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Should I stay or should I go
Thread poster: satranslations

satranslations
Local time: 10:41
English to German
Dec 4, 2008

I feel very disheartened at the moment. I lost a regular direct client due to him going bankrupt, another regular client has stopped sending me work and I don't know why, and there is an agency I used to work with on various occasions but I refuse to work with them now because their payment practice has deteriorated significantly, i.e. it now takes 4 months to get paid and I doubt the financial soundness of this agency.

I have always been struggling to live with the irregularity of work flow and income that a freelance career entails and now my income has nearly halved compared to last year. This makes me feel like throwing in the towel and look for a job as an employee somewhere (it could be nearly any job). On the other hand I still love translating and am reluctant to give it up, so I thought that maybe I shouldn't get so disheartened and just work harder on getting new clients. I know that this is something I need to answer for myself but I would like to hear from others being in the same boat as I am or even from those who tried to get an employee job again and what experience they had. I am looking forward to your replies.


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:41
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Your decision Dec 4, 2008

It is really your decision, but if you want to stay in the business, I would recommend the following:
1. become a (paid) Proz member
2. improve your profile
3. get involved in Kudoz and other activities.

Why should anybody give you a job, get your act together and become visible for potential clients.

There is more than enough work available, but it does not just come to you.
Siegfried


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Katrin Hollberg  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:41
Japanese to German
+ ...
Trying to cheer you up Dec 4, 2008

Hello,

first of all: this is a question only YOU can give the right answer to...and be honest when listening to your heart. Do you generally feel comfortable (when there is enough business for you) or do you actually hate being dependent on unregular jobs, never knowing what it is going to be like in the future??? This is a very important aspect.
If it is only that you need more customers then you already know that you can change this situation.

Second: Do you have your own website? Watching your profile here at Proz.com I can hardly get an impression about the person you are (neither as individual nor as a professional). Do not underestimate this kind of representing yourself when customers are going to knock at your door. Try to promote yourself more intensely, build up new/revive old networks...talk to people in your industry...I am sure you are going to be surprised how quickly you can change your course - even without too much effort...
Good luck!

[Bearbeitet am 2008-12-04 10:46 GMT]


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:41
Flemish to English
+ ...
Employee job Dec 4, 2008

My experience with a former employee job at a multinational corporation was that if you do not have specialised knowledge and the necessary qualifications in maths, economics, itc in all its fields or an Ivy League MBA (type London Business School, LSE, Oxford, Stanford, Harvard, MIT, Insead, just to name a few) you may climb the corporate ladder by using your elbows and your intra-corporate network, but the "Peter Principle" will apply. Some started at the very bottom, but their LBS-diploma helped them get into middle management and higher in two years time.
Some companies only employ "learned workers". Without a specialisation in economics, you don't have to apply at Accenture and the like.....
Being an "employee" read official at an international institution is something I would most certainly like. Difficult to get into, but not impossible.



[Edited at 2008-12-04 10:46 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:41
English to German
+ ...
Stay. Dec 4, 2008

But work on your self-marketing. Your profile page could use some improvements. Please get rid off phrasings such as "clerk" and "I enjoy". After 10 years you are a specialist in this terminology.

Also, start participating in KudoZ and work on your ranking. This will increase your visibility.

Use your full name instead of a fantasy name and give yourself an identity. Believe me, using any concoctions containing "translation", "trans", "lingua" and consorts will hurt your credibility as long as you are not a real and established company. Use a photo and show who you are. All the above mentioned screams "beginner" and gives the impression that you are pretending to be something (a company) which you are not. Assigning translation jobs is a question of trust and confidence.

Add some wonderful sample translations to your profile page. Upload your resume / CV.

You won't win a flower pot by staying anonymous. ProZ.com is the perfect platform to gain visibility.

Hold on.

All the best of luck!

Nicole


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:41
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
11.387 English-German translators in Proz Dec 4, 2008

No, I did not mean to discourage you. Completely on the contrary, in fact. This is just so that you seriously consider improving your profile:

1. Apart from other publicity measures you might want to try, I encourage you to become a Proz member as Siegfried suggested. It's not that expensive and it's worth giving it a try for a couple of years. Being a member will put you among the 1.423 people who are members, a significant advancement already in your visibility in this site.

2. Improve your profile: add any degrees, diplomas or credentials to your profile and have them verified (it is free for members, I believe). I just can't believe your state-certified translator credential does not appear in your profile! Add your full name too: serious companies don't trust nicknames (I don't either; just my opinion). Add an appealing tag line or slogan under your name, possibly an interesting picture of you... You decide!

3. Participate in Kudoz, forums, etc. in order to gain visibility.

I really think you should stay. Three years in translation is some time alright, but I seriously think that you still haven't done enough advertising or should improve the way in which you do it, as it looks like you only work for a few customers. Try to do translation tests for more agencies and direct customers, introduce yourself to potential customers in your geographical area (German subsidiaries in the UK is a sound shot I think)...

Definitely I would not throw in the towel without wiping some advertising sweat with it first!


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satranslations
Local time: 10:41
English to German
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks so far Dec 4, 2008

for your comments. You are right, my PROZ profile isn't very attractive but I have just so far focussed more on marketing myself direct to agencies and clients as I thought this more effective. But it can't do any harm to improve my profile.

However my question wasn't really about what to do to get more clients. I just wanted to know if you ever feel like throwing in the towel too. It just seems so hard to keep clients. They seem to come and go even if they give you good feedback and you always go the extra mile for them. I feel sometimes extremely frustrated that no matter how hard you work and try it is entirely up to chance if you will have feast or famine. I also haven't managed to earn as much as in my previous employee job, simply because of the ups and downs of the work flow (and scenarios like three jobs coming in at the same time, you can only take one because all three need to be ready yesterday and your capacity therefore only allows for one, then the next week no one rings...). I just don't know how you others can manage this.


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:41
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Tomás and Nicole are right... Dec 4, 2008

... and Siegfried is too. There is a lot of work out there in your language combination if you are good. But from what you say, it sounds like you've made the typical mistake of limiting your client base because you have a few that gave you a lot of work in the past. That is, to put it politely, very foolish. Try not to give any one client more than 15% of your business. This means, of course, getting off your tail and getting more clients. If you do that, these situations are unlikely to recur.

And yes, do lose the pseudonym and become a real face with a real name. A doubt few potential customers will take you seriously if this is your publicly advertised image.


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sandra lewis
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:41
English to French
+ ...
Working Tax credit Dec 4, 2008

Claim Working Tax Credit!

This benefit also applies to EU self-employed people. You need an annual income of about £10,000 before expenses, take the expenses out, if you manage to show profit of around £5,000, you may be entitled to £200 per month. Enough to help in these difficult times.

Working Tax Credit is calculated on year earnings. So you may have to repay it back if your situation improves dramatically. However, in the short term, you may apply based on your projections for the year that your situation will not improve.

If you are renting, it is also worth finding out if your local council can help you with your rent/council tax. All you have to prove is a very low income.

I hope things improve for you soon!

Take care

Sandra


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 07:41
Only for good translators Dec 4, 2008

satranslations wrote:

They seem to come and go even if they give you good feedback and you always go the extra mile for them. I feel sometimes extremely frustrated that no matter how hard you work and try it is entirely up to chance if you will have feast or famine.


For a bad translator the client only goes and never comes. They will surely have famine and I assume most of them are not in the business any more, which does not make them bad persons either.

Otherwise I agree with you that you need good luck to succeed, in whatever business. However, if viewing it in a longer run, it is not at all so bad as you feel now. I have been keeping a secret diary of my own since 8 years. Sometimes I can not help laughing about me for being so down for nothing.

Take it easy and life goes on whether you stay or go.

Much luck for your future!


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:41
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A very difficult accomplishment Dec 4, 2008

Kevin Lossner wrote:
Try not to give any one client more than 15% of your business.


Well, that is very hard indeed Kevin! Many customers have a rather stable volume and, if they are big, the only way of reducing their relative importance is increasing the workload you do for other customers. But indeed it is something we should aim for as translators. Don't put all the eggs in the same basket!


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Andrei Yefimov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 12:41
English to Russian
+ ...
Every time I have no work I feel like throwing the towel in Dec 4, 2008

Hi,

I would like to agree with those who suggest you stay and do not give up.

