to take to develop my skills. This helps me stay focused when I don’t have any pressing deadlines, whilst also moving my business in the right direction.
Having said that, I also think we shouldn’t feel guilty about taking a break in the case of a lull in work. It’s important to understand that physical and mental health also need looking after. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying an afternoon off once in a while to reset and take some time for ourselves, especially since we don’t know when the next “big” project will come in."
Find a good balance in your work and social life
Rafa is a translator from Brazil, currently based in California, USA
"Make sure you have a work schedule. Just because we're freelancers and can make our own hours, it doesn't mean we should be all over the place and work odd hours all the time. Whether you're an early riser or a night owl, find the time of the day you're your most productive self and create your schedule around that. Follow some sort of time-management technique―Pomodoro, color-coding, to-do lists, etc.―and have a system in place to organize yourself and beat procrastination. By having regular work hours, whatever they may be, you'll be able to approach your work from a more business-owner mentality and increase your productivity, instead of seeing your activity as a side job or a feast-or-famine hamster wheel.
And, most importantly, don't forget that we work to live, not live to work. Once you have established your work hours, you will have time for yourself, for your family and friends, and for the things you enjoy doing in life. That's how you'll find balance and be able to prioritize what goes into your schedule, so you can work hard, but also play hard."
Set your boundaries
Nicole is a French - English translator from Northern England, based in Barcelona
"Freelancing gives you so much freedom and I wouldn’t swap it for the world. I certainly wouldn’t want someone else breathing down my neck now that I’m in charge of my own destiny. But being in charge of your own destiny means making some big decisions for your business. Here are a few things I wish I could tell my younger self when I first started freelancing.
Too much freedom can be dangerous, so it’s important to set yourself some boundaries. It’s important that you work when you say you’ll work and turn off your computer when you say you will. I now practice what I preach after having a serious word with my night owl alter-ego, but that wasn’t always the case. Speaking from experience, don’t let that flexibility become a slippery slope to unproductivity and no work-life balance...which, correct me if I’m wrong, was probably a deciding factor in going freelance in the first place.
And wherever you are in the world, make sure you find your place. And I don’t mean just a reliable Wi-Fi connection. Wherever you choose to set yourself up for the day, make sure that it’s productive for your business and good for your body too. Ergonomic chairs aren’t to be sniffed at!"