The realities of freelance

14.08.2017
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It turns out that the origin of the modern term ‘freelance’ is absolutely not connected with the advent of the Internet. Back in 1972, a scientist at the University of Southern California proposed a format of work in which employees did not have to stay at the office all the time, and communication could be maintained over the phone.

Of course, not all jobs can be performed in the freelance format, even with advanced computer technologies and the Internet. Nevertheless, there are now an increasing number of workers who use this practice, and translators are no exception.

When it comes to freelancing, we cannot fail to mention such advantages as a flexible and self-determined work schedule, minimal time and cost spent on commuting to and from a workplace, or the right to choose customers and tasks on your own. Images of freelancers with laptops, surrounded by picturesque landscapes, hurt the notion of ‘corporate slaves’ again and again.

However, luscious descriptions of the joyful existence of the freelancer are often diluted by memes about lonely and wild people, hard at work while hiding themselves in home offices for days at a time. Hence, there is the other side of the coin, which we will cover in this article.

The work isn’t going anywhere...

The first thing to be noted is time. Lots of people refer to it, speaking about the basic argument in favor of freelancing. Disposing of time independently, a person can set their own schedule, eliminating the need to arrive at a place in the morning, work for a whole business day, and settle for a merited vacation once a year.

At the same time, one still needs to work in order to make freelancing profitable. Without a clearly defined timetable, working time becomes chaotically mixed with one’s personal time. What is more, temptations to sleep late, play computer games, take two-hour coffee breaks, and engage over social media can all affect the productivity of the alluring freelancer.

Properly managing your own time is sometimes even more difficult than following the established rules. So try to follow a schedule, otherwise you’ll wonder why there are so few hours in a day.

Housemates instead of colleagues

If a freelancer lives with someone, it helps to avoid a secluded life on the one hand, but can be frustrating on the other. Sometimes it takes a lot of time to explain to relatives the fact that, although you are at home, you are still working, even in pajamas. Housemates will often feel that you can easily take a few minutes to ‘talk a bit’ or ‘carry out the housework’. Sure, you can comply with your relatives requests and get distracted by household chores, but then you’ll have to sacrifice your personal life in order to resolve any missed work issues, otherwise you run the risk of missing deadlines, or even picking up a new client. Tough conversations with friends/lovers/relatives/etc. are inevitable. Obviously, you have to explain to them that while you’re working, they can distract you only on a really urgent matter.

To get the most out of a working day, you not only need a schedule, but also a designated workspace (corner) whereby the whole situation and environment will encourage you to work. This in turn will also help your relatives or housemates to understand that you are at work, even if you’re sitting next to them.

Even more sedentary life

Deskbound office work is definitely not good for a person’s health. A freelancer can lose the chance to perform small yet crucial physical activities such as running for a bus on the way to work, or taking a stroll along a promenade, or even just walking along an office corridor to the coffee machine. When working from home, you spend less time walking to your computer, and more time looking in the fridge-freezer (especially those with weak self-control). It is arguably better to let one’s bad shape, rather than a deteriorating state of health, push the freelancer to the idea that there is not much activity in his or her life.

It makes no sense to talk about walks, sports and exercises: the Internet is full of various recommendations on these topics. It’s essential for freelancers not to forget to find time for physical activity in their daily routine.

Knowledge is power

A new employee usually starts their work within a company with a briefing, training, procedures and tools familiarization, and so on. It’s much easier to explain new programs and processes to a staff member sitting next to you than to a person somewhere in a computer network. Freelancers have to deal with everything remotely, and accept the fact there may not always be a person ready to clarify any unclear points.

Nowadays you can find answers to almost all questions on the Internet. In the field of technical translation, a person can master CAT tools and translation quality assurance software by using manuals and video tutorials. The main thing is to be ready to set aside time and effort for your training before you start working.

‘Do-it-yourselfer’

A full-time translator at an agency usually deals directly with an order’s execution. In addition, a marketing specialist, accountant, sales manager, and office manager all work concurrently. It means that a translator is not supposed to perform additional, and sometimes unclear, tasks. In contrast, the freelance translator’s field of activity rapidly expands.

No one will come to repair a disabled computer in 5 minutes, bring new orders on a silver platter, or prepare advertising presentations that will tell the world about you and your qualifications. A freelancer will spend lots of time performing new tasks, and even if at first it seems that things not directly related to work distract you, you will eventually realize that now all these things are part of a freelancer’s list of ongoing duties.

Loneliness transformation

With the disappearance of real colleagues from a freelancer’s life, who can shake their hand or talk privately, they will instead receive lots of virtual partners.

In online communication, the framework of being well-mannered and tactile are eliminated quite a bit and it’s easier to offend and ignore an unseen person on the other end of cyber space. In the course of time however, this behavior pattern is transferred to ‘live’ communications. Whereas on the web you can just close the messenger window, in reality you will have to be responsible for your words and behavior.

Although the tactless virtual communication with your e-pals does not bother you much, with clients you have to respect the limits and etiquette of business communication and be careful about what you say, so as not to lose orders and contacts. In order not to become a victim of such professional deformation, freelancers should spend more time with family, friends, and new people.

To put it in a nutshell

To work effectively, the freelancer has to be ready to take responsibility, keep self-established rules, be mature, and learn something new, while not forgetting to combine new formats of work with other areas of life (as well as posting seductive photos with their laptop in front of the ocean).

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