Some more advice (continued from here).
Q. I don’t know how to send an invoice – I do not want to appear unprofessional
A. Create a simple form including all the required information (date, your name and address, client’s name and address, short description of performed work, amount). No one will hold it against you if the invoice contains no bells and whistles. (Note that from the legal point of view you are not obliged to register your business, you can conduct it using just your own name.) I started using somewhat nicer form when I registered my own company (so now I have something like a logo in a corner) but the rest is pretty much the same. Don’t worry about the clients, they will look at how you do the job and not at how artful your invoices are. Besides, many of my clients do not require any invoice whatsoever – I name the price, they agree, I do the job and they send me the payment. Translation agencies usually ask you to send them an Excel spreadsheet once a month for all the jobs you did in that month, and they often give you their own invoice form to use.
Q. How do you accept payments? What is the best way?
A. I use three ways of accepting payments:
a. Paypal. I started accepting Paypal payments just because I already had a Paypal account and it seemed to be a convenient way. Frankly, I never tried other electronic payment systems and have no idea how they compare with Paypal. Please note that Paypal charges you (I think) 2.5% from any amount you transfer into your bank account.
b. Bank transfer. Within Canada or from abroad. It can be more expensive than Paypal but some clients do not like using Paypal for various reasons. Please note that Canadian banks (at least CIBC which I use) charge you $10 when someone transfers money into your account from abroad. So, for small amounts Paypal is probably better.
c. Your US and Canadian clients can mail you a cheque which you then deposit into your bank account in a usual way. This takes somewhat longer than Paypal but does not cost you anything except your bank’s standard fee for depositing a cheque. It is cheaper for the clients, too, because a bank transfer costs, and that way they only pay for sending a letter.
Q. I don’t have any stamp I could use to confirm a translation!
A. You cannot have a stamp to confirm a translation unless you have an official certification (e.g. ATA, ATIO). On the other hand, most translations do not need certification. The only ones that do are official documents (e.g. birth certificates) that will be used for official purposes (e.g. in an immigration process).
If you want to translate such documents, you can do it in one of the two ways:
– obtain a certification (this is, I believe, a lengthy process that may take 2 to 4 years), or
– find a certified translator that will check and stamp ready translations, and send your clients to him/her after you translated their papers, to certify the translations you make. I found such a translator, but then I don’t do a lot of document translation. (I decided not to go for the official certification, at least not now, see my previous post.)
Some more advice. Contact SISO (http://www.sisohamilton.org/) – they work with many translators to and from different languages, and they may need someone with yours. They are located in Hamilton but you will only have to visit them once or twice for orientation sessions. After that all the communication is held by e-mail. You will translate documents and SISO will certify them using their own certified translator. They probably won’t give you a lot of work but still it is a nice way to begin, to earn some references etc. Mention that you want to work as a paid translator and not as a volunteer (they have a lot of volunteers working for them, too, so it is better to clarify this from the beginning).
Rivint (http://www.rivint.ca) is a similar agency in Toronto. I suggest you search for other similar agencies and community organizations, I am sure there is a lot of them around.
To be continued…