Firing a client can be stressful for translators because the anxiety revolving around this task is wrapped up in overall fears about their business.
This can be a very stressful situation for translators because, in many cases, the anxiety revolving around this task is wrapped up in overall fears about their business. For example, what if one day I need this client again? What if I get rid of this client today and then the volume of translation work reduces drastically? Even though these situations rarely occur, the worry is still there and so is the stress.
Your First Option
You may be feeling that you’re done-and-dusted with this client; however, you don’t really want to burn your bridges with them. So, take the firm-but-kind approach and say something like: ‘Thank you so much for the work you’ve sent my way over the past months/years: I’ve really enjoyed working with you. However, I’ve recently started working with higher paying clients, which means that I won’t be accepting translation work that pays less than XX cents. Please keep me in mind should you ever have projects that allow for this type of budget’.
This client now understands that you enjoyed working with them and that the issue is solely a money issue. It may happen that this client will continue sending you low-paying translation work, requesting that you complete this project for them just this once, at which time you’ll have to put your foot down. You might want to say something like: ‘As mentioned previously, my minimum rate for translating is now XX cents per word. I’m certainly happy to consider future translation projects and will assume that my new translation rate is acceptable to you. Please confirm that you accept my new rate’.
An Alternative Approach
You may prefer this approach if you’re trying to leave the door slightly ajar for these clients: ‘As you know, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with you over the past months/years; however, at the same time I’ve also been working with higher-paying translation clients. In fact, most of my clients now pay XX cents per word, so for obvious reasons I’ll now be prioritizing their work. If and when I have breaks between these clients I’m more than happy to work with you on occasional translations, so if that suits you then you’re welcome to continue sending inquiries. If not, I completely understand’.
Time to Sever the Relationship?
If you don’t want a pussy-foot around and get into the specifics of your working situation, and of course it really isn’t anyone’s business anyway, you simply need to be too busy whenever the client makes contact with you. You might like to say: ‘Your translation project does look interesting, but unfortunately I’m too busy with other clients at the moment’; or ‘I appreciate you contacting me about your translation project, but unfortunately, I’m not available at this time.' It’s perfectly acceptable just to leave it at that, and generally, your client will get the picture and won’t ask for any more information.
When freelance translators take extended holidays, that’s generally all they say to their clients: ‘I’m not available’!