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Poll: How long did it take you to develop your translation business to a satisfactory level?
מפרסם התגובה: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 16:06
צוות האתר
Dec 28, 2018

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How long did it take you to develop your translation business to a satisfactory level?".

View the poll results »



 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
ארצות הברית
Local time: 16:06
חבר (2003)
מספרדית לאנגלית
+ ...
Less than a year Dec 28, 2018

I resigned from a full-time in-house translation job to go freelance. Thanks to all the contacts I had from my years with the organization, traveling to work in conferences, and attending meetings of the American Translators Association, I had work lined up the day I resigned. The rest took care of itself. I have never had to solicit work; it has always come my way. I feel very lucky.

Davide Leone
Gareth Callagy
 

Teresa Borges
פורטוגל
Local time: 00:06
חבר (2007)
מאנגלית לפורטוגזית
+ ...
Less than a year (sort of) Dec 28, 2018

When I started out translating full-time some 30 years ago (in 1986), I had just a single excellent client: a Belgian translation agency who gave me regular work (circa 150 pages every month) very well paid and on time until suddenly for no fault of mine their contract was cancelled and I found myself with almost no work. I learned my lesson the hard way, had to start again and it took me another year…

 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:06
מצרפתית לאנגלית
2-3 years Dec 28, 2018

It was planned that way, or should I say, I had expected it to take a couple of years. At the time I started, I was also teaching English at the local university. The idea was to drop one or the other, sooner or later. I was teaching on a contractual basis which meant that it was neither possible to know when I would be paid, nor was it possible to know when. Teaching was supposed to have guaranteed some financial stability as I was developing my translation business...what a joke that was!
... See more
It was planned that way, or should I say, I had expected it to take a couple of years. At the time I started, I was also teaching English at the local university. The idea was to drop one or the other, sooner or later. I was teaching on a contractual basis which meant that it was neither possible to know when I would be paid, nor was it possible to know when. Teaching was supposed to have guaranteed some financial stability as I was developing my translation business...what a joke that was!
Within 2 years I was up and running with a handful of fairly regular clients.

After 2 years doing both teaching and translation, I was already planning to drop the teaching, but would not let colleagues and students down. Now, I would put myself first! (Typically, I would start in September and be paid in spring of the following year a sum corresponding to less than half the number of hours done from September to December. In the third and final year, I was paid a derisory sum in October, meaning I had worked a whole year without being paid. I contacted a lawyer and got the rest of my money through within weeks).

Within a couple of years though, with regular work coming in from a number fo different clients, I really did have a hard time getting clients to accept a 30-day deadline. France has traditionally worked to a 60-day end-of-month payment term which meant that when clients were late, also very common in France, waiting 10 weeks to be paid was not at all unusual. I would drop the unreliable ones, find new ones, who would operate in exactly the same way. Reliable payers were the exception. I became familiar with recovery procedures and learnt the hard way that you have to be very quick to react in the event of late payment. Among the late payers, there are a number who are not necessarily in difficulty, but who are either badly organized or who deliberately wait until their clients start sending reminders before they pay. I got fed up with this and despite having a full order book have marked a couple of breaks to do other work instead. After all, what good is a full order book of people who don't, won't or can't pay without reminders?

After having worked exclusively with direct clients for more than 15 years, I contacted a few agencies, big, medium and small. Most agencies continue to impose a 60-day end-of-month deadline in France and the rates are on a par with those I started with, back in the mid-1990s. If you have regular work from them, then within a couple of months, you are up and running. However, the rates are poor and many will try to apply CAT-tool % reductions even if CAT-tools are of no assistance for the type of text you are working on. Hardly a motivating prospect and largely explaining one of the reasons why over the past few years I have returned to study to obtain a different professional qualification.

I continue to translate professionally, but it is and will remain a regular but part-time activity.

[Edited at 2018-12-28 09:52 GMT]
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Ricki Farn
 

Maja_K  Identity Verified
גרמניה
Local time: 01:06
חבר (2013)
מאנגלית למקדונית
+ ...
@Teresa Dec 28, 2018

Teresa Borges wrote:

When I started out translating full-time some 30 years ago (in 1986), I had just a single excellent client: a Belgian translation agency who gave me regular work (circa 150 pages every month) very well paid and on time until suddenly for no fault of mine their contract was cancelled and I found myself with almost no work. I learned my lesson the hard way, had to start again and it took me another year…


What exactly happened?? And what was the lesson to be learnt here? ...


 

Teresa Borges
פורטוגל
Local time: 00:06
חבר (2007)
מאנגלית לפורטוגזית
+ ...
@Maja Dec 28, 2018

Maja_K wrote:

Teresa Borges wrote:

When I started out translating full-time some 30 years ago (in 1986), I had just a single excellent client: a Belgian translation agency who gave me regular work (circa 150 pages every month) very well paid and on time until suddenly for no fault of mine their contract was cancelled and I found myself with almost no work. I learned my lesson the hard way, had to start again and it took me another year…


What exactly happened?? And what was the lesson to be learnt here? ...


