Archive for September, 2009

How do you prospect the freelance market?

September 16, 2009

How do you prospect the freelance market for interpreting? How do you survive without AIIC’s closed shop? Is the market that saturated?

Sorry, I don’t know much about the interpreting market. To find out what life is like outside AIIC you need to identify other people who are not in it, of course, which becomes more difficult because they are presumably not in a group so not easy to spot. Why not identify some new or candidate members of AIIC and ask what life was like before? Or get in touch with specialist interpreters’ agencies and ask whether they employ non-AIIC members, what percentage of their work goes to them etc.? I am sure such agencies exist, there is one (used to be one?) in Leeds.

As far as market saturation is concerned – people say the same thing about translation, i.e. it is an overcrowded field, hard to break in etc. – but new translators still get established, each one has a different story involving skill, persistence and luck, not necessarily in that order. I’d appreciate interpreters’ views on this question, please.

How about repeat work?

September 7, 2009

Which companies will offer repeat work?

It depends on your field/language pairs, of course, but here are some suggestions:
– Large, established international businesses that develop new products for the international market/correspond with people abroad on a regular basis
– Companies that publish newsletters in several languages, could be once a month or every two months
– Companies with multilingual websites – check how often they are updated, the owner companies could be candidates for regular work
My guess would be that regular work equates to large companies – a solution could be to look for those with translation departments and address a request (in your chosen form, see previous post) to the department head. Such companies often use freelancers to smooth peaks or to do either the urgent work or the long pieces the in-house staff can’t cope with.

Are direct clients worth the extra hassle?

September 7, 2009

Are direct clients worth the extra hassle?

I was going to save this question for last, but it is a crucial point so I’ll bring it forward, here goes:

Yes, definitely. Apart from anything else, some direct clients are very easy to work for, just as some translation agencies/companies are more trouble than they are worth. So if you can make sure you get the right direct clients with all their advantages (which I’ll talk about a bit more on 24 October), you should have closer working relationships and more money without any extra grief.

On the other hand, I have to stress – and this is also a topic for 24 October – that there are some (many?) good translation companies/agencies out there and the range from bad agencies to good direct clients is a graduated spectrum – who you work for is not an either/or choice.

Is cold calling permissible?

September 3, 2009

Just to get me started on the topic of client-hunting, I was recently asked a question:  “I was wondering whether Helen could
clarify the line between establishing first contact with a potential
direct customer and cold-calling; because I have a list of potential
direct customers (from former employments), but was advised against
contacting them directly since it would be cold-calling.”

My take on it:

Hm, good question – there are other ways to make first contact, like attending business breakfasts and various other events, but if you can’t “engineer chance meetings” I don’t see any reason not to cold-call, it ain’t illegal. Surely if you go about it politely it isn’t a problem – one method would be to write to your target contacts first, explain who you are etc. and tell them you would like to call them in a day or two/in the next week, if convenient, and discuss possibilities with them. I like that because it doesn’t take people aback, and if your CV/portfolio is enclosed they at least can prepare and think about your cause.

But if you have a list of named individuals and even possibly know them in person, there is no real problem with cold-calling. If done the right way it isn’t “wrong” and is only perceived as such if your contact really doesn’t want the product, I think. And in the latter case it doesn’t matter if they don’t like it, you won’t hear from them again anyway! Hard selling is the “no-no” for long-term professional relationships in my view.

As long as you aren’t using information from confidential sources and genuinely feel your contact may find your service useful, why not?

Hello world!

September 3, 2009

Not too long ago, I uttered the words “Blogging? If I ever feel tempted to start pouring my heart out in writing I’ll buy a diary and make a fool of myself in private instead.”

Famous last words.