Lack of work
Thread poster: José J. Martínez

José J. Martínez  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:50
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
Feb 9, 2016

I contact you to find out what could be happening. I started translating in 2007 and being retired, the translations were my main source of income. At the time I was marveled at CATs and decided on buying Wordfast Pro. Since then I have had a good amount of clientele. However, toward the end of the year, the work started getting scarce. I thought that it was common because as a rule, in this field sometimes it is feast or famine. However, this year I started contacting my more regular clients and they said that the EN to SP and SP to EN translations were decreasing. I have however seen that you advertise jobs from SP to EN and EN to SP,but the salvo is that one must use TRADOS. Now, I question, is the TRADOS program superior to others like my WORDFAST PRO, or does TRADOS have some advantages that I do not know about.

I am giving translation a two month chance, and if it does not pick up, I will embark on something different. Either there are too many persons in this field, more final clients are using machine translations or the fees have gone so low that maybe by posting at USD 0.10 or even 0.08 per source word is too expensive for the market.

I will want to read about your thoughts on this subject.

Thank you.


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Maria S. Loose, LL.M.  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 00:50
German to English
+ ...
Trados and exchange rate USD/EUR Feb 9, 2016

If you work for the European market, your lack of work could be due to two things: The European Union, which operates the largest translation service of the world, uses Trados. This might have an impact on the rest of the translation industry here in Europe. And then there is also the strong dollar, which penalizes US exports to the Eurozone.

[Edited at 2016-02-09 20:55 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-02-09 23:01 GMT]


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Kuochoe Nikoi  Identity Verified
Ghana
Local time: 22:50
Japanese to English
Trial version of Trados? Feb 10, 2016

Is there a free/low-cost trial of Trados available? You could try it for a month or two and see if it helps you get more jobs. If it doesn't make a difference then the problem probably isn't the CAT tool you're using.

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José J. Martínez  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:50
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
What about my prices? Feb 10, 2016

As mentioned before and disregarding the CAT one uses, my prices were for at least three years at USD 0.10 per source word. Be it Spanish or English. For constant clients, the prices could go down to USD 0.08 for any job or for regular clients for jobs of more than 5000 words.

It seems to me that if the CAT in vogue is TRADOS, one should have TRADOS but the Wordfast Pro is quite a good program and my translation memories are extesnive and varied.

I will check with TRADOS in Mexico to see if there is the freevie for a month or two. Meanwhile, can anyone inform me if my rates are too high?


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Serena Basili  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 00:50
English to Italian
+ ...
Trados & other CAT tools Feb 10, 2016

SDL allows you to download a free trial of Trados that expires in 30 days, so you could give it a try.
Anyway, many other CAT tools are able to read and process Trados file extensions, and I guess that WFP belongs to this category, you should have a look.

AFAIK, there are translators happily working without even using CAT tools at all (including myself atm - my jobs don't require them) and having a steady workflow. This can however depend on the language pair(s) offered and area(s) of specialisation.

I can't tell you anything about your rates, as it is based on cost of living in your city and salary you're aiming for, but keep in mind that nowadays agencies try to get the cheapest price possible. For example, I don't consider my rates high, but for some agencies they are and offer me half of what I propose. The thing is that there is ALWAYS someone who can do a job cheaper, but the quality might not be the same.

Good luck!


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Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 00:50
Member (2007)
English to German
+ ...
Just hide your prices Feb 10, 2016

Meanwhile, can anyone inform me if my rates are too high?


Chances are higher that you will be (at least) contacted by more agencies when they cannot sort you out right from the beginning just by seeing your published prices, unless you want to show a very "competitive" price (like 2 cent per source word, as already seen here once). Another effect when publishing your rates: State 10 cent, some will offer you 8. State 8 cent, they offer you 6 etc. Of course, when feeling bothered by too many job offers, you indeed may state a very high rate as a barrier for more peace of mind

[Edited at 2016-02-10 09:05 GMT]


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José J. Martínez  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:50
Member
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Yes, maybe my published rates eliminate me. Feb 10, 2016

Sometime ago, I did disclose my prices because I was getting many inquiries that did not indicate prices and then it was some back-and-forth negotiating and ended up with nothing. I live in the US and life is not very cheap so one requires a certain amount daily. However with offers of 2 cents per word, I was better off not doing those jobs. Te publishing of my fees did eliminate the cheap clients but also filtered me out of other offers.

I will remove my fees from my page and see how I fare.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 00:50
English to Polish
+ ...
... Feb 15, 2016

You can specify minimum rates without allowing them to show, which is going to filter you out of cheap searches all righ, without unnecessarily removing you from the radar of those folks whose budgets are only half a cent on the side of ugly, which is not worth dying for.

