When Business Dries Up: Surprising Benefits for Language Translators
Business lulls happen, even to the best language translators. Some dry spells are predictable—August is a particularly slow times for many of us—but others come at random and for no apparent reason. While we’ll never look forward to dry spells, experience has shown us that they can be beneficial and, in the long run, work in our favor.
When Business Dries Up: 3 Surprising Benefits for Freelance Translators
Dry time pushes you to rekindle “old flames”
When we’re busy, many of us lack the time and initiative to reach out to clients who may have slipped through the cracks or gone cold. While you never want to appear desperate, there’s no shame in asking for work. Reach out to these clients and remind them that you haven’t forgotten about them, that your skills are still available and that you’re thinking of them. Here’s what you might say in your email:
“Hello, Client X:
I just finished a number of big projects and after taking a moment to decompress, I wanted to let you know that I’m open for new work. If you—or any of your clients—need anything translated, I hope that you’ll contact me or let me know.
If you’re looking for a different approach—and since it is nearing the holiday season—try something like this:
“Hello, Client Y:
It’s been a while since we’ve spoken, but I wanted to be sure to wish you and everyone at Company X a happy holiday season! I’ve truly enjoyed working with you over the past year. If you have any new or upcoming projects, always feel free to contact me.
Take care and I look forward to working with you more in 2014!”
Dry time gives you the opportunity to use your skills in a new way
Language translators have an impressive skillset: not only can they negotiate several languages, they can write. If you have the drive to try something new, put these skills to good use.
Try your hand at blogging. If you’re not sure how to break into the business, start with Zerys, an enormous online job board where agencies and private companies post freelance writing jobs. There are no monthly fees, you don’t have to purchase credits to bid on projects or submit proposals, and you can set up your account so that you are alerted whenever a job posting matches your profile.
If blogging isn’t your thing, you still have another valuable tool in your skillset: language. Below are three websites where you can tutor language learners online.
italki is a language-learning community that connects teachers and language learners through Skype. If you do not meet their qualifications to become a proper italki teacher, you can still become a community tutor. Tutors earn up to $16 an hour. Professional teachers earn up to $20 an hour.
Verbal Planet is a lot like italki. You decide how much you want to charge for your lessons, create your own schedule and manage it with your online work planner. You’ll need a Paypal account since you are paid directly by your students.
Here are a few more perks: The service is completely free; there is no membership fee; 100 percent of what you earn is yours.
Dry time gives you the opportunity to reevaluate your online presence
Freelance translators should be doing this anyway, but now that business is slow, you’ll have the time to revisit that outdated bio that you’ve posted on LinkedIn and other online platforms. If you don’t already have a website or translation blog, this is something else you should think about putting together.
If you’re already a faithful blogger, consider taking all of those blogs you’ve written, publish them in an e-book and either give it away for free or sell it for a few dollars on Amazon. This will not only bolster your credibility as a translator, it’s also an easy way to earn some money and make new contacts.