Yes, I know, it has been a while since you received an e-mail that carries the most wonderful, music-to-the-ears-of-every-freelance-translator message: I have a new project for you! And I do not mean those emails that contain a small (in word count) tiny-weenie projects. I am talking about these great projects that due to their nature are right up your expertise street and of course of a rewarding word count. Before you officially enter panic mode, consider the following:
Have I performed my marketing tasks religiously? Have I performed appropriate research in finding potential clients, direct or indirect ones? Have I been feeding my Twitter and Facebook pages as they are included in my marketing strategy? Do I even have a marketing strategy in place? If “No” is the answer to any of the questions above, then proceed to appropriate steps so that the answer changes into “Yes”! It is that simple!
Cover letter & CV
Does your cover letter & CV do you justice? When was the last time you have updated? Do you need help with writing it again? Why don’t you take a look this blog post by Martha Stelmaszak. She gives some great pieces of advice there! Maybe it would be a good idea to ask friends to take a look at them. They, too, may have some very interesting and effective advice to give you, especially if they work as freelance translators, too.
Are there some special circumstances that have affected your work? In this fluid economic era that we live in there can be different factors that may be the source of the silence. Austerity, financial uncertainty, political circumstances. Such phenomena do not only affect freelancers, they affect companies, too. There is not much you can do, if, for instance, in the country that most of your clients are based there is some sort of turbulence. What you can do, however, is to target a different one. Go ahead, adjust your marketing plan (see Marketing above). You certainly know what to do; besides you have done it before.
Have your fields of expertise lead you to a dead end or would you like to make the list of fields of expertise a wee bit longer? Then, why not train on a different field? There are various paths you can take: you may find an online course that you would be interested in and could help your freelance carrier, you could find a part-time job in a field of interest, you could even register to do a university course (on long distance or part-time basis). Knowledge is endless, we just need to find out what would make us progress in what we love the most: Freelancing!
Keeping faith to yourself is perhaps the most important task you need to support. The silence of the inbox has absolutely nothing to do with your ability as a translator. Being a freelance translator has taken you this far and this bump on the road has not appeared due to your ability as a professional. Research the source of it and I am quite positive that not only you will find the root of the problem but address it accordingly! Oh, and remember: be aggressive, be BE aggressive, but not this kind of aggressive!