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Clarification needeed...Asking for work/Sending availibility reminders
Thread poster: Sara Senft

Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nov 23, 2008

I've heard conflicting ideas/suggestions about this question. On the one hand, I've heard that it's best that we don't pester agencies/direct clients with these kinds of questions. I do understand that because their priority is managing current business.

However, I also heard that we should be proactive and follow-up.

My confusion stems from interpreting (ha ha) sending messages like these as a form of follow-up. I am still getting established, although I am gradually getting more work, and I want to make smart business decisions.

[Edited at 2008-11-23 19:00 GMT]

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Stephanie Wloch  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:42
Member (2003)
Dutch to German
Rather update than follow-up Nov 23, 2008

I only know about non-availibility reminders.
Srta Sara wrote:
However, I also heard that we should be proactive and follow-up.

Maybe an update of your résumé is a good reason (or excuse) to remind an agency of your existence.
A new specialty, a new CAT tool, another certificate... But just items which are really needed by that special agency.
No bulk mail.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:42
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Different types of treatment... or not Nov 23, 2008

Don't assume that any agency will have a constant demand for your language pair and specialty. End clients will call them when they need.

If there is any periodic work from a specific end-client, e.g. a quarterly report that you have already translated at least a couple of times, when time comes, you may timely write your PM there asking when you should allocate some time for it, so it won't be kept on hold one minute because you are involved in some other assignment. They might be thankful that you reminded them of it, or... they can tell you that the end-client assigned it to another agency, or that they decided to assign it to another translator, for any reason, or for no reason at all.

This one works for both end-clients and agencies. If you were asked for an estimate on a relatively large project a while ago, and didn't hear from them about it again, after some reasonable time has elapsed (and not before!), you may contact them about how it's going, if and approximately when it would be adequate to reserve some time to do it without delay. FYI I've been following up on a really large project for two years already with a direct client. They have reassured me that I'll be the one doing it... but only when they get a final otfer from a client overseas. At that time, I'll have 60 days to do the whole thing, but not before. On the other hand, one end-client told the agency to order from me a huge project. On the next day, the end-client got cold feet, and asked to put the project "on hold". It stayed on hold for 4 months before they eventually cancelled it.

You may nudge direct clients when you know that a natural "sequel" of a previous job you did should be coming up. Agencies do not fit in here, as the end-client might have changed vendor. The agency might resent it if you slap their wound by reminding their loss of a client; you'll never know what happened there.

However there is no point in alerting clients that you are available. They expect you to be available when they need, not before. An exception could be if you have the same month of the year, every year, when the demand for your services plummets, and you are willing to lower your prices then.

In my first full-time job, among other things, I was responsible for the stock of catalogs and other technical literature in the company. My predecessor used one of the best, and accordingly most expensive printers in town. Talking with the owner, he told me that they had two really hectic months in the year: November and December, when they were printing greeting cards and calendars. January was always a total void for them. If I could manage my stock in a way to print most of it in January, he would be able to offer me unbelievably low prices, just to keep the machines running. That's how we did it. Of course, new product launches were printed at the proper time, but all the permanent product catalogs were printed in January, in a quantity to last through the whole year.

So, if you have an ebb tide season and know it in advance, you may pre-sell your time there at a lower price. This is a good reason to write them about. Everybody loves to save money.

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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:42
Member (2003)
German to English
It depends on the history Nov 23, 2008

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
However there is no point in alerting clients that you are available. They expect you to be available when they need, not before.

I disagree, though it depends on the situation of course. We maintain a very large, active clientele - direct clients are generally given priority for reasons too obvious to mention, and although the bulk of our time is planned for agency projects, there is quite frequently no capacity available when agencies call. So if it does look like there is an opening later in the week for something substantial, I often discreetly let the agencies I favor know so that they have an opportunity to book the time before it is taken. I don't think anyone has taken offense yet, and usually within a short time they come up with something interesting. I think the key here is the kind of relationship you establish with the agencies and probably also the types of agencies you choose to deal with. I'd rather swallow rat poison than deal with some of the cattle call nonsense one encounters with some of the "top ten" agency crowd - the ones who really deserve the top rankings are the smaller shops who generally care a lot more about quality and haven't lost the human touch. I just love helping these Davids fling stones at the giants.

SS - it might be a bit too soon for you to play the game the way I do, but if you try to build up a similar clientele, I think you can some day. Stay out of the lion's den, remember that no agency is "perfect" and less so with increasing size. Find fun, small agencies and nice outsourcing colleagues to work with while you develop a direct clientele (if you want to deal with them - be careful to balance the directs with others I'd say), and you'll probably enjoy life.

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Patricia Rosas  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:42
Spanish to English
+ ...
working with direct clients Nov 23, 2008

I only work with direct clients, and in general, they come to me, and I haven't had to "pester" them for work.

However, I try very hard to show a genuine interest in what my clients are writing, and to establish a warm relationship with them. If I decide that I need to "shake the trees" to see if any fruit (jobs) will fall out, that makes it easier to drop them a note.

I suppose I view most of them as "friends." Perhaps others will think I'm not professional, but that relationship aspect of my work is important to me, and I think it has been a factor in my keeping strong ties to clients who, in turn, have been very generous in recommending me to their colleagues.

I also agree with José Henrique. My clients frequently tell me about forthcoming jobs--which are invariably delayed--and that is a great excuse to drop them a note. If I see that in the upcoming month, there are holes in my schedule, I drop notes to everyone who has told me work would be coming, asking them if I should plan on slotting them in.

A word of caution, however, two years ago, I learned that you can't always trust an author to know when he or she is going to finish the writing process, so while I try to slot people in, I also have adopted this slogan: "the job isn't on, until it's on my desk!" So, some of the talk of scheduling ends up being, in reality, more of a way to "shake the trees" than to actually program my schedule in advance...

Good luck in getting launched in your new career!

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