Confession

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…

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Anke Betz

Anke Betz

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