Holidays are coming (but not for the freelance translators amongst us...)
The beauty of freelance translation is that you get to call the shots, be your own boss, work to a timetable that suits you. This idea, however, only works up to a point. The point being that translation clients and projects must never be taken for granted and, for the fledgling translator, there are risks involved with turning translation down. This can mean cancelling social engagements at the last minute, staying inside, glued to your computer while everyone else is outside having fun and even, how utterly unimaginable, interrupting your own holiday in order to complete a translation project.
On a recent holiday in Cornwall, this was a dilemma I faced when contacted by two fairly new translation clients on the same day for urgent translations. After much deliberation (should I make sandcastles on the beach with my nephew? Or, stay inside translating, stopping every so often to gaze wistfully at the perfect skies and listen to the waves lapping against the shore?), the more responsible me stepped in and made me choose the less popular option. I figured, translation is for life whilst holidays come and go, and it is at the early stages of a client relationship that you really cannot afford to turn translation work down.
Knowing when to say no to translation work in these situations is tricky, and various factors should be taken into account. Here are just a couple you may want to consider:
1) Is the client likely to contact you again if you turn down their request for translation? Have you built up a strong enough relationship with them? Proven your impeccably high translation standards? Adhered to translation deadlines? Shown them that you are a freelance translator who's worth hanging onto? If not, they could quite easily find another translator with more availability than you, while you say goodbye to all the hard work you put in to secure the client in the first place, swiftly finding yourself back at square one.
2) When deciding to take on translation, think long and hard about what it is you may have to turn down. Be reasonable and remember that interaction with your family and friends is important too, especially for translators who are known for their solitary lifestyles. I can’t imagine how well it would go down for you to miss your best friend’s wedding in order to translate a medical invoice.
You may even be able to get the translation deadline extended for when the fun is over. Perhaps, as an incentive, you can offer to reduce your translation fees slightly. In my experience, it never hurts to ask.
So, you may be wondering how I felt about taking on translation whilst on holiday. In the short term, of course, I felt a little sorry for myself. However, outweighing that feeling was the buzz of being reconsidered for work by two new translation clients; something that hopefully heralds the start of a long and happy relationship.
And my nephew? Well, he was having so much fun building sandcastles with the rest of the group, I don’t think he even noticed I wasn’t there.