Recommended by as the 2022 software of choice!

3 Useful Ways for Translators to Handle a Slow Month

You were riding that wave for a while, freelance translator.

The feast wave.

All of a sudden, you get loads of work. Everyone wants you to translate for them.

Your regulars, your not-so-regulars, that one client who only pops into your inbox when the salmons migrate upstream, strangers, and maybe even that person you awkwardly chatted with at a networking event two months ago.

You are officially booked solid.

But right before, you were twiddling your fingers. And right after, you’ll be twiddling them once again. Just like all waves, this one will come crashing down, too. Because that’s what feast and famine cycles do. They cycle.

And when you have no work, it’s easy for stress and anxiety to stop you from doing what needs to be done.

But there are ways to handle a slow month that will help you:

  • Spend time productively
  • Decrease the length and frequency of future famine periods

Here’s how to handle (or eventually eradicate) famine periods as a freelance translator.

1. Always keep your pipeline full

This is something you should work on during a slow month or week. But it should also be full during your feast period. A ‘pipeline’ is a buzzword for the amount of business you expect to come in. For example, how many clients are:

  • Booked for a discovery call
  • Waiting for a proposal
  • Going to approve/negotiate a proposal
You should always have someone in it. The key to this is to learn about marketing and commit to a plan that’s doable even when you’re going through the feast period.

You can also use your famine period to write large batches of content that you distribute slowly over time. Create enough so that when your feast period comes and you don’t have time for marketing, you’ll still have content to publish.

2. Stay on top of your skillset

One of the best things to do during the famine period is to catch up with your CPD.

Still haven’t learned beyond basics with that new tool you invested in? Get on YouTube or grab a translator friend and learn how to capitalize on your tools. Make the most of the money you spent on them.

Look back on old translations and old work and revise, taking notes and seeing where you can improve.

Study other translations and note down things that inspire you. Or take an online course to stay on top of your target industry trends.

3. Work on your portfolio/website

Downtime is a great moment to work on your portfolio.

You can start looking through your NDA-free translations (or discuss with your clients ways you can use your work for them in your portfolio) and grab your top 5 best translations.

Or create your own, commission-free translations, by getting content from the web and translating it yourself. Update your portfolio to a suitable standard to present to future prospects.

Review the copy on your translator website and make sure it’s talking more about the results you provide your clients than your background and certificates.

Make sure you’re prepared for the famine period

When you don’t have client work, that doesn’t mean that you won’t have plenty of work to do on your business. You can revisit your systems, look back on your time-tracking and profitability reports and prepare better.

In fact, the more you can see it as a part of your work, the shorter and less frequent the famine periods will become.

So, when the wave finally does crash, you’ll know exactly what to do.

Avenue Paul Hymans, 52/6
1200 Bruxelles
BE0563.976.806 is a management tool for translators that helps you manage your daily translation jobs. It’s easy, fast and secure. Sign up now and start tracking translation jobs and sending invoices in minutes!

Made with     in Brussels by translators for translators!

We offer support in English and French.