Translators are usually sole traders but never sole treaders: thanks to our linguists’ networks, we complement our offerings, share tips and resources, protect ourselves against bad payers and time-wasters, help our clients out and keep them away from crooks. We stick together and strengthen the industry to everyone’s benefit.
Translation requires a fair amount of research, which is one of the interesting aspects of the job. Sometimes, however, after spending too much time searching for an elusive term or after thinking about a sentence for so long that we no longer know what we’re trying to say, it is good to ask colleagues who will hopefully be having a better day and will get us back on track. Through fora and other networking platforms, these wonderful peers may know just the term we’re looking for, find a great website that answers our question exactly, have an old dusty dictionary on the subject lying around, be (or have a good friend who is) an expert in that field, or suggest a new direction that helps us to hit the nail on the head, or simply confirm and reassure us that our sentence does make sense or, if not, offer a smoother alternative.
Green Lights and Black Lists
To believe that sole traders are isolated and vulnerable would be naive. We are not. Translators share their experiences of clients between themselves, praising the good and warning against the not-so-good – so a client’s reputation, good or bad, can precede them. When receiving a request from a new client, we have many ways of checking the client up before taking any work on. There are indeed many websites, databases, fora, etc. set up for translators (and other suppliers) to rate clients. Some translation agencies in particular have been banned from posting job offers on certain translation community websites. Similarly, small claims against bad payers are not uncommon and news of those can go round pretty quickly.
Keeping Clients Safe
As much as we want to keep away from trouble makers, we also want to keep our good clients safe. This is not just because we are lovely people; it’s also because our profession is not regulated. This means that there are plenty of amateurs and crooks out there. Consequently, professionals have to stick together to avoid those individuals giving us all a bad name or making previously conned clients suspicious and difficult. Hence, a translator will always try to recommend or find a trust-worthy colleague when you need services or languages other than what they provide. We know where to look and what to look for.
Independent translators could prove to be strong allies and more valuable working partners than you might anticipate.