The lesson to be learnt here is that you should never put all your eggs in one basket (in business is a deadly sin). What happened was that the agency (my client) lost their contract with the European Commission for competition reasons. Is it clear now?


 

Ricki Farn
גרמניה
Local time: 01:06
חבר (2005)
מאנגלית לגרמנית
Can't answer that Dec 28, 2018

... as my definition of "satisfactory" is very unclear and changing all the time.

It took me a few weeks to transition from inhouse employment to a freelance income that consistently permits me to buy as much spinach pizza as fits in my belly, if that is what you mean. But of course, I was not developing a translation business from scratch, because inhouse employment was a huge stepping stone.

And 13 years in, I still haven't decided what my goal is beyond spinach pizza
... See more
... as my definition of "satisfactory" is very unclear and changing all the time.

It took me a few weeks to transition from inhouse employment to a freelance income that consistently permits me to buy as much spinach pizza as fits in my belly, if that is what you mean. But of course, I was not developing a translation business from scratch, because inhouse employment was a huge stepping stone.

And 13 years in, I still haven't decided what my goal is beyond spinach pizza - is there even anything else in life that is worth working for?
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Julian Holmes
Nadia Silva Castro
 

EvaVer (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:06
מצ׳כית לצרפתית
+ ...
Les... Dec 28, 2018

But in the early 90s, that was the translator's Eldorado where I live.

 

Jennifer Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:06
חבר (2006)
מצרפתית לאנגלית
+ ...
Less than a year ... Dec 28, 2018

... but that was some 30 years ago when the business was very different. I happened to make the decision at just the right time of year - in August when I now believe many other freelancers were away on holiday, giving me a chance to get my foot in the door. Also, I lived in London then and was able to visit several London agencies in person, some of which are still my clients today. My husband was earning a reasonable salary at the time and encouraged me to take the risk and I received excellen... See more
... but that was some 30 years ago when the business was very different. I happened to make the decision at just the right time of year - in August when I now believe many other freelancers were away on holiday, giving me a chance to get my foot in the door. Also, I lived in London then and was able to visit several London agencies in person, some of which are still my clients today. My husband was earning a reasonable salary at the time and encouraged me to take the risk and I received excellent advice and support from an old friend who was a firmly established freelance translator, alas now deceased.
I think it's probably much harder to get established nowadays when the translation business seems more concerned with technological know-how than it is with linguistic ability.
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Ricki Farn
Teresa Borges
Elisabeth Purkis
 

Maja_K  Identity Verified
גרמניה
Local time: 01:06
חבר (2013)
מאנגלית למקדונית
+ ...
Yes, it's clear. Dec 28, 2018

Teresa Borges wrote:

Maja_K wrote:

Teresa Borges wrote:

When I started out translating full-time some 30 years ago (in 1986), I had just a single excellent client: a Belgian translation agency who gave me regular work (circa 150 pages every month) very well paid and on time until suddenly for no fault of mine their contract was cancelled and I found myself with almost no work. I learned my lesson the hard way, had to start again and it took me another year…


What exactly happened?? And what was the lesson to be learnt here? ...


The lesson to be learnt here is that you should never put all your eggs in one basket (in business is a deadly sin). What happened was that the agency (my client) lost their contract with the European Commission for competition reasons. Is it clear now?


Julio Madrid
 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
גרמניה
Local time: 01:06
חבר (2006)
מגרמנית לאנגלית
Less than a year Dec 28, 2018

I had been working freelance on the side for about a year before the engineering company that I was working for went bust, and fortunately things took off from there.

Hey Julian, long time no hear..... Everything okay on your side of the planet?


 

Nadia Silva Castro
ארצות הברית
מגרמנית לפורטוגזית
+ ...
it depends Dec 28, 2018

I think it depends on what we count into the business developing, for example 5 years to graduate, a few months working as an intern and years as a full time translator in different agencies in my case...which all contributed and led me to this cute home office I have now. I think ideally I would like to teach or interpret along with the translations, because I miss having IRL coworkers/clients, but overall I am happy! It took me only a couple of days to find my first client on here. Thank you, ... See more
I think it depends on what we count into the business developing, for example 5 years to graduate, a few months working as an intern and years as a full time translator in different agencies in my case...which all contributed and led me to this cute home office I have now. I think ideally I would like to teach or interpret along with the translations, because I miss having IRL coworkers/clients, but overall I am happy! It took me only a couple of days to find my first client on here. Thank you, PROZ!Collapse


 

Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
ברזיל
Local time: 20:06
חבר (2014)
מאנגלית לפורטוגזית
+ ...
Less than a year Dec 28, 2018

I had already been a businessperson for 20 years, so I adapted all the know-how to this "new" business. I had no admin or organization issues.
Of course I kept learning the specificities of our marketing, and I still learn them and make adjustments regularly.


 

Osama Elalwany  Identity Verified
מצרים
Local time: 01:06
מאנגלית לערבית
+ ...
2-3 years but... Dec 28, 2018

It depends on funding, investing environment and the field, service or products!

 


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