Translator, but not only…

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    I’ve been working as a freelance translator for almost 3 years now… We all know how hard it is right? Well at least I do!

    Maybe the reason why I keep on struggling to find new clients is because I am not only a translator!

    Yeah life is tough, and I knew from the begining that I would not be able to make a living out of my passion during the first years. Which is why I’m having a “back up job”.

    It doesn’t matter what I do, thing is it allows me to get money while I’m trying to find new clients and projects. But (yeah it always shows up) it also keeps me from getting the best out of translation. I mean I work seven hours a day which is not what we call hard working, but still it doesn’t help me getting the most out of what I could do with my clients. Especially when these seven hours are splitted in half during the day. It leaves like 2 hours a day to get to work and do my best. And even though I do do my best, seems like it’s not enough.

    My clients usually require me for some kind of translation that needs to be done in the next 12/24 hours. God I hate those deadlines!

    So yeah friends of mine told me I should be patient and still go hard, but I’m pretty impatient.

    Will it pay in the end? Will I finally find a way to keep two jobs even if one of them is really interesting? I guess Mr. Future will tell me…later.


    Anyway, just wanted to know if any of you guys have ever been through this? If so I’ll be more than glad to hear from you 😉


    Mickael Cornuel.

    Mickael Cornuel

    About Mickael Cornuel

    7 thoughts on “Translator, but not only…

    1. Hi Michael,I also had an other job before having the opportunity to be a translator in the new country I moved to and where the only job opportunities I was offered is to clean the toilets….I’m still in this country and worked as a freelance translator from 14 years.

    2. Hey Mickael! Don’t get discouraged if you feel like you’re not achieving results right away. It might take years and years before it pays off. But the payoff will be big. Keep pushing forward! Read and learn like crazy. Learn about marketing, learn about web design, learn about sales. You can’t win by being a translator. To be competitive you need to be able to learn new skills, try new things and be daring and courageous. It’s the only way to go about it.

      When in doubt watch this video if you haven’t done so yet. I’m playing it on repeat almost every day of my life: link to

      Don’t give up and go forward, man! You’ll get there!

    3. Well I have to say I am DYING to learn more, so I guess I’m on the right road!
      Thank you for the advice @Dmitry!
      Thank you @Patricia as well, it feels good to know that someone has been there before and found a way to work it all out!

      1. Well. I guess you’re in the right place, Mickael 😉 Our awesome contributors have been sharing so many great articles recently! All it takes is just taking your time to systematically apply everything you’ve learned. At a certain point you should stop learning and start executing and acting on ideas.

        Patience is the name of the game. Be patient and keep doing whatever it takes and you’ll get there. Make sure you document your progress. Start a blog. You can write here if you like. I think it could be very encouraging for the others to see your progress in business.

    4. Hi, Mickael! I’ve been translating for five years , editing since 2013 or around. When I graduated as a “Technical, Scientific and Literary Translator” back in 2010 I had no connections whatsoever, knew nothing about Trados—except that I was determined not to like it, just in case—and I had absolutely no idea about all the marketing tools and resources you could find on the Internet by browsing a little. Nobody had talked about marketing, branding, selling oneself to a target audience, etc. during my years as a budding translator, so these terms were not exactly part of my brainstorming when it came to considering how on Earth I was supposed to start working. So it occurred to me that the best approach I could take was to tell all my relatives, friends, acquaintance, etc. that I’d gotten my degree as a translator with merit, yay!! I imagined that by doing this, translation projects would easily start falling in my way. In fact, some of those thoughts proved to be fruitful. My first job was to translate a CV. I got that thanks to a former Drama Club mate who needed to have her CV translated from Spanish into English, as she was moving to London. She’d heard about my graduating as a translator and was happy to request my services. I was certainly happy to accept! That being said, my first year as a freelancer was not exactly constantly successful, as I did around four projects overall, but in any case I didn’t waste my time, and I can see through your latest comments that you won’t, either! One thing I did was, the year after I graduated, I started a university course in Language and Literature which I am still currently taking while I work as a full-time freelance translator and editor. That same year, I took an intense training in Interpreting. One of the subjects we had was very much connected with marketing oneself as a freelance interpreter. I remember one particular assignment that helped me see the light: our teacher encouraged us to research other freelancers’ résumes, agency websites, etc. in order to start creating our own marketing materials before we graduated as interpreters. By this time, I realised how necessary it is to have or develop a business-like mindset when trying to sell your services as a freelancer, no matter whether you intend to work as a translator, an interpreter, an editor, etc. It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to feel undervalued. As I nagivated through year two and my work in translation was still spare, I began to ask myself, as I longed for a better workflow, “What’s the point of knowing if you can’t do?” Yep, I can be very creative when things don’t come out as expected. But that negative thought led to positive action: I began to update my CV as I learned more skills, took more training on this or that subject matter, and kept sending my profile to potential direct and agency clients for a long time, until I began to get some replies. I never stop learning, not just from my everyday job as a freelancer, but also apart from my work routine. Nowadays, I am studying French as a foreign language, not with the aim to become a translator of French, but for mere pleasure. I also believe that taking part in creative leisure activities can help every freelancer boost their approach to their personal life and business, and have fun! So perhaps while you learn and research in traditional terms, you can also find a new hobbie that may be somewhat related with the fields you would like to work in in the near future? I don’t know, I hope all this blabbering helps, anyway. I guess it’s important to do things that help us keep our head held high even if things don’t happen as fast as we expect them to and in proportion to our own efforts. Best of luck!!

    5. One thing I forgot to say: I don’t think having a back-up job is incompatible with working as a freelance translator. In fact, I still keep a back-up job during weekends. It’s a small family business that I co-run with my mum. It has absolutely nothing to do with translation and helps me get disconnected and socialise a lot with strangers for few hours.
      If, at present, your back-up job demands a lot of your time, keep making the most of those few hours you have for your translation business. When I dreamed about being a writer, I wondered how some people could write entire sagas and have a life at the same time. I’ve heard of full-time mothers who stayed up late once their children went to bed in order to be able to write. They sacrificed their sleep, but they managed to write the novel they wanted to write and became published authors. Having a couple of role models can help whenever reality gets tough. =)

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