You want to be an employee and be told what to do and how to do it? Then, go ahead and take on your assignment.
But as a former employee (translator/interpreter) for one of the Ukrainian leading companies I can say that freelancing is a way much better. You can manage your time and pursue other hobbies you have always been dreaming of, and so on and so forth.

The biggest benefit of freelance is that you and only you make a decision on what project should be accepted. If you do not like it you simply turn it down. But if you are an employee you do only what you are told to. Here is the detailed example: You are an employee for some company and your responsibilities include translation and sometimes interpretation. On Monday you are told to start translating some materials to be delivered by Friday this week. Then, on Wednesday, your chief says he has an important appointment and you have to accompany him and provide interpretation. Then, it turns out that your chief is going to need you to provide interpretation not only on Wednesday but from Wednesday through Friday as well. You tell him you have the materials to translate but you also hear the reply this is not your chief's problem. Then, you find yourself working overnights to meet the deadline for translation. And noone is going to pay you for this. Not very appealing prospect, is it? That is why I gave up working as an employee. And I really believe this is only for the best.
Some day you will be able to say you are an expert, an independent expert, and you will not depend on anyone but yourself.

Hope this cheers you up and you stay.

Best,
Andrei





[Edited at 2008-12-04 19:28 GMT]


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Silvia Barra  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 11:41
English to Italian
+ ...
Fully agree Dec 4, 2008

Andrei Yefimov wrote:

Hi,

I would like to agree with those who suggest you stay and do not give up.

You want to be an employee and be told what to do and how to do it? Then, go ahead and take on your assignment.
But as a former employee (translator/interpreter) for one of the Ukrainian leading companies I can say that freelancing is a way much better. You can manage your time and pursue other hobbies you have always been dreaming of, and so on and so forth.

The biggest benefit of freelance is that you and only you make a decision on what project should be accepted. If you do not like it you simply turn it down. But if you are an employee you do only what you are told to. Here is the detailed example: You are an employee for some company and your responsibilities include translation and sometimes interpretation. On Monday you are told to start translating some materials to be delivered by Friday this week. Then, on Wednesday, your chief says he has an important appointment and you have to accompany him and provide interpretation. Then, it turns out that your chief is going to need you to provide interpretation not only on Wednesday but from Wednesday through Friday as well. You tell him you have the materials to translate but you also hear the reply this is not your chief's problem. Then, you find youself working overnights to meet the deadline for translation. And noone is going to pay you for this. Not very appealing prospect, is it? That is why I gave up working as an employee. And I really believe this is only for the best.
Some day you will be able to say you are an expert, an independent expert, and you will not depend on anyone but youself.

Hope this cheers you up and you stay.

Best,
Andrei





I fully agree with Andrei. I was an employee (not a tranlsator, but it little changes the situation) and what Andrei says was a daily matter. And noone gives you a gift if you meet the deadline, or if the customer is so satisfied about the job you did. It's your duty, you are paid for that. Zero personal satisfaction, believe me.
At the same time, it's not so many time that I work as a freelance and every time I have no work, me too I feel like throwing the towel in. And in this bad period it occurs a little too frequently (I posted a similar question in the Italian forum). The answers of colleagues and the thought of going back to an employee job push me to resist and to stay.
Good luck
Silvia


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John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sound advice Dec 4, 2008

Tomás Cano Binder wrote:

3. Participate in Kudoz, forums, etc. in order to gain visibility.



I do no advertsing or sending out of CVs nor do I even look for clients. They look for me! I receive regular job offers through proz just by doing what Tomas says. He and Nicole and others have given you great advice. Don't forget that outsoucers and PMs also read proz forums and size people up by what they say and do here. If you want agencies to notice you, get involved!

Good luck!


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Juliana Starkman  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 05:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
I agree with John. Dec 4, 2008

I've seen a direct link between my being active in KudoZ and forums and an increase in work coming to me without my having to chase it. While I certainly don't advocate sitting around and not applying for jobs that look interesting, I think most of the people who've posted here would agree that if you put in the time to build your profile and participate now, you'll find you won't need to shop yourself around so much (and can then accept 2 of the 3 jobs you'll be offered, rather than just the one- that's what the midnight oil is for!).

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