finding your way · freelance translation · freelancing · money

8. The right price

peonies, symbol of prosperity – image source


Lessons in freelance translation, n.8

During the first couple of years of freelancing, I knew very little about how freelancing could be a “real” full-time job and that freelancers can earn a “real” income. With time, courage, a lot of work and networking, I changed a few aspects of my business, especially regarding pricing. I had no other choice, anyway. This is what I wanted to do. Nothing happened overnight and I still have a long way to go but I am glad I stepped up. Which translates to… I would probably be doing another job right now if I didn’t make those changes.

Since I don’t want this to be a long boring post about money issues (on which I am totally no expert) I will only quickly share two facts, purely based on personal experience, tightly knitted with the rates you charge. Feel free to disagree.

You know you are charging the right price for your services when two things happen:

  • You receive more work from good/high paying clients (they are the ones who help your business stay afloat and grow)
  • You receive less work from “one stop” clients who tried to ruthlessly negotiate with you throughout the Summer or Christmas holidays because their regular translator was on holiday (they didn’t say so but you figured it out and, by the way, I am very surprised at how translators accepting low rates can afford a holiday but don’t let me get started on that).

I believe that if you are truly good at what you do, you will be rewarded. Provided you know that for the kind of work you do, there is a certain price to ask. It’s as simple as that.

For more information on financial matters, I suggest you check out Paul M Urwin‘s site and the book The Prosperous Translator (if you don’t already know about it) by the well-known and gifted Chris Durban.

Till next time.


freelancing · life lessons · money

Freelance translation is about TIME

Dear colleagues,

There are so many things I wish I knew before getting into freelance translating or before deciding to do certain things, take certain decisions, not take certain decisions…. Which translates to….  an endless list you don’t want to know about.

But people, let’s try amend things. Let’s help others avoid the mistakes we made.

This is what this really quick blog update is for.

If you are new to freelance translation, I highly recommend you watch this video presented by Igor Vesler during yesterdays’ conference on Proz for International Translation Day.

Here’s the link to the video. It should work if you are a user.

balance · fashion · finding your way · life lessons · money

What a coveted high heeled pair of green shoes can teach you about balance

{Why say no to lovely shoes
you can afford?}


It’s funny how a pair of shoes – yes, shoes – can bring back to mind a whole chapter of your life and urge you to write on a topic that has nothing to do with shoes or fashion.

Things occur for a reason. Some of these things can change our lives.

Think of all the decisions you have made that brought you where you are today.

That’s because you acted upon certain events and circumstances.

But what about all those things you did nothing about? You might not have any regrets (and that’s healthy) but what if those things could have been your route to more happiness and better balance.

The reasons for not acting are plenty such as lack of self-esteem or will power, fear of the unknown, being too busy, being too in love with the wrong person etc.

I’ll get to the “shoes” in a moment…

Knock. Knock.

Sometimes happiness knocks on our door. If we are lucky enough, happiness will come back and knock for a second time. If we are that lucky.

But for some reason, we don’t act upon that feeling of immense happiness and we therefore send people away or we take them for granted (until they eventually forget we exist) or we don’t pursue something (hobby, job, travel etc) that we desire wholeheartedly. We continue working and living on a busy schedule or a mediocre relationship or keeping up appearances because we are afraid to call the shots, take risks, ride the panther, make a phone call, book a trip to Florence and so forth.

You had your chance.

But you left the door shut.

Happens to everybody…


Before I went freelance, I was working in an office in an area somewhere in Milan. During lunch, I used to go to a Centro Commerciale (Mall) to buy food, try clothes on, sometimes buy clothes and so forth. One of my favourite shops was Zara.

One day there they were. A pair of spectacular green shoes that I fell in love with. You can see why if you look at the picture above.

I didn’t touch them at first.

Even though I knew that the moment I find shoes available in size 41, I would need to grab them, all I did was leave them there.

I went back the next day and saw the shoes. Still there. Instead of trying the shoes on, I went to try on some clothes I didn’t need.

Next day, same thing. I went back to admire the shoes and I tried them on. Perfect! Sexy!

But I put them back.

And naturally, next time I went into the shop, the shoes – size 41 – were no longer there. Another girl took them. Gone into some other girl’s closet.

How could I be so stupid? I had a good salary. I wasn’t freelancing. Those green shoes could have been IN MY CLOSET now.

