Guest post: How to make sure you are charging enough

Welcome back to our guest post series!

This month Richard Lackey, of Contractually Speaking, explains how he conducts a rate audit to see if he is charging enough for what he needs and for what he is worth.


Photo by Alexander Mils on Unsplash

What am I worth as a freelance translator?
And how data can help you analyse your client list

A recent ProCopywriters survey came to a startling conclusion. Level of qualifications among copywriters appears to be inversely linked to earnings, in fact those who left school at 16 came out top.

This got me thinking. Could it be that many translators – who are generally highly educated – also charge too little?

Day rates, project fees, by the hour or by the word?

With the myriad of different ways to charge, it can be tough to compare rates from one client to another or from one job to another. A higher per-word rate on a tricky little project can be much less profitable than a fairly average rate on a much larger project.

The only way to truly tell is to break it down hour by hour and see what you are earning.

A two-week audit

Just like dieting, the only way to get really useful data is to track everything. You will need to keep note of exactly what you make and how long you spend working. This could be one week or, for a more accurate representation, I would recommend two weeks.

I created a very simple Excel to collect this data for me. You can download a copy of this Excel for yourself here. It’s very simple: all you need to do is fill out how many words you need to translate and the rate, then record how many words you have left to do after a half-hour or one hour session. If you are translating a non-editable file and don’t know the word count, I created a “Countup” page that provides similar data. This tracker is based on using the Pomodoro technique.


Image provided by the author

Did I change my rates after the audit?

Absolutely. Mid-way through last year I found I was working too much and needed to lighten my workload. Immediately after doing this analysis, I substantially raised my rates for two longstanding clients who had given me regular work, but at a rate that wasn’t giving me a good enough hourly rate.

Further analysis

The second analysis I performed, together with my business mentor, was an analysis of all my clients from the past 18 months. By grouping together all the jobs for each client, I created a neat pie chart. This highlighted my most important clients, but also showed that many profitable jobs are one-offs for new clients.

Moving forward

Project fees are now by far my preferred way to charge direct clients, but I’m still making the initial calculation based on the word count. I would like to move towards estimating the number of days a job will take and basing my fee on a day rate. Not only is it easier to compare with other professions, but it could also be a better way of allocating my working hours.

What are your thoughts? Have you ever done a rates audit to analyse your clients?


For more on the survey mentioned at the top, see John Espirian’s post for an interesting discussion of copywriting rates. Rates surveys like the 2001 ITI/CIOL survey (or the 2011 edition) or the BDU survey are still useful sources of data. There are also many calculators out there that help you to calculate how much you spend or need per month (such as this one by Luke Spears) although I disagree with this approach.

About the author
Richard LackeyRichard Lackey has been translating from Spanish and French to English since 2011, now as Contractually Speaking, specialising in legal and business translations. He is a qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), Deputy Coordinator of the ITI Spanish Network committee, and a regular contributor to the bimonthly ITI Bulletin on topics such as legal translation, translation technology and co-working. You can contact him at, via Twitter, @ContractSpeak, or his website:

Working less and “il dolce far niente”


Photo by Julia Wimmerlin on Unsplash

I was scheduling my social media posts when I came across this article. The subject of working less, instead of more, that has been gaining ground recently (finally and thankfully!) has my total support for years, so I loved this article (it’s long, but worthwhile, believe me). I wanted to comment on practically every paragraph of it, so I decided to write a post, instead of simply posting it on social media.

When I started out, I worked a lot – weekends, holidays, nights! At the time, I lived with my mom, and I remember she would bring me food at the desk because I didn’t have time not even to eat. I remember my parents would go to bed and wake up, and there I was, still working. And when I went to sleep for a couple of hours in the morning (or afternoon), it was not the same as sleeping at night, so I would never rest properly.

Have you noticed how people preach being busy and working on weekends and overnight as something to be proud of? I hold a grudge on those memes, and I feel really sorry for people who proudly share them on social media. Just as I feel sorry for project managers who ask for my availability past 8 pm. “Look, I am so professional and dedicated, I work until late at night!” Sorry, pal, not something to be proud of. Your reply will only arrive in the next morning anyway, so you could have used the time you spent writing me the email to leave earlier and go home to your family. Seriously, people, just stop!

I don’t remember exactly when I stopped playing with my health and sanity, but I did eventually. I started respecting weekends and a good night sleep, and taking vacations (with absolutely no work whatsoever). After a while, I started following regular working hours and exercising in the evening (after reaching my maximum weight and having health problems). Mind you, I’m 34, and it must have taken me only a year or so to start having health problems and realizing I needed to change. I learned with practice. That old living and learning thing.

Nowadays, I wake up at 6 am, run three times a week in the morning, take a shower, have breakfast and then start working, at around 9:30 to 10 am. I have a decent lunch at around noon, do the dishes and rest a bit on the sofa while taking a quick peak at social media watching series (maybe not one of my healthiest habits, due to the flow of information to my brain, I know). Every week day, I hit the gym in the evening, so I usually stop working at around 5 to 6:30 pm, depending on the day. Take a shower, have dinner, rest a bit on the sofa while watching series and, again, taking a quick peak at social media and emails, after all, I usually spend all this time from when I stop working until I finish my dinner away from my cell phone (a great break to the mind). I used to do this until the time I went to bed, but nowadays I’m even changing this nighttime habit. At around 9:30 pm, I switch my cell phone to airplane mode, go to bed and read a book for about an hour, before going to sleep.

