Boosting your professional confidence & getting paid: recap of July general meeting

Our July 2019 general meeting was packed full of useful information for building your T&I business and then making sure you get paid for your work.

Marco Hanson

Marco Hanson, current AATIA President and owner/operator of Texan Translation, started off his presentation, “The Confident Professional: Psychology of a Successful Freelance Translator or Interpreter,” with some thoughts on how to achieve the “freelancer dream” – you know, the one where you sit on a sunny beach pecking away at your laptop for a few hours a day and somehow manage to make enough money to support yourself.

OK, probably not very realistic for most of us. But maybe your version of that dream is to cut your workweek down from 65 hours to a more manageable 40. That’s what Marco was aiming to do when he read (or rather listened to the audio book) The 4-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss. He found that the advice in the book helped him to increase his efficiency and thus reduce the number of hours he spent working.

Another step towards achieving the freelancer dream is conquering your fears and insecurities in order to become a confident entrepreneur. For some of us, that means getting over “imposter syndrome.”  Marco recommended several resources to help you do that, including this TED talk:

He also recommended The Miracle Morning for Entrepreneurs: Elevate Yourself to Elevate Your Business, by Hal Alrod and Cameron Herold, which outlines a set of strategies and techniques practiced by highly successful people. Once you’ve overcome your insecurities and mastered some practices that will help set you up to succeed, you need to learn how to better manage your time in order to make the most of each day. For that, Marco recommends 168 Hours, by Laura Vanderkam.

In conclusion, Marco said, “if you are freelancing and you’re feeling negative and struggling with mental obstacles, there are concrete steps you can take to change the story you’re telling yourself in your head and feel more self-confident and productive.” Marco’s slide presentation is available for download in the member’s only section of our website.

Next up was AATIA member Tomás León, a licensed court interpreter and owner/operator, with his wife Sofía León, of León Translations, who gave us some advice on how to collect the money your clients owe you. First and foremost, he emphasized, send the client your invoice. You won’t get paid if you never send a bill!

Tomás recommends sending your invoice on the same day you complete a job. Be sure to specify your payment terms (Tomás advises that you mark all invoices “due on receipt”) and include a note indicating that a late fee will apply if the invoice is not paid within 30 days. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll charge the late fee, Tomás explained, but if you haven’t put it on your invoice, you won’t have any grounds for trying to collect a late fee from a client.

Other tips from Tomás:

  • To better your chances of receiving payment, accept payments by credit card and/or via PayPal. You’ll pay a fee for those services, but it’s better to collect 96% than 0%. Also consider accepting payments in multiple currencies.
  • Monitor your accounts receivable and follow up with clients who haven’t paid within 30 days. Start by phoning them to verify that they received your invoice. You might have sent the invoice to the wrong address, or the person who received the invoice might not have forwarded it to the person responsible for paying.
  • Find out if your client (e.g., an attorney) is waiting for payment from someone else (e.g., an insurance company) and then try to get contact information for the client’s client and send that person/company a copy of your invoice.
  • If a client doesn’t pay, try negotiating. Even if you ultimately have to settle for less than your invoice amount, it’s better to collect something rather than nothing.
  • Keep careful records in case you decide to file a claim against the client in small claims court. Tomás believes any invoice worth at least $150 is worth taking to small claims court. Judgments from a small claims court are enforceable, notes Tomás, but you have to register them with the county clerk. Even that doesn’t guarantee a client is going to pay, but the judgment will be reflected in the client’s credit record.

Tomás León

Tomás also recommends that interpreters include their cancellation policy and fee in their initial quote to the client. If the client accepts, or doesn’t explicitly object, the quote becomes a binding contract. If the job gets cancelled, send the client an invoice for your cancellation fee. Having a cancellation policy, Tomás points out, shows that you consider yourself a professional on a par with lawyers, accountants, and others who bill by the hour.

Meeting attendees mentioned several websites where translators and interpreters share information on clients’ payment practices, including the “Blue Board” on ProZ, Payment Practices, and World Payment Practices on Yahoo Groups.

Our next general meeting will be held on Saturday, September 14th. The program will focus on tricky terminology (loan words, sexist language, mistakes in the source document, etc.) and the impact of Google Translate on our profession and what we should do about it. We hope you will join us!