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How Emeline Jamoul Went From Freelancer to Translation Agency

There are different levels of freelancer:

  1. The side-hustle, hobbyist freelancer
  2. The go-with-the-flow freelancer
  3. The “I take my job seriously” freelancer
  4. The super-professional, high-income freelancer
  5. The freelancer that scales into a business

Emeline is #5. This is her story.

Emeline Jamoul

Emeline started her career as a translator in 2013. When she started, she did freelance translation work with a portfolio of agency clients.

Marketing translations came naturally to her: she received a lot of PR and marketing-related assignments. As her client list grew, she became more interested in marketing both as a translation specialisation and as a way to grow her own business.

After a few years, the marketing worked: she had a steadily growing stream of income. Her client portfolio was less agency and more direct clients. As tends to happen, her direct clients began asking her for more and more language combinations or specialisations.

She saw an opportunity to team up with translators she trusted to "merge" their skills and give a better offer to her clients. Referring colleagues could have been an option, but most of the time, her clients wanted their material to be translated into several languages. Most direct clients prefer to deal with a single point of contact.

So in June 2019, Emeline Jamoul, freelancer, became Plume Rouge, a fully-fledged translation company. Today, she regularly works with around 10 colleagues (and a lot more for more one-off projects) and delegates admin tasks to an external provider while using as a CRM and day-to-day platform.

Internal systems: before and after

As a freelancer, Emeline used only Excel and Word for invoicing and accounting. That wasn’t quite going to cut it as she scaled. Manual data entry was cause for several human errors and unnecessary mistakes, and she would lose precious CEO time in creating invoices manually.

Like a lot of freelance translators still do, she used Microsoft Suite to manage her business. Unfortunately, Word and Excel don’t give you insights on business health. She didn’t know how much she made per client, and she couldn’t easily track what her profit margin really was. Without this information, it was hard to know what kind of budget she could truly allocate to her colleagues before she lost money.

As she started taking on multilingual projects, she needed better data and a simpler system. She needed less time spent on admin and more time spent collaborating with her team, managing translation projects, and talking to clients.

Managing other translators

With her agency getting bigger, she began receiving more and more requests. One of the consequences was the need to increase her pool of collaborators (even though she tries to work with the same people, whenever possible).

So, when she receives a new potential project, she needs to be able to find who fits the profile quickly. With, you can specify all of your suppliers' services and use them as a filter.

Labels help her add their specialisations. Recently, one of her recurring clients asked for the translation of some terms and conditions into German and Italian. She has several German and Italian translators in her team, but needed to find a legal translator. In a few seconds, she was able to search to see who among her suppliers also had a specialisation in legal-related work.

Emeline creates labels for everything. For example, they use a "Not tested" label, which is assigned to every supplier that they haven't worked with yet. If she sees that label next to a supplier's name, she knows that she has to ask a trusted supplier to proofread their work.

She also uses the Evaluation feature, which lets her rate the supplier's performance on various levels (communication, quality of work, respect of instructions, etc.). It's a great feature to refer back to when your database of suppliers is growing and you can't remember every single detail of your past collaborations.

How financial reports have helped Emeline grow her translation agency

Emeline checks the monthly sales report most often. She checks it weekly, and compares it to the Profit and Loss report which takes into account her expenses (i.e. outsourcing). That way, she gets a complete view of her monthly revenue.

She also uses the Sales by Client report for Plume Rouge. She uses it regularly to see who her biggest clients are, where she needs to focus and who she needs to catch up with. If she hasn’t heard from a client for a few months, for instance, they know to send an email for a catch-up.

The results of this report drove a series of other decisions that helped her grow her translation business: such as letting go of clients that don't pay enough to keep. By letting go of the lowest-paying clients, she was able to use that time to find better ones.

Emeline’s journey to building a translation agency came from her passion for communication and building teams. Having the right tools and partners to create systems that are easy to follow and scale (and get insights about how her business is doing) has been instrumental.

We’re curious—do you ever think of scaling into a translation agency, or do you prefer to stay a freelancer?

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