The secret? Being heavily productive in the restricted working hours you have left, avoiding procrastination and social media during working hours.

[T]he work we produce at the end of a 14-hour day is of worse quality than when we’re fresh, […] undermines our creativity and our cognition, […] it can make us feel physically sick – and even, ironically, as if we have no purpose.

I’m totally aware my routine will hardly fit anyone else. The fact that I’m single, have no kids and live by myself plays an important role in making it easier, but if I wasn’t organized, determined and strict, this wouldn’t work anyway. Even if you are married and have a bunch of kids, you can make it work. The secret is learning your daily routine, creating your own working hours, whenever they are, and strictly following them. Restrict your social media time to avoid procrastinating. Actually, restrict everything that is not work-related. Be professional and respect your working hours. The benefits will be worth it: more time to do whatever you want.

Keep human! See people, go places.

After all, what do you work for? Earning money, paying bills and living the life, right? We all preach the greatest benefit of being a freelancer is being free. However, most people use this freedom to work even more. That will never make sense to me. Use your freedom to go see a movie on a weekday afternoon when you have no projects, walk in the park, have a coffee with a friend or do nothing.

[Doing nothing] helps you recognise the deeper importance of situations. It helps you make meaning out of things. When you’re not making meaning out of things, you’re just reacting and acting in the moment.

Now that is something I seriously need to master, although I have been trying hard to practice: do nothing, be idle. It’s so hard! It’s as the article says, when we have nothing to do, we end up reaching for our phone or turning on the TV. It’s like we can’t handle being left only with our thoughts. Think of it for a moment… This is so sad! The good thing is it doesn’t really mean, in the strict sense, to do absolutely nothing. You can meditate, knit, doodle, discuss a problem with friends, cook… anything that doesn’t require 100% concentration. I went to the beach a couple of weeks ago and I tried to put this into practice: when in the water, I tried to sink in its energy, feel the waves, let my thoughts flow freely; when under the umbrella, I tried to watch the sea, listen to it and, again, let my thoughts flow. Remember: what works for me may never work for anybody else and vice-versa, so find what suits you.

I’d love to hear how you organize your day in order to maximize your productivity and have a decent work-life balance. Also, feel free to share how you practice your dolce far niente.


P.S.: You may have noticed I’ve been absent from the blog and from social media. First, the same old thing: projects. Second, I’ve been feeling quite tired lately, so I’m respecting my body and, instead of dedicating time to the social media and the blog, I’m using that time to rest a bit more. I’m putting the free in freelance to great use. 😉 However, don’t fret. I’m already slowly going back to normal. On February 1, a new Greatest Women in Translation interview will be published, with Antonia Lloyd Jones; on February 5, a new podcast episode will be published, with Reginaldo Francisco (Win-Win project), just before taking a break (after 20 episodes, it’s time for a well-deserved break: we return in July with fresh, newly-recorded episodes); on February 9, our guest of the month is Dolores Guiñazu; and on February 20, hopefully, another post by me.

Guest post: YNAB para freelancers

Sem bem-vindos de volta a mais uma publicação convidada!

Neste mês, nosso convidado, o tradutor e intérprete Felipe Cichini Simões, fala sobre as vantagens e como usar o aplicativo YNAB (You Need A Budget) para controlar suas finanças.

Bem-vindo, Felipe!

Ou pra quem recebe em dias irregulares

Este artigo pressupõe que você já sabe como o YNAB funciona ou já tem pelo menos alguma intimidade com o método e quer adequar seu funcionamento pro seu estilo de vida de receitas com entrada irregular, seja você freelancer ou algum profissional com fluxo de entradas semelhante. Caso contrário, comece lendo sobre o método aqui.

Se você não recebe um salário regrado todo mês, ter e manter um orçamento é ainda mais valioso pra organizar suas finanças e não fazer lambança com seus pagamentos. A lógica é mais ou menos a mesma, mudando a frequência com que ela é aplicada: você continua seguindo o ciclo de (1) inserir os recebimentos quando eles entram; (2) dar uma função pra cada centavo; (3) gastar de acordo com o que você orçou; (4) reajustar conforme necessário.

A pergunta que você precisa fazer sempre é: “O que essa grana precisa pagar antes de eu receber de novo?” Isso vai te dar a real dimensão das suas prioridades financeiras até que entre a grana do próximo freela. Pra isso, acredito que algumas dicas que eu desenvolvi no meu próprio orçamento possam ser úteis.

Organize suas categorias por prioridade

Sabendo o que você precisa pagar primeiro, fica mais lógico já ir fazendo o orçamento do boleto que chega primeiro. Uma boa maneira de ter essa visão é colocar o dia de vencimento de cada conta entre parênteses depois do nome da categoria e reordenar de acordo:

Imagem 1

Imagem fornecida pelo autor

Observe que a categoria Impostos tem dois vencimentos, mas eu ordeno pela data mais baixa. Assim, você sabe de cara o que vence primeiro e evita atrasar pagamentos. Reordenar os grupos de categorias (na figura acima, Contas) também ajuda a visualizar em primeiro lugar o que tem mais prioridade. É uma maneira de separar o supérfluo do essencial. Digamos que você tenha recebido o suficiente pra custear suas contas e entra o pagamento de um segundo freela nesse mesmo mês. Suas contas já estão cobertas, você segue o barco e orça o restante das suas categorias, repetindo o ciclo 1234 acima sempre que entrar mais dinheiro.

