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What Nobody Tells You About Freelancing

Did you pull it off at the first attempt when you began your career as a freelance translator or writer?

While I would much rather talk about the present or look forward to the future, today I will tell you a bit about the past:

My professional career took off in 2004 when a bank hired me to take on a multilingual customer service role in Barcelona. I was a college student, and I needed to support myself.

Most of my jobs were linked to the customer care industry during my college years — or at least on paper if you know what I mean. Sometimes those jobs included or led to translation and interpreting projects.

In early 2008, I found myself needing some extra money. I took a bartending job on the weekend, which I quit after completing my licentiate in Translation and Interpreting in late 2010.

At that time, I had been working for a bank for over a year and continued to do so until early 2016. Later that year, I moved to Chicago.

Although I had managed my own translation business, BPM Traducciones, from 2011 through 2015, I never dared to make it my only job. It was all fear (e.g., impostorism, lack of self-confidence, bad advice, and financial crisis periods).

Moving to America finally saw me committing to go full-time as an independent professional. That, however, was easier said than done!

If you work freelance, you know it takes time to build a loyal clientele to get work regularly. It also takes a lot of effort and patience because you will likely come across plenty of cheap people and scammers. Most people do not accomplish that on the first try.

While I needed a steady income to make ends meet as a full-time freelance translator, I did not want to take on a salaried position again. Instead, I took a side job as a pet care professional, which allowed me to work as needed and have a flexible schedule.

I had always found looking after animals immensely fulfilling at a personal level. I often bond quickly with birds, cats, and dogs. That contributes to notable improvements in their behaviors.

Once I became an English into Spanish certified translator by the American Translators Association (ATA) in 2017, I began getting enough work to support myself without needing side jobs. I also chose my specialization — medical translation.

Except for the first year of the pandemic, each year has been better than the previous one. And now, I am looking at diversifying by adding medical writing to my services.

How has your path been? Did you make it right out of college? Or did you persevere until you found success?

Let me know in the comments below!

For those of you who are at the beginning of your freelance careers, I have a piece of advice:

“If at first you don’t succeed, then dust yourself off and try again; you can dust it off and try again.”


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