Maybe I didn’t really want them?


So no green shoes for me. Just black shoes. And a few brown ones.  Black goes with everything. They give security.

It’s okay to want to obtain things in life that give you some sort of security. A job, a home, a steady income. But when it comes to the not-so-essential things, to the ephemeral, to things that can turn a gloomy day into a bright one, why refuse life’s invitation?

Why not a yellow skirt? Combine it with black!

Why not a bag with a fabric you hand painted yourself?

Why not talking to that lonely girl who’s sitting across the table at the coffee shop?

Why not calling that guy you really like and are so afraid to let him know?

Why stick to black?


If you don’t try new things, you will never know. You are going to be stuck in boredom. No excitement potential for you if you keep closing doors and refusing to be courageous.

Sometimes you need to take a risk. Not a huge risk. I’m not saying you should give up your boring job (it’s your call), invest in hedge funds or that you shouldn’t be desiring to own your own home. These things are natural.

All I’m saying is that when opportunity knocks, do not do not ignore what your instinct is telling you.

Listen to your inner voice. If it’s right there in front of you go for it. If something so beautiful has come your way, you should be grateful for the opportunity and you should say yes.

If you encounter “green shoes” don’t just stand there with that fearful gaze. If the shoes fit you and if they look gorgeous and you can “afford” them, proceed. Take the green shoes. Wear the green shoes. Be the queen of nature. (Yes, even while you walk your kids to school).


You need the green shoes because life has so many twists and turns and ups and downs that along the way (and as you grow older) you will become more appreciative of the little details. And you will be going back in the past to dig out the things you didn’t do.

Be good to yourself which translates to doing little, tiny, exciting things now.

What about you? Is there something you wish you would have bought or done that was easy and straightforward as a pair of gorgeous shoes?

A presto, Magda

***Note: I never bought the green shoes from Zara but the other day I found better ones at Bata. Provided I can afford them, I will certainly buy them. Opportunity knocks twice!

freelancing · kids · mom · money

How Peppa Pig and Hello Kitty make your translation money disappear

{You have to admit she’s cute.}

When you have kids you get to become acquainted with a variety of personaggi that you have nothing in common with. But you get to accept them because your kids love them. In the end, you get to like them to or at least accept how nice and cute they are. For your kids.

Even if they make your hard-earned translation money disappear just like that.

The other day, we went to buy a couple of sweatpants which we are running short of (it’s always for my 4 year old). She wanted Hello Kitty pants. Duly noted.

And so we went. We reached the kids area in the store and surprisingly there was nothing that she (or I, to be honest) would like. I think we went to the wrong place. What I mean by that is that we wanted to buy something cheap because kids clothes don’t last long. No sign of any decent pink sweatpants for a 4 year old girl. And I had no intention to go to Chicco or try other brands.

After a while, our eyes caught a Peppa Pig puzzle. We were rather motivated to buy it (price: 12.99 euro) but my little one was interested in something else. Another Peppa Pig product of course! And …what… could… that… be?

An ice cream maker!

This ice cream maker, which my daughter refuses to put into the freezer so the whole thing starts making sense (in order to make granitas the machine must go into the freezer for 24 hours – a rather impossible mission since she keeps it close to her day and night), cost 22 euros. Not very expensive you would say. But when you are filled with a variety of giocatolli and bits and pieces of giocatolli, you begin to wonder if those 22 euros are worth it. What am I saying? You know that you are throwing 22 euro down the drain the MOMENT YOU BUY the game which translates to Peppa Pig making translation money disappear just like that.

I am not exaggerating. Both her birthday and Christmas is approaching and there are at least two Peppa Pig products on my little girl’s mind.

This is why a few days later, we went to another store (we did some research first), without her and bought a Hello Kitty sweater, Hello Kitty pants and Peppa Pig sweatpants. Price: 30 euro this time. It’s for my girl’s birthday after all.

So, the amount of 52 euro has disappeared just like that and this is not over yet.

But I must admit this:

I have never been HAPPIER when giving away money than now just thinking the smile on my little girl’s face when she sees them.

But still, Peppa Pig and Hello Kitty do make my hard-earned translation money disappear….

– Are there any similar things and objects of desire you wish wouldn’t make your freelance money disappear?

A presto,