Keeping your finances in good order is essential for a successful freelance career. However, there’s no guarantee that being great at providing translation services means you’ll also work well with numbers. After all, it is the cerebral cortex that processes language, while numerals are dealt with by the inferior temporal gyrus.
Given this division of duties by the brain, the Tomedes team has pulled together these five financial admin hacks, to help freelance translators turn their linguistic skills into flourishing careers.
Racing to beat a target can be a great motivator, but one that’s often lacking for freelance workers, with no boss to determine what those targets should be. However, there’s no reason not to set yourself some financial targets. Simply log your income for any given week or month, then aim to beat it the following one. Once you’ve been logging your income for a whole year, you can then set yourself a monthly or even annual goal to beat your income from the same time a year ago.
Logging your income in this way can also help you ensure that your earnings are increasing sufficiently to keep pace with inflation – and to do something about it if they’re not. You can also use such data as the basis to give yourself rewards when you have a particularly good month and beat the previous month’s (or year’s) income.
It may seem an obvious point, but saving for tax as you go means you avoid the surprise of suddenly having to find the money to pay your annual tax bill. Simply put away the relevant percentage of your income each month and tax bill time will leave you feeling entirely un-phased. It’s a simple trick, but one that an astonishing number of freelancers neglect to do.
From personalised letterheads to fancy business cards, there are plenty of office-related products that are available to freelancers who are willing to spend money on them. However, it’s good to review periodically whether you’re getting value from such items. If all they do is sit on your desk taking up space, then they are simply a waste of money – if they don’t further your career, then cut out the expense and make a saving.
While some freelancers are very disciplined about having a single rate and sticking to it, many find that over time they end up with different rates for different clients. Promotional offers, “mates’ rates” and special prices that you agree in order to win a job you particularly want can all lead to this happening. If this sounds familiar, be sure to jot down what you charge each client and from when. That way you can introduce regular rate rises in order to keep up with inflation, while still being fair to each client and keeping their rate steady for a year at a time (for example).
Having your own accountant might seem like an extravagance, but it could actually save you money in the long run. It can also provide you with peace of mind that you’re keeping your finances in order and not neglecting to submit any tax paperwork on time. From advice on the most cost effective structure for your business to taking time-consuming tax returns off your hands, using a professional accountant can make a big difference.
We’ve provided the above tips to help you run your freelance translation career effectively, even if numbers aren’t one of your key strengths. Feel free to share any other hints and tips with your fellow freelancers by leaving a comment below. Happy freelancing!