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To freelancers: Are you hit by the financial issue? Then, DO NOT MISS THE CHANCE!
Thread poster: Fouad Hassaan

Fouad Hassaan  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 17:15
English to Arabic
+ ...
Mar 18, 2009

For sure all of us have been affected negatively with the current economical crisis and we have a lot of spare time. We always spend this time with our kids, family, or even we go to spend all what we have saved in the pocket for the upcoming days at Mega stores. Just to spend our spare time!

This after being too busy, having no time even to sleep for a few hours. You were even working in the weekends! After making money, now you are spending them.

What if this crisis would take more than what you are expecting? Have you planned for this? How would you spend this time? It is hard for us to change our career, at least we would not go for it right now. I believe, you will never think in working as a sales representative for the upcoming months.

Yes, our business is not fully over! We still have some freelance works to do, but they are not the same volumes neither charges. That is why we have been free like never, lately.
I will talk about how to get benefits from your spare time. How to develop your personal skills, and here are some tips that would help you in these hard times. Also you can add tip from elsewhere as long as it will be beneficial! Do not take these tips as holy!

1) Edit your C.V and update it, maybe you have ignored it in the golden ages!

2) Organize your PC, or laptop data for easy use in the future.

3) Update your resources. Find more dictionaries, lexicons, TM(s), or even create a new TM (Translation Memory) for some of the small works you have done before.

5) Organize your office to find comfort. And if you still have money in the pocket, buy all the equipments you wish because you will never find an occasion like today!

6) Learn more about CAT tools and acquire new tools. For example you can explore Transit or WordFast. This will enable you to expand your tools base to get more job orders in the future.

7)you can also learn a new language, if you wish, or you can an educational course in DTP, interpretation, etc.

8) Contact your clients, specially those ones that are not in touch anymore. Ask about them and their families, just a "how are you doing" message will be enough!

9) Search for new opportunities in different field away from your regular areas. For example, if you are specialized in automotive translation, this is the time to get better in Medical translation and subtitling.

Hope these tips will help you to change your career to be better!
Wish you and "me" the best of luck!


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Tomás Cano Binder, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Training time! Mar 18, 2009

Economy has cyclical nature. In the late 70's, the name was "oil crisis"; this time it's "financial crisis", and the next time if could well be "gold crisis" if the value of gold suddenly drops for some reason, or "pistaccio crisis", or "teddy-bear crisis", for that matter.

To me, this is a time for training. Try to learn as much as you can, prepare to be a better translator when work picks up strongly again, which will happen sooner than our dear journalists think and our beloved politicians desire (they are really enjoying this thing of saving us).

My workload is quite normal, but I engaged in a seminar on legal translation which, although is not/will not be my main field of activity, will help me understand legal translation a bit better.


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Fouad Hassaan  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 17:15
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
translators started to lower their prices to more than %50 Mar 18, 2009

I agree with you Tomás but I think my work load is less than normal in the last 50 days at least. I am studying PHP now. I think it is amazing thing that I missed in past for being busy with translation work. I also agree with you that things will be back to normal soon and this is just a bubble created for some political reasons. But my main concern now is that many professional translators started to lower their prices to more than %50. This will be a great problem in near future and we will cause a big damage to the business.

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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:15
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Bailing out Mar 18, 2009

Personally I prefer bailing out large corporations etc...

Anyway, last year I was predicting an average decrease of 40% in rates within a year, and everyone jumped to discredit that prediction. Apparently, rates decreased by an average of 30% + 10% average inflation in food+energy. This does not apply to the ones who live with mom and dad or wealthy spouses and have no contact with the bills.

As far as the comment "But my main concern now is that many professional translators started to lower their prices to more than %50." here's my word of caution:

To the translators: When the crisis is over in 2-3 years and inflation kicks in (due to the desperate issuance of money by western central banks), they will NOT be able to raise their rates back to what it was. Nobody will say "please rate my rates now because the crisis is over". Game over. Really, g a m e o v e r. Food + energy are going up, and they will skyrocket (unless these two are cheaper now in your countries than they were two years ago).

To the agencies: When the end clients find out how much translators are paid (and they will, since many translators have started contacting end clients directly, offering them very low rates and excellent resumes), the ax will fall heavily on the agencies, which will lose a lot more than they have already lost. Therefore, try to not destroy your base of good translators, you'll need them throughout the crisis and after the crisis. Both agencies and translators are on the same side of the river, and should keep each other happy.