A regra adicional do freelancer, regra 5

Essa regra foi desenvolvida por mim, mas acho que é igualmente essencial se você tem um fluxo irregular de receitas: crie um fundo contra essas irregularidades.

Imagem 2

Imagem fornecida pelo autor

A ideia é que você abasteça essa categoria com sobras de receitas de um mês bom para gastar dinheiro dela num mês abaixo do esperado. No meu caso, ela tem esse nome esquisito, Fundo contra a renda variável, mas que funciona pra eu me lembrar de me proteger contra uma eventual ausência de receita prolongada. E lembre-se de que essas sobras vão se acumulando com o tempo, então qualquer centavo é muito válido na hora de acumular pra uma eventual emergência ou pra viver com mais tranquilidade quando aquele cliente enrolar pra pagar.

Definir uma meta de saldo de categoria é interessante pra saber quanto falta pra chegar lá.

Imagem 3

Imagem fornecida pelo autor

Quem é freelancer sabe que isso acontece sem a gente se programar. Já fiquei três meses sem nenhum trabalho e gastei todas as minhas reservas que tinha poupado no ano anterior (curiosamente, foi logo antes de eu me dedicar a aprender a usar o YNAB). Isso me serviu de exemplo, e hoje eu estimo que preciso de três meses de gastos guardados nesse fundo pra ter tranquilidade plena, mas isso vai variar de acordo com seu contexto e é algo que você vai ter de estimar e decidir por conta própria.

Com a categoria selecionada, no painel à direita do YNAB, você consegue definir uma meta (GOALS, imagem acima) de atingir um saldo específico praquela categoria (primeira opção) sem data específica. Se você sabe que há um período de baixa atividade na sua profissão, use a segunda opção e concentre-se em chegar até aquele saldo até o mês anterior da época das vacas magras.

Pra ser 100% honesto, até hoje eu ainda não cheguei a acumular os três meses, porém, também não cheguei a precisar. O YNAB ajuda tanto na organização, você enxerga seu dinheiro de maneira totalmente diferente, fora que a regra 4 (envelheça seu dinheiro) já seria semelhante a se preparar pra vários meses de gastos com antecedência. Mas eu percebi que esse fundo tem uma função de conforto psicológico importante: eu vejo que estou amparado e fico mais tranquilo!

Envelhecer seu dinheiro significa que o que está sendo gasto hoje foi recebido há 35 dias (nesse caso).

Imagem 4

Imagem fornecida pelo autor

Recapitulando: priorize e economize. Tudo isso pode soar impossível de atingir, mas com o passar do tempo dá pra perceber que você vai conseguir programar seus gastos com cada vez mais antecedência (a regra 4 começa a funcionar praticamente sozinha). E respeitando a regra 2, você não é pego de surpresa e desenvolve gradualmente essa tranquilidade financeira. Não é algo que acontece do dia pra noite, mas que você desenvolve em meses e anos de orçamento, disciplina, planejamento, organização. Aí termina e recomeça. E com organização a gente vai muito mais longe e com muito mais tranquilidade na profissão, conseguindo orientar o foco pra onde ele realmente é necessário.

Sobre o autor
Felipe_foto-perfilFelipe Cichini Simões é intérprete e tradutor profissional com mais de 10 anos de experiência em tradução escrita, localização de aplicativos e interpretação de conferências e eventos ao vivo, sommelier de cerveja e gestor bem-sucedido das finanças pessoais há mais de 4 anos. Site:

Guest post: Translator digital nomad

Last April, during the IAPTI Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, I had the pleasure of meeting Rea Gutzwiller, already a connection on Twitter, in person, and spending some fun time together. And now I have the pleasure of welcoming her on the blog.

Welcome, Rea!

Snowbuddha in Harbin, China

Image provided by the author.

Taking off from your desk

We’re freelancers, right? So have you ever considered leaving you everyday view behind and take off to a new place every so often? You think this is crazy? Unfeasible even?

I’m with you. Before you’ll be able to fully enjoy your nomadic lifestyle, you’ll need to get a few basics in place. In this article I’ll be sharing the most important secrets I wish I had known before I started, so you can start fully prepared.

I admit, I’ve always been a bit of a free spirit, but at first – even after becoming a freelancer – it did not occur to me, that one could freelance and travel. Just about when I had fallen into a routine and started to get itchy feet, I stumbled across a few digital nomad blogs and thought: Wow, great, I want to go to those places too! And after I took off for China, to improve my Chinese, I didn’t stop.

What is probably most important of all is that you make up your mind. I can understand that on a cloudy, foggy winter’s day you’d rather be at a beach in Southeast Asia, but that doesn’t account for the real thing. Mind you: You will leave your house, your neighbourhood, your friends, your family, your pets, your hairdresser, the shopkeeper at the corner store and other people you have some sort of relationship with. They and mostly you will change. You will meet new people; you will live exciting experiences and scary or downright horrible things too. To give an example, I experienced one of the strongest typhoons hitting Xiamen in 50 years. There was no more water, electricity or any other supply where I lived for two weeks. These things don’t happen where I come from and if you don’t speak the language too well, horrible things can become even scarier pretty quicky. But if you’re prepared, things are mastered more easily. Ask yourself: Do I really want to become a nomad? Or do I want to live amazing things, but 80 or 90% of the time, I am quite happy where I am? You see, if you become a nomad, this isn’t just your regular holiday enhanced. This is a new lifestyle, where tomorrow is often unknown. Do you love routines? Are you okay with last minute changes?

