10 Things I Do When No One Calls Creative ideas to make it through the dry spells

Greater than 2 minutes, my friend!

While the year had started quite well for me, last week suddenly everything went quiet. No one called – a part from a prospect who told me I must be out of my mind to charge such a fee for 2 hours of consecutive interpreting and hung up. I kept checking my e-mail inbox, but nothing. This hadn’t occurred to me since my second or third month in business. Instead of panicking, I tried to make the most of it.

As it usually happens when I´m not that busy, I got creative and started to think of what I could do to move my business to the next level. Here’s a list of 10 things I did last week and I usually do, when I’m not under time pressure:


a new post for my blog, a story like this for The Open Mic, an article for the magazine of my Interpreters Association or whatever provides an added value to my clients or colleagues and increases my visibility

2. Brainstorm:

collect ideas for my next blog posts (or Open Mic stories J), my new website and my marketing plan

3. Plan and prepare

…a seminar I’m giving at the end of March. I met the organizer to discuss contents and marketing strategies

– a class on social media for more seasoned colleagues I’m giving next week at a local translator meeting

4. Organize:

… a few translator gatherings or “Stammtische” like we call them in Germany; invited a few people to give a presentation at our local “Stammtisch” here in Aachen.

5. Network

Attend a bunch of networking events to get away from the isolation of the home office.

These include: translator gatherings, business breakfasts, events held by industry leaders in my field of specialization (Marketing Club Aachen and Social Media Aachen, just to name a few)

6. Look for new clients:

– register for a workshop on internet law, offered by a local lawyers’ association, hoping to meet many prospect clients there

– visit a prospect to discuss how translation services could help them grow internationally

– meet people from my business network to discuss how we could recommend each other to prospects

7. Connect people

(something I really love doing!)

– recommend colleagues for language pairs I don’t cover

– introduce people from my network that could be interesting for each other

(maybe I should consider starting a dating agency)

8. Mentor:

help out younger colleagues: give them tips, introduce them to contacts, encourage and motivate them, answer their questions, send them interesting links etc.

9. Learn:

-attend CPDs in my fields of specialization;

– learn about new software and tools available for freelancers and try them out

– read books about freelancing and marketing

10. Keep in touch:

Nurture prospects, colleagues or a business contact sending them birthday wishes, invitations or an article they might be interested in.


Needless to say, I devote some time to the boring things too, such as accounting and invoicing. But I always make sure I have some good music in the background.

Sometimes after a “creative day” I’m often even more exhausted than after a “normal day”, spent translating or interpreting. Is that because of the many ideas that float around my mind all the time?

Of course I take it easier when I don’t have a job. I might sleep half an hour longer, take a long bike trip or spend more quality time with the people I care about. Which definitely helps me recharge batteries for busier periods.

What about you, dear colleagues? What do you usually do when no one calls?

Caterina Saccani - Saccani Translations

About Caterina Saccani - Saccani Translations

Italian freelance Conference Interpreter & Translator, living and working in Belgium and Germany. Languages: Italian, German, English, Dutch

13 thoughts on “10 Things I Do When No One Calls Creative ideas to make it through the dry spells

  1. Thanks for this, Caterina – it seems I’m not the only one who’s had an eerily quiet January! I’ve also been spending my time writing and organising a ProZ powwow, as well as reading an economics book to learn a bit more about the subject. Glad to see you’re keeping busy! 🙂

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  2. Writing and brainstorming – this is probably my 2 best things to do during quite months, well apart from developing new features and fixing bugs on The Open Mic, haha! 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing this post, Caterina!

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  3. Wow that is an impressive list! Don’t forget to take a break and relax too. My best ideas often come when I am doing something completely unrelated.

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  4. You almost had me worried there! I was really looking for the last passage, where you say that you also use this unexpected free time to spend it with your loved ones and just relax 🙂 Your ideas about reaching out to clients and networking are great. My January was very busy, but I am looking forward to having some more “slow” time in the 2nd half of February and in March. Good that you shared your ideas for it 🙂

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