From S.R.: How can I handle the fear I feel when looking for the direct clients, for example, fear that I cannot satisfy their needs?
The Translator’s Aunt: Dear S.R., beginning a new career, a new activity, working with new people, those are almost always nerve-racking experiences. So first of all, tell yourself it’s normal, and that it’s good to feel a bit of adrenaline.
But of course, fear can block us from moving forward, from taking risks and jumping into the deep end. Yet this is often how we learn to swim – simply by doing everything we can to stay afloat!
If you have specific fears, then there are a few things you can usually do to calm them. You say that you fear not being able to satisfy a client’s need. Is this because you’re not confident in your translation skills, in your communication skills, in being able to work within their tight deadline, or something else?
To satisfy a client, you need to be clear about what you can offer and how much time you need. For example, if they’re asking you to translate both into and out of your native tongue, you might insist on working with a proofreader (at an additional cost) so that the final product of your translation is top quality. Or you might calmly have to explain that the deadline they’re imposing is not feasible and that obtaining a good translation will require a few extra days for research.
Everybody faces some sort of fear when they first embark on a freelancing career, it’s scary, so it’s good to have the support of your family, friends, and colleagues to whom you can voice these fears. And we all make mistakes. There will always be a time when a client is not 100% satisfied. The important thing is to listen to their problems and offer solutions. It doesn’t mean that they won’t work with you another time, and if you don’t hear back from them, at least you will have learned something new from your mistakes!