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Competition of Free Translation?
Thread poster: Whisper9999
Whisper9999
Local time: 04:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oct 31, 2008

Out of curiosity, how much is competition from free translation, or close to it, an issue in getting established nowadays? I'm asking because I have read a couple of blogs and articles that say that many companies are now just going onto the bidding sites, which shall remain nameless, and getting dirt cheap translation. Do you think this trend has pulled work away from you at times?

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:03
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Some people need to learn the hard way Oct 31, 2008

Cristina Coronado wrote:
Out of curiosity, how much is competition from free translation, or close to it, an issue in getting established nowadays?


I firmly believe (without any proof) that you can make a success of your professional career even if you decide to charge three or four times as much as the average for your language. And if I'm wrong, well, then it's a case of moving with the times -- few occupations today are the same as they were 50 years ago.

I'm asking because I have read a couple of blogs and articles that say that many companies are now just going onto the bidding sites, which shall remain nameless, and getting dirt cheap translation.


Some people just have a desire to learn the hard way that quality translation costs money. Let them learn.


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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 05:03
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
Scary at first, but it's alright once you get the hang of it... Oct 31, 2008

When I first decided to expand my business beyond a very limited (and very good) circle of customers, and as a newcomer to Proz, I was initially scared (can't curse here, but a certain word would have been perfect) by the rates I was seeing everywhere, by the lack of professionalism shown by a large number of translators on and off the site, and by the fact that I wasn't getting any work at my normal rates (which at the time were actually lower than my current ones). I did some work for rates that I would now find laughable, toughed it out, found out what worked and what didn't in the open market, and quickly realized that, although Proz is a great tool in many ways, its community and its outsourcers are not necessarily representative of the market as a whole. It wasn't long before my feelings of sheer frustration and helplessness changed to indifference as I established solid business relationships, developed a pretty steady flow of income, and threatened a couple of defiant non-paying customers with legal action (and I wasn't bluffing). In some industries, quality, reliability, and operating a business like an actual business (instead of like a social club or, to borrow John Cutler's brilliant expression - a Kumbaya profession) isn't enough to rise above the sharks - however, the translation industry is not one of them; not yet at any rate. Patience, quality, reliability, and business smarts really go a long way here. Having a healthy financial backup while toughing it out doesn't hurt, by the way.

Before anyone misunderstands my comments about Proz though: Of course there are great outsourcers on the site (I found my favorite outsourcer ever through here), and there are also great translators, but not knowing that and working in a pair as common and as plagued with hit-and-run scam artists as Spanish>English (and vice versa) can be very overwhelming at first. This is one of the reasons why I always defend people who start forum threads complaining about low rates / asking for some guidance regarding rates (beyond your basic "target hourly income / words per hour = rate" formula) - as someone who went through that initial frustration and wished he had had better guidance at the time, a feeling that certain members of this community seem to be all too happy to deride, I can definitely see how these threads are useful both to newcomers and to people who are finding their way in the business.

Of course, all of the above is useless without the aforementioned quality, reliability, and business smarts!

[Edited at 2008-10-31 06:52]


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Andrew Steel  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:03
Spanish to English
It depends on each particular case Oct 31, 2008

Cristina Coronado wrote:

Out of curiosity, how much is competition from free translation, or close to it, an issue in getting established nowadays? I'm asking because I have read a couple of blogs and articles that say that many companies are now just going onto the bidding sites, which shall remain nameless, and getting dirt cheap translation. Do you think this trend has pulled work away from you at times?



I'd suggest that free translation constitutes significant competition for translators starting out without any relevant qualifications or demonstrable experience.

Briefly, I'd argue that we can see several trends that suggest the translation market is starting to mature.

What I mean by this is that we're beginning to see clearly defined strata emerge.

On the one hand, we have professional bodies (CIoL, ITI, ATA, etc.), translation companies/agencies (EN 15038 and ASTM F2575-06) and even translator marketplaces like Proz.com (Certified Pro Program) attempting to identify TSPs capable of providing a quality service and set effective benchmarks.

On the other, we have a host of vendors (both agencies and free-lancers) who encourage the idea that corporate clients' translation needs can be met consistently and effectively by enthusiastic amateurs and hobbyists.

Perceived quality and perceived fitness for purpose play a major role in any buying decision in any context, and translation is no exception.

Essentially, if a professional supplier's perceived quality/fitness for purpose is no more than that of a low-cost amateur, then buyers will usually select the cheapest option. The key for the professional supplier lies in convincing buyers that it is worth paying more for their service.

Demand and supply have always existed at both ends of the market and it is becoming easier and easier for clients to identify which type of service best suits their requirements.



Regards,

Andrew


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:03
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Is it a one-day toy or a toy for life? Oct 31, 2008

If you need a one-day toy, you get a Eur 1.00 Chinese-made little airplane that will probably resist your child for three or four days. If you want something that will make a difference and will leave a lasting impression, you look for something else and are ready to pay more.

Same with us: some companies need a low-duration cheap translation, some need quality. There is going to be work for everyone.


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bohy  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:03
English to French
+ ...
Fully agree with Marcelo Oct 31, 2008

I fully agree with Marcelo that there are real opportunities on this market for very good translators. It takes some time to get acknowledgment, but you must keep in mind what your goal is, and that high standards require more time, and hence must be marketed at their fair price.
There is also a place on this market for translators who focus on volume and high throughput. Simply, both categories of translators shouldn't compete for the same customers.


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Whisper9999
Local time: 04:03
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Nov 1, 2008

Thank you all very much for the comments. I know how busy you all are and appreciate your taking time.

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