11 May 2022
by Olivia Morton MITI

How tracking your time can benefit your translation business

Do you ever think about how you manage your time, wonder how much time you spend on billable work or feel uncertain when deciding how much to quote for an upcoming project? Olivia Morton MITI reflects on the benefits of time management and time tracking and how a more structured approach can help develop your translation business and enhance productivity.

A few months ago, I purchased LSP.expert to record the time I spend on billable translation work and other language services and to make this process convenient and easy to integrate into my working day. LSP.expert is web-based software which has been designed to help translators boost their productivity and enable them to record their projects, manage their clients, track their working time, analyse profitability, create invoices, maintain an overview of payments, generate quotations and outsource projects.

Using this software encouraged me to think about the broader benefits of time management and time tracking for those just starting out as freelance translators and potentially for translators who are further on in their careers as well.

Why should I record the time I spend on each individual project?

While this process might seem like unnecessary hassle and admin work at the outset, it can be invaluable in providing you with data which enables you to be more intentional about your business decisions. While there are, of course, countless variables, recording your time for a few weeks or months may give you a better idea of how long it takes you to translate 500 or 1000 words in any of your specialist fields. This should help you when you are accepting projects as you can feel confident that you are indeed able to complete them to a high standard by the deadline or even increase your confidence to negotiate with your client before accepting a project if you know from experience that a deadline is indeed unmanageable for you.

If you provide translation, proofreading, editing, subtitling or other language services to your clients, having plenty of data should enable you to provide more accurate time estimates for projects relating to different services and to schedule them into your working week with confidence. This will be valuable to you in the long term and should help to reduce any stress relating to time management you may experience.

If you are interested in taking a closer look at your productivity, recording your time systematically will also enable you to compare your clients and evaluate them, potentially helping you to make business decisions in the future and learn from your past experiences. In addition, analysing the performance of your business periodically may help you cement the shift in mindset from ‘linguist’ to ‘linguist and business owner’ which can be so important in establishing a successful career as a freelance translator.

How is recording my time relevant to my rates?

As there is some uncertainty surrounding rates in the language services industry, many people starting out as freelancers feel unsure when deciding how much to charge their clients for different language services.

You can use the data you gather from tracking your time and your workload to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is the average volume of work I am currently taking on each day, week or month?
  • Is my workload manageable? Do I have too much work or too little?
  • Do I usually overestimate or underestimate how much time I need to complete a project? Is this causing me stress due to a lack of buffer time?
  • How much am I currently charging my clients?
  • How much will I earn annually if I keep charging the same rates?
  • How much do I need to earn each day, week or month to meet my financial goals?

How will this information help me develop my freelance translation career?

Knowing how much you need to earn or want to earn puts you in a much better position to set your rates in a way that helps you meet your personal, professional and financial goals. Knowledge is power and having a firm grip on your financials when you are starting out as a freelancer will stand you in excellent stead for establishing rewarding long-term relationships with your clients.

While I have had a positive experience using LSP.expert so far, you do not have to invest in software to get this data: using an Excel spreadsheet or a pen and paper may well be sufficient to give you the information you need.

Whichever method you choose, investing some time in tracking how you spend your working days might just deliver some results that surprise you and help you take the logical next step to keep moving forward with your translation business and your career goals.

Authors

Olivia Morton MITI

Olivia Morton MITI

Olivia Morton MA MITI MCIL has been running Olivia Morton Translations since 2018. She is a German to English freelance translator and enjoys providing English translation services to German, Austrian and Swiss companies operating in the fields of jewellery, luxury goods, corporate communications, marketing and the pet industry. Olivia is a qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting and a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists.