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Off topic: Beginner’s luck ???
Thread poster: Juliano Martins

Juliano Martins  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 16:41
Member (2008)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Jul 29, 2008

Hello everyone,

I'm Brazilian and I love foreign languages very much. I already speak fluently English and French. And now I'm studding Italian and German. I am graduated in Computer Science and currently working as a system annalist.

Well, I'd like to ask you something!

For some time now, I think about working with languages, because I love it very much. I have never done any translation course, NEVER. Last year I started searching for translation jobs to do. I have already translated many texts as a volunteer job, actually.

Then I started to participate in sites like ProZ, sites with translation jobs, etc. Well, since last November, I joined this site, but I didn't have much feedback, none at all. In February, I finally became a member and I quoted for dozens and dozens of jobs. No feedback again for months. I was completely ignored. I realized that I could never get any job before doing some translation course or something like that. I could never compete with you, after all, everyone here seems to be professional. I have made plans to save money to do a translation course some day (and I still intend to do it, for sure, as soon as possible). OK!

So, I had given up quoting for jobs here, and I spent some months without even visiting this site. Then I decided to participate in the KudoZ, and fortunately some of my suggestions were chosen as the best ones. Ok, that made me confident again.

Well, what happened was that 40 days ago I got my FIRST translation job EVER, from Portuguese (Brazil) to French. I was very, very happy!!! I accepted the challenge. It was hard in the beginning, but then it became easier and easier. I didn't even know how many words a translator could do per day, and how much to charge for it. I did some research here in this forum. This job was about 100 K words, so a job for lots of people. I did 19 K in 4 days, and they paid me 0.12 USD per word. I was completely surprised. Never imagined! The following week, the same company sent me more words, and I translated another 27 K. And again and again and again. I was working very hard to have this opportunity. Well, these last 6 weeks I have translated more than 130 K words and I have already saved 16 K USD. Go figure!!! I really assume that I had a BIG EXTRA LARGE GIANT lucky to be placed in such a giant project. Last week they said they have work for me until the end of August. I’m really thinking about quitting my system annalist job to do only translations, since I love it totally (besides the everage 3 K USD per week, of course). In the last 3 weeks I stopped quoting for jobs, and the number of clients is still increasing even more. Incredible!!! I just don't know what to do. I have no time. I have to quit my computer science job, you know.

I intended to wait a little longer so I could have a better statistics, but, I see that this translation thing is unlimited jog, see.

My question is: What the f*** is going on? Is it normal? Am I a total completely absolutely lucky beginner? What is your experience?

Thanks for the attention,
Juliano.


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xxxPeter Manda
Local time: 15:41
German to English
+ ...
beginner's luck? Jul 29, 2008

well, if you're not confident about your work, then there is a fundamental problem ... no? then maybe you shouldn't be doing this?

i've had several translation theory and literary criticism classes and they have definitely helped; so I would suggest at least taking one or more theory or actual translation classes to help you think about how you are "writing" as you translate.

also helpful to me were solid grammar and fiction/non-fiction writing courses. the more i learned about creative writing in general, the better my translation texts flowed.

but you have one advantage, you are computer savy. that is the wave of the future in translation. make yourself familiar with all the CAT and similar programs out there; this would be an obvious niche for you.

again, if you have to think about yourself in this field in expletives, then this field is likely not for you.

best of luck.

[Edited at 2008-07-29 06:01]


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Wolfgang Jörissen  Identity Verified
Belize
Member
Dutch to German
+ ...
Hard worker with a natural talent Jul 29, 2008

Seems you have found your passion. Instead of building it up gradually (like most of us), you just jumped right in. The amount of work you are doing equals the capacity of an avarage seasoned professional. But if your clients are happy, you seem to be doing something right. You might not always have that much work, but I'd quit my job anyway if I were you. Whether it is luck - who can tell? A bit of luck is always in the game, the rest is hard work, as you have probably experienced by now.

