Blog post by Thomas.
Like every other activity on this planet, the translation business has its own rhythm. This short article describes a typical year in the life of a translator. It doesn’t mean to suggest that things are the same for all translators or for all years, but I believe it’s a good approximation that you can take into account while planning ahead.It may seem surprising, but I’ll start with…
After a well-deserved summer holiday, assignments begin to trickle in. Clients are preparing their projects for the end of the year, and you will hear from them with heads-up and inquiries. You will also have a steady workload, but there will still be some time left for family, friends, hobbies, parties and other social activities. This means that both your exhaustion and confidence level will be optimal (just about enough work to maintain your optimism, but not so much as to be dead beat by the end of the day).
October – November: Full Steam Ahead
October and November should be two of your busiest months of the year. Clients have already prepared their projects by the start of October and the files should already be with you for translation and editing. Your workload will increase significantly and you should expect overlapping assignments, which is why it’s a good idea to have a team of colleagues ready to take on tasks that you can’t handle. Don’t plan too many outings or social activities during this time, because you will not be able to attend them (well, maybe except for translators’ conferences — some are organized in autumn). Prepare to start to grow tired (and sometimes impatient/snappy with the people around you). Your level of optimism, however, will be elevated and you might engage in compulsive shopping (I mean the holiday season is in reach and there’s also Black Friday on top of it all).
December: I’m Going Slightly Mad
If October and November are busy, the first half of December is crazy busy! Everybody is trying to finish up their tasks by the holidays and there are always bits and pieces left to take care of. You’ll see PMs, account managers and executives start begging you to ”please submit this tiny project by next week. What? You can’t do it by next week? Can you at least try to do it at your earliest convenience? Pretty please!” It is often difficult to maintain your sanity during these turbulent weeks so have a caffeine infusion bag hooked on an IV pole ready, next to your desk… Oh, and did I mention that whatever is not finished by Christmas must be done in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve?
January: Slow as a Snail
January is… slow. Everybody is trying to recover from the holiday season and things might even get a little depressing. Unless you planned a ski trip, that is. But the good news is you can take care of your CPD and marketing, hell, you can even have endless beer sessions with peers or friends in the evenings. Your level of optimism, however, will be at the lowest. Crazy ideas, like getting a ”proper” job, might pop up in your head, but thank God that soon it will be…
February: New Hope on the Horizon
Life gets more bearable in February. You will notice projects shyly showing up in your inbox (‘Yeah, baby, I’m back in business!’). Mind you, things are still sluggish, but the pace is better and you regain your self-confidence. My advice: try to relax, because the following months will be tough!
March-April: Conference Season
Most translators’ conferences are organized in March and April (TranslateCluj usually takes place in March). This means that you will have to maintain some balance between working and travelling. You should have quite a number of assignments during these months, so the balancing may not be easy. Anyway, by this time, your optimism will be back again!
May-July: Busy, Busy, Busy
Prepare for a new (very) busy season, with lots of overlapping project and inquiries from clients. Tiredness starts to creep in again, but the thing that will help you feel alive is the prospect of a sunny beach and an ice cold cocktail in your hand. Plus, you will be motivated to work, work, work, so you can have all the money you need for your summer holiday.
August: Hunting Season
You’ve made it to August! Yoo hoo! You can leave your office, laptop and even your phone behind and enjoy a well-deserved summer holiday. Or can you? Well, you should definitely have at least your phone with you, because August is the month when clients are recruiting new translators! This makes sense, since all major projects have already been submitted (in June or July), and new projects are about to start in September. So don’t abandon your email and keep an eye on new exciting projects that might pop up! They will definitely boost your morale and make the beach even more exciting.