What does it take to be a freelance translator?

My friend Paul recommended Karyn Greenstreet’s website to me. It contains lots of resources and articles on freelancing, including one called Are you cut out to be your own boss?, in which she gives a list of desired personality traits if you want to succeed in self-employment:

    1. Tenacity.
    2. Self-worth.
    3. Sense of humor.
    4. Willingness to do the dirty work (the tasks that you hate to do).
    5. Willingness to learn new skills.
    6. A deep desire to be independent.
    7. Willingness to take acceptable and calculated risk.
    8. An ability to deal well with people.
    9. A passion for what you do or sell.
    10. Resourceful and creative.
    11. Willingness to ask for help.
    12. Self-disciplined.
    13. Self-motivating.
    14. Willing to do the personality "foundational work" to help yourself and your business.

I agree with all of them, although 14 puzzles me slightly. Is it really possible to "learn" to be tenacious or resourceful?

By | 2016-10-18T15:50:11+00:00 December 1st, 2006|Freelance Translation|4 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Josep Tarrés December 2, 2006 at 9:39 am

    I would change:
    4. Willingness to do the dirty work (the tasks that you hate to do).
    4. Willingness to do the dirty work (or ability to outsource it).

  2. céline December 2, 2006 at 10:08 am

    Very true! And that’s why, for example, I’m responsible only for the content of this site, as I have neither the time nor the inclination to learn how to manage the technical side of it.
    However, there are things that I don’t particularly enjoy and that nobody else can do for me, like writing invoices, filing paperwork, sending quotes etc. Dirty!

  3. Georg December 2, 2006 at 5:26 pm

    I don’t like to straighten up my desk each evening, but it must be done. There are many thing I don’t enjoy doing for my business but I wouldn’t outsource it to someone else. It is a part of maturity to take full responsibility for my business.

  4. céline December 2, 2006 at 8:30 pm

    The aspects of my work I outsource are the things I know other people can do much better than me: the technical management of my website and my accounts. I really believe the financial outlay is well worth it, as it means all the important areas of my career are properly looked after.

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