Sunshine Abroad

The trials and rewards of French translation and beyond

The Work-at-Home Blessing

Some days, you wake up, and you don't want to get out of bed. Because you're sick. You suddenly have a stuffy nose, a thick and scratchy throat, and a splitting headache right behind your eyes. It's not pneumonia or the plague, just a seasonal bug. A bug which most people will still go to work with, and which many people are expected to come into work with. (For better or for worse -- but that's a discussion for another day.)

And then, there are those of us who do the majority of our work from home. Clients on the other end of emails can't tell if we're sick. Just avoid videoconferencing, and it's possible to stay in your pajamas all day, propped up by pillows in bed, with a cup (okay, five) of tea and a slice of toast and a glass of orange juice and a bowl of applesauce and some soup, all close at hand. No one will know!

Oops. Probably blew my cover. You all know! My secret is out. Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhh*coughcoughcough*...... Oh well. No use getting worked up over it. I can still work, and work well, at that.

Ah, the blessings of a freelancer.

Just Say No

Drugs are harmful to your body.  Just say "no" when offered them.  It's as simple as that.  Or so all elementary-aged American children were told in the 80s and 90s.  Simple?  Maybe.  Peer pressure builds up, though. Now, we're older.  Some of us are freelancers.  Sometimes, we get offered jobs -- or offered the possibility of jobs -- that we know we shouldn't take.  Why?  We'll have to deal with demeaning project managers.  The work is mindless.  We'd be translating very poorly written copy from the source language.  We'll lose an entire night's sleep to get the job done.  It's harmful to our bodies, and to our sanity, and especially to our happiness.

Even so, when a new agency approached me with the offer of possibly working together, we haggled on rates a bit, I listed my specializations (at their request, which is important for later), and I agreed to do a small test for them.  I stipulated that, since the test would be unpaid, I'd only do a small one, less than 250 words.  A reasonable amount of work for a test.

They then sent me three tests to choose from (nice!).  But wait...all the tests were over 500 words, and none of them fell even remotely within my specializations.

Enter the psychological pressure: "I'd really like the work."  The brain rushes through countless excuses for why I should just buckle down and slog through the test, but they all boil down to "I'd really like the work."

Let's be clear.  I don't know if I'd get any work, or if I'd be at all qualified for the work I'd receive (based on these tests), or if I'd enjoy the work that I was qualified for.  But still, brain goes, "I'd really like the work."

Fortunately, I have an Other Half.  He reminds me that I can, in fact, overrule my worried brain with logic.  What's the point of doing a long, unpaid test that may lead to work that's most likely not in my area that I probably wouldn't enjoy for a lower rate than I normally charge?  None.  There's no point at all.

Just say no.

(Do so respectfully, of course.  But just say no.)

Operation Holiday Business. Gameplan: Questionable

So many different bloggers, from the T&I industry or elsewhere, talk about client loyalty around the holidays:

It's easy: you send nice cards to your clients, thanking them for working with you and wishing them well for the new year.  At the same time, you're reminding them you exist and putting a smile on their face that links back to you.  If you do it right.  You can even send thoughtful little gifts to your favorites.  It's a nice thing to do, and it's on the fun end of marketing.

But what do you do when the holidays come around and there are agencies who you want to work for, but aren't yet?  When there are clients you've presented yourself to, but nothing's happened?  Is it a good idea, or even appropriate, to send a card to them?

I think it might be, so long as you've had two-way contact with an actual person there.  If you just submitted your resume to a company and didn't hear diddlysquat from them, who are you going to send the card to?  "Dear Hiring Manager"?  What would you do if you got a holiday card from someone you didn't recognize?

But if you have communicated directly with someone at the company and they haven't completely written you off, sure!  Send a card.  It can put you back on their radar, remind them that you exist, and prime them to think of your name when their next project in your language pair pops up.

"Dear so-and-so: Best wishes to you and your loved ones this holiday season.  I look forward to developing our working relationship together in the coming year. "

Why not?  It seems like a good idea...right?

Now, to find cards at the beginning of December.