Every time I’m asked what I do for a living, and I answer by saying that I’m a freelancer who works from home, the reaction I get most of the time is: “How do you do it? How do you manage your time?”
A translators job is dictated by deadlines, but also by individual productivity. These two elements always go hand-in-hand. Clients increasingly demand shorter time frames for large projects, and it is up to the translator to set the deadline, bearing in mind the workload they are capable of achieving in the time period. Highly productive translators can set their own hours to suit their needs, balancing their work life and private life. However, when translators face short deadlines and/or have a median output rate, more often than not, the odds are that they may miss out on a few hours sleep, weekends and even holidays. Notwithstanding, clients ought to be aware that when dealing with freelancers, translators often have their workload mapped out, and even though they may be willing to forgo weekends or family time, this is the exception and not the rule. Demanding impossible deadlines equals a mediocre translation, carried out by somebody who doesn’t warrant the title of a professional translator.
Hence, it is of the utmost importance that neither client or translator be misled by the “free” in freelancer. Translators should set their own rules, and define their pace of daily output so that they meet deadlines without fail and honour their commitments. On the other hand, clients should reach out to translators sooner rather than later, so as to ensure quality delivery. We live in a fast-paced world, where everything is expected to be done ASAP, but planning is of the essence when managing a business, be it the client or the translator.
Translators should know where their strengths and weaknesses lie and work accordingly. Clients should create and manage their projects and deadlines in a way that enables the translator to do a good job. Neither party aspires to a bad outcome, and it is up to each side to make allowances, taking care not to jeopardize their business on the back of wanting to hand the job in hastily. Communication is key, and if the parties understand what the other one does, future partnerships will be more rewarding and successful.