Business is slowing down much in June/July: why?
Thread poster: Laurent Chevrette

Laurent Chevrette  Identity Verified
Canada
Member (2011)
English to French
Jul 6, 2016

I have realized recently that business was much slowing down in June, July, perhaps August too. Why is that so? We still need to pay the bills....

And the money made in the busy months is not enough to 'prepare' for these dry months.

Anybody has any tip for avoiding this slow business in the summer?

Thanks,


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:35
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
July 4 Jul 6, 2016

The US is one of the largest markets for translation services. It goes into holiday mood in the first week of July and everything becomes calm and quite for a few weeks. I have been noticing this trend for several years now. It will pick up in the later weeks of July.

Another lull period can be expected around Christmas and New Year, another major holiday season in the Western world.


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Michael Joseph Wdowiak Beijer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:05
Member (2009)
Dutch to English
+ ...
the answer seems to be to diversify your customer base Jul 6, 2016

Although people sometimes tell me business slows down in June/July, or around Christmas, I've never really noticed it happening myself. I think this may be due to the fact that I work for a very large number of different clients, spread across the globe. That is, no matter what holiday it is and where either party is located, someone is always beavering away.

Michael

[Edited at 2016-07-06 16:46 GMT]


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 13:05
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Who knows? Jul 6, 2016

This year workload has been as irregular as ever and I have been working full-time for over 40 years… I would say that in general during the summer season things tend to become quiet, but last year May, June, July and August were my best months ever! So, who knows?

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James Heppe-Smith  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:05
Member (2010)
German to English

Moderator of this forum
Depends... Jul 6, 2016

From a personal point of view and, having reviewed my data from the past 4 years, there are peaks and troughs, but nothing has been really consistent until now. I do not have figures before 2012, but think that what I have since is similar.

I guess it depends on your customer base. Someone already mentioned the US 4 July holidays, add Ramadan, school holidays in the UK or in Europe, summer holidays in France, etc.

I think the best advice is to have a customer/client base from as many different countries / locations as you can, this might help even out any deviations for you.

Personally, I have a number of clients from various continents and (touch wood!) have not experienced any huge swings over the past years. That said, I tend to be fully booked up most of the time, so I am in the fortunate position (or unfortunate?) of having to turn work away from time to time.

Kind regards, and best of luck!

James


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 09:05
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Translation demand is definitely a random variable Jul 6, 2016

I spent some 20 years with something between 2/3 and 3/4 of my income being from one local client. A sudden paradigm shift led their demand for my services to take a nose dive.

I learned the lesson, and it took me several years to build what I consider a sufficiently diversified client base. Of course, it has all-round ups and downs, but it is generally sustainable.

Of course, after that lesson I became sensitive to shifts, and tried to build "theories", usually associated to seasons in either hemisphere. Every time I come up with a new such theory, the market doesn't take long to prove me wrong.

Every now and then, when I think I'm about to enter a "low" season, I get so flooded with requests that I begin to accrue gratefulness everywhere, for handing jobs on silver platters to reliable colleagues. Sometimes I'm riding a "high" season, and then all of a sudden the jobs cornucopia turns upside down.

The past three months have been some kind of a drought for translators in Brazil, as I've ascertained with numerous colleagues. It could be attributable to our country president having been temporarily ousted from office, charged with graft, the final decision to be made in August. In the meantime, some of our politicians and their friends are going to jail every week. The obvious "theory" is that no foreigner would dare to invest in a country undergoing such turmoil until it settles down.

But then I checked with my clients overseas, translation agencies, and things are slow there too. Most of them are in the USA, hence there is no point in blaming Brexit.

So the only reliable "theory" on translation demand tides is that there is NO reliable theory whatsoever!


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:05
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
In my case ... Jul 7, 2016

I've been a freelance translator for some 30 years and, like Teresa, I've found that my volume of work has always fluctuated. For me, this year was extremely quiet but now, in June and July, I'm very busy (work from various EU countries and the UK, Brexit or no Brexit).
I've also found that work tends to increase in July and August - perhaps because many translators are away on holiday so agencies look for someone to fill the gap in their absence - but, really, who knows?
Yes, having a broad client base is always good.


