I debated with myself whether to write this post or not. To ‘fess up or not to ‘fess up…
Is it professional or not to talk about this? Will this hurt the way (potential) clients see me? Might it maybe even help? And finally: Don’t most freelancers have these times at some point in their careers?
In the end I decided to do it: I confess.

I confess that my business year so far has been slow. Ok, more than slow. Lately, I have had barely any jobs come in at all, and if it wasn’t for one regular translation about every two months and some interpreting jobs, I would really be in trouble. Yes, I do have reserves saved up for times such as these, and no, I would not starve or end up homeless tomorrow, but still. The much too quiet first quarter of this year has got me just a little worried.

I had heard colleagues talk about this slump for quite a while – some even as far back as 2010 -, but until now I had always had enough work, both to satisfy the bank and my I-need-something-to-do self, and sometimes almost too much.

First I thought it might have something to do with my move last fall, but now I’m not so sure. After all, most jobs are handled online form start to finish. Location is therefore only secondary, especially for translations, and that is still the majority of my workload. And even when it comes to interpreting assignments, I am still close enough to my previous “haunts” to work for my clients there, plus I have had several inquiries from new clients since I moved, both locally and across Germany, so that can’t be it.

So why this drop in work these past months? Is it an overall trend across the translation industry? Not likely, especially since I have colleagues who are almost drowning in work (at least according to their social media output). Am I doing something wrong? I wouldn’t know what. All my clients have been happy with my work in the past, plus I make it a point to be courteous and professional in all my business dealings, so irate or disappointed clients can’t be the reason, either.

Maybe it is just one of those times, part of life as an independent business woman, and one that will pass soon. I sincerely hope so, because I love working as a translator and interpreter and to do so as a freelancer, and would hate having to look for alternative work.

I’m not sure how to deal with this since I have not had to do so before. However, I am not sitting idle. I did decide on investing into my website, and I am using the time to catch up on my reading (professional magazines et al. that have been stacking up on my desk), clean up my TMs and termbases and do some more training (both online and in real life, as well as some good old-fashioned vocabulary studies).
But I’m also very happy about any tips on how to get over this slow time – and of course new work!! 😉
So please, dear colleagues, let me know in the comments below if you’ve been in this situation before, and how you got out of it! I’m sure I’m not the only one…

Dieser Beitrag hat 4 Kommentare

  1. You aren't alone. Business has been pretty bad for me too. It's so bad that I've been thinking about getting a job somewhere outside the industry. I even wrote some agencies I used to work with a lot and reminded them I was available. They were thrilled to hear from me (so they said), but then I still have never heard from them. I don't know if it is the industry or me either.

  2. Nathalie Kourimsky

    Hi,some time ago, I had a slump which lasted more than a year. There was no apparent reason. Some of my colleagues had the same problem, some others had a lot of work. So like you I used the time to catch up on things, do some networking, visit classes… and just as I wanted to apply for a part-time job somewhere else, 8 clients called me within 2 days and I was back in the game! Maybe it's the time to try something new, a new marketing approach or a new working domain.

  3. Don't worry Anke, I'm sure it's temporary, we've all been there. Enjoy the time off and well done of the many productive things you've been doing so far. The only extra I can recommend is spending some time contacting new clients (either agencies or direct) and attending networking events in your area. These are the 2 things I never manage to do when I'm busy.

  4. Thanks all of you for the encouragement and for letting me know that I'm not the only one! This really helps a lot and makes me feel less of a failure somehow. It's not us, I'm sure!
    I am confident that things will get better again, and rather sooner than later – I am an incorrigible optimist, after all… 😉

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