Time to Get Serious - Agencies in Germany for New Translators
Thread poster: Ian Kahn

Ian Kahn
Germany
Local time: 18:49
German to English
Feb 6, 2016

Hello Everyone,

In the last few months I've been getting very serious about building my freelance translating business in Germany. It's always been a passion of mine and I want to really focus on making it my full-time profession this year. I've been translating German to English on the side in the US for about 5 years and have been living in Munich, Germany for about 6 months. My day job is in online marketing and the company that I came here to work for has decided to part ways. I'm now out of a job and, the way I see it, it's a now or never chance for me to get serious about my translation work.

Ideally I would like to sign a contract with an agency that can provide me with consistent work (albeit not very lucrative) while I develop my direct client network. I consider myself a very good translator and I am very proud of my work. I have a bachelors degree in German but I do not have any translation certifications and currently do not belong to any organizations (although I'm working on that).

Can anyone give me some suggestions to agencies in Germany, especially in the Munich area, that would take on someone like me? If not, what are some next steps I can take? I have experience in online marketing and website translations and would prefer to specialize in online marketing, travel/tourism, or finance.


Many thanks in advance,
Ian

[Edited at 2016-02-06 14:22 GMT]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:49
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Patent abstracts Feb 7, 2016

For many years I did patent abstracts for Derwent Publications, which was once independent but is now owned by Thomson. Originally I did Russian to English, but eventually the Russians started producing good English abstracts themselves, so Derwent stopped doing them. So I took German ones instead, for several years. But then I found enough Russian work to be able to concentrate on it exclusively, which I prefer.
I can't guarantee that they will have anything for you, but they have an office in Munich:

Barthstrasse 4
Muenchen 80339
Germany
+49 89 547 56 0

so it might be worth a try.


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Ian Kahn
Germany
Local time: 18:49
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Feb 7, 2016

Hey Jack,

Thanks for the tip! I'm not really qualified to translate patents but I'll give it a shot and see what they have available.


Cheers,
Ian


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:49
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some thoughts Feb 8, 2016

Ian Kahn wrote:
Ideally I would like to sign a contract with an agency that can provide me with consistent work (albeit not very lucrative) while I develop my direct client network.

That sounds rather as if you're only looking for one agency to supply all your work. As an independent freelancer, I believe that's actually illegal in Germany - you'd be effectively working as an employee but the company wouldn't be providing you with any of the advantages of an employment contract. But never having lived in Germany, don't take my word for that. What you can take my word for is that it's extremely precarious to put all your eggs in one basket. What if they decide one Friday not to send you any more work? From Monday you'll have no work and no pay! Zilch!

Why not start by developing an agency client network? Direct clients can be more lucrative but they will probably need a lot from you apart from straight translation services and so are better for freelancers who've had a fair amount of experience in running a business. You will have to accept sole responsibility, morally and legally, for every word you produce. A good agency can provide support in all manner of ways, not just in terms of sourcing clients. They can (should) take care of complex file handling, consistency in large projects, quality control (the all-important second pair of eyes), glossary building, DTP, other language pairs, etc.

Can anyone give me some suggestions to agencies in Germany, especially in the Munich area, that would take on someone like me?

This is an employee mindset at work. You don't need someone to "take you on". As a freelancer, you're a business, albeit a very small one. You would like to collaborate with agencies, working WITH (not for) them to provide translation services for end clients. I can see the advantage of working with German clients, as they have a good reputation in general, but why in the Munich area? Personally, working with English, I send invoices to around 20 different countries a year. As an interpreter you might have physical ties; few translators have them.

(If I might comment without causing offence, your CV is also in 100% employee format. This will do you nothing but harm as many agencies are only too willing to take advantage of their falsely elevated position as "boss" in the relationship. I suggest you have a look at the Wiki on the subject here on ProZ.com: http://wiki.proz.com/wiki/index.php/Creating_an_effective_CV_/_resume .)


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Ian Kahn
Germany
Local time: 18:49
German to English
TOPIC STARTER
Great Tips Feb 8, 2016

Hi Sheila,

Thank you so much for the helpful information. I believe you're right about German law and not exceeding a limit for percentage of income received by a single client. The "employee format" CV is something I never would have considered. It seems I still have much to learn on my journey to expanding my freelance business full-time.


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