The decision is made, or there is no other choice, and you become a freelancer. In this important moment of your life, it is very easy to either start running to fast and miss some essential points, or to go too slow to make any progress.
The first week of a freelancing career is essential. If you get it wrong there, it will take ages to set things right. Going freelance really is the same as setting up your own business. Would you launch a company with no preparation whatsoever?
Things to do to get started as a freelance translator:
Day 1: Enjoy and embrace the moment
Going freelance is a brave and life-changing step for any translator, especially if you’re left without any full-time or part-time job. After months or years of being an employee, you deserve a celebration. Do whatever makes you happy and relaxed, and keep reminding yourself that this is the first day of your new life as a translator. Concentrate on good emotions and your enthusiasm.
Day 2: Assess your situation
Take a piece of paper and write down all that you already have: education, certifications, courses, webinars, experience, CV, good network, translation software, reliable PC. Also, make a list of things that you’re missing: website, marketing plan, brochures, self-employment. Making such a list shows you that you already did the most time-consuming part of preparing to run your own business, and quite a lot of things to do can be outsourced.
Day 3: Write up a development plan
You can’t drive too far if you don’t have a steering wheel. One could say that running a business without a clear direction is a bit insensible, isn’t it? Write down what do you want to achieve by the end of this month, in the next 6 months, after one year and in two year’s time. And then simply add what do you have to do to make your goals happen.
Day 4: Arrange your office
Going to work is an essential part of being a freelancer. Really. If you don’t have a designated work space, you will not be able to work. There are people out there who literally eat their breakfasts, get dressed to work, walk out of their homes, walk around for 2-3 minutes, come back and go straight to their work spaces. This makes your brain think you’re actually at work. It also makes you more disciplined and you don’t waste that much time pretending that you work.
If you have to, get a new desk. Remove all private and distracting items. Buy folders and files. Go through old papers and documents that you’ve dashed away months ago. Clean and arrange your hard drive into folders, and make sure to keep your data tidy.
Day 5: Get a structure
We are all bound to have our lives structured on various levels. These frames of what happens and repeats every day keep our minds sane and teach us how live. If you decide to be a freelance translator, your structure will have a great impact on your life. Decide which days you work (for example, I never take Sundays off, I always to the most boring and nasty stuff then), how many hours per day you work, what time you start, when is your lunch break, when do you do your marketing, when do you learn, what time you go to bed. Why is that so important? Imagine a shop, or a cafe, with no set opening hours. All employees come whenever they want, do whatever they want and don’t really keep their duties. Would you buy in this shop?
Day 6: Get rid of the things that hold you back
All these monsters from the past that you never had time to do, or simply kept forgetting for ages (like I did with my electricity bills, until they wanted a mountain of gold from me), it’s time to deal with them! Write back to people who’ve waited too long, pay back your loans, call this engineer to fix your fireplace, talk to your mum.
Things that we feel we should have done but never did, they have a great impact on our wellbeing and productivity. They’re always somewhere under the skin, making us worried and troubled. Sort them out and you’ll feel the pressure go away.
Day 7: Launch
Officially and openly confess that you are an independent professional from now on. Change your online profiles, update your CV, tell everyone you know that from today you are a business person. You can even make a small startup campaign online, just to make everyone know about you. Chat with people on Twitter, post your update on Facebook, ceremonially like your change of status. Write to your close friends and tell them that you’re now running your own business.
It will make you feel proud and brave. But also, you will be surprised how much good energy you’ll receive, and how much support you’ll get from everyone around you. Couldn’t imagine a better start!