Starting out as a freelancer by torturing analogies… and then a couple of clichés
March 22, 2023

As this is my first blog post for the website since starting up as a freelancer, it seemed appropriate to take this opportunity to recount a little of my experience so far.

Embarking on this journey to start my own business was a bit like being dropped in a desert during a sandstorm with nothing but the idea of a destination. I admit the analogy is as tortured as they come, but it’s fair to say that for those starting their own business for the first time, knowing in which direction to head first was something of a pressing concern: heaven forbid I should be that person who, walking purposefully down a busy high street, suddenly realises they’re heading in the wrong direction and tries to save face before retracing their steps at double speed – I knew, at least, that such mild embarrassment and lost time is to be avoided at all costs: image is everything and time is money…

Back to the desert: the sandstorm of information and advice found on the internet and in books requires sifting so that you can plot the route that will get you to your particular destination. I recognised an important first step would be to connect with people who had already done what I wanted to do, and so I set about investigating associations for translators and interpreters with a view to attending events.

The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) is one such association and, happily, there is an active regional group which holds monthly meet-ups for its members. I attended the most recent event where I enjoyed meeting new people and catching up with former coursemates from my time at Bath University. Being able to meet up with people in the industry is an invaluable way to offer and solicit support and advice, as well as overcome any feelings of isolation that working in translation can occasionally elicit.

Of course, it is not always possible to attend events in person due to travel requirements or time constraints. Happily, one of the fabled silver linings of COVID has been the increased use of video conference software to hold meetings online. This has enabled me to attend several webinars and online events organised by the ITI, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), as well as private companies in the translation and interpreting industry.

COVID has also led to even greater activity amongst the online community. Having a LinkedIn profile has proved a great way of keeping up to date with my clients’ industries to understand the challenges they face and the opportunities they are exploring, as well as following news and discussions in the translation and interpreting industries. Indeed, it was thanks to a LinkedIn post that I became aware of Sophie Llewellyn Smith’s excellent podcast ‘The Complete Interpreter’ in which she speaks openly and insightfully about the interpreting market, and offers advice for honing your skills and improving your mindset. What’s more, it through the recommendation of another LinkedIn user that I heard about Madalena Sánchez Zampaulo’s book ‘The Online Presence Roadmap’, which has provided me with valuable advice into how to go about using the internet to market myself as a freelance interpreter and translator.

Of course, one such means of having an online presence is through websites such as this one, the construction of which owes itself to Claire, Emma and Laura at the Digital Grapevine to whom I’m very grateful, not only for the website itself, but also their guidance and support. I think you’ll agree they’ve done a terrific job.

Having now reached this point in this first blog post, it seems fitting that I finish with a tortured cliché as I invite you to bathe in the visual splendour of my website by exploring it further.

Keep your eyes peeled (couldn’t resist!) for my next post, in which I will endeavour to abuse the English language to a lesser extent…

If you require a translator or interpreter for your next project, don’t hesitate to Get In Touch.


Dan Harris

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