This article takes a look at how the wisdom from 7 egg-related idioms can be applied to a freelancer’s business.
As this is primarily a blog with tips and advice for freelance translators, many of the real life examples mentioned in the article specifically relate to the freelance translation business. However, the general concepts discussed below can be applied to most freelance businesses.
So, at the risk of “teaching my granny how to suck eggs” (for some of you at least), here are 7 reasons why freelancers should think seriously about eggs:
A Chicken And Egg Situation
Those of you just starting out as a freelancer may often find themselves in “a chicken and egg situation”. Companies will not let you work on a particular project, because you do not have the right experience, and of course you are unable to get the experience you need, because you are not accepted for any jobs.
Possible ways to overcome such a chicken and egg situation is to somehow gain the necessary experience, without actually getting it from a paid job. For example, a student might agree to do certain work for their university at a reduced fee, or an inexperienced freelancer might work for a charity.
When I was starting my career as a freelance translator I actually did some jobs in exchange for barters. I particularly remember one small project, where I was paid for my work with a carp for the Christmas dinner.
Barters don’t pay the bills, but they are far preferable to working for free, and as well as placing some value on your hard work, they can be a good way to get testimonials and some much needed experience.
A Nest Egg
Once you have gained that initial experience and begin to get paid jobs, you will soon find out that the freelance world is quite a bit different to that of a salary paying job.
Some months you will earn relatively large amounts of money, while in other months you may well experience lean spells. It is therefore extremely important that, during those months when you are earning a lot of money, you get into the mindset of saving up for a rainy day. This is easier said than done, but it is important that you try.
Building up a nest egg, not only means that you will be able to pay the rent, but it also means that you won’t necessary panic when there is not a lot of work about and start accepting projects at lower than your usual rate.
Walking On Egg Shells
There are many times as a freelancer that you find yourselves “walking on egg shells”, but none more so than when the subject of rates rears its ugly head with a new client.
Some freelancers are in the position where they can stick fast to their rates, with a take it or leave it attitude towards new clients. However, many freelancers, especially those at the start of their career or those who are going through a lean period, have to tread more carefully when negotiating rates.
I strongly believe that each translation project is unique and thus should be priced on its merits. Of course, one should bear in mind a standard rate based on experience, skills and the language pair, but then other factors should also be taken into account, such as turnaround time, the difficulty of the text and the quality of the source material.
As much as you find yourself treading carefully on those eggshells, you should nonetheless set yourself a minimum rate that you will never go below and always try, however carefully, to set the rate at your ‘standard’ rate.
Remember, it is very difficult to increase a rate with a client in the future, so never set your rate at a level you are not satisfied with, however tough a period you are going through.
Avoid Getting Egg On One’s Face
This particular egg-related idiom is perhaps very suited to freelancers in the translation industry, due to the fact that attention to detail is such an important quality for a translator. Silly typos and bad formatting can ruin an otherwise perfect translation.
Meanwhile, there are many other opportunities for the translator to end up getting egg on their face and ultimately losing clients. High quality translations alone are not enough, if you are guilty of poor communication with the client or worse still being late with deadlines.
You Can’t Make An Omelette Without Breaking Some Eggs
In my opinion, this egg-related idiom can be applied to key points in the career of a freelancer, where perhaps in order to get to the next stage, you have to take some risks to reap the potential rewards later on.
It might be that you need to invest some of your hard earned money in an academic course to help strengthen one of your translation specialties. Perhaps you need to build up the courage to get out and start networking in your chosen industry, attending trade fairs and perhaps even trying your hand at public speaking.
These new events in your freelance career may bring you either financial or personal discomfort in the short term, but ultimately they may be necessary in order for you to get to where you want to go.
Try And Be A Good Egg
The rather archaic British expression “A Good Egg”, which basically means a decent human being, is the last of the egg-related phrases in this article.
I personally find that being ‘a good egg’ in the translation industry really helps your career in the long run, and I am sure it is the same for many other freelance industries.
Of course, it should go without saying that you should be pleasant and polite to your clients, but try and make sure that you are not only ‘a good egg’ with your existing and potential clients, but also with your fellow freelancers.
Perhaps the translation industry differs from other industries in this regard, but more often than not you come into contact with other freelance translators who, far from being competition for your business, can actually help you. Even fellow translators in your language pair, might specialise in a totally different discipline from you, so are not perceived as a ‘threat’.
Instead, there are often many opportunities for freelance translators to help each other out. For example, I often recommend to my clients suitable translators for projects that do not fall under my particular skill set and then there is always the opportunity for freelancers to share advice on how to best market their services.
So my advice is certainly to always try and be a good egg, because as the well known non-egg related saying goes: ‘what goes around comes around’!
What’s this I hear you say? All this talk of being a good egg and he hasn’t even delivered on the title of this article! Where is the seventh egg-related idiom?
Well, in my opinion the 7th and last egg-related idiom is so important that it needs an entire article to really do it justice. So if you would like to read on and find out just what that seventh idiom is all about, then please take the time to read the article, “A Word Of Warning To Freelancers Everywhere“.
I hope that the article 7 Reasons Why Freelancers Should Think Seriously About Eggs has been of help to you and if it has then please take the time to share on your favourite social media channels. Also, if you have any additional thoughts on any of these topic, I would love to hear them in the comments section below.