Meltem, Turkish Translator

Meltem Guavabean

Hi, I'm Meltem and I was born and raised in Turkey.  

I’ve been living in the UK for 11 years. I have an academic background in Linguistics, Literature, and Philosophy. I also have a big passion for singing and music. Currently set in London as a self-employed Turkish translator, I get involved in music and perform as a singer as often as I can.

What do you say when people ask "What do you do?"

I say I’m a self-employed Turkish Translator. I also provide proofreading, editing and other language-related services. To put it more professionally, I am a linguist.

How many years have you been freelancing?

4-5 years.

Why did you get started with online/freelance work?

I wanted to take up the challenge of having my own business and see if I could pull it off! It was a big decision but I wanted to test myself.

I'm also passionate about singing and music. Being self-employed meant I could be my own boss and have time to improve myself in music. Plus, the idea of being flexible and getting to travel was quite tempting.

Where did you find your first paid freelancing job?

On some websites that advertise freelance translator positions, such as and I found a few companies like that.

I also approached some agencies myself, after searching them up on Google. I did a lot of online research, especially in the beginning.

How did you price your services when you were just starting out?

I had to do a bit of market research and ask other freelancers about the rates they charge and how they manage their accounts, etc. There are also some forums where people discuss these things.

Thanks to the Internet, you can access a lot of information these days. But I’ve always made sure that I ask for a decent amount because freelancers don’t have the benefits of normal employees, so the amount I get paid needs to make up for that. I still offer discounts here and there, though.

What are your favorite things about freelancing/working from home?

The freedom to be able to decide my schedule. No Monday blues, no rush hour stress, and freedom with the food you wanna eat instead of thinking about your lunch for the next day!

What's your LEAST favorite thing about freelancing/working from home?

It can be lonely having no colleagues.

How long did it take for you to feel like a "successful" freelancer. Until you were able to pay your bills regularly without worrying?

It took at least 6 months until I could figure out what I was actually doing! It all started to make sense after that period. In the beginning, there were occasions when I took on jobs for nothing! I was worried and wanted to gain experience. But once I got accepted as a vendor for a few established companies, I felt I was doing it right!

Looking back to when you were just getting started... what tool, tip, or resource do you wish was available to you back then? What would've made your journey into freelancing MUCH easier?

Advice on dealing with accounts and how taxation, international bank transfers, etc. work. These are things not related to the job I’m doing. I work with words, but when it comes to numbers, I get stuck! If there were some websites that explained these things, all in one place, that would have made my life a lot easier. Instead I had to ask tons of people questions and then try to make sense of it all in my head.

I have some basic understanding of software/PC issues, but for those who don’t, it would also be helpful to have a point of contact who can troubleshoot things for you when you’re in need.

What's your favorite way to find new clients and job opportunities? What worked the best for you?

Online ads, doing online research, and approaching some companies directly. You might be doing something specific, but if you look at the companies that are operating ‘in that industry’, then an opportunity might arise for you, too!

Don’t wait until they are looking for someone exactly like you. Sell yourself as if they might need your services in the future even if they don’t need them now. Always introduce them to the other services you provide as well. Think outside of the box!

What are the top 5 tools you use most often in your daily work?

PC, Translation Software, MS Office, Internet, Dictionary.

In your opinion, what's the most important quality or trait for a freelancer to have?

Self-motivation. You need to constantly remind yourself that you’re the one steering this ship. You’re not an employee, you’re a boss. You need to keep on top of everything. You need to create more opportunities and be accountable for yourself.

What does your average Monday look like?

It depends on whether I have any active projects. Sometimes I enjoy a Monday off, no Monday Blues syndrome here! But I see Monday as an inspirational day, as a fresh start, and look forward to the things I will achieve that week.

On average, how many hours do you work on a regular weekday?

Around 6 hours, but sometimes weekends, too. That’s because of the nature of what I do. Translation is quite intense so I need to take regular breaks. But that time is also extended if I’m doing research on the content or some admin work and accounts, etc.

How do you stay motivated and focused when you don't feel like working?

I go to work in a coffee shop. I remind myself this is my own business!

To be honest, money is a good incentive. You also need to love what you do and get personal satisfaction from it. If you’ve decided to do your own thing, it’d better be something you enjoy doing. Otherwise, what’s the point?

What was one of the biggest challenges or roadblocks that you had to overcome in your journey to be a successful freelancer?

Accepting uncertainty is a big challenge. I had to believe in myself and keep going. It takes a lot of courage to do that, but it’s also quite empowering. Accept that things can change. Accept that your workload might not always be satisfying. I’ve had to stay strong. It’s important to be driven to overcome obstacles.

What would you say to someone who asks "How can I find freelance jobs if I don't have much experience yet?"

Start slowly, deliver small things until you can move on to the next stage. Never compromise on quality. Always try to get advice from people who are more experienced than you. Find people who do the same so you can collaborate. Be willing to learn. Try networking.

Now that you've experienced all the ups and downs of being a freelancer, would you go back to a regular 9-5 job?

I don't ever want to work 9-5 again unless I really have to!

If you could work from anywhere, what would be your dream work location?

Probably a nice summer house by the beach that has a nice terrace or large balcony with a sea view. It’s always more inspiring to be in nature rather than being stuck in an office.

Do you have any work routines or habits that boost your productivity?

Essentially, what boosts productivity is self-motivation. If you’re constantly in tune with yourself, then your working attitude changes.

I found out when I feel demotivated and unsuccessful, that affects all aspects of my work. That’s why you constantly need to motivate yourself and recognize what you’ve achieved. Celebrate your progress. When you are more focused on what you have been capable of, the results are more fruitful.

Your best interview tip?

If you have any prior experience, have volunteered, done work as a hobby on the side, managed your own business, etc., make sure you sell that!

Find ways to demonstrate that you’re capable and passionate, that you can take risks and responsibilities and can build and maintain relationships. Show that you’re driven, have control over yourself, and that you don’t do a job to just get paid and forget about it as soon as you walk out the door.

What do you wish other people knew about freelancing?

They should know that it takes a lot of courage. It’s not an easy or secure way of living. It means taking risks for the sake of personal freedom and independence. It requires a lot of inner work, self-development and perspective.

What advice would you give other people who are just getting started, but are still unsure about freelancing?

I think going self-employed is a personal challenge. If you’re not someone who likes taking risks and responsibilities, then it’s not for you.  

First ask yourself if you have the personality to take on so many responsibilities and challenges. Do you have a passion to succeed? That’s the starting point. Once you get started, build your relationships on solid ground. Give your best to every client so you can have a long-term collaboration.

Ask yourself if you are a good communicator. Do you have the professional background and understanding to manage all these duties? Are you willing to learn anything?

Sometimes, you might need some work/life experience before you can start building your own thing. For instance, if you are a new graduate, you might want to gain some work experience and see how a regular job works before you decide to jump into freelancing.

If you could go back to your early days as a freelancer and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

Build skills outside of what you are freelancing for. Don’t get too comfortable with what you do. Don’t let freelancing restrict you. Be flexible and open-minded, because life can always bring new opportunities so it’s good to be ready for it.

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