Off topic: Are there 'seasonal' cycles to freelance translating that you've noticed?
Thread poster: Will Volny

Will Volny  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:42
Member (2018)
Czech to English
+ ...
Nov 14, 2018

I hope I've posted in the right section for a 'this is a puzzlement' sort of question. I am new to Proz and reacquainting myself with the world of freelance translating. I wonder if any of you might have noticed any cyclical or seasonal nature to the number of translations you do throughout the year. I had had a killer September and October, but almost a 'dead' November. In my previous work there were definite seasonal changes, but I wouldn't think that translating (technical-scientific docum... See more
I hope I've posted in the right section for a 'this is a puzzlement' sort of question. I am new to Proz and reacquainting myself with the world of freelance translating. I wonder if any of you might have noticed any cyclical or seasonal nature to the number of translations you do throughout the year. I had had a killer September and October, but almost a 'dead' November. In my previous work there were definite seasonal changes, but I wouldn't think that translating (technical-scientific documents) would be seasonal. I'd welcome your sharing of your experiences in this regard.Collapse


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:42
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Unpredictable Nov 14, 2018

I've been keeping a "translation jobs pattern" file since 2008. I update it every day. There's no identifiable pattern except for obvious lulls e.g. national holidays, plus Christmas and Easter and, in the case of my Italian clients, the whole of August and half of September.

Apart from that, there's no obvious pattern; and with a fairly wide range of regular clients, it's impossible to predict when I'm going to be in a "Feast" or "Famine" period.

However my "translatio
... See more
I've been keeping a "translation jobs pattern" file since 2008. I update it every day. There's no identifiable pattern except for obvious lulls e.g. national holidays, plus Christmas and Easter and, in the case of my Italian clients, the whole of August and half of September.

Apart from that, there's no obvious pattern; and with a fairly wide range of regular clients, it's impossible to predict when I'm going to be in a "Feast" or "Famine" period.

However my "translation jobs pattern" file does enable me to predict (more or less) when to expect some particular jobs that I get every month.

I tend to have periods of very intense work (including working in the evenings, through the weekend, and sometimes even until the small hours of the morning) followed suddenly by absolutely nothing for several days, and then suddenly another avalanche.

[Edited at 2018-11-14 16:22 GMT]
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Jan Willem van Dormolen
Sommersonne
 

Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 22:42
English to Italian
+ ...
No definite cycles Nov 14, 2018

I do mostly technical-scientific too, and here is my monthly average over the last 14 years. The only definite trend is that February is usually a good month to take a vacation.

Untitled-1


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Yes Nov 14, 2018

It's always a bit random, but for me there is definitely an underlying pattern based on clients' own internal deadlines for getting things done, which tend to be Christmas, Easter and the start of the summer holidays.

But it depends on who you work for and where. When I translated companies' annual reports, January to April would always be manic. In Scandinavia, July and August are normally dead.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 05:42
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Number of clients Nov 14, 2018

Just out of curiosity, I checked my financial records for the past 3 years. Note that these are payment months, which are usually 1-2 months offset from the month in which I did the actual work.

In 2016, May-Sep were good, then significantly less in October, before picking up slightly towards the end.
In 2017, Jan and Feb were close to empty. Thing started picking up in march and REALLY picked up in September and October when I gained a huge project, a game that came out in No
... See more
Just out of curiosity, I checked my financial records for the past 3 years. Note that these are payment months, which are usually 1-2 months offset from the month in which I did the actual work.

In 2016, May-Sep were good, then significantly less in October, before picking up slightly towards the end.
In 2017, Jan and Feb were close to empty. Thing started picking up in march and REALLY picked up in September and October when I gained a huge project, a game that came out in November that year. Then I had next to nothing in December.
So far in 2018, other than one empty month in March, every month has seen a fairly steady income. I had the same game project that I got last year, so once again September and October have been windfalls.

So far in November I have been extremely busy; however most of the work has revolved around a single client, a fairly recent acquisition this year. Most of my other regular clients have dropped off somewhat, even though I don't generally turn them down. On the other hand, in the previous months I have had a lot of requests from numerous clients come in on top of the big game project that I was doing, and I had been burning the candle on multiple ends. Not much change in workload - significant change in client composition. Gaining a few good or at least adequate clients these couple of years has done wonders for stability, because when there's a downturn in one client there's another to help make up the gap. Sometimes they all come at once, and, well, that's a problem I don't mind dealing with more often.

So, at the risk of saying the obvious, the diversity of one's clientele has a significant effect on how much you feel seasonal trends. The more clients you have, the less susceptible you are to the ebbs and flows of a single region. These things are a reminder that there isn't that much separating the very-well-to-do translator and the one biting their nails while mushrooms grow on them, and that one should never be indifferent towards establishing a wider client base, even if things look very rosy right now.

[Edited at 2018-11-14 15:47 GMT]
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Dan Lucas
Gareth Callagy
 

Robert Rietvelt  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:42
Member (2006)
Spanish to Dutch
+ ...
No Nov 14, 2018

There is no real pattern, at least I didn't find one. I guess it comes with the job. What I do know, when they do contact you, they all contact you at the same time, and you got more then you can handle.

 

Will Volny  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:42
Member (2018)
Czech to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your insight! Nov 14, 2018

This is all very good to know. I am glad for the detail too. I've just begun keeping track in the manner you've alluded to in your work. This will help me see if there's a pattern with my usual agencies.

 

Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 22:42
English to Italian
+ ...
By season Nov 14, 2018

Now, since you mention 'seasonal' cycles I plotted the same data by season, and now there IS a certain trend:

Untitled-1

Spring=Mar+Apr+May, Summer=Jun+etc.

Autumn has the highest income (106.3% of year-round average), winter has the lowest (92.5%).


 

Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:42
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Depends on the field Nov 15, 2018

There is a clear pattern to the work I receive but it very much depends on the field. March, November and December are my busiest months overall. Lots of big international companies seem to want to get their internal communications out for the year to come by December 26th. These same companies are normally pretty quiet in January, July, August and September. But then wine and spirits companies are busier in those months. And people seem to work on career changes and recruiting new staff in Janu... See more
There is a clear pattern to the work I receive but it very much depends on the field. March, November and December are my busiest months overall. Lots of big international companies seem to want to get their internal communications out for the year to come by December 26th. These same companies are normally pretty quiet in January, July, August and September. But then wine and spirits companies are busier in those months. And people seem to work on career changes and recruiting new staff in January.

When I meet new people I always ask when the busy and quiet periods are in their industries, then, of course, I completely forget but it's illuminating for the half hour I remember their answers.

Perhaps not, but if you plot a graph of the sub-fields or end clients you work for over a year rather than your personal workload you might see more of a pattern?
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EvaVer (X)
Valérie Ourset
 


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