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How I Work With New Clients

This is how I handle inquiries from companies with whom I have not previously worked and who haven't been recommended by one of my existing or former clients:

  1. A potential new client sends me a general e-mail inquiry.
  2. Just as the sender of that e-mail presumably checked my credentials and references, I check his/her background (see my blog post on Checking Out Potential Clients for more details).
  3. I then request the following information (unless it was already supplied in the initial inquiry):
    1. Exact word count of the source text
    2. Field of specialization/type of text (e.g., software documentation for the general public)
    3. Format of the source text (MS Word document, Adobe PDF, MS Excel spreadsheet, ...)
    4. Deadline requested
    5. Text sample
  4. The potential client supplies the information requested.
  5. I evaluate the text sample, source format, total length and deadline requested in light of other pending projects. If I can handle this project, I confirm the word count and deadline and state my standard per word rate, as well as the total price and payment terms:
    1. A deposit of 50% of the total price prior to starting work on the project.
    2. If the project is expected to take less than 2 weeks, I'll invoice the remainder of the total price at project completion and expect payment within 15 days of invoice date.
    3. If the project is expected to take 2-6 weeks, 25% of the remaining total price is due after 2 weeks, with the final 25% again invoiced on project completion and due within 15 days of invoice date.
    4. For long-term projects (more than 6 weeks), I propose a schedule of partial deliveries, with due dates for partial payments.
  6. The client agrees to my price and terms, confirms the order and sends the entire source text.
  7. I send an invoice for the deposit, including information on where/how to pay it. Depending on the timeframe involved and the client's location, this may be my PayPal account or a bank account.
  8. The client pays the deposit and notifies me by e-mail or Skype, or I receive an e-mail from PayPal.
  9. I confirm receipt of the deposit and start work on the translation, backing my work up as I go along (see my post on Backup Procedures & Disaster Preparedness for details).
  10. At the latest the night before the deadline, I e-mail the completed translation to the client, asking for confirmation that the file was received.
  11. The client confirms receipt of the translation.
  12. During my next invoicing cycle (usually once a week), I generate an invoice for the remaining price of the project.
  13. I receive payment of that remaining amount and mark this project closed.