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Calling freelance translators - how do you get paid?!

(22 Posts)
internationalbeeboo Mon 10-Oct-11 14:35:42

Hello there
I'm setting up self-employed as a freelance translator; I potentially have my first client, but I'm having trouble working out how to invoice and get paid.
I'm based in the UK, but my clients will be in France. I still have a bank account in France as I lived there til recently. Should I use this to be paid, or paypal, or a UK euro account...? I obviously won't be making mega-bucks, so I don't want to lose half the money in transaction fees...Can anyone give me pointers? Thank you!

jenduck Mon 10-Oct-11 17:23:11

Paypal is always a good option, if the client is willing to use it. However, I have had one client that 'couldn't' use it (a bit old-fashioned, I think!), so they pad me with a cheque in Euros, which I just paid in to my Natwest bank account - takes up to 6 weeks to clear & they take some commission + exchange rate is not great, but I figured it was worth it to get a regular client & added an extra 1p/word to my rate. Or, of course, your French bank account may well not charge you at all, but I don't know if you are allowed to continue using it if you are not resident in France.

What are your languages & areas of translation?


testarossa Mon 10-Oct-11 19:50:34

I second PayPal for ease of use and general convenience. Having said that, for most of the last 10 years I've been getting paid by bank transfer into my normal account. For some clients, the cost comes out at their end, for others it comes out at mine - if it's a regular client, you quickly make up the loss in volume of work. I'm rubbish at the accounting side of things so keep everything as simple as possible. Also, I would check whether using your account in France has any tax implications?
You can probably get a clear answer on one of the translators' forums (Proz or Translator's Cafe).
Good luck!

internationalbeeboo Tue 11-Oct-11 07:36:45

Thanks for your answers! So do you quote your rates in Euros or GBP?

Jenduck, I do French to English, I want to specialise in marketing and business, but I spent a long time working in video games translating development reports on every kind of game under the I'll try my hand at anything! What about you?

FetchezLaVache Tue 11-Oct-11 07:49:28

I prefer bank transfer- I just invoice my clients in euros or sterling, depending on what we've agreed, and they pay straight into my account. I do use PayPal for one or two clients who insist on it, subject to +4% to cover PP's chunk, but I'd really rather not bother with it. Second testarossa's suggestion to check the tax implications of using a French account.

jenduck Tue 11-Oct-11 11:54:34

I put both on my CV, but quote in Euros to clients in Europe.

I do French, German & Spanish to English, & specialise in Leisure, Tourism, Hospitality, Cuisine & Wine & Winemaking. However, I am just starting back after having DS2 (now 6 months) & finding it a challenge to get new work! Eek!

internationalbeeboo Tue 11-Oct-11 12:35:05

Thanks everyone, this is really helpful! Another question if you don't mind me continuing to pick your brains, do you mention VAT on invoices? I wouldn't be VAT registered, but would French clients need some mention of hors taxe, TTC...?
Good luck getting back into it jenduck, but it sounds like you work on interesting texts!

jenduck Tue 11-Oct-11 13:00:56

They are fascinating - and fun! I will translate other general texts, too, if they come up, but one thing I have learned is to translate what you enjoy, as your enjoyment will come out in your work & make it easier for you to do, thus making your work better (that's the theory, anyway!)

As for VAT, I have never had that issue come up, but am not VAT registered, so can't help there. I would probably cross that bridge when & if you come to it!

chickflit Tue 11-Oct-11 13:07:37

Can I ask you translators do you type up your translations or do you pay someone else to do it?

I do transcription work for a living and I have one translator in France who transcribes from French into English who I work for, however he can't type his own work because he only has one arm so possibly he's the minority.

I like this type of work and was hoping to get more of it which is the basis for my question, and if you do send it out to transcribers how do I get myself into this particular area?

Sorry two questions in the end.

FetchezLaVache Tue 11-Oct-11 13:34:11

OP- some of my European clients do ask me to put a sentence on my invoice to the effect that I am not VAT registered in accordance with the UK legislation in force, but most of them don't specify anything, so I'd leave it to the individual client.

Chickflit- I used to type, but now I use Dragon NaturallySpeaking because I was starting to develop a few problems with my wrists. I can only speak for myself but I can't imagine I would ever consider getting someone to type up my work for me, I'm afraid. However, nothing wrong with having a look on TranslatorsCafe or similar to see if you can drum up any trade!

internationalbeeboo Tue 11-Oct-11 18:16:24

Thanks everyone! Feeling a bit clearer about it all now...and that's a good tip jenduck, about doing what you enjoy (true for so many things too!).
Mumsnet's so great, I'd be lost without it - whether it be for mothering, working or everything in between! Thank you all for sharing your experience!

TalkinPeace2 Tue 11-Oct-11 21:50:03

"VAT is not applicable to this invoice"
covers most bases

I type one handed - as I'm turning over invoices with the other hand!

Paula30CWR Tue 18-Oct-11 08:49:11

Paypal is the best thing if they are abroad even if it's Europe. Bank transfer could be good but then you give the price in Pounds and with the Euro, you get more or less...

How do you guys work with the kids?
Nursery? Childcare?
I run my own business from home + freelance for agencies when the clients don't appear but I find it scary to take a job if i don't know how long my 7-month-old son will be sleeping for. If it's a client, I really go for it but sometimes clients are quiet and I don't really have the time to market my business. sad

My maternity allowance finishes this month and I'm getting a bit upset to think that I won't have any money in my pocket unless I send my baby to nursery (which I can't really afford at the moment). My husband says we will get through this and he will transfer some money to me for the basic expenses. But...i have always worked and made myself proud of what i do. Now, i love every second with my baby but I feel that if i don't have that independence for let's, buy my things from time to time or go to the gym... or simply do something for myself...what can I do then???

