Goodbye summer

Summer is over, time to take stock

All good things come to an end, so does my first summer in Slovenia. And what a summer it has been: blue skies, temperatures in the high 30ies and mighty thunderstorms – just as I remember it from my childhood in Switzerland.

Not ending, however, is my new vocation as a Translator. To the contrary, I have taken to freelancing – it would make a duck jealous.

Work so far

Offers have been dribbling in, slowly but steadily. I have managed to add my name to a few agencies in the UK, the US and Europe – sometimes after passing a test translation, but mostly after a satisfactory random assignment. I have also managed to fail one of these test translations (the very first one).

A very exciting client, an Integrative Cancer Clinic, found me through Fiverr and has kept me busy over the summer months. I also had my first French into German translation for a Swiss breast cancer screening study assigned to me.

Active job searching on freelance websites such as upwork was only necessary at the beginning. It provided an excellent source for initial experience: interacting with clients, working towards deadlines and obviously increasing my translation proficiency using CAT software. However, the community on upwork is not orientated towards quality, the rates are poor, fees are high, and payment is slow. In my naivety, I undersold my services for the promise of more work. It took me a while to realise that the “leading to more work” bait is a fat lie. I once translated a test sample which, I am sure now, was the actual translation they needed – I live and learn.

Even though I am not actively using freelance websites anymore, I shall keep my profiles on upwork and Fiverr – it’s all about web presence.

Being discoverable

I’ve read that most of the time translation projects find you (around 80%), rather than you having to look for them. I can happily confirm this. It was also mentioned that a distinct niche or specialisation would be useful to stand out. Interestingly, and without promoting this, the fact that I am Swiss German helped me land a few assignments. Although I always emphasise that Swiss German is not a language but merely a spoken dialect. The written language in Switzerland is High German – ok, a Swiss variant of High German. This, however, was the exact requirement of the client. I shall not disagree.

at the fishpond
Gathering my thoughts at the fishpond

Medical content writer?

A new seed was planted when the above-mentioned Cancer Clinic asked me if I would be interested in writing medical content. I have seen Medical Writing on the list of freelance careers for doctors who want to leave clinical practice but never seriously considered it. At the moment, I am spending time learning ‘how to improve my writing skills’ and looking into the practices of medical journalism and health blogging. I have a lot to learn, but watch that space…

CAT tools

I have been flirting with the idea of getting SDL Trados, the top translation software, for a while. Since May my MacBook is ready for it and has VMware Fusion and Windows installed. Yesterday I downloaded Trados, and I am currently learning how to use it. As we are going into autumn and people are getting more industrious, and work tends to pick up – I am ready to join in and giving my freelancing best.