Personally, I would like to see agencies doing well and paying their good translators well. However, as it is known, business cycles end in recessions, and credit cycles end in depressions. This is a credit cycle. During depressions, even mild, people do strange things that they regret later... for many years... meaning, for the larger part of their professional lives. Unfortunately, some agencies are run with the same - predatory - mentality that the financials were run... that's what worries me the most.



[Edited at 2009-03-18 22:03 GMT]


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Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Yes, but... Mar 18, 2009

...how do you pay the bills in the meantime?

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Eleftherios Kritikakis  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:15
Member (2003)
Greek to English
+ ...
Easy... Mar 18, 2009

a) Ask the government for a bail out.

b) Marry someone rich.

c) Go back with mom and dad

OR

d) Find the other translators on proz who reduced their rates by 50% and sub-contract your jobs to them (meaning, make them work for you almost for free). You'd be surprised how many people do it, even in violation of their contracts with agencies ("who's going to know...").

Personally I don't do it (never), but since you asked...


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Igor Indruch  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 16:15
English to Czech
The crisis can be longer and more severe... Mar 18, 2009

...because some people do stupid things. Today, for instance, "my" very good agency told me that one of our most important clients - a globally dominant IT company - cancelled the contract and went to "cheaper" competition. Well, I had a chance to see the work of this "competitor" - on single web page there were 5 very bad errors. The responsible manager of this IT company probably thinks that they can afford such poorly written texts, because their market share makes them "invulnerable". Well, maybe he is right. But there are definitely other less strong companies who might regret pretty soon their decision to buy cheaper translation. Because this way they can save thousands, but at the same time can lose tens of thousands or even more due to lost customers or even lawsuits - if, for instance, a customer or his/her property is harmed because of an error in user manual... (just recently I had very vivid communication with manufacturer of high pressure cleaner, because in the manual there was an instruction that I “MUST USE” a part which simply does not exist – the translator has “invented” it. So I kept two product managers busy for at least two hours each. Not to mention that I, as a customer, was not very happy about it).
It is actually very funny from certain point of view: Just consider how much they are willing to invest into all kinds of advertisement. But many of them just do not care whether their direct mails and e-mails are sensibly, readably and understandably translated… I do, for instance, for above mentioned company also some DTP work, to which they usually supply texts already translated. Usually very poorly translated. Nevertheless they are able to send me my work back several times, because someone thinks that the color of the background should be little bit darker or the frame 0,01 mm wider. But when I tell them: “Hey, this sentence does not make sense” - there is usually no response at all….


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:15
English to Portuguese
+ ...
One importer has learned the lesson Mar 19, 2009

I heard this story directly from an importer of electronic products made in China. They had imported MP* (can't remember the number) players, and accepted the generous offer from the manufacturer, which would include an instruction manual in Portuguese in each box.

I saw that manual. It had been machine translated from Chinese into English, and thereafter into Portuguese by some translator who visibly couldn't care less about making sense.

The end result was that 60% of these products sold by retailers were sent back to the importer for repair within the warranty period. Amazingly, they discovered that in spite of the products being very cheap, their quality was remarkably good. All those breakdowns had been caused by abuse resulting from wrong interpretation of incomprehensible instructions (therefore they can't blame the users for such abuse to void the warranty).

Some people learn it the hard way. These people will never accept translated manuals from this manufacturer again. It's "cheaper" to develop their own directly in the local language.

Others don't learn, ever. Cell phone manufacturers spend a bundle in R&D every year developing new exclusive features, trying to build customer loyalty to their brand. However they don't bother to write (I'm not even talking about translation here) user-friendly manuals, so their customers may use these features and, hopefully, become addicted to them, to stay firm with the only brand that offers them.


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Mónica Algazi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 12:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
1. Enhance your source and target language skills Mar 19, 2009

Fouad Hassaan wrote:

For sure all of us have been affected negatively with the current economical crisis and we have a lot of spare time. We always spend this time with our kids, family, or even we go to spend all what we have saved in the pocket for the upcoming days at Mega stores. Just to spend our spare time!

This after being too busy, having no time even to sleep for a few hours. You were even working in the weekends! After making money, now you are spending them.

What if this crisis would take more than what you are expecting? Have you planned for this? How would you spend this time? It is hard for us to change our career, at least we would not go for it right now. I believe, you will never think in working as a sales representative for the upcoming months.

Yes, our business is not fully over! We still have some freelance works to do, but they are not the same volumes neither charges. That is why we have been free like never, lately.
I will talk about how to get benefits from your spare time. How to develop your personal skills, and here are some tips that would help you in these hard times. Also you can add tip from elsewhere as long as it will be beneficial! Do not take these tips as holy!

