Thriving Through the Lulls in a Feast-or-Famine Freelance Business or How I Applied Another Skill to Create a Second Income Stream

Greater than 2 minutes, my friend!


Like many freelancers, I am an entrepreneur. I sort of have career ADD, if that is a thing. Throughout my years as a contract negotiator and drafter, I continually had a side project that had nothing to do with law. I have co-written a soccer book, co-own a mom-and-pop coffee shop with my family, and have pursued a specialty lemonade business, along with countless endeavors that did not get far off the page.

With a desire to finally use my love of Spanish, I became a freelance translator a little over a year ago, specializing in law and business. I really took the plunge earlier this year and quit my day job. It was such a great decision for me. I am still in the building phase but daily look forward to applying advice and tools from those experts who have gone before me to grow my business.

Despite my enthusiasm for my new profession, I pretty much knew it was a matter of time before I would feel the urge to start something new. I also wanted to safeguard against prosaic periods of freelancer famine during which time fine-tuning my marketing materials was not rewarding enough. I just had to create something but the destination for this energy was not clear yet.

Recently one morning, I searched online for translator-themed merch – you know, stuff you buy from a band at a concert – that is, merchandise. I have plenty of mugs, tote bags, even a pocket knife with logos from corporations I used to work for or frequent. I have tee-shirts with my favorite musicians from those oh-so-awesome shows. I wanted something to show off that I am a translator. I would be surprised if a shop like this did not exist already somewhere, but a cursory google search was fruitless.

Hmm…I can design things, I thought. I did plenty of self-taught graphic design work for my other businesses. I have a relatable sense of humor or levity, I also thought, feeling fairly confident I would find a niche-within-a-niche in the translator/interpreter world for my goods.

After a few days of letting this stew, and with some research as to how to do it, I jumped in and spent hours designing graphics for various products I think people will like. I figured out how to start small with little overhead to see how it goes, then can pretty easily expand as need be.

For a little over a week, I lost focus on my translation business. But I knew if I could get this new idea up and running, I could spend a portion of my work week on it (which also is a nice break from the grind), and then concentrate the majority of the time on translation.

I am at the beginning of it, but wanted to share with those of you who might be thinking of branching out. I found it difficult to come up with a fresh perspective for a blog. There are so many excellent industry blogs already (of course go for it if you have a view to contribute). It took some time, and probably a bit of providence, but I was able to come up with an idea that capitalizes on a skill and interest I had already.

While focus is one of the keys to success, I have subscribed more to the theory of not having all my eggs in one basket. I feel more secure and more fulfilled by focusing on several baskets, one at a time, to increase my income and well-being. If you’re thinking of starting a side business, do your research and then go for it! Best wishes to you!


Tote TIFL LogoMug CAT RightTeeIntBeenThere


Rebecca Gilsdorf

About Rebecca Gilsdorf

J.D. Spanish and Italian > US English freelance translator specializing in law, business, and lifestyle. Entrepreneur, coffee shop co-owner, artist, co-author of the World Soccer Atlas.

4 thoughts on “Thriving Through the Lulls in a Feast-or-Famine Freelance Business or How I Applied Another Skill to Create a Second Income Stream

    1. Thanks, Eleonora! I am sure you have a hobby or interest that you can expand – just give it some thought, be open to it, and then ideas may pop up when you’re least expecting them. As a seasoned entrepreneur, I can tell you my ventures have not all been hits, but it is fun to try and see what I can make of them.

      I hope to open my own website soon but for now, you can find Translation is for Lovers on Facebook. I’d love to know your thoughts! 🙂

      Report comment

Leave a Reply

The Open Mic

Where translators share their stories and where clients find professional translators.

Find Translators OR Register as a translator