If you think it’s scary, you can gradually start it. Try it out! A couple of months somewhere across the globe will help you decide whether you want to continue or you’re happy to go back home, wherever that is. But once you’ve tried it, you’ll realise that being on the road is not more costly and often even less expensive than renting your permanent place and going on holidays.

Secondly, remember, you can’t bring along too many things. Usually a suitcase and a daypack is the maximum. So you’ll need a base where you can leave your stuff for a while and where your snail mail will get picked up by somebody you trust and scanned for you to deal with. Also, you’ll want to go as digital as possible. I get often asked “but what about your books?” – well, frankly, I don’t have all that many books. I use digital books on a Kindle, PDFs, and dictionaries as software…

Going digital involves a performing laptop, phone and external hard drive. Once you’re fully location-independent, you’ll want to be able to do a lot on your phone. I’ve put together a list of the basics that you’ll find helpful for a fully digital office as a small giveaway from me.

The other thing I can’t stress enough is communication with your clients. Let them know about your plans, use newsletters as a means of keeping in touch with them and always let them know ahead of time when you’ll not be available. There’s Wi-Fi at most airports, Lufthansa even offers it high above the Atlantic and German ICE trains do too. But it might not be available. Think ahead, work ahead, plan ahead.

I think one of the things I actually enjoy the most when working in a different time zone is the quiet hours when the majority of my Europe-based clients have either left for the day or are not yet in the office. That way you get a few peaceful hours of work all while they will have that last minute evening job sit in their inbox the next morning. Tell them about this advantage, they might not have realised before! Set an automatic response when you’re asleep. It will spare you from waking up to 10 missed calls and 20 e-mails from the same person as to why you’re not replying. If you’re worried they’ll turn to other providers, remember, clients are humans. They want top service. They will not run away if you’re still delivering. Be confident!

At the beginning, I’d recommend you keep your actual travelling limited. Stay at a place for a bit longer, so you get to adapt to the new lifestyle and enjoy the experience. Plan enough time. If you’re on a workation, you’ll need to put in a few desk hours every day, which limits your visiting time. Hence, you need more time to enjoy the location. For all of us stable internet is important. Mind you, often these are not the most expensive, luxury places, but quite the opposite; think backpacker hostels and small pensions. For example, quite a few five star hotels still charge for internet, while I haven’t paid for Wi-Fi in a hostel in years. Many hostels nowadays offer private rooms, so if you don’t fancy sharing with 8 snoring party-goers, that’s totally okay! Never underestimate how important sleep is, which leads me to the next point:

Apart from work and play there are three things you should not leave aside on the road: eating healthily, regular exercise and good sleep.

If you follow these few tips, you’ll be able to enjoy your time on the road and work efficiently all while discovering exotic or historically interesting places!

About the author
ProfileRea Gutzwiller translates marketing and technical texts from French, English, Spanish and Italian into German. She has grown up in Switzerland and after graduating at the ETI in Geneva and a couple of years in-house started to travel the world as a nomad translator. She has visited over 20 countries in the last 6 years, which has grown her horizon in many ways and enhanced her world view greatly. Her first article on a nomad lifestyle in a series of four has recently been featured in the first edition of connections. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Guest post: Alimentação saudável como freelancer

Sejam bem-vindos de volta a mais uma publicação convidada!

Tivemos uma pequena alteração este mês: a publicação convidada trocou de data com a entrevista. Portanto, teremos a série Greatest Women in Translation no dia 10, com a Alison Entrekin.

É com grande prazer que apresento a vocês minha nutricionista, Cyntia Galante. Como não só de tradução vive o tradutor freelance, resolvi convidá-la para falar sobre alimentação saudável.

Seja muito bem-vinda, Cyntia!

alberoni 3

Imagem fornecida pela autora.

Trabalhar em casa e me alimentar bem? Como?

Que a alimentação saudável deve fazer parte da nossa rotina todos já sabem, mas por quê? O alimento é responsável pela prevenção e tratamento de doenças, bom desempenho na atividade física esportiva, controle do peso corporal, estados de alergias e intolerâncias alimentares e redução de fatores de risco para doenças crônicas. Alimentação também é parte importante do tratamento de doenças, como hipertensão, diabetes, dislipidemias, cardiopatias, doenças renais, hepáticas, etc. Com o passar dos anos, o corpo sofre transformações. Além disso, o sedentarismo tem se tornado constante, principalmente entre os adultos e idosos.

Mas como manter uma alimentação saudável nos dias de hoje, principalmente com pessoas que têm seus escritórios instalados dentro de casa?

Separei algumas dicas pra vocês conseguirem se organizar melhor!

