Most active and most dead period of your business life
Thread poster: Tomas Mosler, DipTrans IoLET MCIL MITI

Tomas Mosler, DipTrans IoLET MCIL MITI  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 03:56
Member (2008)
English to Czech
Nov 10, 2010

When you look back upon your translator's life (now I mean those who have/had translation as a full-time job), be it 3 years or 30 years now, have you ever experienced a "killer" situation of like getting 10 requests during one day to translate 100.000 words, and on the other hand some longer period where after having some work all the time, suddenly all went silent for months?

And to possibly elaborate:
Do you observe these situations/periods are cyclical? (Like - every March I'd need ten hands, and I can go on vacation every September, or once in 5 years for three months, and no-one will notice.)

What are your selection criteria when more offers arrive at the same time (and you cannot process them one by one as not every client can wait)?

What you did (would do) when the spring ran dry (or seemed to)? Did you spend the time for "internal" improvement related to your business or translation skills etc.? Or panic arrived after one week, and you started thinking, wow, I have to quit this career and get some other work?

Thanks for sharing.


Edward Vreeburg  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:56
Member (2008)
English to Dutch
+ ...
slow months - busy months Nov 10, 2010

It's all part of the annual cycle, - - normally I see a bit slow start of the year in Jan, Feb, March, increase in April, lots of work May, few jobs in June, increasing again throug July - Sept, sometimes a dip in October (not this year though) and lots of work for Nov and Dec....

I think it generally depends on your clients and their business, and when they are ready to outsource work for a new website, annual catalogues and brochures, - - and when they are on holiday..

If you continue this for a couple of years, you generally get the same repeat jobs each year, (making you unavailble for other clients) and you plan you holidays accordingly (June in my case). If you are looking to even out your workload, you should probably get clients from diverse industries in various countries /time zones...
this way you should get an even workload througout the year...



Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:56
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Working for agencies Nov 10, 2010

At times I have experienced a slightly quieter patch at the beginnning of the month, building up to panic at the end...

Before holidays there is sometimes a rush of work, and December feels as if everyone wants three months' work done before Christmas. Don´t get any ideas about taking a break afterwards - there is a heap of reports and campaigns that the clients would like to have waiting on their desks as soon as they get back from their holidays in the New Year.

This year has not been very typical at all, but that is life.

I work mostly for agencies, and there ARE some very good ones out there. When I am flooded with work I simply go for the regular clients and the most interesting jobs, and turn down anything boring or less well paid with an apology.

Then it is the agency's problem to find another translator and deal with the end client. There are other translators who actually enjoy some of the jobs I think are boring!

Working for agencies evens out the workload, and they do some of the administrative work, leaving me more time to translate. They spread the workload over a wide range of clients too.

I live in Scandinavia, and there is usually plenty of work, but there are occasional quiet periods.

Then I delete old e-mails, back up my computer and TMs (rationally, not just routine ghosting and copying everything). I clean and tidy my workspace and throw out paper and junk... go for a walk, force myself to do some housework... Call my father and other relatives, and bake a cake.

Before I have done all that, the mail beeps or the phone rings and I am back in business again!

[Edited at 2010-11-10 16:06 GMT]


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:56
German to English
Few predictable cycles Nov 10, 2010

Like Christine, I work primarily for agencies. I can be fully booked for weeks at a time, then suddenly find myself with no work for a day or two (sometimes this is my own doing, either by choice or miscalculation). I frequently get largish jobs just before the Christmas holidays with the due date the first working day in January, but apart from that, the ebb and flow appears to be random in my case.


Paul VALET (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:56
Most dead periods Dec 13, 2010

April, August, December, would be the most dead periods according to my observation of a list concerning my languages. This seems correlated with the school holiday periods.

[Modifié le 2010-12-14 13:47 GMT]


Mari Noller
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:56
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Interesting topic Jan 20, 2011

Especially as January is my most quiet time, so I finally have some time to look through forum postsicon_wink.gif

I mostly work with electronics and generally my workflow follow the market and the major sales. We have the HUGE Christmas sale. Everyone is stressing and I often end up working well past 80 hours a week for weeks. But then Christmas starts and there are mostly just updated and additions to do (I can almost take the whole Christmas off, but I have to set my start date for my holiday about a week before I really want/need it to start, as this is about as long as it takes before all the additions and updates has been dealt with). Then January is traditionally slow before production picks up again. February can be a little slow as well, but March and April are quite busy because of the Spring models. June is busy but July is very quiet as most agencies take time off during the summer. Autumn and winter can get quite busy except for October for some odd reason.

Over the past 3 years I've been trying to follow this trend and have noticed that I invoice a lot less in July and October (about 50% less than other months).

Thankfully there's a lot of admin work to be done so I still find something to doicon_smile.gif


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Always busier before the holiday seasons Jan 20, 2011

May-June and November-December are usually hell over here. Well, a "heavenly hell" if I may say, since this is what we are here for, isn't it? The rest of the year is usually constantly busy anyway.


Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:56
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Boring? Jan 20, 2011

Christine Andersen wrote:
Then it is the agency's problem to find another translator and deal with the end client. There are other translators who actually enjoy some of the jobs I think are boring!

But Christine, how could you reject that most fascinating 27K-word job about carrot growth statitistics in Southern Poland?icon_wink.gif


Patryk Bartkiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:56
English to Polish
+ ...
Some traditionally easy periods, some random spikes, typical. Jan 20, 2011

Looking at spreadsheets with annual data on my jobs & projects I can see a pattern - lots of work early every year (yes, that means now), good springs, random summers, relatively good autumns. Of course the 2nd part of December is lazy. Of course 2-3 weeks in summer are simply dormant. This is related to how people work in Poland, where I do >90% of my business.

I'm trying hard to get more independence now and land a few good clients that I could call my own, but working for agencies does help to even out workload.

In the end - a lot depends on how busy one wants to be. It's never a problem to just search for more work when idle period is ahead.

[Edited at 2011-01-20 21:14 GMT]


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