What I was up to in September
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What I was up to in September

September flew by way too fast. It was mostly filled with reaching out to new clients and working on translations. But although few things went as planned, this month offered a lot of learning opportunities.


Website update


One of the main things on my to-do list for the first month of autumn was working on a major web-site update. As you can see, I haven’t done that.


The reason is quite simple. Once I started working on the update, I saw that the task was too big to get done with it in a month.


However, I have found a perfect tool for rebranding. I bought a wonderful course called Better Branding Course that makes you dig really deep to find out what your values are, who you want to serve, and then helps you translate all this knowledge into a visual identity that reflects just that.


I had been eyeing it for several months and before I made the purchase I had naively thought that I’d be able to go through it in a month.


But when I actually started reading the course book and do the exercises, I understood that it was not going to happen. Not if I had to do any other work alongside working on my branding.


So I decided to pace myself and just set another deadline for the launch of my new website. After all, what’s the point of being your own boss, if you can’t shift a totally arbitrary deadline, right?


Deadlines are important, but it’s even more important to recognize a situation where there’s no need to put too much pressure on ourselves and adapt to the circumstances instead of stressing out or feeling like a failure.


Beware of losing clients


In September my oldest and biggest agency client decided to change its payment terms. Just like that they stopped offering wire transfer as a method of payment and switched to PayPal.


That was quite a blow.


I talked about it with several colleagues and some of them said that they prefer to get paid via a bank transfer even if they can accept payments via electronic money. Primarily because it’s easier from the point of view of bookkeeping.


In Russia, the situation is more complicated. Many laws especially the ones connected with getting payments from abroad have been survived the collapse of the USSR. This is why the only legal way for a Russia-based translator to receive a foreign currency payment from a company is by wire transfer.


Now, I know that a lot of my Russian colleagues accept payments via PayPal. I don’t judge them. They might be in a situation when they desperately need the money. Or they might be just unaware that they are doing something illegal because honestly, these regulations go against common sense.


For me, it’s important to adhere to the existing laws, even if I think they are absurd. It helps me sleep well at night.
So, here’s what I did:


  • I explained the situation to the agency in great detail, pointing out that no amount of other Russian translators agreeing to their new terms would make it legal to accept electronic money as means of settlement between companies in Russia
  • I emailed all agencies I keep in touch with to let them know that I might have more time for some work from them at the moment
  • I also sent emails to several colleagues and asked them to recommend some agencies they enjoy working with. To make it easier for me, I picked translators working in the same areas of specialization, but in different language pairs, so that it didn’t feel like I was planning to steal their clients. I got a ton of support and some great recommendations.


This story has a good ending, though. By the end of the month, the agency got back to me suggesting to continue paying me via wire transfer albeit in a different currency, but that was something I could work with.


This situation taught me a couple of valuable lessons.


First, if you explain you position and the other side values your relationship, people are generally willing to find a compromise.


Second, diversification IS important and from now on I will work on it, no matter how good a relationship I have with any of my current clients.




Every month I post some resources or videos that I discovered over the past month and that have made a difference in my professional or sometimes personal life. The video I picked today is not directly work-related, but this is something I just have to share with you.


I had heard about The Minimalists blog before, but I only got to visit it last month and I was instantly hooked. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, if it seems like you have too much on your plate, if you’re tired of the constant rat-race of achieving your goals only to set new ones, you might find their ideas valuable. Check out their website, their books (I read Everything That Remains and loved it) and the video below in which Ryan and Joshua tell their story of becoming minimalists.



How did the beginning of autumn turn out for you? Did this new season bring any new beginnings? Feel free to share in the comments!



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