  • Organize os horários das refeições: comece com a primeira refeição assim que você acorda e tente organizá-las de 3 em 3 horas. A rotina de horários fará com que você sinta fome em horários mais padronizados evitando, assim, possíveis beliscos fora de hora ou longos períodos em jejum.
  • Coloque o seu celular para despertar no horário das refeições. Quando nos envolvemos com o trabalho, é comum nos esquecermos do tempo e, quando percebemos, o dia já acabou e fizemos apenas uma refeição.
  • Planeje as refeições do próximo dia na noite anterior. Isso minimiza a possibilidade de beliscos por falta de ideia do que escolher para comer ou falta de opção saudável.
  • Tenha sempre o planejamento de todas as refeições da semana, principalmente se você cozinha e almoça e janta em casa. Vá ao supermercado com uma lista de compras semanal e compre apenas o necessário. Quanto mais planejada a sua compra de supermercado for, menos tentação você terá em casa, além de não correr o risco de ficar sem nada para preparar e acabar pedindo algum fast food.
  • Hidrate-se!!!! Água é fundamental para o bom funcionamento do cérebro, portanto, trabalhamos melhor quando estamos hidratados. A recomendação de água é de 0,045 ml x kg (por exemplo, uma pessoa que pesa 65 kg deve ingerir 2,9 litros de água por dia). Essa recomendação pode incluir água e chás distribuídos ao longo do dia.
  • Cuidado com o carboidrato! Você já deve estar careca de escutar essa recomendação, mas a ingestão de pães e farinhas (massas, macarrão) é altíssima em pessoas que trabalham mais tempo em casa, pois o acesso é fácil, e é um alimento rápido e prático para preparar.
  • Pratique atividade física regularmente. O exercício regular ajuda na manutenção do sono. Quando o sono ocorre de forma regular e saudável, temos mais facilidade para manter o peso.
  • Durma e acorde sempre em horários regulares e o mais parecido com a rotina de trabalho de escritório. Acordar por volta de 7h e dormir por volta de 22-23h faz com que tenhamos a liberação hormonal adequada durante a noite e tenhamos um dia mais produtivo.
  • Dê preferência e atenção aos alimentos VIVOS. Alimentos que a natureza nos oferece são sempre saudáveis e com certeza devem ser priorizados em qualquer plano alimentar saudável. Eles estão livres de conservantes, corantes, aromatizantes, realçadores de sabores, etc., produtos esses que a indústria alimentícia usa para produzir a maioria dos alimentos.

Use o alimento como a sua fonte de nutrição e energia. Lembre-se de que o seu corpo é a sua principal ”casa” e que, se ele não for bem cuidado e bem tratado, vai ficar mais difícil realizar tarefas rotineiras. Nosso corpo é o nosso maior bem! Não estamos falando de magreza e padrões de beleza. Estamos falando de SAÚDE. Queremos corpos mais saudáveis para vivermos vidas mais saudáveis e mais felizes!

Como vocês podem ver, uma alimentação saudável aliada a uma vida ativa é fundamental para a nossa saúde, principalmente para nós, tradutores, que temos uma vida profissional tão sedentária!

Muito obrigada por aceitar meu convite e nos dar conselhos tão importantes para uma vida mais equilibrada, Cyntia!

Sobre a autora
Foto Cyntia GalanteCyntia Galante é nutricionista formada pela PUC Campinas em 2005 e pós-graduada em Doenças  Crônicas pelo Hospital Albert Einstein. Atua em consultório na cidade de Campinas, SP, desde 2005 e é Personal Diet desde 2008. Idealizadora do Noiva Slim. Siga-a no Instagram em Cyntia Galante e/ou em Noiva Slim. Curta as páginas dela no Facebook em Cyntia Galante Personal Diet e/ou Noiva Slim. Telefone para contato: (19) 98830-1014.

Guest post: We need to be taken seriously (in Portuguese)

Um bom dia congelante para você que mora no Brasil e está sofrendo com esse frio fora do comum. Minhas mãos estão congeladas e está sendo extremamente difícil digitar, mas são os ossos do ofício, não é mesmo? 😉

A publicação convidada deste mês, como vocês podem ver, é em português, daquela que ama chocolates e não esconde de ninguém, Mitsue Siqueira.

Seja bem-vinda, Mit!


Por que você precisa ser levado a sério?

Muita gente reclama que o trabalho do tradutor não é reconhecido nem valorizado pelos clientes e no mercado de trabalho, e que somos cada vez mais subestimados principalmente quando se trata de valores. No entanto, mal nos damos conta de que é igualmente importante educar a cabeça de quem passa mais tempo conosco: nossa família.

Vamos combinar que ninguém merece ouvir dos parentes comentários como “Mas você não trabalha?” ou “Só sabe ficar nesse computador o dia todo!”. Isso para não falar das festas, quando parece que todo mundo se reúne com o objetivo de falar abobrinhas como “Por que você não faz logo um concurso?” ou “Quando vai arrumar um trabalho de verdade?”. Bom, aqui vão algumas dicas para você impor respeito e acabar de vez com essas perguntas nada agradáveis.

Noção do seu trabalho

As pessoas sabem o que você faz? Se não, explique a elas. Você é tradutor, não é professor de idiomas, nem dicionário ambulante nem gramática viva. Você pode até ser professor também, gramatiqueiro ou não, mas é importante fazer as pessoas entenderem que você traduz, e que tradução, didática e linguística podem até se complementar, mas são atividades diferentes que exigem habilidades diferentes.

Respeito ao seu trabalho

As pessoas que moram com você precisam entender que sua casa é o seu local de trabalho. Se você decidiu adotar o seu quarto como home-office, informe que é preciso haver silêncio durante determinado período do dia, com o mínimo possível de interrupções. Se necessário, apele para a personalização de uma linda plaquinha “Estou trabalhando” e pendure na porta do quarto. No pior dos casos, vá de “Não perturbe” mesmo e trabalhe feliz no sossego do seu cantinho.

