Can you ask people for work?

February was a strange month. On paper it was the best month yet, but there was quite a bit of time in the middle of it all where I was twiddling my thumbs, waiting for a job to come in.

So, sometime during the middle of the last week, I decided to be brave and tell one of my clients that I was available. Guess what? They came back with some work for me to do within two hours.

That was an important lesson for me. I’m a freelancer, my clients aren’t tracking my every move, so keeping them vaguely abreast of my movements and schedule isn’t a bad plan.

This is a slightly unusual situation, as I’m talking about a direct client with our own agreement, but it got me wondering whether I should be contacting the agencies I’m registered with more often. I asked my LinkedIn network what they thought, and the general consensus from more experienced translators was that it’s not a bad idea to contact agency clients once in a while to let them know what you’ve been up to and that you’re now available to work on projects.

It makes perfect sense to me, as I know it’s easy to get forgotten by Project Managers who are juggling lots of jobs and working with loads of people. I’ve had translators touch base with me in the same way in the past and it was a good reminder of their existence, plus, it’s always nice to hear from people that want to work with you again.

I think it’s important not to overdo this though, because a reasonable reason not to be contacted by your clients might be that there’s no suitable work available.

It looks like communicating availability is a bit of a balance, between sending clients semi-regular updates to remind them that you’re available and what you specialise in, but not going overboard and pestering them.

I’m thinking about experimenting with a ‘catch-up’ email to my agency clients next week to see if it leads anywhere. What do you think?

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