10 Hard Truths Every Freelancer Should Know

December 1, 2014
10 Hard Truths Every Freelancer Should Know

Working as a freelance translator can be tough at times. And often eager, would-be freelancers decide to jump into the role without coming to terms with some of the harsh realities that freelancing can entail.  

If you’re considering going freelance, then make sure you don’t forget some of the downsides too! This post will briefly highlight 10 hard truths of working as a freelance translator.

1. You will work long hours

Especially when you first start out, you’ll need to put in lots of time to set up your freelance business. And even after you’re established, you’ll still need to spend additional time performing extra jobs in order to run your business smoothly.

2. You have extra jobs to perform

When you don’t have an employer, you’ll find that you now have to perform a host of other jobs too: bookkeeping, marketing, admin, project management, client communications… the list grows along with your business! (For suggestions on how to manage this, click here.)

3. You have to find your own work

Unfortunately, work won’t magically appear in your inbox each morning, and you’ll have to put in some effort to network, find work, build a reputation and secure on-going contracts. (To discover some strategies to source work, click here.)

4. Your amount of work (and income!) will fluctuate

Even if you’re extremely successful at sourcing your own work, there will inevitably be quieter weeks where you’ll find yourself idling away. Other months will be jam-packed and you might even have to turn work away! And as your work fluctuates, so will your income.

5.  There’s no paid time off

Unlike working as an employee, you won’t receive any paid time off from work. This means that if you take a holiday, need to spend some time off due to sickness, or if you’re pregnant and are about to have a child, then your income will stop too.

6. You won’t receive any pension contributions

Most employers offer a contributory pension scheme for their employees, which is a great help later in life. But as a freelancer, you’ll need to start saving for your retirement by yourself.

7. There’s no end-of-year bonus

One of the perks of working in a larger establishment is that you could receive a financial bonus for working hard during an important period. As a freelancer, you’ll find that your clients won’t be willing to reward you for hard work in the same way.

8. You’ll have to pay for your own training

If you want to take a course of education or extra training to further develop your skills, then the tuition fee will have to come out of your own pocket. It’s common for employers to pay for their staff to receive additional training, but as a freelancer you’ll have to pay for this yourself.

9. It’s harder to build lasting value

When you switch from one contract to another, it’s harder to contribute to something of lasting value. A good employer will give you the opportunity to help work towards their mission, and hopefully leave your mark on the world. It’s not so apparent how you’re working towards a bigger goal when you’re a freelancer who constantly switches between different contracts.

10. There’s no clear boundary between work and personal time

Maintaining your work/life balance is significantly harder when working freelance, especially if you work from home (which most freelancers do). When you live in the same place that you work from, your work starts to encroach upon your personal life and vice versa. And when you consider that some clients will want you to be available around the clock, it’s easy to lose sight of where your boundaries lie.

If you’re a freelancer, why not let us know some hard truths that you’ve had to face up to?

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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