Respeito ao fruto do seu trabalho

“Tá pensando que dinheiro dá em árvore?” Duvido que você nunca tenha ouvido essa frase de algum parente seu. Então, quando aquela sua tia chata bater na porta do quarto (mesmo com a linda plaquinha personalizada) querendo matar a saudade, fazer fofoca ou simplesmente jogar papo fora, mostre que você aprendeu a lição da árvore que não dá dinheiro e dispense-a educadamente. Afinal, você precisa trabalhar para pagar suas dívidas. Combine de jogar papo fora com ela na hora do almoço, no chá das cinco ou em qualquer outro momento oportuno, mas não na hora do trabalho.

Brincadeiras à parte…

Sim, vamos falar sério agora, muito sério. Como tradutores, enfrentamos uma luta diária para conquistar novos clientes, ganhar valores que correspondam aos nossos esforços, nos destacar em meio ao mercado de trabalho, ser reconhecidos como uma categoria séria (e não apenas como uma profissão “complementar”) e para impor uma série de outros limites que determinam o nosso bem-estar profissional. Se você não consegue organizar uma rotina de trabalho em casa, certamente não terá a estrutura necessária para correr atrás de todos esses outros empreendimentos.

É isso mesmo, impor limites é nosso dever. As outras pessoas pouco (ou nada) sabem da nossa profissão, e isso não é obrigação delas; cabe a nós ensiná-las como a banda toca. Assim como você ensinou que existe um negócio chamado fuso horário àquele cliente que ligou duas ou três vezes durante a madrugada, você deve ensinar que existe um negócio chamado horário de trabalho a quem quer que divida o mesmo teto com você.

Então, ficamos combinados assim: nada de música alta, nada de interrupções desnecessárias, nada de invasões repentinas. Chega, agora não dá mais. Estou trabalhando, mais tarde nos falamos, ok? Afinal de contas, respeito é bom e todo tradutor também gosta.

Muito obrigada por ter aceitado meu convite para escrever aqui no blog, Mit! Principalmente na semana pós-congresso da Abrates, a mais corrida e insana de todas as semanas do ano. Foi um prazer recebê-la no meu cantinho. 🙂

About the author
13453502_438349616364485_156732696_oMitsue Siqueira trabalha como especialista linguístico na Ccaps, empresa brasileira de localização de software, há cerca de cinco anos. Além disso, Mitsue idealizou o Projeto TransMit, uma iniciativa inovadora que visa ajudar tradutores iniciantes e experientes a mapear a qualidade do próprio trabalho por meio de feedbacks linguísticos detalhados e constantes. É formada em Letras (Português-Inglês) pela Universidade Federal Fluminense.

Guest post: How to market your freelance business

Welcome back to our guest series! Today, we welcome back a guest who has already contributed to our blog, Tess Whitty.

Welcome, Tess!


Your Marketing Plan

Creating a plan might scare you, bore you, inspire you or excite you. Whatever your reaction, what’s in your plan will determine the success of your marketing efforts.

No marketing means that your freelance business will experience feast and famine periods, so making a plan, defining what you want to do with your business and where you want to take it will help to make the work coming in more consistent.

When you develop a marketing plan, you are taking a professional approach that brings opportunities to build relationships with clients, instead of being someone solving an emergency the night before a tight deadline. You market to clients who need and value your services, and you follow up with them to keep yourself fresh in their minds. Your marketing plan opens the door to a whole new type of relationship with clients.

What Is Needed in a Marketing Plan? 

Consider the following steps:

1. Define your current situation

2. Find your target market and ideal clients

3. Decide what services to offer that will help your targeted clients

4. Develop SMART goals

5. Create a marketing budget

6. Define marketing tactics

7. Schedule marketing activities

8. Track and follow up

A market analysis is a great place to start your plan. We can’t go to market without knowing what to bring for the customers in that market. Similarly, in translation, we have to find out who needs our services, but in this case, so that we can bring our offering directly to them. Translation after all is not a commodity, but a service that provides value to clients. And your marketing efforts need to reflect that. At this point you may want to consider the following questions:

What is my market?

Who are my customers?

Who am I competing with?

What is my unique selling point?

Making a marketing plan involves knowing the potential businesses involved in what you are buying and selling. Before deciding on the actions you’ll be taking to reach these clients, you need to understand their businesses and how you can bring value to them.

When you learn about your competitors, keep an open mind. Some great relationships can come from working with other translators – and this can benefit you and your clients over the long term.

Your marketing plan consists of information about the industry, sector, type of company and branch of knowledge that you want to work with. This information gives you insight into your customers’ needs, paving the way for you to provide value to clients who need cross-cultural communication. When you understand your ideal clients, you can create a connection by approaching them with something you know they need. Your next step: customizing your marketing to their needs so that they recognize you as an asset to their business.

Learn more about how you can do this in my Quick Start Guide and you’ll be on your way to a successful freelance career and lifestyle!

Thank you for contributing, once again, to our blog, Tess!

About the author
2013-09-24 12.29.09-2Tess Whitty is an English-Swedish freelance translator since 2003, specializing in corporate communications, software and IT. Her educational and professional background is in marketing and she is a popular speaker and trainer at conferences, sharing her knowledge and experience in marketing and freelance business. She is also the author of the book “Marketing Cookbook for Translators”, with easy to follow “recipes” for marketing your translation services and achieving a successful freelance lifestyle, and the award winning podcast “Marketing Tips for Translators”. For more information, and to connect, go to

Guest post: Networking

Welcome back to our guest post series! This is the first one after my holidays, but they already seem so far, far away… I could use some break again, but, hey, the good news is I have a long weekend ahead of me! And this time I’m not working. Yay!

