Setting Up as a Freelance Translator (SUFT)
Thread poster: Mark Harris

Mark Harris
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:02
Member (Jul 2019)
French to English
+ ...
Jul 28

I am just trying to get started in a translation career and am feeling a bit overwhelmed as I try to figure out the next steps to take. Did anyone take the Setting Up as a Freelance Translator course with ITI when they were starting out? I'm trying to decide whether it would be useful or not, so I was hoping to get some feedback from anyone who may have taken it.

I am sure there are elements of it that would be helpful, but since it costs £500 I would like to find out a bit more be
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I am just trying to get started in a translation career and am feeling a bit overwhelmed as I try to figure out the next steps to take. Did anyone take the Setting Up as a Freelance Translator course with ITI when they were starting out? I'm trying to decide whether it would be useful or not, so I was hoping to get some feedback from anyone who may have taken it.

I am sure there are elements of it that would be helpful, but since it costs £500 I would like to find out a bit more before I commit to it. Furthermore, there is at least one or two units on getting started and how to overcome the "no-experience barrier", which is something I have effectively already done, considering I already have a couple of years' experience working with an agency while studying.

Does anyone have any experience with the course?
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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 21:02
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
They're webinars... Jul 29

Mark Harris wrote:
Did anyone take the Setting Up as a Freelance Translator course with ITI when they were starting out? ... I am sure there are elements of it that would be helpful, but since it costs £500 I would like to find out a bit more before I commit to it.


I have no experience with this course, but it looks interesting (thanks for sharing).

However, these are *webinars*, and with the majority of webinars, you have to shave off half an hour to see how much content you're actually paying for (the first 15 minutes is introducing oneself, and the last 15 minutes is "are there any questions").

Let's have a look at the curriculum:

* Getting started is easier than you think - Heidi Kerschl
* How do you get over the no-experience barrier - Joanna Waller
* Working from home - Emma Goldsmith
* CAT tools - Emma Goldsmith and Kari Koonin
* How to create an effective CV - Kari Koonin
* Marketing - Fiona Gray
* Building and engaging your online presence - Lloyd Bingham
* Specialising and networking - Karen Tkaczyk
* How to value yourself - Jakub Sacharczuk
* Getting paid on time - Andrew Leigh
* Working with LSPs - Anja Jones

Emma and Kari are great people, but... 30 minutes for "CAT tools"... you can imagine that you're going to learn very little, unless the session is excellent. The fact that they don't tell you which CAT tools will be dealt with, is telling.

Two glaring omissions in the course are a session on office administration and a session on accounting.

Based on what I can see, I would value the course at around $200. But if you're just starting out, I can also imagine that it would be the best $200 you spend all year.


[Edited at 2019-07-29 08:02 GMT]


Jorge Payan
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:02
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
ProZ Plus as an alternative? Jul 29

Mark Harris wrote:
I am sure there are elements of it that would be helpful, but since it costs £500 I would like to find out a bit more before I commit to it.

I don't know anything about it, and there's certainly likely to be some useful stuff in it, but I somewhat share Samuel's concerns.

Have you considered purchasing ProZ.com's Plus membership package? It gets you the opportunity to quote on jobs as soon as they're posted and a lot better placing in the directory, just like ordinary paid membership. But it also gives you unlimited access to the library of training videos, a CAT tool licence and lots of other perks. It's only about a fifth of the price, although you do get to pay again next year if you find it's worth having .

I believe there are cheap or even free courses arranged by the Chambers of Commerce (CCI) in many countries. They would be worth checking out.


Michele Fauble
 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:02
Member
Italian to English
Not worth it at this point IMO Jul 29

Try not to feel overwhelmed. The best thing you can do is create a killer CV and send it to as many agencies as possible.
This forum is chock-full of all the information you could possibly wish for. Make use of it. I know it's frustrating at the start, and I think it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a course will automatically solve all your problems, but I'm not sure it's what you need right now.

Back to the CV. Try looking around at the CVs of professionals here
... See more
Try not to feel overwhelmed. The best thing you can do is create a killer CV and send it to as many agencies as possible.
This forum is chock-full of all the information you could possibly wish for. Make use of it. I know it's frustrating at the start, and I think it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a course will automatically solve all your problems, but I'm not sure it's what you need right now.

Back to the CV. Try looking around at the CVs of professionals here on ProZ that you like the look of. Download their CVs, and take inspiration from the best ones. Send, send, send, send it to agencies. Lather, rinse, repeat.

That would be my advice.
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Sheila Wilson
Robert Rietvelt
Elizabeth Tamblin
Jorge Payan
Michele Fauble
Barbara Faltas
 

Mark Harris
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:02
Member (Jul 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all Jul 29

All of your advice has been really useful, as usual! Many thanks.

