Friday, 3 April 2015



My name is Lucy O'Shea, and I have recently made the transition from in-house to freelance translation. Having completed my first month of working from home, I thought I'd share a few things I have learnt. Hopefully my experience will be of use to other people thinking of taking the leap and going freelance!

Lesson No. 1: 
Do your research! Start thinking of your business plan and read up on how to work as a freelance translator. There are loads of brilliant blogs and books available! This book by Corinne McKay is very helpful (even if it is based on the American market):

Lesson No. 2: 
Use "aggressive" marketing techniques. You may be the best translator around, but nobody will know that if you don't put yourself out there. It takes time to establish your client base, and not every direct customer or agency will need your services. Contact as many potential customers as you can whilst you have the time in the early stages of your freelance venture. 

Lesson No. 3: 
Stand out from the crowd! If you have worked in another profession before you started translating, or you have gained a specialism through experience, let your customers know! Give customers a reason to choose you over other translators offering similar services.

Lesson No. 4: 
Be honest! Don't lie about being specialised in a specific area if you are not. This will make sure that you avoid the unnecessary stress of trying to deal with a subject you are not comfortable with, and ensure you deliver quality work to your customers. 

Lesson No. 5:
Chill out! Rome wasn't built in a day! It may take time to have all your time occupied by freelance work. Use any time between your translations to perform tasks that will be of benefit to you later: contact potential customers, create an invoice template and establish a way to keep on top of the financial side of things. If not, you'll be kicking yourself when the work does come in and you have to work crazy hours to keep on top of things you could have dealt with earlier.


  1. Hi Lucy,
    Congrats for your important step to blog and thanks for your post and advice. I would love to hear more on your specialization skills, for example, how you got into aerospace industry and what you did to specialize. By the way, welcome to my blog soup. ;) Looking forward for more!

  2. Hi Marie-Claire!
    Thank you for your kind words, and the link to your blog - which is great by the way!
    I lived in Toulouse for 3 years after completing my MA. Toulouse is home to one of the world's leading aircraft manufacturers - Airbus. I was lucky enough to find two in-house positions with local subcontractors to Airbus. This enabled me to gain valuable feedback from both other linguists specialised in the field, and aerospace engineers/technicians. Maybe I'll write my next blog post on the different ways to specialise, and give more details!