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chica nueva
Local time: 08:41
Chinese to English
Tell us what you think. Jul 29, 2008

Brazil becomes important. Portuguese becomes significant.
http://www.google.com/search?q=BRIC%20Brazil%20Russia%20India%20China&rls=com.microsoft:en-nz:IE-SearchBox&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&sourceid=ie7&rlz=1I7GGIK
Geopolitics/economics


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casey
United States
Local time: 15:41
Member
Japanese to English
Give it a shot Jul 29, 2008

Why not try it out for a few years? If you like it and the work keeps coming, then you've found yourself a profession. If not, I'm sure there will be a way back into the system analyst scene if you're not gone for too long.

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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:41
Flemish to English
+ ...
Freelance translation-freelance programming. Jul 29, 2008

That was beginners luck, indeed. Congrats.
However, do you translate as your write on this forum?
I do not mean to be critical, but in your first sentence there are quite some mistakes and the rest of the posting sounds like a kind of English, but written with Portuguese syntax.
Syntax: the pattern a language is in your head, just like the syntax of a VB-program or a Java-program. The rest of language learning equals fine-tuning and vocabulary assimilation.

Some do not consider translation courses useful, but if they comprise "syntax" they are. Bear in mind that the structure (how you say it) of one language is not the same as the other. A writing course and a course of stylistics always come in handy.
BTW, there is such a thing a freelance programming. Did you ever consider that market? As a freelancer in Europe it pays about 500 euro per day or £500, if you are lucky enough to work in the City of London (Java, VBExcelprogramming).

Anyway good luck in earning the big bucks. Money is the name of the game.



[Edited at 2008-07-29 06:04]


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xxxPeter Manda
Local time: 15:41
German to English
+ ...
i'ld go wtih what they say ... Jul 29, 2008

I'ld go with what Casey and Wolfgang say ... This is a fun and wonderful profession and if you are getting a lot of work, then it's probably because you enjoy it and that probably shows itself in the quality of what you are doing. Anyway, Casey and Wolfgang have the correct positive tone - ...

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Hana Japan
Japan
Local time: 04:41
English to Japanese
+ ...
Passion brings luck! Jul 29, 2008

First of all,congratulations on your first success as a translator.
Yes,you are lucky but in the same time,your passion and hard-working attitude towards translation may have brought the luck. Besides,one of the reasons of your success is your specialisation - IT area. This is definately advantage for you as a volume and pay wise as well as a regular offer.

However,I'd recommend learning translation properly once at a postgraduate programme etc. I learnt at a university's translation course taught by some sophisticated and experienced professional translators for 2years before becoming freelancer myself. I learnt not only skills but more like how to improve your translation even after becoming a professional translator to find "the best" translation.

[Edited at 2008-07-29 13:01]


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Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:41
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
Fantastic! Jul 29, 2008

Well done, I'm really pleased for you.

If I were you, I would consider combining freelance translation with freelance programming. You don't want to depend one one client only.

Keep sending your CV to agencies and make sure that you never receive more than 40% work from one agency only - agencies come and go, there ware too many of them out there.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:41
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Do what you're best at Jul 29, 2008

Ivana Friis Wilson wrote:

If I were you, I would consider combining freelance translation with freelance programming. You don't want to depend one one client only.



Very good advice - it does sound as if you only have one client, and that may be fine for the moment but not as a long-term option.

As far as your ProZ profile is concerned, you seem to be offering just about every service under the sun in just about every language combination! An exaggeration, but I really doubt that you can be at a professional level in all cases.

For example, your native language is Portuguese, so you are certainly able to translate into Portuguese from English (your post proves your ability in English). However, your post also proves that you are not capable of translating into English as, although very good, you do not have the level of a native speaker. I therefore fail to see how you can offer translations from Italian (you say you have "some" Italian) to English. I don't mean to be overly-critical, but you can make your place translating well into your native language - leave other combinations to other people who are more qualified.

