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The ebb and flow of the translation industry May 29, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Random musings.

Thanks to the encouragement of my friend, Corinne, I have decided to share my inane thoughts and helpful tips with the world. You are probably wondering who I am and why I need a blog. I am a German to English translator and have been in the translation industry since 1995, when I graduated with an M.A. in translation from Kent State University. I lived and worked in Bonn, Germany for six years and have been back in the U.S. since 2001. I am a freelancer and work from home, which affords me the freedom to pick and choose jobs and take breaks whenever I want. I use a lot of tools in my job and have amassed a ton of helpful hints, and I plan on sharing them for posterity through this blog.

You’re probably wondering about the title of this post. It never ceases to amaze me how the field of translation can be so feast or famine. A few weeks ago I was eking by on a couple hundred words a day, and today I have assignments totally approximately 15,000 words – all due by June 4th. I also have a test translation I have been trying to finish, but it isn’t going to happen until I get the paid work off my desk. Most translators I know have periods in which they doubt their career choice – and it is generally in periods of feast and famine. The trick is knowing that this too shall pass. It’s important to remind yourself that your nightmare translation job will be over eventually and the next plum job is sure to come in any day now. I love my job – and plan to use this blog to explain why. I hope you enjoy it.



1. Ryan Ginstrom - May 29, 2008

Congratulations on the new blog. I followed the link here from Corrine’s site.

You’ve been freelancing a bit longer than me — I started in 1997 — but I’ve seen the same thing. At first it can be pretty nerve wracking to face several weeks with very little work. After a few years, however, I realized that this was my big chance to take some time off. Now I try to look at lulls as blessings, and use them to relax, improve my source and target language skills, improve my knowledge in my specialty, and work on other ventures. Without those lulls, I’m sure I’d stagnate.

Good luck with the 15,000 words. I’ve got my own little pile of work to get through, coincidentally also due on June 4.

2. jillsommer - May 30, 2008

My first comment! What a thrill. Thanks for writing, Ryan. I also consider the lulls to be a blessing and enjoyed my latest lull by taking my dog to the dog park and reading a book on the balcony, but I still can’t help worrying after day 3 of no work coming in. I need to get over that fear. 🙂

3. Fabio - May 30, 2008

I totally agree with you about the “feast or famine” tendency for us freelance translators. Although they can be very nerve-racking to translators without much experience, we eventually learn with time that it is in fact OK. For me, the best reason why this tendency is OK is that is reminds us to never stop advertising ourselves and showing the world that we’re available – even when we already have loads of words to translate.

By the way, I just found your blog by clicking on a link in Corinne’s blog. We work with the same languages, although I only translate *from* German and English (into Brazilian Portuguese). Congratulations for the nice start! I’ll follow your blog via RSS and link to it from my own blog, “fidus interpres“.

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