Starting off, would like to hear some advice.
מפרסם התגובה: Jake Young (X)

Jake Young (X)
הממלכה המאוחדת
Local time: 04:18
מספרדית לאנגלית
+ ...
Nov 10, 2019

Hello everybody, I am a recently qualified translator and I would like to hear advice from others about getting started in the business.

I am going down the freelance route because the fact is that where I live, there is not going to be much opportunity for in-house translation out of English. I was offered a local job in May translating into French, but I said that I couldn't do it because my masters was still on course. I would not want to sabotage my reputation before I have star
... See more
Hello everybody, I am a recently qualified translator and I would like to hear advice from others about getting started in the business.

I am going down the freelance route because the fact is that where I live, there is not going to be much opportunity for in-house translation out of English. I was offered a local job in May translating into French, but I said that I couldn't do it because my masters was still on course. I would not want to sabotage my reputation before I have started by translating into a language that is not my own.

Before my certificate came through, I did apply for things like Gengo and Translated, never expecting to make anything approaching a living from them. Since then, I have applied for around a dozen agencies, all in the last two weeks. Most of those to which I have applied have been in Spain as they are more likely to have work to translate into English. Those who have left a reply have said that I have been put in their database. I have not been offered a single piece of work yet. This is not a problem due to my financial situation, and I was not expecting anything so soon, but it does make me worry a little.

I know that my language pairs are very common, which is why I am putting a low pay per word rate due to my inexperience. I do not have any knowledge of science and medicine, however through my studies and wider reading my greatest bank of foreign-language terminology is in fields such as tourism, history, politics and sport. The area of those in which there is most likely going to be work is tourism, which I mention in my CVs and applications as a specialism.

One of my friends lives in a very prestigious French resort which has a website where all of the language tabs have been produced by Google Translate (she did an internship in which she suggested revisions in her own language, but this was never executed by the webmaster). I have e-mailed the tourist office with my CV and a free test translation of one important page, in the hope of finding work that way. Is this normal practice, and am I doing it in the right way?

I look forward to hearing from this wise and able community.
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Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
הממלכה המאוחדת
Local time: 04:18
חבר (2014)
מהולנדית לאנגלית
+ ...
Profile Nov 11, 2019

You could start by filling in your profile. Translators need to be writers, so start by adding some convincing text selling your skills and some really excellent translation samples. If you can do that it will immediately make you look more credible.

Teresa Borges
Jake Young (X)
Josephine Cassar
Michele Fauble
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
ספרד
Local time: 04:18
חבר (2007)
אנגלית
+ ...
Scale things up Nov 11, 2019

Jake Young wrote:
I have applied for around a dozen agencies, all in the last two weeks. Most of those to which I have applied have been in Spain as they are more likely to have work to translate into English. Those who have left a reply have said that I have been put in their database. I have not been offered a single piece of work yet.

I'm not at all surprised. You would do better to send that many emails each day, TBH. Most won't reply, and you will probably never get work from most who seem interested. There are tens of thousands of translators in your pairs, so you have to be lucky -- in the right place at the right time. As you don't know where that place is, you need to be everywhere. Still personalise and prioritise your contacts, though.

I know that my language pairs are very common, which is why I am putting a low pay per word rate due to my inexperience.

That's a very, very poor strategy, IMHO. By trying to compete on price, you're competing against all the "hobby" translators who are happy with peanuts, and even against MT. Due to your inexperience, you'll earn a lower rate per hour if you charge an average rate, as you'll spend more time researching and checking. Deliver quality, and expect to be paid for quality.

I have e-mailed the tourist office with my CV and a free test translation of one important page, in the hope of finding work that way. Is this normal practice, and am I doing it in the right way?

We've all done it, but I don't think many find it lucrative -- I certainly didn't. If their business is doing okay (in their eyes) using MT, why should they pay you anything?

TBH, it's probably better to spend your time and money promoting your business online and offline and then contacting people who are actually showing an interest in paying someone.


Jake Young (X)
Rachel Waddington
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Jorge Payan
Joe France
Haluk Aka, Chartered Linguist (MCIL)
 

Jake Young (X)
הממלכה המאוחדת
Local time: 04:18
מספרדית לאנגלית
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Promotion Nov 11, 2019

I really don't have any idea how I can promote myself when I have never been given any work.

 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
הולנד
Local time: 05:18
חבר (2006)
מאנגלית לאפריקאנס
+ ...
@Jake Nov 11, 2019

Jake Young wrote:
I have applied for around a dozen agencies, all in the last two weeks. ... I have not been offered a single piece of work yet.


Unfortunately, it's a numbers game. Visit the Blue Board and contact as many agencies as you can. About 10% of agencies that you contact, will reply. About 10% of those that reply will give you some work.

I am putting a low pay per word rate due to my inexperience.