Good luck and thanks from a fellow ProZ member for your contribution in localising the site into Portuguese.


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Jack Qin  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 03:41
English to Chinese
+ ...
Congratulations Jul 29, 2008

My suggestion is to do what you really like. Then money will flow.

Wish you all the best.


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Damian Harrison
Germany
Local time: 21:41
German to English
;-) Jul 29, 2008

My congratulations to you Juliano! 100K is an absolutely awesome start. Go for it!

[Edited at 2008-07-29 07:44]


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
a flash in the pan Jul 29, 2008

Juliano Martins wrote:

I did 19 K in 4 days,

The following week, the same company sent me more words, and I translated another 27 K.

these last 6 weeks I have translated more than 130 K words

everage 3 K USD per week

Juliano.



Leaving a lot of repetition/the use of a CAT aside:

All these figures are a bit unreal, so it can ONLY be beginner's luck, unless you have some other explanation for it.

5000 words a day, 4000 words/day, over 20000 words/week, 130000 words/6 weeks?

That sounds like a flash in the pan as far as being offered work goes. You cannot simply assume that that client or another client will supply you with work forever at that rhythm, or even at that rate (jobs in Proz are being advertised for well below half that price).

As for your own throughput, although I've seen incredible claims here in ProZ, I'm pretty certain that most experienced translators would talk about averages of around 2000 a day and 10000 a week (averages, I emphasise, that is, averaged out over time, sometimes you'll do 3000 a day, or maybe 12000 a week, but exceptionally).

It would be dangerous to assume that you're on a permanent gravy train of 3000 dollars a week guaranteed earnings.


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Lawyer-Linguist  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 20:41
Dutch to English
+ ...
Word counts Jul 29, 2008

Lia Fail wrote:

As for your own throughput, although I've seen incredible claims here in ProZ, I'm pretty certain that most experienced translators would talk about averages of around 2000 a day and 10000 a week (averages, I emphasise, that is, averaged out over time, sometimes you'll do 3000 a day, or maybe 12000 a week, but exceptionally).

It would be dangerous to assume that you're on a permanent gravy train of 3000 dollars a week guaranteed earnings.



Whilst I also find these claims from a beginner a little high - although fully accept this is what Juliano has done, after all, he is only bluffing himself if these claims are exaggerated - I don't agree with your statement on daily/monthly word counts.

I am an experienced translator and consistently and accurately translate far more than what you are suggesting on a daily/weekly basis - probably because I focus almost exclusively on legal translation, use CAT tools and speech recognition - nevertheless output varies greatly from person to person and from field to field.

That said, it would indeed be dangerous for Juliano to just assume his current rate of incoming work will continue unabated - although I personally don't find 20,000 words a week unsustainable. It would also be foolish for anyone to keep all their eggs in one basket, so he needs to expand his client base and not become too dependant on one source of work.

Another thing to take into account is the need to take regular breaks when working like this and to always keep a VERY close eye on quality (and meeting deadlines - i.e. factor in some time for unexpected events) as you're really only as good as your last translation in this game.

[Edited at 2008-07-29 10:37]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 15:41
SITE FOUNDER
Smart thinking, Juliano Jul 29, 2008

Hi Juliano,

Welcome to ProZ.com and welcome to the forums.

I'm with the "do what you love" crowd. Beyond that:

* You can have some confidence. By working hard, and investing, you created opportunities. You also have a technical mind and subject matter expertise in an area in demand.

* That said, you are right to be circumspect from a business standpoint. The information that you shared makes clear that your marketing approach could be improved. Basically, you'll want to become THE person to go to for a certain type of work; read this. I'll also send a personal suggestion offline related to your profile.

* Your freelance business will be more stable when you have ten clients filling your docket than it is with just a couple.

I am not too worried about these points in your case. You have the passion, so you'll figure out the business side of it. Just don't overdo things, physically.

Good luck and enjoy!


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