Even those people who have to do with translation services every now and then know little about us. However, translators, as the key drivers of intercultural communication, do have something to share with the world.
Thus, in this post, I want to shed some light on a day in the life of a translator. To be more specific — a day of a freelance translator.
I have worked as a freelance translator for over 10 years. I communicate with people living in various time zones, and my work schedule has to be very flexible. My workday can start either at 7 AM or at 1 PM and finish at 4 PM or 11 PM.
However, I have a daily to-do list of tasks that have to be fulfilled despite the starting time. Such activities primarily include marketing and administrative tasks.
I have different tasks scheduled for each day of the week and I want to combine them here by the performance time: morning, afternoon, and evening.
In general, my daily routine is predetermined by a cycle of planning, implementation, and analytical activities.
I usually start my morning by preparing a plan for the entire day. It helps to allocate an appropriate amount of time for each activity and efficiently track completion of each task. When the work schedule is drafted, I proceed to marketing tasks.
In fact, marketing activities must be an essential part of a freelancer’s work schedule. You should run continuous marketing campaigns, as successful freelancing is impossible without that.
I have subdivided the marketing activities into social media marketing (SMM), content marketing, and paid ads in my schedule.
Every Monday morning, I fill in my content sharing plan with useful and relevant articles, images, infographics, presentations, etc., from various sources. The sources include my own blogs, blogs of other linguists or companies in the field of translation, localization, linguistics, communication, and language technologies. Sharing valuable content with people helps to establish a solid follower base and attract new potential customers.
I use a special social sharing app called Buffer to schedule posts and publish them simultaneously on several social networks: my Facebook business page targeted at the potential and existing customers, my Facebook group for translators, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn profiles.
I should note that social media is a powerful marketing tool, especially for freelance translators. You can learn more about Social Media Marketing for Translators from my recent webinar (watch a recap or read the webinar highlights).
On Tuesdays, I usually read new posts published by my favorite industry blogs and leave comments on new articles. Many sites allow posting a link to your own website along with your comment.
Though such links have an insignificant impact on website ranking, if you manage to attract the attention of site visitors by your comment, they may click your link and visit your website. Therefore, this can be a good method to attract more traffic to your business website. Moreover, it helps to establish good relations with blog owners for the further cooperation, increase your web presence, and express your expert opinion.
On Wednesdays, as a part of content marketing activities, I develop new content for certain channels — my own blogs, industry forums and other platforms. I spread these pieces of content across all available channels: social media platforms, other blogs, etc. If you want to learn more about Content Marketing for Translators, you can read my recent post or watch a recorded webinar (see the link above).
On Thursdays and Fridays, I analyze the results of SMM activity, the performance of my websites, and efficiency of paid ads using special analytical tools: Buffer App, Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics for SMM, as well as Google Search Console (former Google Webmaster Tools) and Google Analytics for my websites. After that, I adjust my SMM & content plan, as well as advertising campaigns accordingly.
As for the paid ads, I use Facebook and Google AdWords only for my local business. This approach is more feasible as it is rather hard to compete in terms of a budget with large international companies in the global advertising arena. But running local ads is absolutely reasonable and affordable for local small businesses. I spend around $60 for AdWords and $40 to promote my Facebook page per month.
Finally, there comes a time when I do translations. I fulfill almost all translation tasks during the daytime as it is the most productive period according to my biological clock.
However, my work is not limited to translation only. I’m an owner of a boutique translation agency specializing in technical and legal translations, and I outsource extra translation work to local freelancers. In this case, I also manage with proofreading and editing before submitting the work to the clients.
Since I act as an employer, I have to deal with extra tax reporting and social insurance issues. Once a month I spend a part of my workday in a tax office.
From time to time I also render legal interpreting service in local notary offices to help private customers with various civil matters.
The end of the day is the time to finish and summarize all tasks planned and fulfilled. I register incoming translation orders, work with my CRM system: answer emails, schedule messages for potential clients, adjust leads by stages (first contact, lead, negotiations, won or lost deals), communicate with colleagues on forums and in groups (mainly in my group for freelance translators on Facebook) and check if I have fulfilled everything scheduled for today in the morning.
By the end of a workday, when all translation-related tasks are done, I try to allocate some time for personal and professional development. In particular, I read blogs and books about business and marketing. Since I have several websites for my online business, I also have to deal with some web development tasks in the evening.
Finally, when everything is done I have free time for my hobby. I’ve been playing guitar since high-school, but this year I decided to go deeper into the guitar music and learn classical guitar, fingerstyle techniques in particular. So I try to allocate at least 1 hour a day for guitar lessons.
Sometimes being a self-employed translator is overwhelming, so I try not to forget about proper rest. Therefore, I usually don’t work on weekends and try to spend more time with family and friends.
This is how my daily and weekly routine looks like. As you can see, being a self-employed translator is more about entrepreneurship and time management, rather than freelancing. So, if you want to achieve good results you have to:
- Prepare business and marketing plans
- Continuously and consistently follow these plans
- Always remember personal and professional development
- Track your activity and analyze the results
Do not forget to take rest!
I hope this post will help you see the translator’s routine in a more realistic light and embrace some ideas about scheduling your own daily activities.
Are you thinking about becoming a translator? Click here for our top reasons to become a freelancer >>
If you want to learn more about freelance translation and establish a strong online presence, check out Simon’s blog for translators: Successful Freelance Translator. For more information about Simon’s services, take a look at his website: Russian Translator Pro