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First few months...
Thread poster: Lagom
Lagom  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:47
Swedish to English
Jul 6, 2005

I read with interest the replies made to the post 'how did you get started?' I made the decision to start working fulltime as a freelance translator from Swedish to English two and a half months ago. I sent my CV to all the Swedish translation agencies offering Swedish - English translation and was offered work from three agencies that started to send me assignments.

As I was keen to 'prove myself' and I did not have the experience to judge accurately how long I should allow for each assignment I got myself into a bit of a muddle taking on too much work. I ended up missing deadlines and making careless mistakes due to working through the night and working when exhausted.

I was honest with the agencies regarding my situation and they said they understood but I have not received any more assignments in the previous two weeks.

I am extremely frustrated for falling into such a trap especially as I know that I am capable of a very high standard of work and have learned a very valuable lesson.

What I would like to ask the community is if others have made the same mistake how did they deal with rebuilding trust in their services? Or do experienced freelancers have any advice or anecdotes of early mistakes?

If you are interested in reading a little more about myself please see my ProZ profile.

Ben Love

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Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:47
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I had an advantage Jul 7, 2005

Benjamin Love wrote:

What I would like to ask the community is if others have made the same mistake how did they deal with rebuilding trust in their services? Or do experienced freelancers have any advice or anecdotes of early mistakes?

My first job was in-house at a state-owned PCO (Professional Congress Organizer), which took care to calculate its manpower needs based on time-and-motion and fatigue studies.

The estimate for translators was 3,000 target words/day/head, assuming 500 words/hr. and 6 useful hours/day over an official 8-hour presence (discounting self-proofing, fatigue and recovery factors, and any possible overtime, which it also controlled, and paid 150% for. This also figured in its estimates).

When I went freelance, I automatically adopted the method to project reasonable deadlines for myself, and was surprised to find I was the only one doing it. Part of the time I was bailing colleagues out who had overshot...

What's important to remember in this, I guess, is the fact that the number of keystrokes possible per unit time is finite. So are the number of hours in a day. Hence, an individual's production limits over any given period are also finite, and any market notions of competition/glut-shortage/supply-and-demand/price-volume have to take these factors into consideration (i.e., the product is a service, not a commodity, and the same investment in terms of effort and hardware capitalization - production costs - goes into it no matter where the producers live and have their meals).

[Edited at 2005-07-07 11:10]

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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:47
Make a fresh start Jul 7, 2005

Hate to say it, but it does seem to me that the agencies you worked with now see you as being unreliable.

I can totally understand how you were "trying to make hay while the sun shone", we've all been in that situation, but look at where it has gotten you - you have now(potentially) lost your clients.

I would suggest that you look outside Sweden for work. Thanks to the WWW, you can get assignments from all over the world. For example, I hardly ever get English>Gaelic assignments from Irish customers, but they mainly come from Italy, the Czech Republic, Australia, USA and the UK. My top client for German to English translation is Dutch. Geography has little to do with the demand for a language pair.

Take the next fortnight to revise your CV/application and methodically work through all the translation agencies in Proz & other similar translation directories.

Do you know any other SWE>ENG translators that you can collaborate with? One of you can help the other out with backlogs etc.

Moral of my post - Don't be afraid to tell a client you're not available. They won't hold it against you. In some cases, they're even willing to wait til you are free again, or split it with you and another translator. Your problem lies with your time management skills, so you've got to watch that.

You're clearly well able to get the customer's attention, now you've got to build a solid relationship with them - that means you must never let your customers down like that again.

Good luck


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Dr. Stephan Pietzko  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:47
Member (2002)
English to German
Be patient while building your client base Jul 7, 2005

I aggree with what has been said about your time management.

However, I think you're not doing bad at all. When I quit an in-house job afer 2 1/2 years and relocated to Canada I had completely lost my client base that I had built during 5 years of freelancing before. So I had to start again from point zero. It took me 10 months until a steady stream of work kept me busy fulltime again. Compared with that you are doing extremly well. So be patient when things are slow. Take it as an opportunity to improve and send out your CV, to set up a web site, to learn a new CAT tool, whatever. And sure, you must learn from that mistake and improve time management so that you can meet the deadlines you aggreed to and keep your clients happy.

Just be patient...


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