Need Guidance
Thread poster: Barbara Cochran, MFA
Barbara Cochran, MFA  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 19, 2008

Although I am an independent freelancer and not an agency, another translator told me that he would like to help me with translations (in an e-mail), even though his language pair is different than mine. I assume that he wants me to pass on work to him or recommend him for any work I might find out about in his pair.

I have no experience with this kind of relationship. How is it actually done and would I be entitled to any "finder's fee," so to speak?

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Taylor Kirk  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:04
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Be careful... Mar 19, 2008

Some agencies specifically prohibit you from outsourcing to another freelancer once they have assigned you a project. If this person is not in your language pair I can't see how he could be of help to you.

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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:04
English to Arabic
+ ...
Ignore Mar 19, 2008

Hi femme,

I often receive emails like that, from translators working language pairs I don't work in, offering their services to me. I ignore emails like this, as I assume they have been sent in bulk to hundreds of translators/agencies indiscriminately. A serious translator would only contact a small number of outsourcers who work in his/her language pair.

I would only outsource to translators who translate into my native language, because I prefer to do the proofreading myself. Other outsourcers may operate like agencies, outsourcing jobs in languages that are not their own, then sending these to native proofreaders. Personally, I'm not confident enough to do that.

[Edited at 2008-03-19 22:33]

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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:04
Dutch to English
+ ...
IMHO ... Forget It Mar 19, 2008

Anyone desperate enough to be writing to another freelancer, who doesn't even work in the same language pair(s), is almost certainly struggling to get work through ordinary channels.

Why put yourself in the position of referring an "unknown"? Finders fee for what - a load of headaches?

Trying to team up with someone in the same language pairs/areas of specialisation might make sense if you're looking to share your workload, but unsolicited applications from translators generally end up in my recycle bin.

Apart from any ban on outsourcing in your contract with the agency, I have an ethical problem with outsourcing work without the end client knowing anyhow. I know many don't share my opinion on this but the work is outsourced to me (and anyone else, for that matter) for a reason - that's how I see it.

I outsourced once, with the end client's knowledge, as I was sick. The translation wasn't too bad but the translator in question showed no respect for the deadline and then went behind my back to the agency saying she had done the work (luckily for me, I'd already informed them and from then on the door was firmly shut to her from both my and the agency's side).

Just pointing out one of the pitfalls. If you are thinking of outsourcing at all, pick your own associates.

[Edited at 2008-03-19 22:37]

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Jocelyne S  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:04
French to English
+ ...
Avoid - or become an agency Mar 20, 2008

I agree with Nesrin and Lawyer-Linguist. I don't really see the point in teaming up with someone you don't know, who doesn't work in your language pairs - unless you plan on becoming an agency.

I very occasionally outsource work, but only with my clients' approval, in my language pairs, and only to other professionals I know and trust - and even then I find it stressful and, like Nesrin, always insist on proofreading as in the end it's my name that's on the line, really.

To answer your question about a "finder's fee," if you decide to look for work for your new "associate," then I presume that you would negotiate a price with the client and then negotiate a price with your translator, like an agency. If you do decide to go this route, I would try to make sure that you've also got a trusted proofreader/editor in the language(s) in question (and calculate this into what you charge the client).

I like being freelance for the very reason that it most often involves only me. Personally, I'd leave subcontracting to agencies and others any day.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:04
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Various ways of responding Mar 20, 2008

femme wrote:
Although I am an independent freelancer and not an agency, another translator told me that he would like to help me with translations (in an e-mail), even though his language pair is different than mine. I assume that he wants me to pass on work to him or recommend him for any work I might find out about in his pair.

Yes. I also receive such mails from colleagues. I usually just delete them, unless they do a language combination for which I often get queries.

For example, if a Spanish-English translator asked me to keep his name on my records just in case I ever get a query about Spanish to English, I would simply delete his mail, because both he and I know that I'm unlikely to get such requests at all.

That said, there is nothing wrong with keeping a list of colleagues to whom clients or wouldbe clients could be referred. It's just that it is safer to keep a list only of people that you know and trust. If you refer a client to such a person, and they mess up, then your reputation will also suffer.

There is also nothing wrong with being collegial -- if there are other translators in your suburb or in your village, you can keep their names on a list if you want... but if they are that close, why not meet them?

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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:04
English to French
+ ...
Unprofessional Mar 20, 2008

I find this straight out insulting. It's like this freelancer is asking you to give him part of your workload because he can't get any (his name is not as clean as yours, his profile is not as attractive for clients as yours etc.). He's asking you to work harder so he has more work. Hello? Your business is your business - you have no business asking others to bring water to your own mill. Is this guy thinking you will now add his language pairs to your list of services so he can pick up your clients without making any effort?

Either that, or this freelancer is just being a bit too pushy and looking for free promotion of his services through you. This is very unprofessional. Networking with colleagues is very useful, but it becomes fruitful and pleasant only if you offer things to your peers, not if you ask them for things. I find the delete button really handy in such cases...

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