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4 Project Planning Tips for Freelance Linguists

23 February 2024

4 Project Planning Tips for Freelance Linguists

Starting a new project as a freelance linguist is exciting but can sometimes feel overwhelming, whether you’re working on a translation, interpretation or localisation job. The reason for the overwhelm is often down to a lack of planning or organisation, or just knowing how to get started. 

These 5 project planning tips for freelance linguists, will help you go from feeling overwhelmed, to clearing your mind and your desk, ready to get started on this new project. 

1. Create an Onboarding Procedure for Clients

You’ve secured a new client, first of all, well done and congratulations! You’ve already done some of the hard work. Next, you need to onboard your client to make this project run seamlessly. 

If you haven’t already created an onboarding procedure for your clients, now is the time to create one. An onboarding procedure for this client may look slightly different to the next, especially if you’re working across different types of jobs from interpretation, to translation, to localisation, so you want to create something that’s easily editable. 

Your onboarding process may include sensitive information like contact details, passwords, you may need to see previous work undertaken by the client, you need to know your responsibilities, what is expected in this freelance role, details of the job if attending in person/virtually, how will you present the final work to the client. The onboarding process is different for everyone, so if you’re unsure of what to include, see if you can find any templates for translators or interpreters that will give you a starting point. 

2. Identify your OKR’s (Objective and Key Results) for This Project

As well as asking what your clients goals and objectives are, you should be thinking about what yours look like for this role as it may be different to that of your client. 

Using OKR’s instead of ‘goals’ ensures that you are working towards something specific and you know what you're aiming for in this job. 

Your OKR as a freelance localisation professional, to a freelance translator or interpreter may differ, it could be about getting positive feedback or a recommendation from a client, it could be to make connections in this role that can be transferred to your network, the possibilities are endless but it ensures you stay focused on your professional goals too, so make sure you set at least one per job.

3. Set Realistic Deadlines 

As a freelance linguist, you are in charge of your own time, both personally and professionally. This is why it’s so important to have clear boundaries with yourself and your client about the work you do for them. Setting realistic deadlines is one of the ways you can set these boundaries.

The best way to start setting realistic deadlines if you’re providing documented work as a freelance linguist (not in person) is to work backwards from the final deadline. If you have a date the work is required by, you can then go backwards and decide upon your smaller deadlines i.e when a 1st draft should be submitted, when edits must be completed, when research should be finished by. This should then give you more of a realistic overview of your time for a job.

4.Keep Communication Lines Open

Communication is one of your greatest assets as a freelance linguist (quite literally). Therefore effective communication with your project stakeholders, including clients (both paying and those working with or on behalf of) is essential for good working relationships but also to identify any pain points in the project, to tackle these immediately rather than them escalating at a later date. 

Check in with your stakeholders regularly but also let them know what to expect from your communication times. How frequently will you respond to them and what will the methods of communication be, will this include in person or via phone call, email, DM or text.  This is also something that you could outline in the earlier aforementioned onboarding process for the client, to manage those expectations from the start.

Want to read more helpful blog posts like this? You can browse the full archive of the Freelanly Blog posts here.

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