While I enjoy my three days off, I hope you enjoy our next guest post, by Alison Hughes.

Welcome, Alison!


Softly, softly…

Networking: love it or hate it, it is part and parcel of any freelance business.

Does it fill you with dread or do you look forward to getting out and meeting real people in the business world? Have you family responsibilities and/or a limited budget that stop you getting to that all-important client event? Or do you just beaver away on your own and hope you’ll never have to do it?

Changing times

I began freelancing in 1997. At the time it was common practice to work for agencies who all paid roughly the same rate. Life for me was straightforward and I could earn a decent living. But in recent years, with the advent of machine translation and other price pressures, I found I was constantly battling to keep my rate and I knew I had to do something.

Although I had always been an active member of ITI and its local networks, I decided to specialise and up my marketing and networking endeavours. But where to begin? It was obvious I was going to have to go further afield to meet potential clients.

I decided to invest in one main conference a year plus a visit to my source language country, France, but beyond that I had a very limited marketing and CPD budget.

So I started looking for local events in my specialist areas and was astounded at how many there were. And most were either free or inexpensive.

But what is the value of a local event if you don’t live in your source language country? The chances of finding potential clients at these events can be fairly slim. So is there really any point?

If you specialise, I believe there is.


1) These events are wonderful learning opportunities. Listening to experts talking enriches not only your knowledge but also your vocabulary. The more you attend, and the more you learn, the more you gain the confidence to use the correct terms in your own translations. And clients are going to love a translator who speaks their language.

2) I won’t use the stereotype of the introvert translator but – let’s face it – we do spend a lot of our time alone in front of our computers so even the best communicators don’t get much face-to-face interaction. And often the pressure to make a good impression leads to panic and, ultimately, disappointment, when we attend a networking event.

However, if you know you are unlikely to come face-to-face with the ideal potential client, the pressure is off. You can be yourself, talk about your business naturally and listen to what other people say about theirs, without the worry of saying something that will ruin your chances.

3) While you are there you can use the opportunity to promote the translation industry as a whole. At smaller events you will be asked to introduce yourself and I always say:

‘I am a French to English translator working mainly for the creative industries. So this event is an excellent opportunity for me to learn about your industry and to reassure you that excellent, specialist translators are here to stay. Contrary to what you might think, we won’t be replaced by machines any day soon.’

4) And if you do this often enough, when you do splash out on an important industry event, networking will have become second nature. You will have some first-hand knowledge of the industry, you will speak their language, and you will have the confidence to approach important potential clients.

An example:

The Glasgow University College of Arts organises an annual industry day. This year I went to a breakaway session by the dress and textile department. As fashion is one of my specialist areas, this was of particular interest to me and I learnt a lot about Paisley pattern shawls and Singer sewing machines, both local to me in Glasgow. Also, one of the speakers happened to mention she had a background in fabric design and I happened to have a question I could ask her. We have now made contact so I have someone to approach with future queries.

Next month I have invested in the Costume Society Conference in London. I now feel confident I will be able to converse knowledgeably about at least one area of dress and textile design that will perhaps even be new to other attendees. It doesn’t make me an industry expert but does show that I’m taking a close interest.

So now with my well rehearsed introduction, my little bit of knowledge, and my practice networking at much smaller events, if I do come face-to-face with the ideal client, I would hope to be able to handle the situation professionally and see a return on my investment.

Soft networking

Yes, there’s even a term for it. Indeed, any sort of business ‘socialising’ without a strategy or strict targets probably qualifies as soft networking. Engagement on social media is another example.

Have you tried the ‘softly, softly’ approach?

Thank you so much for accepting my invitation to write a guest post for our blog, Alison! It was a real pleasure hosting you.

Alison has also kindly written a poem about the topic. Here it is:


Of course I’ll go, it’s something new
And definitely time my business grew

The event is free so that’s a plus
Networking? Don’t understand the fuss

I’m no shrinking violet, or so I’m told
So what’s the problem for one so bold?

New cards, nice suit and business head
I’m ready for action… what’s that you said?

No, it’s my first, of many I hope
It won’t be easy but I’m sure I’ll cope

Damn and blast it where’s the map?
Not yet a panic, just a bit of a flap

OK I’m not early, but not that late
Just remember it’s not a date

No-one is waiting just for you
But, oh my God, what do I do?

With a beating heart of increasing pace
I scan the room for a familiar face

I’m on my own, there’s no other way
I’ll just have to think of something to say

I approach a group deep in conversation
But stop in my tracks as the topic’s inflation

Deciding I need some time to think
I head for the table to have a drink

I grab a water and down it in one
Desperately fighting the urge to run

Group number two looks a better bet
Just need to do it, no time to vet

‘Do you mind if I join you?’ I say to be nice
It does the trick and breaks the ice

‘My name is Jan’ one says with a smile
Is this your first event in a while?

‘Yes’ I say, ‘well to tell the truth.
First event ever, shaky hand’s the proof.’

‘Only my second so I feel your pain.
But little to lose and lots to gain’

Her words of encouragement are all I need
I join the group and am soon up to speed

Explaining the work of a freelance translator
I discover a client who may need me later

Cards are exchanged and it’s time to move on
Somehow I no longer feel so forlorn

It certainly wasn’t as easy as expected
But a couple more and I could have this perfected.

