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If you missed the webinar that I presented for SDL last month on “Breaking into the direct client market,” here’s the link to the recording. About 800 people attended live and the feedback was positive; as I mentioned in the Q&A section, I’ll be writing a blog post to answer some of the questions that we couldn’t get to during the live session. Thanks to everyone who attended!

I’m excited to announce two new online courses that I’ll be offering this spring/summer. I’m still running my flagship courses for beginning and experienced translators (Getting Started as a Freelance Translator and Beyond the Basics of Freelancing), but I’ve developed two new quick-start classes for people who want a shorter course with minimal homework, but with lots of one-on-one coaching. Here they are!

Breaking Into the Agency Market starts May 13 and runs for three weeks. I’ll send you three slide show lessons (finding agencies; marketing to agencies; working successfully with agencies), we’ll do three group conference calls and you’ll get an hour of one-on-one coaching with me, which you can do by phone or e-mail. Registration is $190, or $175 if you’re an ATA member.

Breaking Into the Direct Client Market starts July 1 and runs for three weeks. Same format as above (three slide shows, three group calls, an hour of one-on-one time) but for translators who want to work with direct clients. Same price too! $190, or $175 if you’re an ATA member.

I’m excited to launch these new formats and hope to see some of you there!

A quick but important piece of advice, especially if you’re in the trenches of your first few years of freelancing. Raise your hand if you’ve ever lamented a lack of progress in your freelance business by saying something like, “The problem is that most clients won’t pay my rates,” or “The problem is that most clients don’t need someone who does my language/specialization,” or “The problem is that most clients want someone who can do large projects on short notice.” If you’re honest, you’ve probably said or thought those things at some time: I certainly did during my first few years in business.

But here’s the thing: to build a viable freelance business, you don’t need 100 clients. You need, I’m going to say, four to seven regular clients and then some occasional clients to fill in the gaps. When I looked over my accounting for 2014, I earned about 60% of my income from my top four clients. While you want to be careful about being too reliant on any one client, A-list clients are a good thing: they fill your inbox instead of the other way around; they know and trust you; they take less administrative time because you’ve worked together before.

So this is one situation where you want to think small, rather than thinking big and being needlessly discouraged. Think three clients; five clients; maybe 10. As an example, the American Bar Foundation reports that there are over 47,000 law firms in the US. If you do legal translation, even if 99% of those law firms don’t need your language pair, already have a translator they like, or don’t have any translation needs at all, that still leaves you with 470 clients. So in that case, let’s hope that at least 99.9% of them don’t need you, because then you’re only down to 47 clients which is still too many. That’s an extreme example, but you get the point: now go hunt down the small number of clients that you do actually need!

If you have the drive and discipline to launch your freelance business, you have the drive and discipline to improve your freelance business, but we all struggle to force ourselves to work on those improvements incrementally (or at least I do!). In this video I talk about three approaches you might try: the carrot, the stick or the temptation bundle. If you really want to geek out on temptation bundling, you can listen to this episode of Freakonomics Radio.

This is a cross-post from Speaking of Translation, the podcast that I co-host with Eve Bodeux.

Hot on the heels of our Being a freelancer and being a mom episode (which logged almost 1,000 downloads in its first week!), we’ve put three freelancing dads in the hot seat. We asked them about many of the same topics as our freelancing moms: how they managed taking time off when their kids were born, how they handle work, child care/school and family responsibilities now, and what they tell their clients about their family situations. We think you’ll enjoy this episode (lots of inspiration and creative ideas for other freelancing dads!), and thanks very much to our guests:

Miguel Armentia has academic degrees both in biochemistry and translation, and became a full-time freelance translator in 2008. Miguel translates English and French into Spanish and specializes in medical and IT translation. In addition, Miguel is a member of the IT Commission of Tremédica (the International Association of Translators and Editors in Medicine and Applied Science). He is the dad of two daughters, ages 1 and 3 1/2.

Jonathan Downie is a conference interpreter working between French and English, as well as a researcher, writer and speaker. He is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he lives with his wife and two children who are 1 ½ and 3. He is currently finishing a PhD on expectations of interpreters at Heriot-Watt University and writing his first book, 10 Challenges for the Future of Interpreting, as well as serving on the board of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

James Perry is a French-to-English freelance translator and lives in a Scottish Highland glen with his wife and 8-year-old adopted daughter. He is an Associate member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting. James specializes in subtitle translations for French media companies. He translates current affairs programmes, documentaries, cooking programmes and films: these include police thrillers and romantic comedy! He loves the variety and the fact that he is always learning.

Click the audio player link to listen online

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Being a freelancer and being a dad

On April 23, I’ll be presenting Breaking into the direct client market for SDL’s webinar series. It’s free and will last about an hour. I’ll talk about the reasons you might want to work with direct clients, how to design marketing materials for direct clients, how to look for untapped niches in the translation industry, and how to make contact with potential direct clients.

Hope to see some of you there!

Note: SDL let me know that the webinar will be *live only* (no recording).

This course session is now full. I will update my website with the next start date!

The next session of my online course for beginning translators, Getting Started as a Freelance Translator, starts on April 1, and registration is open on my website; I currently have three spots left in this session. This is a four-week course for translators who want to launch and run a successful freelance business, and a participant in the course commented that:

Neither in my undergraduate classes in education nor in some of the more practical classes I took as part of my MA in English (including the course connected to my assistantship as a writing consultant) did I ever experience one course that delivered as much precise and helpful information as this course.

Translators in any language combination are welcome, and every student gets individual feedback from me on four targeted assignments: your resume and cover letter, marketing plan, rates and billable hours sheet and online presence. We also do a one-hour question and answer conference call every week, and everyone receives copies of my books How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator and Thoughts on Translation.

Registration is US $350, or US $300 if you are a member of ATA. I hope to see some of you there!

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