Keeping records

In order to feel in control o my work and the business/tax side of things I keep spreadsheets of the following data:

  • projects: date assigned, client, document name, description, word count, time taken, invoiced amount, invoice sent, payment received
  • clients: name, since when, how I started working for them, words to date
  • expenses: item, date, receipt location, amount

I have kept a project database since I started getting work, even when it was only my first job. I update this database at the beginning and end of each project. The time column helps me get an idea of how quickly I work and how this varies for different projects. I still need to work on my timing, in particular I tend to underestimate how long proofreading takes. Or can take if you let it! I didn’t keep document name until I started freelancing when I realised this would be useful and I now also colour coordinate by client to give a visual representation of where my work is coming from. I should probably have a deadline date on here but as I normally am only working on one or two projects at a time I manage to keep these in my head and have them written in my diary.

My client list started last week after chatting to another translator who said he kept a record of where all his clients came from. This is a great idea as it will help me know where to focus my marketing energy. It is also encouraging to see it growing slowly and the word count shows me where most work comes from. I should perhaps have a rate column too. I update this whenever I get a request from a new contact or roughly once a week for the numbers.

The expenses list is still a bit odd to me and more of a better-safe-than-sorry. I’m not sure how self-employment income and taxes work entirely – that’s an ongoing research project! However, I think I can offset work-related outgoings against my income so I’m writing them down for future reference. So far I have IoL exam, preparation course, Memoq and dictionaries.

Should I be keeping records of anything else?

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