How long can a translator put his/her business on hold for?
Thread poster: Geraldine Oudin

Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
Oct 29, 2009

Hi everyone,

I have recently been approached by an organization with an interesting offer : sailing around the World for 3 months with them, interpreting lectures and conferences aboard and during the various stops (topics : Peace, Development, International Cooperation, etc...).

Even though they offer no salary, the opportunity to visit all those places without spending a cent and to gain experience in a setting which is more appealing to me than my daily community or business interpreting is tempting enough.

However, it seems like I a pretty busy trip and I wonder how long a translator can put his/her business on hold for without loosing too many customers. I have been freelance part time for 6 years and full time for 2 years and I think I am doing well, but 3 months may be a long time.

Ps: They do organize a couple of those trips every year, so I have plenty of time to think about it.


*****
http://geraldineoudin.com
http://traduction.artblog.fr


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Anna Sylvia Villegas Carvallo
Mexico
Local time: 16:59
English to Spanish
Accept the trip, and enjoy!! Oct 29, 2009

Make sure to send a postcard to each of your customers wherever you stop, or from the yatch itself, so they won't forget you (I'm sure they will not!)

Get going, don't think it twice. You won't have another opportunity like this.

Cheers!!



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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:59
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Take it!! Oct 29, 2009

If you don't have other major reasons to stay, like husband or children (home, pets and plants can be taken care of by neighbours, relatives, or friends), I'd take it. I think your current customers will understand that this is a unique opportunity to widen your professional experience in a multicultural setup. It can only be good for them when you return.

However, as we say in Spain, "if you close a door leave a window open." I mean that you probably want to spend some time selecting, testing in detail, and negotiating with one good translator you can trust both in terms of quality and honesty and who can serve your customers while you are away.

[Edited at 2009-10-29 06:38 GMT]


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Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:59
Dutch to English
+ ...
Do it Oct 29, 2009

I went on a working ship visiting several ports when I was about 24 for a month and learned how to weld, look after the engines, use the equipment, cook, etc. I lived in a boiler suit for the duration. Best hands-on training I have ever had! Needless to say, I am a technical translator.

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Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Oct 29, 2009

Thank you for your support.

I do have an understanding "de facto" husband, and no kids.

Since the organization organizes such trips a couple of times every year (they started decades ago) and they are always on the look for Japanese interpreters, I have plenty of time to think about it.

I am going to post something on the Japanese forum to see if anyone has ever worked for them, and see if I can find more info about life/working conditions on the net.

I imagine it is nothing like a holiday, but it may be well worth the experience...


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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:59
Member
French to English
+ ...
Pack your business cards! Oct 29, 2009

Don't forget to bring along tons of business cards - what better way to build business than to promote your services in person around the globe?!

Like Marijke says, you may pick up some new skills along the way, too.

FWIW, I've taken two months off twice and did not find that it negatively affected my business. Just be sure to warn your customers well in advance. And perhaps, if possible, travel during months which are traditionally a bit slower.

Bon voyage!
Jocelyne


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Susan van den Ende  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:59
English to Dutch
+ ...
No problem! Oct 29, 2009

From a PM: no problem. Let your "regulars" know that you'll be gone for a bit, indeed send a postcard or something. And of course, afterwards you let them know that you're back. We've had several of our regulars take "time-outs" for various reasons: yoga classes, backpacking, book translations, large projects for other costumers... And thinking about that now I realise that each and every one of them got a new job in from us within two weeks of announcing their return to business.

Enjoy the trip!

Susan


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Angela Dickson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:59
French to English
+ ...
Do it! Oct 29, 2009

I had to take the best part of 3 months off last year, for completely different reasons (illness), and I had no problems building up business again - I just told my clients I was back, and they started sending me work again.

It sounds like this trip would be a major benefit for your professional life in any case, so that's all the more reason to do it.


