Freelancers and contractors are curious people. That’s why they love to hear how others broke into this weird and wonderful world of work and how they are improving their game and switching off when they aren’t working.
This week translator and copywriter Claudia Kozeny-Pelling gives us a sneak peek into her international freelance career and lifestyle. We learn why she went freelance, that one client question that makes her cringe, how she feels about ‘inside IR35 jobs’ and which famous person would best portray her life in a major film.
What do people call you (on a good day)?
What’s the best thing that happened to you this year? This month? Today?
- This year: a big translation job for a very nice client! (I translated a user guide for their consent management platform, and I’ve been writing blogs about data protection and cookies for them, too)
- This month: some really interesting research I did for an SEO article about a group of Kenyan artisans
- Today: taking time off to play board games with my son
How would you describe what you do for a living?
I write and translate high-quality content for ethical, fair trade and/or eco-friendly companies (in English and German).
What do you love the most about being freelance/contractor/self-employed?
- not being stuck in crowded buses and traffic jams on my way to and from work.
- not sitting in noisy open-plan offices all day.
- being my own boss. I only attend meetings I’m really interested in. And I can set my own deadlines, too!
What do you dislike the most?
- not yet having a perfect office set-up at home. I’m hoping to get a good office chair and a new desktop soon!
What business structure have you chosen (e.g., limited company, sole trader, PAYE/agency contractor, etc.?). Any tips for budding freelancers on why you’ve chosen this structure?
I first was a sole trader, but I quickly changed to a limited company. My husband owns a limited company, too. I thought it would be the safest option in terms of finances: if things were to go terribly wrong as a sole trader, your private assets would be on the line, whereas this is not the case if you have a limited company. I have an accountant, too, which is great.
Craziest/oddest request from a client, recruiter or customer?
Someone thought that copywriting services were to do with ‘copyright’ and asked me to review and rewrite their legal terms and conditions to make sure they were ok. This isn’t something I can help with.
At which point did your freelance/contractor income validate your decision to go independent?
I had a great start to the year and landed a big translation job, which paid well. There are peaks and troughs, but I’m not too worried about this. It’s to be expected when you’re starting out, but it’s nice to know that you get paid well when you do get good clients.
If you had to accept a contract that was inside IR35, would it make you feel like an employee or something different?
I don’t think I would like this. It would make me feel too much like an employee again.
The question that clients ask that makes you cringe?
“Could you do xxx? I could do it myself – it’s just a quick job, so it shouldn’t take long.”
This is always a red flag. Researching and writing good content takes much longer than you think. It really is a skill and clients thinking they could do it in a few minutes clearly don’t value your work.
What do you do to switch off from work?
- Browse social media. 😅 (Bad habit!)
- Go for a long walk.
- Read books.
- Watch Netflix.
- Play board games with my family, or watch ‘The Simpsons’ with my son. (He’s just discovered them.)
In your inner circle what are you known for?
Being friendly, having a good sense of humour and being quite introverted.
Do you ask clients for testimonials and if so what do you do with them?
Yes, absolutely. I show them on my website, LinkedIn profile, Google my Business page and/or Facebook page. I would advise everyone to do that.
How do you determine/justify your rate to clients or recruiters?
I’ve researched the current market rate or starting rate for various services and will go from there. Some of my rates depend on the urgency and complexity of the task, too.
Do you use social media to land new business/promote your services? If so, which site has worked best for you?
Yes. I found my best client through Twitter! (A random retweet got us talking.) LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook are useful too. I had leads from all of these, though I think LinkedIn and Instagram are probably most useful at the moment.
Are you having to upskill to remain competitive? What was the latest thing that you learned to do?
Definitely. I’m always learning. The most recent course I took was about transcreation, which is a mix of translation and copywriting.
Have you ever had to quit a client? If so, how did the break-up go?
Thankfully, not yet! There were some leads that I had a bad feeling about, so I said no to those (politely).
Working on and publishing my own website. And having my first posts published on clients’ blogs.
Which actor or comedian or famous person would best play you if your life became the plot of a major film?
Maybe Jodie Foster? Ideally not in a ‘Silence of the Lambs’ scenario. 😬
What are three things you can’t live without as an independent worker?
- Social media