How Melany Went From In-House to Freelance Translator and Intentionally Exceeded Her Monthly Salary
The journey to translation is different for each translator.
or some, they start at another job entirely and later transition into becoming a translator. Be it for their desire to have more freedom, or for an escape from corporate life.
Others decide to go freelance from the very beginning, without ever having worked in another company.
The third kind of freelance translator is the one who began their journey in-house, whether for a translation agency or another kind of company.
That’s what Melany Delgado Philips did. This is her story.
Her journey into translation
Melany, an English to Spanish legal translator, started her translation journey in Gran Canaria, where she still lives.
While she was doing her “Bachillerato” (similar to the UK A-levels), one of her professors suggested she sit the entrance exam for the Translation and Interpreting Degree, which was taking place soon.
After a year of a few bumps in the road, she took the T&I entrance exam and began her studies. Since that exam, translation became her career and lifeblood.
When she completed her first degree, she couldn’t get enough of translation studies. Plus, she wanted to specialise more in her fields of choice: finance and legal. So she took a Master’s Degree in Financial and Legal Translation.
Starting translation as an in-house translator
After her studies and newly found expertise in legal and financial translation, Melany got a job as an in-house translator with a legal consultancy company.
She translated it all: invoices, payslips, banking documents, accounts, contracts, powers of attorney, among others.
The company wasn't specialised in translation, so she learned to manage projects working with other colleagues who had experience in project management.
Little by little, she felt the pull of freelancing. After some encouragement from her peers, she finally decided to go solo, armed with a few years of in-house project management and training.
Managing her own freelance translation business
Jumping into the world of freelance is scary for any newcomer.
Even though she had seen first-hand how translation projects can go, there was still a lot of trial and error when starting her freelance translation business.
She learned the same place freelance translators do today: asking their peers and scouring the internet for tips.
Melany already knew the art and technique of translation. That wasn’t what she needed to learn. She had done that in-house. She knew what problems came up in translation and how to solve them.
What she did find challenging was the paperwork. The systems and the admin—the dirty side of running a business. Where do you start? Digital files? Paper? Both? Excel?
In the beginning, when she received a job, she just left it there, on her desktop. She saved her rates and client documents in her email. Her project information (client details, invoicing details, rates, project files)... all of it was held in the spiderweb of growing email threads. It wasn’t just that this organisation system (or lack thereof) was confusing, but it was taking up time and sometimes was the cause of mistakes.
She started using LSP.expert to keep all of this in one place so that she could focus 100% on what she loved doing: translating legal and financial texts.
Going beyond admin: using LSP.expert to make more money
Melany got all of her admin in place. She no longer stored jobs in emails, and she always knew what she charged for each service and each client. But she wasn’t done yet. She now also uses the reporting features to drive her decisions on how to grow her business.
Like many translators, Melany thrives on feedback, and to her, the greatest feedback is data. Knowing her numbers allows her to increase her overall income and plan ahead.
One interesting way she uses the tool is using the “Sales by Service” filter to see which service or clients have the potential for more regularity, and how she might be able to attain that. For instance, she looks at a service for a specific client and sees how she can get that client to send her more of it.
In her own words:
“That could be offering an improved turnaround time, for example. This only works if you have built up your TMs and if you are familiar with the topic, otherwise you will be working like crazy.
Let’s say client ABC has sent me 2 annual accounts this trimester. I would like them to send me more of them, so I approach them and let them know I’m available to take on this kind of job and that I can offer a better turnaround time on this occasion.
Obviously, if it’s a service that you don’t think is profitable or if it is a topic you don’t enjoy, drop it! For me, this is a way I can keep it profitable whilst translating topics I enjoy, and I’m comfortable working with.”
Melany is now a thriving freelance translator who runs things like a real business owner: making data-driven decisions and having a clear understanding of her numbers.
How do you use LSP.expert? We’d love to hear from you!