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 14:05
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Fill out your profile and attract more clients Jul 7, 2016

There are lots of businesses who do not close down in the summer - and I find December is one of the busiest months. August may or may not be a bit quiet, but that is when I tend to take my own holiday.

One thing I have found is that clients go looking for translators when their regular translators are on holiday, so it is a good time to 'capture' new clients. They may prefer to go back to their regulars after the holiday, but not always.

Fill in the keyword section of your profile and really work at your SEO. Set minimum rates to filter out bottom feeders where possible... and make yourself visible to the kind of clients who consider what you have to offer, not just those looking for the cheapest bid. That will take effect as soon as you do it.

A longer-term tactic is to go to powwows and events, and get to know colleagues in your language pair, so that they will recommend you as a stand-in when they go on holiday. Especially if you return the favour when you are too busy, taking a break, or offered work that is not your favourite field, but that they may be better qualified for.

KudoZ is not everybody's favourite form of publicity, but you can make yourself visible that way, even if you don't earn all the points. Sensible answers and comments are remembered as well as the irritating ones...

Admittedly, you are working in a language pair where there is a lot of competition, but stand out in any way you can to attract more clients. The best clients are the ones who can see you are offering what they are looking for, but you have to let them know...

Don't set your rates too low - it actually frightens off some serious clients!

If all else fails, get a summer job and count it as experience - I lived for years on temporary jobs before I started translating, and they pay the bills if nothing else. You meet different people, hear the language spoken, and see the world from a different angle. But try to get a real break now and then, and save up a little for the dry periods if you can.

Good luck!


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Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:05
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Do you work with France? Jul 7, 2016

Laurent Chevrette wrote:

I have realized recently that business was much slowing down in June, July, perhaps August too. Why is that so? We still need to pay the bills....

And the money made in the busy months is not enough to 'prepare' for these dry months.

Anybody has any tip for avoiding this slow business in the summer?

Thanks,


Most of my clients are French and I can say that this year, I have been very busy (thanks to the French) in May and June, I was really overloaded.

Not sure why and yes it depends... but you can try to attract more French.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:05
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Work as ripples in the water Jul 7, 2016

In my experience, work in freelance translation resembles ripples in the water. Customers launch projects as people cast stones into the pond: as customers are distant either geographically or in time, the ripples might take longer than usual to reach you. Sometimes, the ripples reach your shore in a smooth, regular pattern, sometimes you get no ripples at all for quite a while, and other times the ripples ride each other and you end up getting a true tsunami.

In any case, the bigger your "pond" (i.e. the bigger your visibility and the wider your specialisation and your customer base), the higher the number of ripples that will eventually reach you.

(Yes, I know... This analogy sucks, huh!?)


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:05
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
There are two ponds: clients' and translators' Jul 7, 2016

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:
In any case, the bigger your "pond" (i.e. the bigger your visibility and the wider your specialisation and your customer base), the higher the number of ripples that will eventually reach you.

To stay with the watery theme, I agree totally that you need to be in a position to fish in a large pond of potential clients, and not only those in French and English speaking countries - I've done translations for Bulgarian and German clients, probably others too. However, your own pond (the translators' one) needs to be as small as possible. Having a wide specialist range is likely to mean you're just one tiny fish in a huge shoal. Having narrower specialisations is of course more logical, and as you gain a reputation in your area(s) you grow into a large fish in a relatively small pond, even in the commonest pairs. There's nothing to stop a specialist stepping outside their normal subject area if a client requests it.

I often find the summer is my busiest time simply because I don't take holidays then so, as someone has mentioned, I get a lot of peer referrals and emails from desperate new clients. Networking is what it's all about nowadays, and when looking for clients here on ProZ.com your directory ranking is all-important - check yours out under the Jobs tab.


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Parrot  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:05
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Same here Jul 8, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I often find the summer is my busiest time simply because I don't take holidays then so, as someone has mentioned, I get a lot of peer referrals and emails from desperate new clients. Networking is what it's all about nowadays, and when looking for clients here on ProZ.com your directory ranking is all-important - check yours out under the Jobs tab.


My long holidays are in January, which locally is a dry season. At other times, there are seasonal reports I'm pre-booked for and which I don't skip.


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