You should not sell yourself as a cheap, inexperienced translator. Sell yourself as a reasonably priced qualified translator. You are going to get clients who request that you lower your rate significantly (and in the beginning of your career you should accept such requests), but don't start out with a low offer. Quote the average or slightly more than the average for your language combination.

I have e-mailed the tourist office with my CV and a free test translation of one important page, in the hope of finding work that way. Is this normal practice, and am I doing it in the right way?


There are all kinds of ways to get work, and this is one such way.

Rachel Waddington wrote:
You could start by filling in your profile.


I agree. Also, maybe, get yourself a profile picture on which you look less surprised.



[Edited at 2019-11-11 14:54 GMT]


Jake Young (X)
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:18
מצרפתית לאנגלית
Rates, specialisation and competition Nov 11, 2019

Jake Young wrote:

I was offered a local job in May translating into French, but I said that I couldn't do it because my masters was still on course. I would not want to sabotage my reputation before I have started by translating into a language that is not my own.


Unless French is one of your native languages, you run a greater risk of sabotaging your reputation by translating into French. There is debate on this point, but although you may be able to write French that seems authentic when you are choosing terms and expressions, a source text imposes restrictions that have to be respected. A native and a non-native translator are unlikely to make the same choices, the non-native text is unlikely to "flow"; in short, you run a high risk of producing a text that reads like a translation. You could be shooting yourself in the foot before and may never get off up onto your two feet!

Before my certificate came through, I did apply for things like Gengo and Translated, never expecting to make anything approaching a living from them. Since then, I have applied for around a dozen agencies, all in the last two weeks. Most of those to which I have applied have been in Spain as they are more likely to have work to translate into English. Those who have left a reply have said that I have been put in their database. I have not been offered a single piece of work yet. This is not a problem due to my financial situation, and I was not expecting anything so soon, but it does make me worry a little.


Agencies in Spain may need to have translations done into English, either for work being used in Spain or for work their clients are sending out of the country. The same could be true of any English-speaking country with clients needing work into Spanish. There is a strong argument for obtaining clients in the country where you live. If you have trouble getting paid, you are likely to be able to access recovery solutions that are cheaper and more efficient.

I know that my language pairs are very common, which is why I am putting a low pay per word rate due to my inexperience.


As you start out, you will almost certainly work more slowly than a more experienced translator. If you charge a low rate, you could be shooting yourself in the foot yet again. As a great double penalty, ask yourself if it makes business sense to charge a lower rate, knowing that you will work more slowly. Your hourly rate is kicked in the teeth twice. Charge at least the going rate, do work to the best standard you can and earn yourself a reputation for providing a good quality professional service. You don't have to say that you will be taking twice as long as the next person in the line. You might be taking longer because you're busy. Once you charge X-2, why should the client pay X? He'll simply go elsewhere. So charge a professional rate, do a professional job and take time to do a good job. You'll get faster and become more profitable with your time with experience.

I do not have any knowledge of science and medicine, however through my studies and wider reading my greatest bank of foreign-language terminology is in fields such as tourism, history, politics and sport. The area of those in which there is most likely going to be work is tourism, which I mention in my CVs and applications as a specialism.


Seek work in the areas where your knowledge and expertise will enable you to produce good quality work and in which you will be confident. In science and medicine, you are likely to compete with people who may or may not have formal language qualifications but who are able to write authentic precise texts in fields where they have professional qualifications and experience. If your knowledge and expertise, whether formal or informal, is in tourism, history, politics and sport, put those skills to the fore.

One of my friends lives in a very prestigious French resort which has a website where all of the language tabs have been produced by Google Translate (she did an internship in which she suggested revisions in her own language, but this was never executed by the webmaster). I have e-mailed the tourist office with my CV and a free test translation of one important page, in the hope of finding work that way. Is this normal practice, and am I doing it in the right way?


Maybe, maybe not. Avoid providing too much free work. A free sample and a quote for other pages may be of interest to a client. However, it means a fair bit of work and little chance or return. It does work with some though.

[Edited at 2019-11-11 15:12 GMT]


Jake Young (X)
Teresa Borges
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:18
מצרפתית לאנגלית
Quick question Nov 11, 2019

You have a master's degree in translation. What is your undergraduate degree major/minor? What other work experience do you have? Have you lived abroad? Travelled? These things may be worth noting on your profile too.

Jake Young (X)
 

Jake Young (X)
הממלכה המאוחדת
Local time: 04:18
מספרדית לאנגלית
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Answering the question Nov 11, 2019

My bachelor's degree was in Spanish with French. I had modules including specialised business language in both of them. I also had modules of teaching English to speakers of other languages (not a career path that I would like to continue), and Romance Linguistics. I recognise that this almost "pure language" degree pair puts me at some sort of disadvantage, but I do think that I have sufficient vocabulary, knowledge and interest for translating tourist texts (which is a large industry) and acad... See more
My bachelor's degree was in Spanish with French. I had modules including specialised business language in both of them. I also had modules of teaching English to speakers of other languages (not a career path that I would like to continue), and Romance Linguistics. I recognise that this almost "pure language" degree pair puts me at some sort of disadvantage, but I do think that I have sufficient vocabulary, knowledge and interest for translating tourist texts (which is a large industry) and academic papers/non-fiction on politics and history (which is a specialised industry).

