The Linguist

The Linguist 54,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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Page 14 of 35 STARTING OUT What helped me most was attending networking events. Between March and July, I went to two legal workshops, one business forum and a networking lunch organised by a translation agency for their freelancers. Each one proved to be useful. The legal workshops gave me my first corporate client; the business forum introduced me to a partner from a related industry; and the agency lunch brought much-needed fellow linguists with whom I could share my workload. SKILLS SWAPS With Russo-British relations continuing to deteriorate and the Russian economy in crisis, freelance translators working between English and Russian are finding that our contracts are being terminated, with hardly any new commissions coming our way. Due to the weakening of the rouble, projects are increasingly being outsourced to Russia- based competitors. At such times, collaboration is vital, and it is time to look for opportunities using any additional skills you may have. My first partner came from an export consultancy: he agreed to endorse my services to his clients in return for PR work, which I was qualified to do thanks to previous experience. We agreed that I would volunteer five hours a week for one month and that we would then assess the value of the collaboration to us both. My second partner was an old friend, a website designer from Russia, who offered to build my website in return for help with marketing his business in the UK. This only worked because we were prepared to set aside a fixed number of hours to work for free. You can't go fishing for skills and information exchanges unless you are willing to commit to such conditions. FINANCIAL CONCERNS While the bulk of my work came from legal firms, I realised that limiting my options to one market would not work in the current climate. Hence, I took a client who wanted me to negotiate his registration fees to attend a law conference in London and have his paper published in a leading UK industry magazine. As he was happy with the outcome, he recommended me to a colleague, who has placed an order for the same service. Having no budget for a website and advertising meant fewer clients, so I dedicated every free hour to business development and writing content for the future website (which is now live at This included asking customers for a quick review of my services. Having no fixed monthly income can be difficult, but eventually you learn to forecast your fees and seek additional income as your business grows. Childcare is still an issue, but I am fortunate to have found a flexible childminder who charges an hourly rate, so I can use her when big orders come through. THE RIGHT CHOICE? It is early days, but the decision to go freelance feels right so far. For the first time in my life, I am able to choose my working hours. This enables me to meet the changing needs of my child – for example being able to take him for his vaccinations and taking holidays when I need to, not only when there is space on the annual leave chart. The three-hour commute has become history, which means I finally get enough sleep, between work and family commitments, to function properly. As a freelancer, you can offset numerous business expenses against tax, including some that you may have been paying for anyway, such as heating, hardware and software. Childcare can be organised around my working schedule, so I pay a fraction of the cost that office work would require, and I can spend time with my son on quiet days. There is no better way of starting the week than with a family breakfast, working your way through the day and planning your work around family life. In the end, how you feel about your work is what really matters. My first partner came from an export consultancy: he agreed to endorse my services in return for PR work NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES Katya meets with public service interpreter Olga Moffett, a member of her LinkedIn Group for Russian Translators and Interpreters in the UK, at Language Show Live 2015 (right) BITING THE BULLET Leaving the security of salaried work (left) can be scary but it also offers new possibilities and greater flexibility

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