Building Both a Business and a Profession in Translation: Best Practices of a Freelancer

Making the leap towards becoming a full-time freelance translator involves a lot of risks. You have no job security, and your work schedule and income is unstable. Because you are your own boss, you have to do your marketing to look for clients, decide your work hours and rates, and then manage your finances. At the same time, you have to do the actual professional work: produce high-quality translations, meet deadlines and continuously improve your skills. Building both a business and a profession involves making decisions that are often in conflict with your roles as boss and employee.

In this presentation, I will discuss how I worked through these conflicts in my current practices, drawn from five years working as a freelance J-E translator in Japan. The topics will include the following:
(1) Business
- Achieving job security: looking for work, marketing as a generalist or a specialist translator, how to ensure relatively stable income
- Developing performance indicators: quantifying productivity, rationing non-productive and productive tasks, rating client satisfaction
- Planning for the future: exploring new possibilities vs. keeping clients
(2) Profession
- Creating a workflow: organizing your schedule, taking in/declining jobs
- Boosting productivity, meeting deadlines
- Getting feedback and using it
- Professional improvement: finding mentors and colleagues, improving base knowledge, improving translation skills