Reflections on 2016: Becoming a Freelance Translator
It’s that time of the year again. In the 12 days leading up to Christmas, anime bloggers around the world write a post every day, reflecting on the year as a whole. It’s called the 12 Days of Anime Christmas, but for some strange reason, it doesn’t coincide with the actual 12 Days of Christmas at all. Oh well, don’t think too hard about it.
The usual format is to write about 12 moments in anime that stood out to you, but in most years, I don’t watch enough anime in order to come up with 12 distinct moments. However, because this year has been eventful in so many other ways, I can actually come up with a list of things that happened in the anime world that impacted my life in some way, for better or worse. This is the first year I can actually do the 12 Days of Anime properly. Huzzah!
So here we go. Let’s do this!
12 Days of Anime
#1 — Becoming a Freelance Translator
2016 was the year I took my first step towards becoming a freelance translator.
Until this year, I never translated for money. I did fan translations of light novels and occasionally some other stuff for my own blog, but I firmly thought of myself as an amateur just doing their bit for the community.
Things changed, however, towards the end of 2015. I could see my graduation looming ahead of me, and I was starting to feel somewhat anxious about my future. It was no longer practical to spend so many hours on unpaid work that I couldn’t put on my resume, even if it was for the sake of sharpening my language skills. By then, I’d built up a fairly positive reputation as a translator, so I decided to start up a translation commissions service and see what happened.
As it turned out, it was a good experience for me. I got commissions almost immediately, and when I finished one job, I usually had another one waiting. As a result, I ended up having a few hours of work to do everyday, a bit like a regular part-time job. Because I’ve been busy every day this year, I’ve never had to grapple with that empty feeling of being unemployed, even after leaving university. While I don’t earn enough from commissions alone to make a living, I’ve been able to save some money while I look for full-time work for next year.
Becoming a freelancer taught me some important skills. I had to learn how to manage my time effectively and market myself as an individual. I had to learn what my limits were and how much work I could accept before it became difficult for me to meet my deadlines. I had to think about how best to satisfy my clients so that I would get repeat commissions. I’m sure these experiences will be useful to me no matter which career path I take.
This all sounds well and good, but actually the best thing about doing commissions was the commissions themselves. Most of them were for weeb-related things, like the interviews I did for Wave Motion Cannon, but I’ve translated songs, manga pages, novellas, web pages, magazine excerpts, and all sorts of things. I’ve even helped my clients communicate with Japanese people by acting as a go-between. Oftentimes I’d learn something interesting just by reading the material I was given to translate.
But I think the commission that will stick out to me most is the Sword Art Online erotic fanfiction that I translated a few months ago. It was a Kirito x Death Gun fanfic, and honestly it was rather rape-y, so I can’t reproduce it here. However, I can say that the fanfic was based off this hilarious comic on pixiv:
God bless the person who commissioned me to translate gay porn. I love the freelance life.