jump to navigation

Being in limbo January 30, 2013

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

One of the things they don’t tell you about when you start freelancing is the art of staying calm while being in limbo. I finished a job last night. It is currently at my proofreader’s and is due back to the client later today. In the meantime, I have had three different job queries in the last week or so, and they are all pending approval by the client or still haven’t been finalized. So here I sit, trying to fill my time while I have nothing to translate. With my luck they will all be approved (although I have a feeling that one of them won’t) and will all be due on Friday or Monday. Or none of them will materialize. You never know as a freelancer. Because it is impossible to evenly distribute workload when you freelance. There is a lot of feast or famine – or waiting in limbo. November and December were extremely slow months for me. It had me questioning my decisions and toying with the idea of getting a 9-to-5 job or even a part-time job. Not having income coming in can make me panic pretty easily. My office was reorganized, my finances were in order, and I had run out of projects. I had decided to start a marketing campaign after the holidays, but luckily things improved. It still frustrates me waiting for work to be approved, but that’s the business I guess. I’m hoping the return of work will return my zest for blogging. It’s been hard to stay motivated. Anyway, I hope you all had a good holiday season and are busy with work through this new year. May we all stop being in limbo!



1. Steve Vitek - January 30, 2013

Things will pick up, Jill.

They always do provided that we survive the “limbo”.
Once you feel mischievous and brave again it I hope you will write a post that could be called “Surviving the Limbo” or something like that.

2. Duncan Nicholson - January 30, 2013

Jill, your words encapsulate my thoughts (and experience) entirely!

3. Carolyn Yohn - January 30, 2013

I know exactly how you feel! It’s usually 2-3 weeks of “Can I really say I do this full time?” followed by 1 week of “What else have I done today besides translate? Revise my translations.”

May your limbo end in happy typing.

4. Allison Wright - January 30, 2013

And then there is the unexpected limbo: A big job which I had only done half an hour’s worth of work on was cancelled. It was a good client, and I am sure they had their reasons. I got paid for my time, but I spent an entire afternoon overcharged with adrenalin in “highly motivated mode” with nothing to attach all my energy to! It is a pity one cannot store such energy for the ultra busy times…

5. Nelia - January 31, 2013

Hi Jill. I am fortunate enough not to have experienced this more than a week, but I totally understand. I co-organize local meetings for translators in my area and we recently discussed good resolutions. The most frequent one was “how to deal with the low periods without panicking or questioning your skills, and how to try and enjoy them instead?”. No universal solution emerged of course, but we all face this at some point. Maybe you’d like to engage in some marketing, even if that doesn’t have an immediate impact? See friends or family?

6. Michael - January 31, 2013

Hello to everybody.
I guess the end of last year was tough to everyone in the translation business – not too many good, profitable projects.

7. Karen Tkaczyk - January 31, 2013

Nice post, Jill. Hope your limbo is over by now.
“The art of staying calm while being in limbo” sounds like a good title for an ATA conf session. I had one day of limbo last week so I paid my state tax, cleared my desk, then went skiing. I might have nailed the art of calm – for last week, anyway. 🙂
It’s different for my personal situation though, which makes it much easier to stay calm. If I don’t earn we have fewer, cheaper trips and treats. Not the same as eating into the savings to pay the bills for a translator supporting a household on a single income.

8. Kenny - February 5, 2013

It seems my experience was the opposite of yours. I was extremely busy in November and December, and I even worked through Christmas and up to New Years. Those were record earning months for me. I take it there was a rush on the part of several of my clients to get certain projects finished by the end of the year. However, January then turned out to be very slow, and this month hasn’t been that great so far either. I have mostly been spending my time marketing, and, indeed, I have two pending projects from two new agencies waiting for end client approval, but I don’t feel very optimistic about either of them.

9. saretta - February 15, 2013

I have had the same experience as Kenny, crazy busy in the fall and now…a dry patch :-(. I have two clients promising me big jobs in March, but at the moment I have nothing!

10. Graça Ribeiro - February 19, 2013

I hope you are out of the limbo by now. It’s dreadful being there but in my experience we always get stuck there sometimes.

11. Judy Jenner (@language_news) - March 21, 2013

Checking in — are things better, dear Jill? I hope you are so swamped that you are once again the overworked translator that you usually are. 😉

12. Jill (@bonnjill) - March 21, 2013

Things are still kind of slow but picking up. Thanks for checking in.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: