The “freelance life” can be very attractive for many new translation graduates after long years of classes, group assignments and final exams. Not having a fixed schedule, doing some work on the side while continuing one's studies, or increasing rates without waiting for a year-end evaluation are indeed some of the benefits of being a freelancer, but “the life” also comes with its own set of downsides.
The flexibility freelancing offers is very real, but freedom does not mean translators can drop everything to go have fun on any weekday afternoon. Not only do they have to meet their deadlines, they also must take care of many other aspects of the business, such as marketing, sales, accounting, etc. When it comes to freelancing, while freedom means not having to ask for permission to take Friday off or to go to a doctor’s appointment in the middle of the day, it also means working late on other days or using part of your weekend to compensate for the time lost.
Contrary to popular belief, people who are self-employed often work more hours than salaried employees. Freelance translators are business owners minus the commuting, and as such, they have many more tasks to juggle than anyone with a 9-to-5 job. Being a business owner can be very stressful, but with time, entrepreneurs adjust to their new life and, finances permitting, outsource the more uninspiring aspects of their business to get the freelance life of their dreams.
Those who can withstand a certain degree of stress may find that, in the long term, freelancing is a great opportunity to have a compressed work schedule, to create their dream workspace, and improve their work-life balance. Those who are successful in getting clients to keep them busy full time may end up earning more than they would as employees. Working from anywhere in the world becomes a very concrete alternative for travel lovers—as long as they are organized and have a good Internet connection.
Freelancing has many additional advantages, such as no commuting, a very casual dress code, and more freedom to fit work around other aspects of life.
While being your own boss comes with many additional responsibilities and tasks that may be overwhelming for a starter, freelancing has some unexpected benefits. Planning daily meals when working outside the house can be challenging, but being at home makes it a lot simpler and eliminates any excuses for not eating healthy foods. Setting some time aside to workout is suddenly possible too, and well-organized freelancers can even squeeze their workouts in between projects. People who have pets may find freelancing ideal, as most pets prefer to have humans around.
Moreover, without the negative influence of tempting stores close to work and no trips to the nearest coffee shop several times a day, saving money is also easier for people who work from home. Finally, the environment benefits from remote work as well, because a reduction in commuting, in turn, lowers carbon emissions.
With all the information they can get their hands on, those who are considering freelance work as a lifestyle should balance the positive aspects of self-employment against the negative ones to ensure they make an informed decision. As we spend a large portion of our waking hours working, it is important to maximize the chances of choosing a lifestyle that fits not only our current needs, but also one that can be adapted to future life projects.
Although the first few years can be difficult, with good organization, discipline and perseverance, the freelance life is not only possible, but may end up being one of the best decisions a person can ever make.