As freelancers we are in the fortunate (and sometimes unfortunate) position of being in the driving seat when it comes to our careers; we push the buttons to make our own careers and own money. Most of the time being a freelancer gives us great (you guessed it) freedom to organise our work schedules as we see fit. And a common complaint is that there simply are not enough hours in the day to complete all our work. However, the opposite is also true; there are times when the work simply is not flowing constantly and this can be even more challenging from an emotional as well as financial point of view. To combat this we could sit at computers hitting refresh on our inbox to see if any new emails have arrived, but for the sake of our own sanity I would advise against it! (Been there; success rate: 0). I would, however, advocate a proactive approach. Below you will find some tips on what to do when your translation business hits a slow period, most of which have been tried and tested by yours truly over the past 4 years.

  • Email the agencies who normally send you work and let them know you have availability at that time. Just a simple few lines will do. As project managers  mainly allocate jobs based on availability, by sending a short and concise email you’re giving the PM a helping hand. You’re putting yourself in the forefront of their minds too.
  • Follow up with your direct clients. Seek feedback on the most recent project you helped them on and ask them for testimonials that you could add to your website (to attract new clients).
  • Chase up on unpaid bills (banter – I know!) and clients who you have sent a quote to, but haven’t gotten back to you yet.
  • Review your CV. This is a perfect time to update it, add your latest courses and experience to it.
  • Review your marketing material for direct clients (or design some if you haven’t already).
  • Review or create your portfolio of work. Some agencies ask for sample translations before they hire you, so it’s useful and time-efficient to have this on hand if need be. Always remember to politely ask your client for permission to use the translated material for the purposes of your portfolio. Stay clear of using names and sensitive information.
  • Remember that blog you started and then abandoned after a few months? (Ahem, *points finger at self*). Well, it’s time to revisit, revive and refresh it. Look for new ideas for posts, organise your old posts and why not contact fellow translators with a view to interviewing them on a guest post. People love being interviewed ‘  it’s flattering! Or maybe it’s time to start a blog. Check out Blogstarter for some key tips on how to get going on a blogging platform.
  • Organise your computer desktop and back-up files you require onto an external hard drive.
  • Update your LinkedIn profile, look into its new features and how they could potentially help you to do business.
  • Check if there are business networking events or events specific to your area of specialisation happening nearby and buy a ticket. Over the next few days you can get prepared to attend.
  • How about having new headshots taken for your website and professional profiles?
  • Most translators tend to be avid readers, so I’m sure you have a ton of translation books piled up just waiting for you to get stuck into them, so why not start? When you finish it you could even review it on your blog (you can thank me later for that idea!).
  • And in addition to being bookaholics, we generally love to learn new information. Why not plan your CPD for the rest of the year? See this post on the importance of continuous professional development in our career as a guide (yup, shameless plug).
  • It could also be a good time to take a break and recharge your batteries, dedicate more time to a hobby or take up a new one.
  • And last but not least, my favourite tip: de-clutter your office, bedroom, kitchen, wardrobe or desk (wherever really) and sell unwanted goods online or at a car boot sale. Alternatively just send a bin liner full to your local charity shop or a good cause (If you are based near Belfast, I can collect your stuff and send it to a worthwhile cause). Doing this helps me to clear my mind and regain focus before starting into work-related tasks.

And by the time you’ve checked off one of the tips above, Murphy’s law will probably have kicked into action – you’ll check your inbox and, hey presto,  a juicy little translation request just dying to be opened will be waiting on you!

What about you? What do you do when you experience a quiet period? Do you have any other suggestions you could add to this list. As usual, I’d love to hear from you! Write your comment in the section below 🙂 imageJust some of the books I’ll be reading or finishing soon. Yes, they are levitating 😉


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