Freelance translation is a wonderful career. It’s also – like many freelance and remote working jobs – one that can infringe on your personal life if not kept under strict control. Work/life balance is something that freelancers like translators have a unique opportunity to get right, but too often the pursuit of a higher income or the need to meet key clients’ demands skews that balance.
In day to day life, this imbalance is something that is broadly accepted as part of the nature of remote or freelance working. However, over the holiday season it can feel far more disruptive. As such, here are a few top tips on how to keep your translation clients happy over the holidays while minimising disruptions and distractions during your time off.
Firstly, let your clients know as early as possible that you intend to take time off. The more notice they have, the more easily (and happily) they will be able to accommodate your plans.
Bear in mind that the act of communicating your holiday plans could in itself generate a flurry of work, as clients try to get their documents translated before your break. As such, if you can time your holiday communique to coincide with a quiet week, it could be a double win!
Everyone loves a bargain and you can use this to your advantage when planning to take time off while also keeping your clients happy. If you want a rush of work before Christmas, for example, to pay for the big day, then it’s a great idea to notify your clients a few weeks before that you plan to raise your rates in January. Doing so will encourage them to send you work ASAP, prior to the rate rise. (An additional advantage of this approach is that your clients will also be prepared for you to put your prices up when the New Year arrives.)
Alternatively, if you like the idea of taking it easy in December and then getting stuck back into work again in January, then a New Year offer can work wonders. Let your clients know a few weeks before Christmas that you’ll be offering a discount for all translation work booked in January and many will hold back their less urgent translation jobs in order to book them in at a reduced rate in the New Year. You can then not only enjoy a more relaxed festive period but start the New Year with plenty of work lined up.
In both of these cases, clients are able to make a saving, which means that everyone wins.
No matter how well you plan, there’s bound to be a client who disturbs your holiday period with an urgent translation request. Planning ahead for such an event can do much to reduce the stress that it causes. If you know in advance what you will do when the inevitable request arrives, you can deal with the situation calmly, minimising its impact on your time off.
Various options are available to you in this situation and you may well vary your chosen response based on which particular client it is or how large the job is. You could simply say “no” and ask the client to get in touch after the holidays, but it might be better to have a backup plan in place in order to keep your client happy. A fellow translator who plans to work over the holiday period might work well and you could even factor in a commission-style arrangement for any such agreement. Another option would be to simply do the work yourself, but charge the client a premium rate for causing you to take time out from your family.
A final quick win for keeping your clients happy over the holiday season is to send them a personalised season’s greetings/thank you email or perhaps even a small gift, depending on how important their business is to you! Such things don’t have to cost much – the important element here is showing that you are being thoughtful and that you appreciate their business and look forward to working more with them in the New Year.
What other steps will you be taking to keep your clients happy while also ensuring you enjoy your time off to the max this festive season? Leave a comment to share your strategies with your fellow freelance translators!