So, did you like it? Nice, huh? 🙂

About the author

After 17 years in the wines and spirits industry, Alison Hughes embarked on a freelance career and is now a French to English translator and copywriter for the creative industries. Her specialisms are food and drink, fashion and cosmetics, tourism and the arts. She has been coordinator for the ITI Media, Arts & Tourism network since 2010.

This guest blog post expands on one of the points of the talk Alison gave at the 2015 ITI Conference in April: It’s not what you spend but the way that you spend it.

You can contact Alison on her website, Facebook, Twitter (@AHcreattrans) or LinkedIn.

Guest post: Freelancer as a sole breadwinner

Today, we should have the second part of Israel Alves de Souza Júnior’s guest post, but we had a change of plans. Stay tuned for his post next week. Meanwhile, I can assure you will love today’s guest. It is a huge pleasure to have her on our blog, since she is one of my role-models, besides being widely well-known in our profession. Please give a warm welcome to Marta Stelmaszak!

Welcome, Marta!


Freelance translator as a sole breadwinner: opportunities and challenges

The decision to go freelance may have different roots and causes. From sheer frustration with a working environment, to an entrepreneurial calling, professionals start their freelancing journey for a variety of reasons. Yet it hardly ever is a leap of faith. Freelancers, including many freelance translators I know in person, turn to running their own business often in situations where they can afford to – and of course that’s responsible, reasonable and safe.

The majority of freelance translators I know have a significant other who in part to the household expenses, or have themselves benefitted from previous careers in which they paid their student loans or mortgages off. There is, of course, nothing wrong with that and I never realised my situation was anyhow different until recently.

To give you a bit of background, I was supporting myself right through my higher education (I asked for it, leaving my country, parents and friends far behind), and jumped right into freelancing as my main and only source of income straight after graduating. For the past five, maybe six years, I’ve been a sole breadwinner for my one-person community. Now that it’s changed and I’m no longer sole, I’ve noticed a significant change in my circumstances. If you are a freelance translator who’s the main, or sole, breadwinner, I think you may have had similar experiences or thoughts.

Absolute freedom

On a positive note, if you’re a sole freelance translator, you can enjoy this absolute freedom to work any time you want, arrange your routine exactly the way you feel like and don’t feel like you’re affecting anyone around you. Truth to be told, it’s not solely applicable to sole freelancers, but if you have a partner, you’re most probably following some sort of a shared or negotiated schedule. Not that I miss it, but long gone are days where I’d pull an all-nighter or work right through the weekend with home food deliveries.

Survival instinct

Being a sole breadwinner, especially if you have others depending on you, can serve as a catalyst for your survival instinct. From my own experience, I know that it’s totally different to be faced with a situation where you have to do something about marketing your services or else you’ll be running out of money for rent, and the same situation where this means a slower month but it’s not a complete disaster. This survival instinct gives you strength to go out of your comfort zone and do things you haven’t thought you were capable of.


Another side effect is the determination you may accidentally develop as a sole freelancer. In my case, I knew that I had to find a way of growing my business and there were no other possibilities, nothing to fall back on if something goes wrong.

Health risks

On the flip side, all the sole freelance translators I know tend to be a bit neglecting when comes to their own health and condition. It’s so easy to stay up all night or just not eat properly, or work for 18 hours straight… I know I used to pay much less attention to my health and how I felt, always finding there were more important things to do, or issues that needed my attention. Of course, this was really damaging to my health, resulting in a long antibiotic treatment by the end of 2014.

More stress

I never felt I was particularly stressed back then, but now from a perspective of passing time and changed circumstances, I know just how nervous and overstressed I was on a day-to-day basis. Feast and famine periods, late payments, dealing with non-payers, currency fluctuations, these were recurrent topics in some of my worst nightmares. Sole freelancers tend to be exposed to these stress triggers much more, as of course they’d be affected more dramatically, but also there are very few people to share this worry with.

Workaholic tendencies

Do sole freelancers work more? This has proven to be the case in my scenario. I used to work much more than now, with lower productivity and generally less happy, but I did put more hours into my business. I secretly suspect I was a bit workaholic, while now I definitely have a much healthier attitude to work. What’s the push and what’s the pull?

If you’re a sole freelancer, have you experienced similar feelings or situations in your life? Do you agree with me?

Thank you so very much, Marta, for accepting my invitation and taking the time to write something to the blog! It is a huge pleasure to host you here, you being my role-model and all. 😀

I did have roughly the same experience as you: I used to work a lot more before than I do now. As I already told my readers over and over again, in my beginning, I used to work almost around the clock, sleeping threee to four hours a day at the most – when I slept. Nowadays, I work from 8 a.m. (or later, depending on my sleep needs) through 5 p.m., because I religiously go to gym every evening. I usually don’t work on weekends nor on holidays, except when necessary, of course. The benefits are way bigger than those of working too much.

Please do add your own experiences. 😉

About the author
4869smMarta Stelmaszak is a Polish and English translator and interpreter specialising in law, IT, marketing and business. She is a member of the Management Committee of the Interpreting Division at the Chartered Institute of Linguists and of the International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters. Marta is also a qualified business mentor, a member of the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. In 2015, she has been selected by IPSE as one of top 15 freelancers in the UK and graduated from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Marta runs the Business School for Translators, an online course and entrepreneurial blog for translators and interpreters and published a book. Marta is active on Twitter and Facebook, where she shares information related to the business aspects involved in being a translator and interpreter.