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How’s trade, buddies?

Since 1996 I’ve been making my living as a freelance translator, mostly of more-or-less technical material, from German into English. With something like than 3000 separate and jobs over 7 million words under my belt, I guess I count as reasonably experienced. My main shop window is this website.

Since about last November I have been receiving noticeably fewer job inquiries. So far (I choose that pair of words carefully) this has mainly meant that I’ve had to turn fewer jobs down. On the whole I have managed to do nearly as much work as I used to, although there have been a few slack stretches, and the trend is concerning. My trusted old clients, some direct but mostly agencies, are still coming back to me – but not as often. One freelancer is a tiny sample indeed, but it does look like the “global financial crisis” is biting.

It’s not easy to find out how others are doing – there are very few publically available statistics, and most people don’t want to tell the truth. After all, basic marketing is to maintain an image of being busy because we are successful because we are good, though not quite so busy that we can’t fit in the next job that comes along! We could not easily admit that work has eased off or even entirely collapsed.

It is, for that matter, not impossible that the work supply could strengthen for some of us. Business downturns can sometimes favour freelances, as in-house departments are downsized or even closed, but there is a suspicion that this happened in the translation field years ago, and that there is not much more that can effectively be outsourced.

But comments here can be anonymous, so if you are a freelance translator – especially in the field of European languages – why not add a comment to say how the GFC is affecting you?

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