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SUSIE JACKSON​​- The Organized Freelancer


Who is behind The Organized Freelancer?

I am a finance and pricing mentor to freelancers, helping them to figure out how much they should be charging and how to manage the financial side of their business so they can earn a decent living doing what they love. I also work freelance as a copy editor and translator.

I want to see a future where every freelancer feels supported and empowered, and I believe connection and kindness will get us closer to that reality. That's why I use my knowledge and skills to support freelancers to achieve their goals and create businesses that align with their own values while supporting them financially.


Where can we find more about you?

Hello Susie, and welcome! It’s a huge pleasure to have you with us! Especially having you before such an important moment in your life! Let's start with a fun fact about The Organized Freelancer!

I once did a skydive for charity! Although I’m generally a pretty risk-averse person, I’ll do almost anything for a good cause.

We would love to get to know you more, Susie! What languages do you work with, and what’s your specialization?

I translate from Spanish into English and specialise in academic texts for the social sciences. I particularly enjoy working with clients who research human behaviour, so psychologists, economists, political scientists, organisational scientists, etc.

Managing your finances so well… is it something that you learnt on the go, or did you have specific training or studies?

My Dad worked in banking for his whole working life and taught me the importance of budgeting from a relatively young age. I grew up with spreadsheets for my pocket money and there was never any taboo around talking about money in my family, which I think really helped.


When I started my business, he helped me create the spreadsheets I would need to manage everything and we also got a freelance pension set up for me from the very beginning.


Since then, I’ve developed my own systems and ways of managing my finances that I’ve found seem to help other freelancers feel more in control of the money side of business too.


Now let’s get to business, Susie! In your platforms you give fantastic advice to linguists: from newcomers to the profession to experts. What is the main mistake you think linguists make regarding their finances?


The most common mistake I see is setting your prices based on what you see another freelancer charging or ‘average rates’ for the industry. This approach to pricing doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to earn what you need from your business, because our industry is global. Other freelancers (your competitors) who you're setting your rates by might live in places with a much lower cost of living than you, or might be working much longer hours than you’re able to, or might not be saving anything towards their retirement, for example.


I understand that you might fear that you’ll never gain a single client if you charge more than others, but you have to ensure that your business is financially viable first and foremost - if not, it’s an expensive hobby, not a business. You really don’t need to charge prices that every client can afford and is willing to pay. You only need a handful of clients who can pay your prices (you probably couldn’t handle many more anyway) and there are clients out there at every budget level, if you know where to look.


In this same line, what would be the main advice, tip or thing that every linguist should take into account?


It’s really common to feel overwhelmed by the numbers in your business and to put off looking at them for that reason. Particularly among translators and interpreters, so many freelancers say that they’re ‘bad with money’ because they are ‘word people’, but I truly believe that no-one is inherently bad with money. I just think it’s hard to be good at anything if you haven’t been taught how to do it.


My advice is to start small and begin by checking your online banking regularly so you see what’s coming in and going out of your account. Don’t attach any emotion to those numbers - all you’re doing is starting to become familiar with your business’s financial situation. Once you’re in the habit of doing that, you can maybe start recording those numbers somewhere (my free Income and Expenditure Spreadsheet, for example) and work up to the bigger things like pricing from there. Familiarity breeds confidence, so the more you look at the numbers, the more confident you’ll feel in your ability to manage them.


Some of our readers are colleagues who are just starting their projects. What would you advise them to focus on? Pricing strategy? To get information about rates?


I’d say that depends on your situation. If you’re totally reliant on your business to support you financially from day one, it’s really important to set your prices in a way that will enable you to earn what you need while working sustainably. That means developing a pricing strategy that reflects your financial needs and capacity and then working on finding clients who will pay those rates.


If, on the other hand, you have another source of income that means there’s less pressure for your business to provide for you straight away, you can take the time to explore the market and figure out what types of work you enjoy, all the while recording the details of the projects you take on so that you can base decisions on that data later. If you’re going down this route, I would recommend taking a look at average rates for the industry to ensure you aren’t totally undercharging for your services - if you gain too many clients at low rates, you might struggle to raise them significantly later when you need to.


Either way, try to get some good systems in place early on for staying on top of your finances so that they don’t become overwhelming. I’ve got various free resources on my website that might help in that regard, such as a financial task checklist and a budgeting spreadsheet, and my blog is packed with tips too.


In your posts you talk a lot about pricing strategy…and even to charge more so that we can have some days in nature! Could you tell us more about it? 


We all had our own reasons for going freelance, and I’m a huge believer that your business should support the lifestyle you choose, both financially and in terms of giving you what’s important to you more generally. It’s therefore so important to calculate your rates on that basis: what are your financial needs and what is your capacity for paid work?


If you assume you’ll consistently be able to work extremely long hours and never take time off, that’s going to lead to burnout. And if you don’t get clear on what you need to earn from your business, you might find yourself working all hours of the day and night and still not being able to make ends meet.


In my case, taking regular time off to do something for me is a luxury I’m able to give myself as my own boss, but that has to be accounted for in my pricing strategy so as not to have a negative effect on my finances.


What benefits have you found in including some nature days to your daily life?


I find it really grounding to be around tall trees - there’s something about the fact that they’ve been there for longer than we can really comprehend that is so calming when things feel like too much. I struggle with anxiety so I find it’s really beneficial to my mental health to get out into nature regularly. If I go often enough, it keeps the anxiety at bay - prevention rather than cure, you could say.


Our readers are fast learners… What post or podcast you have made before we can’t miss?


That really depends on what you feel you need the most help with! Here are a few ideas:


Thank you once again, Susie, for your fantastic advice, for sharing your knowledge, and for making the time for us in this special time! We wish you all the best in this new chapter, and we are really looking forward to hearing from you again! You are always welcome to the blog and we will, for sure, take your tips seriously! 


Thank you!

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