It is normal to think that clients who pay better/have a bigger workload should be given priority over regular clients who don’t send as many projects and to whom you give lower rates.
After many years of experience in dealing with all types of clients, I have come to the conclusion that no priorities should be given to any clients. For some clients, if you show them that they are special in any given way (replying to emails within 60 seconds, dropping everything and handling their work, having no problem to wait endlessly for the payment, etc.) chances are they will start giving you a hard time and they will most likely not appreciate the priority you have given them. Even the tone of their voice on the phone becomes different and they tend to say things like: “I need this yesterday!” or “Don’t make me wait”; and you find yourself, out of courtesy, forced to not make them wait by getting the job done on the spot. What you are actually doing is harm to both your professional image and yourself as a person.
On the professional level, dropping everything and handling jobs by such clients makes the latter think that you have nothing else to work on and that they can manipulate you and make you work for very low rates, which is never a good thing as it hinders your business growth.
On the personal level, it is really hurtful and it negatively affects your self-esteem.
Most of my clients have become so because I’m pretty good at handling urgent jobs. I guess this is where the problem lies in the first place: they expect me to handle urgent projects every time and therefore they think it’s Okay for them speak to me in a certain way. Don’t get me wrong, I will accept the job in all the right circumstances; this is what the TransPremium Team is here for. However, I firmly believe that translators should treat THEMSELVES well to begin with. Set your standards high so that you don’t find yourself having to work with unappreciative clients. There is a certain mindset you should have in order to achieve that. After all, they’re the ones needing your service and not the other way around. Besides, mutual respect goes a long way in establishing a healthy business relationship.
I’m not saying you should be arrogant. After all, you do work for the money, or else how would you survive? What I am actually saying is that you should treat clients the way you want to be treated: with respect; and you should start with respecting yourself and not accepting to work in crazy times (think Saturday nights and Sunday mornings) and under crazy circumstances, unless the clients appreciate your efforts and it shows from their behavior with you. For example, your favorite client shouldn’t have to be the one who pays the biggest bucks, but rather the one who really appreciates your hard work. You have no idea what major effect such a boost to your self esteem can have on your career. When you feel appreciated and that your efforts are being acknowledged, it gives you a push to be a better translator; and a better translator drives better clients!
Bottom line is: don’t be a slave to the penny. Everything happens for a reason and if you set high standards, you will be attracting high standard clients in return. Food for thought.