The initial idea was to stay in Italy for three years. Although Mr. JaDE’s found another position here, meaning we will stay for another 18 months, this seems a good moment to take stock of all things JaDE Language Solutions 2010-2013.
A holiday is not a holiday unless you stop working.
Obviously there is no such thing as ‘paid holiday leave’ for a freelancer, so it is tempting to keep things ticking over by doing a little job here, a quick project there. However, I honestly believe you can’t give your best that way. Not to the job, because you’re distracted and doing it at least a little grudgingly. Not to the people you’re on holiday with, because you’re not really there. Not to yourself.
If someone comes across as unprofessional at first contact, they will probably remain that way.
With very few exceptions, unprofessional conduct in emails (rushed writing, *gasp* grammatical errors, unclear instructions) at the start of a project tends to be indicative of a more serious problem. Questions go unanswered. Invoices get lost, excuses are made. In my mind, being truly professional means taking care of every aspect of your business.
0 or 476 miles an hour
There is no such thing as a happy medium (yet). And for some reason, the 476 mile-an-hour-job always comes in when my son is ill.
Recession? What recession?
Although I hope I’m not jinxing things here, I haven’t noticed a drop in work overall. Nor in fees. Yes, I get emails offering ‘work’ at 0.05 USD per word. Yes, I have refused to work with many an agency over their unfair terms. Yes, there have been quiet periods. But in general I have had enough work, paid at rates I consider fair. Hurray.
Some of the projects I’ve worked on:
Many, many, many patent abstracts and Search Reports.
Japanese magazine and newspaper articles on fashion & culture. My favourites were on the legendary ElBulli.
Technical drawings that really tested my computing and translation skills (the client was thrilled with the end result, I’m pleased to report!).
A 100,000-word doorstop of a book on the economic history of Italy and Spain
Many, many, many patent Search Reports…
Other related stuff
Presenting on patent translation at the ITI 2013 Conference. It was a flying visit as I had a 4-month-old baby at home, but I still had so much fun. Next time I plan to attend the whole thing!
And now some things I need to work on in 2014:
What does that mean when you are a freelancer without a corporate ladder to climb? Does it mean diversifying? Charging more? Working more efficiently? All of the above?
I’m still figuring this one out, but I do have one very-long-term goal: becoming a teacher of translation.
Biting the bullet and finding more direct clients
I like working for agencies (the good ones, that is), because it is easy. It’s comfy. It’s minimal effort. However, tying in with the progression thing, I think it would be a smart move to try to work directly with a few more patent attorney firms. To this end, I’m hoping to attend East meets West, the EPO's annual forum on Asian patent information, in April 2014.
Putting a bit of work into my website
I like how it looks, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be improved! Suggestions on an e-post card, please.
So happy 3-year anniversary to me, Happy 2014 to all of you, and here’s to another productive 18 months in my tiny office overlooking Milan!