Sorry this is the wrong thread but can anyone give me a bit of advice?


MMQC Tue 18-Oct-11 08:55:50

Personally, I avoid Paypal like the plague as the fees are extortionate. I have a euro account in Germany and get paid into that. (All transfers within the EU are free!) Then I transfer the funds over in a big chunk when the exchange rate is favourable. There are various companies that will buy euros for sterling and offer reasonable exchange rates.

Paula, my children are at school now but in the early days it was hard trying to work around their naps, etc. I ended up with them both in childcare from a pretty young age. But if you're getting the work in, then you should be able to afford the childcare! Good luck ...

Tenebrist Tue 18-Oct-11 09:08:34

Most of my clients are within Germany, but several are in Austria, Belgium, Italy. It really makes it easier staying within the Eurozone in terms of currency, and the British-based translators I work with all have Euro accounts to enable easy payment. I reckon if I asked any of my clients to pay via Paypal they would have a fit. The only option (for me and the clients) is bank transfer. The key with an international bank transfer is using your IBAN code to avoid paying bank charges, and make it clear on your invoice that your client is liable for any bank charges due (ie the amount on your invoice should be the amount that lands in your account). I always quote my fee in euros and it's up to the client to pay for any currency fees, should they for instance be in Switzerland or the US.

I'm also not VAT registered at the moment and have a sentence on all my invoices quoting the relevant German tax law.

chickflit - Sorry, but I don't know a single translator who works with a transcriber. Translators just don't get paid well enough to allow for that kind of thing, and the majority of translators these days (have to) work with translation software like Trados or WordFast so are pretty computer-savvy. Any translators who have issues with RSi use voice-recognition software (like Fetchez) to reduce the strain on their wrists. I'm surprised your one-armed translator doesn't choose something like that.

Tenebrist Tue 18-Oct-11 09:13:26

"(All transfers within the EU are free!)"

MMQC - transfers within the EU are only free if you make sure that your client uses an IBAN number rather than your normal bank account and sort code. Only when the transfer is within one country is it okay not to use the IBAN. So if MMQC has a German euro account and gets paid by a German client, then the IBAN is not necessary, but if the client is Austrian, then it is. I've found to my (literal) cost that German banks charge 10 euros fee simply for not using the IBAN, and when the invoice is for a small job of less than 100 euros, that makes a big difference.

internationalbeeboo Tue 18-Oct-11 10:37:06

MMQC, are you based in Germany? Or due you have a Euro account there and then transfer to a UK account? I just phoned my bank about setting up a Euro account (advertised on their website), got transferred between 5 departments (one of whom had never HEARD of a Euro account - worrying for a bank, no?) to end up at the corporate offshore division...

midnightexpress Tue 18-Oct-11 10:47:18

I do it by bank transfer rather than paypal. I've heard some iffy things about Paypal (person paying can cancel payment at any time, including after the money has cleared in your account shock.

Make sure that when you give the client your bank details, you include the IBAN number (mine is on the front page of my bank statement). The French, as you probably know, are enchanted by red tape, so I have found that the whole process of being paid by French clients can be - be warned! Though the particular client I was last working for had a reputation even amongst the French (I found out after I'd done the work, but months before I got paid...)

spooktrain Tue 18-Oct-11 10:59:25

OP _ I am in Italy and I have only one client out of many who is up to speed with paypal. If I was in your situation I would get clients to keep paying into my Italian account (mainly because Italian bank charges to pay into a UK account are prohibitive to say the least)

@ Paula

I got stuck in that trap with freelancing/nursery costs etc when the maternity pay for DS1 ran out.
After that I paid a lady to come and babysit for him in my home while I worked. She was very flexible and would do a few mornings a week depending on my deadlines etc, so I found I was able to plan ok. Could that be an option for you?
I also did some work in the evenings and at weekends when DH was around. At the time I was doing mainly agency work with a local agency and I built up a good relationship with them, they knew my situation etc and we both managed to work around it.

MMQC Tue 18-Oct-11 17:57:31

No, I'm based in the UK but my Euro account is in Germany. When we have lots of funds in euros, we 'sell' them via a currency transfer company who then transfer the funds to our UK account. You do have to take a hit on the currency but it's the best alternative we've found. The trouble with having a euro account in this country is that you still need to transfer the funds into sterling at some point.

We also sell euros to friends and family who are going abroad and need cash. And we use the euros directly when we're on holiday, obviously!

internationalbeeboo Wed 19-Oct-11 20:39:26

Sorry to quiz you MMQC, but you don't have any tax issues with a German account if you're in the UK? It's just that I still have my French account, so I could use that, but I don't want to get hunted down by the Tresor Public...
Investigations on this side of the channel have brought interesting and divergent results: my bank offers a euro account, but you have to maintain £2500 minimum in it, otherwise you incur charges (on top of all the other ones), but I've found another high street bank that does a euro account for £5/month, £1 per payment received from SEPA-zone banks if amount is equivalent of more than £100, free if below have to have a sterling business account with them to get those rates, but if you do, then there's no transfer charge (only exchange rate conversion) for moving from the international (euro) account into the sterling account.
Why can't the UK do euros...confused

MMQC Thu 20-Oct-11 07:47:02

I have signed a declaration in Germany that I am a 'tax foreigner' and therefore pay my tax in this country. As the work is actually done here, it's not an issue.

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