1) Edit your C.V and update it, maybe you have ignored it in the golden ages!

2) Organize your PC, or laptop data for easy use in the future.

3) Update your resources. Find more dictionaries, lexicons, TM(s), or even create a new TM (Translation Memory) for some of the small works you have done before.

5) Organize your office to find comfort. And if you still have money in the pocket, buy all the equipments you wish because you will never find an occasion like today!

6) Learn more about CAT tools and acquire new tools. For example you can explore Transit or WordFast. This will enable you to expand your tools base to get more job orders in the future.

7)you can also learn a new language, if you wish, or you can an educational course in DTP, interpretation, etc.

8) Contact your clients, specially those ones that are not in touch anymore. Ask about them and their families, just a "how are you doing" message will be enough!

9) Search for new opportunities in different field away from your regular areas. For example, if you are specialized in automotive translation, this is the time to get better in Medical translation and subtitling.

Hope these tips will help you to change your career to be better!
Wish you and "me" the best of luck!



How about enhancing our source and target language skills? I strongly believe in "natural selection". Quality and cost-efficiency tend to prevail over other considerations, I'm afraid.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 20:45
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Good Mar 19, 2009

Fouad Hassaan wrote:


7)you can also learn a new language...



Learning a language, however, is not that easy, especially if you are more than five yers old, which most prozians (and translators) would be. Unless, by lanuguage you mean something like PHP, C, or Java.

Otherwise, these are good tips for whiling away the vacation that this financial turn has forced upon many of us.

Why don't you develop these ideas a bit more and publish them as a proz article? That will give it a lasting value (lasting, that is, as long as this crisis does)!


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Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:15
Member (2009)
French to English
Still learning! Mar 19, 2009

I started studying Spanish at the age of 7, but never became fluent. I started studying French when I was 16 and did not get my Bachelor's in that language until 20 years later. I'm studying Irish now because of Rosetta Stone's St Patrick's day trial offer. I expect that I will keep up my studies in Irish because it is a fascinating language, even if I have no aspirations to reaching any level of professional fluency. I study languages because I am fascinated by their differences and similarities to languages I already know. I love the feeling in my head when I start thinking in another language. I couldn't imagine giving up on studying languages because I am over the age of five.

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Fouad Hassaan  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 17:15
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Sure this is a very good idea Mar 19, 2009

Mónica Algazi wrote:

Fouad Hassaan wrote: Sure Mónica, All Languages are full of secrets that may be mysterious even for native linguists



How about enhancing our source and target language skills? I strongly believe in "natural selection". Quality and cost-efficiency tend to prevail over other considerations, I'm afraid.


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Fouad Hassaan  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 17:15
English to Arabic
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Mar 19, 2009

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

Fouad Hassaan wrote: Thanks Balasubramaniam, I hope it will not last for long. I will try to enhance these ideas and try to publish them soon.




Learning a language, however, is not that easy, especially if you are more than five yers old, which most prozians (and translators) would be. Unless, by lanuguage you mean something like PHP, C, or Java.

Otherwise, these are good tips for whiling away the vacation that this financial turn has forced upon many of us.

Why don't you develop these ideas a bit more and publish them as a proz article? That will give it a lasting value (lasting, that is, as long as this crisis does)!


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Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:15
English to German
Preparing, studying, practicing Mar 19, 2009

I try to use free time between orders for preparing and studying for an additional examination as translator in a specialised field. Besides, I am learning how to use Trados. So, I'm pretty occupied.

In my opinion it's important to be positive, to have visions for one's future and I'm sure all the additional work will pay off some time.

Annett


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Aniello Scognamiglio  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 16:15
English to German
+ ...
Please do not generalize! Mar 19, 2009

Eleftherios Kritikakis wrote:

Anyway, last year I was predicting an average decrease of 40% in rates within a year, and everyone jumped to discredit that prediction. Apparently, rates decreased by an average of 30% + 10% average inflation in food+energy.


Hi Eleftherios,

please do not generalize!
Apparently? What? Just because one or two translators were or are "forced" to lower their rates, does NOT say anything. It is of no statistical relevance.

Claiming that rates have dropped by 30 - 50% is counterproductive and a dramatic distortion of reality. Do you know the rates of the other 200.000 translators? Just for the record: I have not lowered my rates, on the contrary, I will raise them.

Many translators would be better off improving their selling and marketing skills.

Thanks,
A.S.

Edited for typo.


[Edited at 2009-03-19 07:00 GMT]


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