Apostroph freelancers in the spotlight – Today: Franziska L.

Franziska may have started her career in the classroom as a Religious Studies teacher, but she ended up in her dream job eventually. She enjoys her work as a freelance proofreader because no two texts are the same and funny errors keep her on her toes.

Woman holding a music instrument

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Where did you grow up? Did you always dream of becoming a proofreader?
My name is Franziska L. and I grew up in Lucerne, where I still live now at the bottom of Mount Pilatus. I remember loving all the hilarious mistakes the teacher would find in our writing at primary school. And errors always jumped out at me even at that age – no matter what I was reading. So I did actually dream of becoming a proofreader from a pretty young age. But I thought I’d need to study German to make it happen, so I gave up on that idea and studied to become a Religious Studies teacher instead. After a few years in that job, I did a bit more research into what I would need to do to become a proofreader and I enrolled on a distance-learning proofreading course. With my studies behind me, I applied for a position at a printing house and, much to my surprise, I got the job! I’m grateful to that Prepress Manager to this day for giving me that opportunity even though I had no industry experience. And I’m so happy I decided to change careers. After four and a half years in that job, I worked up the courage to go freelance.

What do you like doing in your spare time? Probably not more reading, right?
Music is my biggest passion besides my work as a proofreader. I’ve been playing the bassoon for many years in various chamber music ensembles and I can also play the recorder, piano and guitar. You’ll often find me in the audience at classical music concerts or having fun at games nights with my friends.

What do you play?
All kinds of card games and board games, including Jass, Dog, Tichu, Wizzard, Azul, Carcassonne, Phase 10 and Rummy.

Which languages do you work with and which areas do you specialise in? What kind of texts do you proofread for Apostroph?
I only proofread texts in German – mainly for the healthcare, insurance and banking sectors. I usually receive a flurry of requests during annual report season too. Master’s dissertations are always really exciting because they’re meatier projects I can really get my teeth into. I’d love to start working on more of them.

How did you end up working for Apostroph as a freelancer?
My dream to become a freelancer came true at the end of 2013. I was really struggling with the three-hour daily commute. So I started off by proofreading a few bachelor’s and master’s dissertations on the side to test the waters and see if I could make a go of a freelance career. I came across Apostroph around that time and thought I’d try my luck. Shortly after submitting my application, I received my first request in February 2015. That’s when I made the decision to hand in my notice and work exclusively on a freelance basis.

That was a brave decision!
I only had a few clients in the beginning, but it was such a relief to be working for myself. I was so motivated that it didn’t take long at all to build up my client base.

What do you enjoy about working with Apostroph?
I love the fact that I don’t have to worry about onboarding new clients all the time. I may not always receive loads of requests from Apostroph, but I can count on a steady flow of regular proofreading projects for the same end clients. And Apostroph is one of many loyal clients for me, so the amount of work I get is spot on. They always pay me on the same day each month without fail. It’s so refreshing that I don’t have to chase up my invoices and send lots of payment reminders like I do with some of my other clients.

What’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Apostroph? Why this word?
Like I said, I really like the fact that I can rely on regular repeat orders from some of Apostroph’s end clients. And they’re often really interesting projects like employee magazines.

Would you like to tell us about something cool or funny that has happened to you in your proofreading career?
I’m always coming across funny phrases in the texts that I’m working on. I love it when I find mistakes that change the meaning of the text – I’m always excited to add to my collection. How about some examples?

  • Mit gesundem Menschenversand können auch die unangenehmsten Aufgaben gelöst werden.

Without the ‘t’ in Menschenversand (which should be Menschenverstand), this sentence suggests that a healthy approach to shipping people is the key to tackling even the most unpleasant tasks... Of course, what it actually takes is common sense!

  • «Die Lösung der Zukunft», wie XY seine Froschwasserlösung präsentierte, hat zentrale Vorgaben und Vorteile.

By replacing the ‘i’ in Frischwasserlösung with an ‘o’ (Froschwasserlösung), we’re dealing with the advantages of a frog water solution rather than a fresh water solution!

  • Neu: Saueinlage für Vakuumverpackungen

The ‘g’ is missing from Saueinlage, turning our vacuum packaging into pig packaging!

  • Die Höchstgeschwindigkeit auf Autobahnen wird auf 130 m/h festgeschrieben.

Things would be a bit different if our speed was restricted to 130 m/h on the motorway rather than 130 km/h!

  • Ab nächstem Montag gilt Maskenpflicht in Zug, Schiff, Bus und Traum.

The extra ‘u’ in Tram means we now have to wear a face covering in our dreams as well as on public transport!

  • Die Mitglieder des frohen Alters treffen sich um 14 Uhr im Dorfbrunnen.

I guess it might not be a bad idea to meet in the well in the middle of a heatwave... But replacing the im with am and arranging to meet at the well instead probably makes more sense!

  • Pflegen Sie Angehörige? Wir entlassen Sie!

The typo here (entlassen instead of entlasten) has turned an offer of help for family carers into a firing... Best they head straight to the job centre!

What does your typical working day as a proofreader look like?
No two days are the same! Since I took on a part-time shift-based position two years ago, I only have to fill half my working hours with freelance projects. That means my schedule tends to get booked up quite nicely in advance. But there are also quiet days and weeks, when not much is going on. Sometimes I wake up in the morning without any work planned and no idea if anything is going to come in. It normally works out for the best, though, and an urgent request will often land in my inbox on a quiet day. If my inbox does stay empty, I make the most of the freedom I have and go out for a walk in the sunshine or play some music to get in a bit of practice. I know that I can always work the odd evening or weekend to make up for it if I need to.

Would you take the same professional path if you could start over again?
Yes, proofreading is my dream job. I even love delving deep into topics that I wouldn’t have a lot of interest in otherwise. My work gives me the opportunity to learn so much. I’m paid by my employer to read newspapers and my freelance work requires me to read texts on all kinds of topics. It’s no wonder that my horizons are forever being expanded. The 50/50 split between being an employee for a major Swiss newspaper and working freelance is ideal for me.
And I don’t regret starting out as a Religious Studies teacher because it was a great way to gain plenty of experience and learn a lot along the way. Having said that, it’s such a relief that I don’t have to keep kids quiet and focused during lessons anymore.

Thank you for sharing your story with us, Franziska!

Do you want to know more about the freelancers on our books? Do you have a similar path to translation as Franziska’s or a completely different one?

Send us an email to freelance@apostrophgroup.ch.

And stay tuned for more Freelancer Interviews in the coming months.

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