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Are two weeks without any work good enough reason to start to worry?
Thread poster: Rad Graban

Rad Graban  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:39
English to Slovak
+ ...
Apr 29, 2009

Hi all,

I'm having a pretty crappy month and I'm begining to worry. Translation part of the business has been very slow this month and the agency for which I've been doing more or less 'always-when-not-translating' guaranteed work - telephone interpreting - has reduced its rate and I'm refusing to work for the new one. How long without work is long enough to start getting worried?


 

Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 06:39
Spanish to English
I don't know but... Apr 29, 2009

Translation has always been like that.

Like you I recently had a week without the phone ringing and likewise I had recently ended my relationship with an agency I did a fair deal of work for. So I too was nervous. That was a month and a half ago, and since then I've been working non-stop.

Its the nature of the game that sometimes we have some days together without work and instead of being able to enjoy it, we start to worry.

Good luck


 

Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 12:39
Dutch to English
+ ...
Too long ... Apr 29, 2009

Rad Graban wrote:

Hi all,

I'm having a pretty crappy month and I'm begining to worry. Translation part of the business has been very slow this month and the agency for which I've been doing more or less 'always-when-not-translating' guaranteed work - telephone interpreting - has reduced its rate and I'm refusing to work for the new one. How long without work is long enough to start getting worried?


It may depend on language pairs and specialities but I've luckily never had a full day without work -- * she says, as she reaches out to touch wood* -- perhaps a few hours after returning from a trip somewhere (although I normally take a laptop while I'm away just to line up work for when I return) and my experience is by no means unique. But that can change overnight, for anyone, and for that reason it's important not to have all your eggs in only one or a few baskets.

So yes, to answer your question, I'd be a bit worried by this stage.

That said, I wouldn't be panicking -- face the fact that current sources seem to have run dry for the moment and pro-actively source other work. It's all you can do in the short-term, but it's far more productive than worrying, right?

Hoping it picks up soon for you -- it takes guts to say no to rate cuts, but in the long run, it was the right thing to do.
Debs


 

Harald Roald  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:39
English to Norwegian
+ ...
worrying? Apr 29, 2009

I have had 3 days without work this week, and I'm already bored/worried....I guess we translators get hooked on the speed/intensity ( and drama....) of quick turn arounds, and then when there is nothing ( and its the first time since I don't know when I'm not over-booked). That said, i have been offered work I have turned down due to ridiculous rates offered, and I have decided to stay calm. As Lesley says, it IS the nature of the game. I actually managed to finish the newspaper today! And I am down to checking my email "only" 4 times an hour, Id recommend you try the same, its actually not that bad!

Good luck!


 

Tatiana Lammers  Identity Verified
United States
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
try Apr 29, 2009

3 months like I sometimes do. Crisis... what else can I say? Just be patient.

 

Cristina Cajoto  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:39
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Ups and downs Apr 29, 2009

As my husband says, we, freelancers, are never happy: we either have too little or too much workicon_smile.gif

Try and use this "free time" to do other "business" tasks, such as marketing yourself, that is also part of the job! And don't panic, things will hopefully come back to normal before you realise it (when I came back from my maternity leave I had two slow months, and afterwards got more work than ever!)

Cristina.


 

Jutta Deichselberger  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:39
Member (2004)
French to German
+ ...
Quite normal!! Apr 29, 2009

I really would not worry after 2 weeks without work. This really seems quite normal to me. Try to use your leasure time. Maybe tomorrow you will be already overloaded. For these cases I always have a list of work that needs to be done ...
Good luck!!!


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:39
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Use the time! Apr 29, 2009

Cristina Cajoto wrote:
Try and use this "free time" to do other "business" tasks, such as marketing yourself, that is also part of the job! And don't panic, things will hopefully come back to normal before you realise it (when I came back from my maternity leave I had two slow months, and afterwards got more work than ever!)


Indeed. May I also recommend that these quieter times are also a great opportunity for:
- Additional training (maybe in the tools you use, or fields you never worked in)
- Glossary/terminology management (creating a global termbase, for instance)
- Translation memory management (cleaning up, organising memories)
- Examine and purchase additional sources of reference (dictionaries on paper or CD, etc.)
- .... (add here all the little things you always wanted to do but never had the time to do)


 

wonita (X)
China
Local time: 08:39
The longest period you spent without work Apr 29, 2009

There has been a poll question about this situation.

I recall vaguely, 30-40% translators have chosen 2-3 months. Therefore it must be usual for a full-time translator to have to spend a few weeks without work.

Please correct me if anybody knows the result of that poll better.


 

Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:39
Member (2004)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Two slow weeks around Easter is normal for me Apr 29, 2009

It's the one time of year I know there will be almost no projects. The rest of the year is usually busy, so the two quiet weeks are welcome (though it really freaked me out my first year as a full-time freelance translator).

By contrast, around the December holidays, I receive far more work than usual.


 

Rinus Beckers  Identity Verified
Neth. Antilles
Member (2003)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Stay calm Apr 29, 2009

Business has slowed down indeed. In recent years things were crazy and there was ALWAYS something in the diary still to be delivered. Haven't run dry yet, but with some customers you can follow the order numbers and some of them have put out 25-35% less orders than in the same period last year and the year before. Gives you more time to catch up on your marketing, update your CV etc.
I am staying away from the rediculous rates presently offered from US/UK of US/UK-linked companies. In Euros they are offering work for EUR 0,05-0,06/word, which I don't take. If you start accepting that, they may very well pinch away work from continental European sources and you end up doing your existing work for 40 to 50% less. The crisis may last a year or two, but it will take you years to get rates back to a normal level, once you accept somthing like that.


 

Juliana Brown  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 07:39
Member (2007)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't fret... Apr 29, 2009

I had about 10 very quiet days recently and as soon as I began to panic I got hit with a flood of nice jobs which will keep me busy for a while. This happens to most of us at some point during the year, for whatever reasons.
Everyone's advice is v. good insofar as keeping busy- I've been building a website, etc. and I'm now sorry I don't have time to work on it!


 

madak  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:39
Swedish to English
+ ...
Just remember to Apr 29, 2009

include these unavoidable downtimes when calculating your rates.

As a freelancer you need to look at your rates/income from, at least, an annual perspective.


 

Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:39
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Two weeks without work seems worrying to me Apr 29, 2009

At least, it is not at all a healthy situation, and extremely worrying for a full-time translator who exclusively translates for a living.

You could look through the list of customers you worked for a year or two ago, from whom you have heard nothing since, and try to revive business with them. I was doing that a few weeks ago - until the work suddenly came pouring in again - and managed so far to revive business with two of them.


 

James McVay  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:39
Russian to English
+ ...
Little work, somewhat worried Apr 30, 2009

I too have experienced a few weeks without jobs coming in. Then, the day before leaving on a long-planned vacation, I got an e-mail from one of my favorite companies to work in my favorite subject. I had to tell them that I couldn't start right away. Luckily they were understanding, although their client still must agree.

However, I do wonder if the economic downturn isn't affecting my business. I haven't gone this long without work since shortly after I went freelance.

I've been using the time to answer KudoZ questions and fix up my home -- which I'm trying to sell in a very slow real estate market. So it hasn't been all bad.


 
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