We all want a larger slice of the pie – when you’re already working hard the next step is to work smarter and earn more profits for the same time investment.
The freelancing life is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work, all the way down, with no guarantees of security like you get in a salaried job – although, of course, there are no real guarantees with a salaried job either, as you can be sacked at any time. But you do enjoy some protections, like your benefits package and the fact that you get paid no matter how busy or not busy you happen to be. In freelancing, whether it’s freelance translation work or other kinds of work, you don’t have any of that. If you’re not working much, you’re not earning much. And if you didn’t set your rates correctly you may be working like a dog and not getting much for it.
I get asked pretty frequently how to increase your profits as a freelance translation professional. I do have some experience and ideas on that front, though my disclaimer is that there are probably freelancers more successful than I who might better answer the questions. But here are my pearls of wisdom for what they’re worth.
More Profits: The Basics
Let’s start with some pretty simple ideas that somehow get overlooked pretty frequently:
Keep Costs Low. Have you reviewed all of your costs – including your time spent on projects? If you’re working twice as long on some projects for the same pay, you’re wasting that time. Concentrate on the clients and projects that pay you best to make your time work for you. Also review any expenses you’re paying and see if you can’t get a better deal on things like Internet access or eliminate them altogether.
Market Yourself. When was the last time you went out looking for new business? Even if you’re fairly busy you might find a new client that will pay a higher rate and offer more work. Don’t rest on your laurels! Get out there regularly.
More Profits: Advanced Ideas
Okay, so you’ve got a lean, mean freelance operation and you’re busy as a bee wooing clients. How else can you increase your profit margin?
Surprise Your Clients. Go above and beyond for your best clients. If they’ve been steady customers, give them a freebie, or do some extra work they didn’t actually contract for. This costs you in the short term, but it’s an investment. Happy clients often bring more work to you, and are amenable to discussions about increasing your rates.
Review Your Access. This is part of marketing, but a part people often forget: Are you accessible from all possible vectors? In the translation world, make sure your web site is translated into all applicable languages. Make sure you’re a member of any professional organisation that can help network you or get your name out there. Make sure that every communication you send has your logo, contact information, and other marketing bits embedded.
Of course, there’s only so much you can do. But if it’s more profits you want, cutting expenses and raising rates is the time-honoured way!
Image courtesy ohaks.blogspot.com