Don’t be a Shark

On a translators’ forum, a colleague recently expressed some doubt about his own rates and the respect we as translators get from clients, after an agency told him that his rates were too high. The response from the group was unanimous: stick to your guns. His rates were fine, if a little low in fact.

In translation as in life, there are bullies and pushovers, and then there are those who Continue reading

Promises Don’t Pay the Bills

Occasionally, translators are contacted by new clients who, after getting a quote, ask for a discount simply on the basis that they are a new client and that, so they claim, there will be more work to come. Nice try.

There is no incentive there for a sole trader for the obvious reasons that 1) a discount effectively means a direct reduction of our personal income; and 2) the promise of future work may never materialise – whether it is a genuine promise in the first place or not. Besides, Continue reading

How Much is Your Work Worth?

A small art publisher recently asked for my rate while warning me that they didn’t have the budget of a large company. Such a query can be translated as: “we’d love to have our books translated but can’t afford it”.

While translators may show some flexibility with regards to rates or other terms, it goes without saying that we can Continue reading

Translators can Count too

While most clients simply ask service providers for a quotation, the occasional client approaches translators with their own rates and terms and expect nothing more than a yes or no reply – not unlike an employment offer but without the interview or a chance for the translator to Continue reading

No Blind Quotes, No Surprises

Translation being a customised service by nature, a translator cannot give an estimation – let alone a quotation – before seeing the document. They may give their hourly rate, but how many hours will be necessary still depends on the document.

Clients sometimes assume that the number of pages is enough for a translator to Continue reading

Discounts for Large Volumes? Not Necessarily.

From the client’s point of view, asking for a reduced rate on the basis of a large volume of work (several weeks’ worth) may seem like a fair request. But for the translator, quantity is not everything.

An agency once contacted me for a three-week project with a small budget. My answer could be summed up in two letters. The project manager insisted: “But it’s quantity! Three weeks is a lot of work!”. Again, my reply was simple: Continue reading

Teaming up for Clients

Here is an article I have written, published this month in The Linguist, the Chartered Institute of Linguists’ magazine. When looking for translators working in other language pairs on behalf of clients, the response to my search for a suitable candidate can be of mixed quality and standards. This article gives fellow linguists tips on how best to respond when contacted by a colleague. Continue reading

Talk to the Expert Direct

It is somewhat unsettling to receive panic requests from agencies asking whether I would be available to translate some urgent medical text. I do not touch medical documents and my professional indemnity insurance would not cover me in case of subsequent incident. Do agencies ever go back to the client and admit that they could not source a competent person in time to meet the tight deadline they had promised? Or are there individuals who do take such assignments on despite their lack of Continue reading

How “International” is your Business?

It is intriguing to notice that many organisations claim to be “international”, yet their website is available in English only. The myth that everyone speaks English is widespread amongst those English speakers who, interestingly enough, do not speak another language themselves. (I am yet to meet someone who can communicate in another tongue and still agrees with this statement.) This home-made cliché costs the UK £7.3bn each year in lost trade. Don’t be amongst the losers. Continue reading

Where Do You Shop?

There will always be those who prioritise price and those who prioritise quality, recession or not, and whatever the industry. To accommodate all shoppers, the full range of providers is available: from Lidl to Waitrose, from Fiat to Porsche and from George at ASDA to Dior. Translation is no exception: you get what you pay for.

When I used to work in sales (selling web hosting solutions), the sales manager would always tell us, with a defiant tone of voice and a stern look on his face, “We do not sell on price, here! We pay some muppets to Continue reading