August - Month Two

Month two of full time translating has successfully been completed. Here’s what I learnt in this month.

1.      You will always get work at the most inconvenient times

If ever short of work, the best thing to do is make yourself unavailable – whether through sickness or outstanding commitments (like jury duty) as soon as you’d prefer not to have work it will come flooding in. This leads to an exciting balancing act but (the vast majority of the time) a successful one! This leads me to my next point…

2.      Don’t do things when you have the flu

You might fool yourself into thinking you’ll send off a quick invoice before retreating to bed and wallowing in your illness. However, you’d be wrong. You will do something silly like miss two numbers off your iban number and stress for a week that roughly $500 will forever be floating somewhere in the banking system. Thankfully for me, the payment was returned to sender and all the money was recovered – a lesson (and scare) in double checking things and also not trying to do too much when you have a fuzzy head.

3.      People can be the worst

You will have nightmare clients who ask you to do a 10 000 word job asap which you will near kill yourself doing. You will then send the invoice for said job and be told they did not confirm the order and went with another supplier (who happens to be $100 cheaper) despite what their emails may say. You will want to cry and struggle not to reply with a list of expletives. Sadly, this is the nature of the beast and you will inevitably be burnt once or twice. At least I’ll know make sure I get explicit confirmation in writing and consider asking for deposits from private clients!

4.      People can also be the best

For every nightmare client/situation, you also have fantastic clients, agencies and PM who give clear instructions, at fair rates and are generally delightful to work for. They will restore your faith in humanity and general career/life choices! The trick is finding these people and building up a good rapport with them and this obviously takes time and experience in order to distinguish one type of client from the other. Once again – it’s a steep learning curve.

5.      Long payment dates are a killer

The vast majority of companies have a plus 30 payment date at the minimum. This makes forward planning tricky to say the least. There is nothing more frustrating than knowing you will receive x amount of money but that you don’t have it yet! For this reason, I am exceedingly grateful for my part time job tutoring – at least I know that basic bills will be covered by that regular income. Seeing business from this perspective makes it evident as to why so many small businesses struggle to survive when covering overheads etc.

Month two seems to be a rather negative view of the industry. However, despite all the potential pitfalls and difficulties this is a fab job which I love. Like any job it has its good and bad points – unfortunately I’ve learnt more about the downsides than the upsides this month. Check back next month to see if the learning experience is more positive!