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NR_Stedman  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 23:59
French to English
A record Oct 29, 2009

I stopped translating for 10 years. When I started up again about 7 years ago I found many of the same people were still in business and remembered me. I was working full time again incredibly quickly (had quite a bit to learn on the computer side of things though).

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Faruk Atabeyli  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 01:59
English to Turkish
+ ...
Do it for the higher good Oct 29, 2009

[quote]Geraldine Oudin wrote:

(topics : Peace, Development, International Cooperation, etc...).

When its done and over with, to know that you have contributed your share will be food for soul.

I also believe your clients will understand your absence and appreciate your causes and will come back to you when you return.


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Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It seems possible Oct 29, 2009

According to your answers, it seems to be possible to put the business on hold for 3 months without major consequences, which is good to know.

Now I just need to make more research about this NGO, called "Peaceboat". I just found out they actually have an English website as well, here's the link : http://www.peaceboat.org/english/index.html

I have read positive things and no so positive things from previous passengers, who probably expected a more comfy cruise, but that's not an issue for me.

I'd like to get the opinion of actual interpreters who worked there. I need to dig out more to see if it's really worth it for my career (it's still 2 months out of 3 at sea sea, away from my hubby).

Or I may just chose to wait a couple of years until I go back to Tokyo. My contact says that interpreters residing in Japan can be flown in when needed for a couple of days or weeks without having to be on board for the whole three months.

[Modifié le 2009-10-29 12:05 GMT]

[Modifié le 2009-10-29 12:06 GMT]


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 23:59
English to Croatian
+ ...
An additional remark Oct 29, 2009

Hello Geraldine,

It sounds like a tempting offer in regards with the thrill of traveling and visiting different places, and I agree with others that you wouldn't lose much as a freelancer, since you can always inform your regular customers that you will be gone and unavailable for some time.

However, I would like to add that I had traveled as an interpreter before ( only around Europe though) and I never got to enjoy those places as a tourist much, because I traveled as an interpreter, so I had to be available for the interpreting services.. and no much time left for the sightseeing or enjoying yourself. Even though I did have some free time and would visit some places, it can never be compared to my own private tourist travels, not even close to it. So, you might also take this element into account. Plus you don't technically know what you will face there in terms of the overall treatment. But, hey, it's the adrenaline and adventure.

[Edited at 2009-10-29 12:31 GMT]


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Geraldine Oudin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Japanese to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Not for tourism Oct 29, 2009

Thanks Linda for your input.

Yes, I think I would definitely too busy to enjoy anything else than the ocean breeze on my face from time to time...
But I was more attracted by the professional side of the plan (opportunity to gain interpreting experience in areas I am interested in). Did you travel around Europe on a boat?


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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 23:59
English to Croatian
+ ...
The Boat Oct 29, 2009

Geraldine Oudin wrote:

Thanks Linda for your input.

Yes, I think I would definitely too busy to enjoy anything else than the ocean breeze on my face from time to time...
But I was more attracted by the professional side of the plan (opportunity to gain interpreting experience in areas I am interested in). Did you travel around Europe on a boat?


Not, not on a boat, that sounds very interesting though.. I agree it's good for gaining experience, but it's definitely not the kind of the trip you will "enjoy" in the classical sense of the word. Not sure how your will trip will be arranged.. On the one hand, it sounds like an exciting cruise, and on the other hand, it sounds like military/prison life- if you will be with the same group for 3 months on a boat and around... or as the Survivor reality show.

Good luck anyways!

[Edited at 2009-10-29 13:24 GMT]


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:59
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
You have to travel around while you are young Oct 29, 2009

It gets harder, the older you get.

I used to go on what might be called "adventure projects". It is a great thing to do, and much better than sitting non-stop in a home office. However, for one reason or another, your opportunities to do such a thing wane as you get even slightly older - mostly to do with responsibilities of various kinds. Of course, once you get very old, I guess you will not be able to do it any more anyway.

Let us all know how you get on!

Astrid


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