Poll: On average, how long do your clients stick with you?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 18:03
Jul 30, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "On average, how long do your clients stick with you?".

This poll was originally submitted by Natalia Pedrosa. View the poll results »


Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:03
Turkish to English
+ ...
other Jul 30, 2014

Sorry to sound like such a pedant, but I am afraid that this is another of those questions that I just can't answer. For most of my clients, the language pair and area of specialisation I work in is not one they frequently require. Sometimes I get a repeat job from people who I last worked for several years earlier. If I haven't heard from a client for a long time, I have no way of knowing if they are no longer sticking with me, or simply have not had any work in my language pair and area of specialisation.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ad infinitum Jul 30, 2014

Although I told one long-standing client (+15 years) to b* off the other day for timewasting, scattiness and a general lack of organisation. The same thing happened a few years ago with the same client but they came back and apologised a couple of years later when they needed my services again.
I sincerely hope they take my advice this time around and look for translators on proz or TC or elsewhere, because I'm fed up being treated like a skivvy just waiting in the wings until they suddenly decide to start running about like headless chickens and squawking about urgency...


Teresa Borges
Local time: 02:03
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other: it depends! Jul 30, 2014

In general, they stick with me for long: two of my very dear clients have been with me since 1985, but others come and go...


Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:03
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
It varies Jul 30, 2014

Some of my clients have been with me for several years, while other "stayed" only for a few months, or were just one- or two-time clients.


Suzan Hamer  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:03
+ ...
Other... Jul 30, 2014

As others have said, there are clients who have been with me for years, and others who come and go. I think that is standard for this (and perhaps any) service. Against a background of steady clients, you have an ever-changing cast of those who appear for a one-time job and then trot off into the sunset. Keeps life interesting.

And boy, Neil, can I identify with you on those headless chickens. Life is too short to deal with them.

[Edited at 2014-07-30 09:45 GMT]


Rudolf Frans Maulany  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:03
English to Indonesian
+ ...
Client can stick >5 years Jul 30, 2014

My experience as a senior freelance medical translators shows that It depends on the type of translation project if it is from a medical publication company like what I previously experience where there is a continuous flow of translations need like for example translating a lot of medical books and textbooks and if they saw us as a reliable and good translator as can be proven from the response of the readers the client will usually continue to stick with us for more then 5 years.


DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:03
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
No average to speak of really Jul 30, 2014

I have clients who have been with me since the beginning when I started out as a freelancer ten years ago and others who have come and are repeat (more or less frequent) clients, others who have been one-off clients. I think that's natural and healthy for a freelancer.

Over the years I have only encountered a couple of clients I would be very reluctant to work with again, but I don't generally part ways with drama or anything like that. I consider each job offer on its merits (or lack thereof).


José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:03
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It varies a lot Jul 30, 2014

Translation is demand-driven, and this demand is segmented by language pairs. When clients don't have any demand for my language pair, they won't stick with me.

Right now, I'm working again for a client after a three-year hiatus. They have a preferred team, and they call me when their demand in my pair rises above a certain level.

Another client has me on their preferred team since 2006, so they'll flex deadlines as much as possible to have me do it. They'll grudgingly switch to someone else if the deadline is tight and I am overloaded already.

Sometimes clients call me saying that I did translation work for them several years ago, and ask me if I am "still translating". The image of fly-by-nite translators is so pervasive that they think every translator is permanently on the lookout for some "better" endeavor.

From where I stand, there are two important signs:
- No client has ever told me that "now we are getting 'your' work done by someone else, cheaper, faster, and/or better". A few revealed that their cheaper experiences were overly frustrating, and eventually more expensive.
- Clients that I chose not to serve any more - mostly for bad payment practices - keep contacting me persistently with assignments for years after I've politely made it clear that I'd like them to hire someone else.


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:03
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Over 5 years Jul 30, 2014

My oldest client has been with me for 22 years. Several others have been with me for more than 5 years. I'm in the process of re-cultivating one that I stopped working for in 1998 because it took them 2 years to pay me $9,000.


ArtefactHT  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:03
English to French
+ ...
Other Jul 30, 2014

I started my freelance business just shy of 3 months ago, so I do hope I get to see clients stick with me for a long time!icon_smile.gif



Noni Gilbert  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:03
Spanish to English
+ ...
Clients no longer needing my services Jul 30, 2014

The majority stick around, I'm pleased to say, but others do disappear (as Suzan says, a "changing cast").

Various reasons for this:

* They've found cheaper elsewhere
* They've found better elsewhere
* Their business has changed and they no longer need my services
* They've retired (one of my favourite academics did this recently!)
* They've gone out of business
* We've translated it all (not for ever, I agree, but let me explain what I am referring to here: I am not surprised at the hiatus I have observed in translating course books for publishers in Spain for primary education - they were all in such a hurry to get books published to meet the huge demand from "bilingual school", but won't want to embark on new texts for a while, what with pressure to ensure texts are used from year to year, and falling numbers in paying schools).


Melissa McMahon  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:03
Member (2006)
French to English
The lie of the average Jul 31, 2014

The majority of my clients, numbers wise, are one-offs: they are individuals who come to me because they are putting together eg. an immigration dossier and once I have provided them with the translations they need they go on their way.

The majority of my work and income however comes from a small handful of companies and agencies I have worked with for many years, let's say 7 years on average.

If I worked out an actual average by dividing my years of professional work by the total number of clients I have worked with, the figure would come out very low, due to the high numbers of one-offs. This would give a poor indication of my ability to hold on to clients, as the one-offs represent a very small percentage of my working time and income and the "WWA" factor just doesn't apply to them.

It's a good lesson in the limitations of averages.


[Edited at 2014-07-31 00:07 GMT]


svenfrade  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:03
French to German
+ ...
Other Jul 31, 2014

Ask me how long I stick with my clients.
I have worked with some (the reliable and well-paying ones) since about 6 years (I started freelancing nearly 7 years ago).
However, I dropped the notorious late payers and low payers along the way. Or, in case of late payment, only did one job for them. Late payment for the first assignment is not a sign of good business practices and I'd rather not work with clients who don't have the courtesy to pay on time.


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Poll: On average, how long do your clients stick with you?

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