I do have work experience while living abroad, which did use my spoken and written language skills, and I have now included that on my profile.

Thank you for advising me.
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
ספרד
Local time: 04:18
חבר (2007)
אנגלית
+ ...
Maybe the business side needs work? Nov 11, 2019

Jake Young wrote:
I really don't have any idea how I can promote myself when I have never been given any work.

I was quite surprised by that response, to be honest. You said you first looked for a salaried job, so I'm now wondering if you're really ready and/or willing to set up as a business person. It is very, very different from employment and doesn't suit everyone.

Some people, especially younger ones, just need some training in the various skills required. You need to be able to comply with your country's laws (easy in the UK!), promote your services, source clients, negotiate terms, and handle all the admin, book-keeping, invoicing, payment-chasing etc. There's a lot more to it than just the translating that an employee would do. And unfortunately, many agency clients will take advantage of any freelancer who has an employee mindset. They're only too happy to "act the boss".

The good news is that there should be a good choice of short training courses, if you feel one would be useful. Chambers of Commerce, for a start, often provide them.


DZiW
 

IrinaN
ארצות הברית
Local time: 22:18
מאנגלית לרוסית
+ ...
Get a day job Nov 12, 2019

Hi Jake,

Please do not read this as a disrespect or undermining of your potential.

Breaking into the well-paying, or at least paying enough to survive, translation market from scratch is extremely difficult these days. Experienced, well-paid translators have been in business for decades, when times were different and no one heard about today's "best rates" of 0.01 - 0.05. They've built their high-end clientele a long time ago, and even they lose chunks of it as the time
... See more
Hi Jake,

Please do not read this as a disrespect or undermining of your potential.

Breaking into the well-paying, or at least paying enough to survive, translation market from scratch is extremely difficult these days. Experienced, well-paid translators have been in business for decades, when times were different and no one heard about today's "best rates" of 0.01 - 0.05. They've built their high-end clientele a long time ago, and even they lose chunks of it as the time goes.

All the advises already given are great, follow it as diligently as you can but nothing will happen within a couple of months. Keep in mind that even if today you were to land a job that will occupy you for 2 weeks, your first pay check may come in 1.5 months at best - 2 weeks plus a 30-day pay period, which, again, is becoming a rare commodity and 45 to 60 sounds more like it, at least in Europe.

Best of luck,
Irina
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Rachel Waddington
 

Jake Young (X)
הממלכה המאוחדת
Local time: 04:18
מספרדית לאנגלית
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Response Nov 12, 2019

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Jake Young wrote:
I really don't have any idea how I can promote myself when I have never been given any work.

I was quite surprised by that response, to be honest. You said you first looked for a salaried job, so I'm now wondering if you're really ready and/or willing to set up as a business person. It is very, very different from employment and doesn't suit everyone.

Some people, especially younger ones, just need some training in the various skills required. You need to be able to comply with your country's laws (easy in the UK!), promote your services, source clients, negotiate terms, and handle all the admin, book-keeping, invoicing, payment-chasing etc. There's a lot more to it than just the translating that an employee would do. And unfortunately, many agency clients will take advantage of any freelancer who has an employee mindset. They're only too happy to "act the boss".

The good news is that there should be a good choice of short training courses, if you feel one would be useful. Chambers of Commerce, for a start, often provide them.


Thank you for this response. I am aware that my blunt response didn't look the best. The thing was that I had expectations that agencies would send some work at least, and that if an agency would not confide in a qualified freelancer with no experience, a direct client would be even less likely to do so.


 

DZiW
אוקראינה
מאנגלית לרוסית
+ ...
Not* always* Nov 12, 2019

Jake Young wrote:

...a direct client would be even less likely to do so.
Unlike middlemen and spongers [and most freelancers, unfortunately], the direct client is a real businessperson who just wants the job done (1) properly, (2) timely, and (3) as agreed. Usually they have a few vacancies for a worthy [by recommendations] and reliable specialist in related fields, preferably with hands-on exp and decent foreign language skills, not a mere "pure" translator.

If you can do something besides PEMTing/CATing, they will ask you to show your best and substantiate your rates--why exactly that amount. As a rule, Communication skills/Teamwork is a must even for a remote worker/freelancer.

They paid me several new/interdisciplinary/refreshment courses to meet the requirements and I seriously considered switching mostly to interpreting. Certainly, NO agency in the whole world could offer me a better contract or at least $0.35/word-$0.50/word net in advance with paid vocations and sick-leaves.


Jake Young (X)
 


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