Next, just like you said, jobs/clients are like busses (and you know how this one goes). Might as well 'turn the challenge into an opportunity' like a smug little CEO on a beach and work on your marketing, possibly with the assistance of a bunch of (e-)books such as:

http://www.amazon.com/Marketing-Cookbook-Translators-Foolproof-successful/dp/150250779X
http://www.amazon.com/Prosperous-Translator-Chris-Durban/dp/0615404030/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455550202&sr=1-1&keywords=prosperous%20translator
http://www.amazon.com/How-Succeed-Freelance-Translator-Third/dp/0578170078/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455550202&sr=1-2&keywords=prosperous%20translator
http://www.amazon.com/Entrepreneurial-Linguist-Business-School-Freelance-Translation/dp/0557256232/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1455550251&sr=1-1&keywords=entrepreneurial%20linguist
http://wantwords.co.uk/school/business-checklist-book-translators/

It's a good idea to read more than just one or two of those, to see where they contradict each other and to catch up on all sorts of things that a single author may have missed.

A new website could also be in order: http://websitesfortranslators.co.uk/webdesign/

You most probably have enough unique strengths to differentiate and tell prospects just why they should choose you and not the other guy round the corner, but it may take some work in these cruel times.

Consider getting in touch with a real ad agency, not only for greater appeal but also for sheer exposure which is often the limiting factor of a translator, business-wise.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:50
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Clearly Feb 15, 2016

José J. Martínez wrote:

I will want to read about your thoughts on this subject.

Thank you.


It seems unlikely that the drop-off in your volume of work has been caused by your use of one CAT tool rather than another. Nor would I think that reducing your rate would improve the situation, since until recently you were getting plenty of jobs at that rate.

I think you're wrong to blame yourself. The problem is with the agencies with which you used to work; it seems they have suddenly run out of jobs to give you.

I suggest you give some thought to that aspect. Blaming oneself is a natural reaction when the instinct is always to "do something" but in the translation market, we're all prey to much greater market forces that have ups and downs, of which we may know little.

I suspect the real reasons are to be found in the English-Spanish translation market, which I imagine is very competitive. If so, spending time and money on another CAT tool may not help you at all. It might be more advisable to spend that money on marketing your skills, e.g. by creating a website, going to trade fairs, etc.

[Edited at 2016-02-15 16:22 GMT]


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 00:50
French to German
+ ...
Agree with Tom in London Feb 16, 2016

I agree with Tom. The rates for translations from English and French to Spanish are very low at the moment.

I do a bit of project management and get quite a lot of CVs from Spanish speaking translators. They rareley ask for more than 0,06 € per source Word.

I'd suggest you to go for direct customers.


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
Agree with the previous two posters Feb 16, 2016

It's unlikely that your lack of work is due to the fact that at once everyone wants you to use the CAT you call "in vogue". By the way, I never used it and never will and yet never experienced any slacks so far that could have been caused by this kind of issue, at least as far as I can imagine.
I am by no means an expert of CAT tools (I use mine almost only for my own convenience), but I believe that with a bit of goodwill each tool can be considered compatible with each other, so this should not be a problem neither.

You seem to be a person with a good professonial background and lowering your rates might not be a smart idea. Why should you like to work at a loss? This must be highly frustrating!

I would advise, too, to look for direct customers, if ever possible. They will more likely appreciate you for your skills and not for the tools you use, and anyway, most of the times, they don't care at all.

I wish you good luck!


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Peter Leeflang  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:50
Member (2014)
French to English
+ ...
Questions to you Mar 24, 2016

José J. Martínez wrote:

I contact you to find out what could be happening. ..... toward the end of the year, the work started getting scarce.


José,
A few questions to you:
1) Do you actively send out bids every day to listed translation jobs?
2) Can you publish a rate range instead of just one rate?
3) Have you considered listing a specific list (albeit without mentioning clients) of recent translation jobs, their volume, their language pars? Your main Proz page is not very informative on that and it is mainly what PM's look at.
4) Why is your specific detailed professional/career experience not listed? That also 'sells.'
5) Have you had your advertising text reviewed by authors? I think it could use some editing. Too many "I's" for example.
6) Where is a link to your website? Without website there is no trust and you do not exist either then.
7) Why is your listing not also translated in Spanish, which is your main market? Spanish speakers in our business like to speak Spanish and often have a preference for those who primarily communicate in that language with them.
8) Do you have a LinkedIn profile? A Skype address? Make sure to make them and link to them.
9) Why are there no links to your uploaded resumes? That is a must. Lowering the barriers for your customers to be able access you and your work history is a must.

Note that a different CAT tool is not usually the reason of loss of work. I use DV and have plenty of work, even for ES combinations. Government does not even get to work with me as I do not want to wait that long for their money nor spend lots of time on their paper work. They are running out of money, so not particularly desirable. Corporate business is much more rewarding.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:50
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Exactly Mar 24, 2016

Tom in London wrote:
I suspect the real reasons are to be found in the English-Spanish translation market, which I imagine is very competitive. If so, spending time and money on another CAT tool may not help you at all. It might be more advisable to spend that money on marketing your skills, e.g. by creating a website, going to trade fairs, etc.

I completely agree. We translators who have been in business for decades can be sometimes a bit slow in taking up marketing work. We often feel that our many years in business and experience are valuable enough to our customers, but when our old customers have no work to give us, we are forced to pick up marketing and retraining again...


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