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Stop, Look and Listen: Learning How to Wait in the Freelance Translation Industry

You’ve decided to go for a freelance career as a translator. You start at full speed: sending CVs, making relevant posts on social networks, showing yourself as an experienced and motivated worker. You begin to receive more and more projects and everything goes well in the first few months. However, there are still times at which you get no projects, no new clients, no calls… 

How can you deal with it?

The truth is, nobody teaches you how to be patient. You find yourself in a stressful, anxious and mind-blocking situation which can be seriously overwhelming. But don’t jump off the train just yet. Here’s some advice for you to overcome these episodes:

  • Stop (crying). OK, we all have our moments when we would like life to be easy. But that wouldn’t be any fun, would it? Complaining isn’t going to get you anywhere, so take action by starting to organise yourself. You might think this is freelancing 101, right? Well, it’s not that easy for everyone. A good thing to do, for example, is trying to keep a list of potential clients to contact. If you have control over your e-mail inbox, it won’t have control over you. You can also establish a schedule for social media posts. Choose your content wisely and be consistent with what you publish. Comments, likes, and recommendations will come along.
  • Look (at me!). When you are a freelance translator at the beginning of your career (or returning to freelancing after moving to another country), you might get lost trying to find your way. Nobody knows who you are nor the quality of your work. Make yourself visible! Try to check which companies organise workshops, if there are any groups of freelance translators in your city, when the next conference is taking place, etc. This way, you can talk directly and in person with potential clients. It’s much more difficult to forget a face than an e-mail.
  • Listen (carefully). If you think you already know everything, no matter how experienced you are, you are wrong. You can always learn something new from your fellow freelance translation colleagues on how to overcome situations for which you
    might not be prepared. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice and pay attention to what they might have to say, so you can apply it to your career at a later stage. 


After these three steps, you are ready to cross the railroad. Keep your motivation levels high and be patient in case you don’t see immediate results: good things take time, and you always have the power to start over and change something you might think you are not
doing right. If you are bored and do not feel strong enough to keep the train moving, take advantage of your free time by going for a walk to clear your head or to look for the inspiration you need. Get on board and keep on track!

This is a guest post written by Susana Santos, freelance translator (English and Spanish into Portuguese).

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