Study of the Translation Business
Thread poster: Emal Ghamsharick

Emal Ghamsharick  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 04:27
English to German
+ ...
May 16, 2011

Hello everyone,
I will be starting on my final BA thesis in business soon, and since the translation business has come to be the field I'm most familiar with, I'd like to focus my research on this field.

I'd like to know more about the main business issues most freelance translators have to deal with, but also what agency representatives have to say, as well as the clients. So your rants & raves are most welcome here.

Although it's been a while since the web opene
... See more
Hello everyone,
I will be starting on my final BA thesis in business soon, and since the translation business has come to be the field I'm most familiar with, I'd like to focus my research on this field.

I'd like to know more about the main business issues most freelance translators have to deal with, but also what agency representatives have to say, as well as the clients. So your rants & raves are most welcome here.

Although it's been a while since the web opened the translation business, I feel like there are still many changes going on that deserve closer attention.

For example, how many translators still start out in-house and how many stick with it now that anyone can set up shop online?

How can certain aspects be improved, for example, terminology management - I've found no recommendable alternative to custom Excel glossaries so far. Maybe some of you see this differently?

How about CAT tools? How necessary are they? Why is TRADOS so prevalent although there are many cheaper and better alternatives?

Some agencies require you to use the ones they specify, others let you use your own. Exchanging translation memories across platforms still seems to be tricky. I am usually encouraged to use the same program the agency uses.
Would it be better if everyone ran the same program? Is it necessary to convert files into proprietary formats, as most newer CAT bundles do? Personally, I want the Word plug-in back.

Then you also have the "human translation" services, who have their own user interfaces. Are they tapping the consumer market for us by aggregating demand in one place or are they taking our business?

There's also the question of entry barriers. Unlike lawyers, we don't have a bar association to keep "rookies" from stepping in and cutting prices.
On the other hand, since this is such a free-market utopia, the fierce competition should be sufficient to make this business unprofitable for those who fail to deliver consistent quality (or high output).

Furthermore, all "e-lancers" also face particular legal and fiscal aspects, such as taxes - why pay income tax in the UK when I work from the Bahamas? What if I register my business in a tax haven? Am I offering customers an extra benefit by not being subject to VAT?

Outsourcing is another interesting issue - how do you find good contractors? What margin do you require to remunerate you for the effort of subcontracting and checking the work? Will there be enough left to convince qualified translators to do the work?

Looks like this is a rather lengthy post, and I hope it triggers an extended discussion on this very comprehensive subject. Thank you all in advance for taking the time to read this post and reply.
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Study of the Translation Business

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