Way back in 2015, I asked my blog readers whether the purchase order I’d produced was merely a pipe dream or a document I could actually use with my clients. The general consensus was that my overly long PO would prove daunting for direct clients and unnecessary for agencies. After tweaking it a bit based on the many suggestions I received, I instead came up with a purchase order checklist. The idea was to fill it in ourselves using the information we gleaned in negotiations with clients and for it to be a handy reminder of what questions we should be asking.
In August I rediscovered what an exceptionally beautiful part of the world the Lake District is (we were blessed with sunshine throughout our stay, however). Now that Brexit has probably scuppered my plans of moving back to the Continent to retire near the lakes in northern Italy to be close to family, I might just end up in the Lake District instead.
Unfortunately, I learned in May, and not for the first time either, that some clients show no respect for me at all. After chasing payment from a direct client for three months and listening patiently to their promises and excuses, I decided to send them another invoice detailing the late interest* now due. This is the second time I’ve had to reissue an invoice and demonstrate to a direct client that I mean business. But it’s also the second time that interest has not been paid.
Although in both cases the new invoice met with an immediate response (agreed new payment date one week later that was met, and same-day payment), I’m rather dismayed that the interest I added (which, let’s face it, is a paltry sum) was totally ignored. Besides complete non-payment and ignoring reminder emails, nothing else feels like such a slap in the face.
April was completely overshadowed by my female greyhound, Lara, being ill from start to finish. We noticed she was limping badly and had a swollen back leg with a strange lump on her foot over the Easter weekend. The vet thought she had an abscess, so she lanced it, but instead it turned out to be a strange case of blood vessels that had somehow clumped together and risen to the surface. As it wouldn’t stop bleeding (she’d cut an artery), we had to take her to the Queen Mother Hospital in north London where she stayed for a couple of days.
May 2020 update: The purchase order has been updated. Please see this post for the new versions.
Towards the end of September I blogged about my ideal purchase order and asked readers for your opinion. I was worried that the form might ask clients to fill in too much information. And most of your comments reinforced that view. You agreed that many would baulk at the idea of providing so many details, even though doing so could save a lot of hassle and misunderstandings later on.
Busy direct clients with little understanding of the translation process are probably better served with a phone call or a few back-and-forth emails to make sure everything is clear. This type of exchange also helps to build a relationship that could lead to future projects. Agency clients, on the other hand, although they are more used to filling in forms, might not know the answers to all the questions and feel reluctant about bothering their end client with them. They also have their own processes in place and wouldn’t appreciate pandering to one of their service providers.
For a while now I’ve been working on the type of purchase order I’d like to give to both my agency and direct clients (especially new ones) so that we all know where we stand and are clear about the price and what it does and does not include. Today I’ve been inspired by reading Two to Tango: Tips for Project Managers from a Freelance Translator (parts 1 and 2) by Igor Vesler on Lingua Greca’s blog to finally finish my first draft. I’m posting it here so I can get your feedback and comments, because I’m a little concerned that it might be overly long and put some clients off.
‘Don’t undersell yourself.’
‘If the rate is too low, then don’t accept it.’
‘Stop working for the bulk market and look for direct premium clients.’
I expect you’ve heard the above in some shape or form quite a lot in your translation career. If you attend conferences, or see the tweets generated at them, and regularly read blog posts, then rates and translation markets will definitely be on the agenda. You’ve no doubt felt yourself stirring to the rallying cry of seizing the moment and steeling yourself to boldly tread where you have not dared venture before now (in other words at the very least not letting others walk all over you).