It does sound like a potentially interesting course but the price they are charging is a lot. If it isn't overly helpful then £500 is quite a lot of money to lose for me right now. The Proz membership is beginning to seem more and more appealing, given that I can quote on jobs and get access to all the training videos for a much lower price.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:02
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
That isn't a bad CV Jul 29

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:
Try not to feel overwhelmed. The best thing you can do is create a killer CV and send it to as many agencies as possible.

I couldn't agree more. But now I've had a moment to look, I see that Mark's CV is actually pretty good already - certainly way above most beginners' CVs, but then as he says he isn't a total newbie. He also says on his CV that he uses a CAT tool, and he clearly isn't an IT dunce.

I'd have though that some help on the following should be prioritised, Mark, although of course the list won't match you and your needs perfectly:
- marketing yourself to agencies and holding your own when dealing with them (as they see often themselves in the employer role)
- finding and dealing with direct clients and the extra responsibilities involved
- risk management, scammer avoidance, payment chasing
- legal rights and responsibilities, including contracts
- bookkeeping and accounting for the self-employed person (one who does business internationally even if on a very small scale).

Zip through the Wiki and other articles on this site, peruse the relevant forums, visit the Scam Centre and the Site Guidance Centre, and get access to the video library. Take notes as you go. Then check with your local CCI about UK-specific matters. Maybe ask a question or two on the forums. I doubt you'll need anything more in the way of training; just self-confidence, a pride in your work, and a determination to succeed.


Jorge Payan
 

Mark Harris
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:02
Member (Jul 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Much appreciated! Jul 29

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:
Try not to feel overwhelmed. The best thing you can do is create a killer CV and send it to as many agencies as possible.

I couldn't agree more. But now I've had a moment to look, I see that Mark's CV is actually pretty good already - certainly way above most beginners' CVs, but then as he says he isn't a total newbie. He also says on his CV that he uses a CAT tool, and he clearly isn't an IT dunce.

I'd have though that some help on the following should be prioritised, Mark, although of course the list won't match you and your needs perfectly:
- marketing yourself to agencies and holding your own when dealing with them (as they see often themselves in the employer role)
- finding and dealing with direct clients and the extra responsibilities involved
- risk management, scammer avoidance, payment chasing
- legal rights and responsibilities, including contracts
- bookkeeping and accounting for the self-employed person (one who does business internationally even if on a very small scale).

Zip through the Wiki and other articles on this site, peruse the relevant forums, visit the Scam Centre and the Site Guidance Centre, and get access to the video library. Take notes as you go. Then check with your local CCI about UK-specific matters. Maybe ask a question or two on the forums. I doubt you'll need anything more in the way of training; just self-confidence, a pride in your work, and a determination to succeed.


Thank you Sheila. Your CV was actually one of the many that I looked at for inspiration in fact!

My plan now is to begin contacting other agencies to try and get onto their books and further build up my experience. I wanted to make sure I had a decent CV ready before I began doing that, considering you can only make one first impression.

As you suggest, I will also start working through all the information on this site to educate and prepare myself. I'm currently trying to decide if it is worth getting the Plus membership, or if the Standard membership would be enough for me right now. Do you know if I can still get access to a lot of videos with the Standard membership?


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:02
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Ah, well... Jul 29

Mark Harris wrote:
Thank you Sheila. Your CV was actually one of the many that I looked at for inspiration in fact!

I'm pleased that it helped, but you certainly need some "second opinions" in that case. I'm obviously going to be biased .

Do you know if I can still get access to a lot of videos with the Standard membership?

You have to pay for each one individually unless you get the Plus package. There's a "Compare Features" list at this link: https://www.proz.com/professional-membership


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:02
Member
Italian to English
What can you do for clients? Jul 30

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I see that Mark's CV is actually pretty good already - certainly way above most beginners' CVs, but then as he says he isn't a total newbie. He also says on his CV that he uses a CAT tool, and he clearly isn't an IT dunce.


The main thing lacking from your CV is what you can do for clients. Add a short paragraph at the top letting clients know why they should choose your services and how you can solve their problems.


Rachel Waddington
Michele Fauble
 

Mark Harris
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:02
Member (Jul 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good point Jul 30

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I see that Mark's CV is actually pretty good already - certainly way above most beginners' CVs, but then as he says he isn't a total newbie. He also says on his CV that he uses a CAT tool, and he clearly isn't an IT dunce.


The main thing lacking from your CV is what you can do for clients. Add a short paragraph at the top letting clients know why they should choose your services and how you can solve their problems.


That is actually something I was unsure about to be honest. Although many people do add a paragraph explaining their skills etc., there are also many who do not. I do think it would probably be beneficial though.

Thanks!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:02
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It most certainly needs to be said Jul 30

Mark Harris wrote:

Fiona Grace Peterson wrote:

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I see that Mark's CV is actually pretty good already - certainly way above most beginners' CVs, but then as he says he isn't a total newbie. He also says on his CV that he uses a CAT tool, and he clearly isn't an IT dunce.


The main thing lacking from your CV is what you can do for clients. Add a short paragraph at the top letting clients know why they should choose your services and how you can solve their problems.


That is actually something I was unsure about to be honest. Although many people do add a paragraph explaining their skills etc., there are also many who do not. I do think it would probably be beneficial though.

I personally prefer to see that in the letter/email/quote. It seems to me to be something that needs to be ultra-personalised, so said as close to the "Dear ..." as possible. But that's just a personal opinion and I could see it fitting in a CV too.


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:02
Member
Italian to English
You need to decide what's important for you Jul 31

Mark Harris wrote:

Although many people do add a paragraph explaining their skills etc., there are also many who do not. I do think it would probably be beneficial though.



The great thing about CVs is that you can - and should - adapt them to suit your particular skill-set and show it off to its best advantage. That's where the Europass / European format CVs fall short - your address is not the most important thing about you! While I understand employers' desires to standardise information when they have a lot of applications to get through, I think they do a disservice to the candidate behind the CV, because they don't let the candidates prioritise what he or she thinks are their most important attributes. And being able to pinpoint those attributes and communicate them to clients is the very essence of marketing your skills as a translator.


Andrew Morris
Michele Fauble
 

Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:02
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
More info on the SUFT course Aug 3

Samuel Murray wrote:

However, these are *webinars*, and with the majority of webinars, you have to shave off half an hour to see how much content you're actually paying for (the first 15 minutes is introducing oneself, and the last 15 minutes is "are there any questions").

Emma and Kari are great people, but... 30 minutes for "CAT tools"... you can imagine that you're going to learn very little, unless the session is excellent. The fact that they don't tell you which CAT tools will be dealt with, is telling.

Two glaring omissions in the course are a session on office administration and a session on accounting.

Based on what I can see, I would value the course at around $200. But if you're just starting out, I can also imagine that it would be the best $200 you spend all year.


[Edited at 2019-07-29 08:02 GMT]


Happened to see this thread and couldn't resist dropping in with a comment! Full disclosure: I am one of the tutors.
Samuel, the SUFT course is far more than a set of 30-minute webinars.
Each webinar is a 60-minute presentation (1-min intro, very reduced Q&A at end) and they cover the subjects you mention (including office administration and accounting). Students are then set assignments that are reviewed by the tutor and discussed at a follow-up 90-minute session with students. (I think we have 20 students max, but I'm not sure.)

There's a 35-page handbook with course content and up-to-date links and references.

Another excellent part of the course is the parallel Google Group where tutors and students participate actively over the 3 months, discussing all SUFT-related things. This is a small group of students with on-going contact with an eclectic set of highly-experienced translators: worth its weight in gold.

Re. the CAT tool module. This has been added for the upcoming course in September based on students' feedback. Which tools? SDL Trados Studio and memoQ. According to the 2018 Translator Opinion Poll, these two tools are used "often" by an overwhelming majority of translators. Other tools, which we will still mention, are used far less.
Obviously 150 minutes on CAT tools is a drop in the ocean, but we're making it as useful as possible with a general introduction, a walk-through of the translation process in both tools using the same source document, and an honest Q&A and discussion on the pros and cons of the two tools, fielded by two competent users (Kari Koonin and me, as you mention).

Hope this clarifies what the course is about, and how much students get out of it.



[Editado a las 2019-08-03 10:56 GMT]


Sheila Wilson
Luke Hubbard
Rachel Waddington
 

Luke Hubbard  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:02
German to English
I've done the SUFT course Aug 3

Hi Mark,

I did the SUFT this spring and I thought it was a really good thing to do. Firstly, I met people who are in the same boat as me, so I didn't feel that much pressure. It was reassuring to hear fellow translators having the same concerns/problems and asking similar questions etc. It made me think that I'm not alone in this.

As Emma described the course layout, it is a good clear layout with a presentation first, whereby you can pick up many tips and tricks along
... See more
Hi Mark,

I did the SUFT this spring and I thought it was a really good thing to do. Firstly, I met people who are in the same boat as me, so I didn't feel that much pressure. It was reassuring to hear fellow translators having the same concerns/problems and asking similar questions etc. It made me think that I'm not alone in this.

As Emma described the course layout, it is a good clear layout with a presentation first, whereby you can pick up many tips and tricks along the way and then you try and apply what you've learnt to your own freelance translation business. The fact that the tutors are translators themselves, is a real help because they've been in similar positions to us and they could really help us and give us useful advice.

After completing the course, I felt ready to set out on my freelance career as I had been given enough information and advice to get me going. Obviously, there's more to learn!!

If you're an ITI member the course is slightly cheaper and you can also count it towards your CPD - it's a win win situation.


Good luck
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Emma Goldsmith
 


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