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To invest in a translation software or not yet?
Thread poster: Anne LE ROMANCER

Anne LE ROMANCER
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:19
English to French
Jul 16

Hi,

I have launched my freelance business some 3 months ago as an ENG to FR translator. I do get some work and the feedback is good so far but the income is still not 100% reliable. Would you invest in something like wordfast to increase your chances to get work? I have never been trained on any of those tools (I trained as a translator some 20 years ago so would probably be redundant now anyway!!). I know I can't afford Trades. Far too expensive from where I stand but might be able to stretch to Wordfast but is it really worth it? The only reason is to increase my "recruitability" not to translate faster.

I'd really appreciate the opinion of those more experienced than me who have been there in the past.


Thanks

Anne


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:19
Member (2008)
Italian to English
20 years Jul 17

I've been translating for more than 20 years and I've never felt the need for a CAT tool. I did try Wordfast once and found that it was more trouble than it was worth.

If it's more work you're after, there are other things you could be doing, rather than buying a CAT tool.

[Edited at 2018-07-17 16:42 GMT]


 

Anne LE ROMANCER
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:19
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
☺️ Thank you so much Jul 17

Thank you Tom. That’s exactly the kind of honest reply I was hoping for 😊.

Would you mind me asking you what I could fo boost my chances? I’ve just spent the day making my website more SEO friendly...such a time consuming task. But I tell myself it will eventually be worthwhile to do things properly.

Thanks for any help.

Anne


 

Heike Holthaus  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:19
Member (2012)
German to English
+ ...
Well worth the investment Jul 17

Hello Anne,

when I started in 2012, I invested in MemoQ. It was less expensive at the time and I found it easy to learn. There are video tutorials for MemoQ and Trados for beginners and advanced users. Most agencies I work with require the use of a CAT tool, but that may also depend on your specialism. I now use Trados and MemoQ. CAT tools do not only increase productivity, but consistency in terminology. Again, whether this is important depends on your field, e.g. technical vs. marketing.


Angie Garbarino
Jorge Payan
 

Anne LE ROMANCER
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:19
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Cat tools Jul 17

Hi Heike,

I’m Marketing/Sales and Education. So not so technical. My worry is I’m not earning enough quite yet so feeling a bit bad spending miney on cat tools 😫


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Every little helps--invest in yourself Jul 17

I still believe that a specialist with language skills is much better than a linguist with a theoretical background, not to mention that tools may improve the work, yet it's all about the master and related skills.

Even the most expensive CAT tools with the motto "never translate the same or similar again!" are but a little help, because many greedy middlemen (agencies) pervert it into "never be paid for translating the same or similar again!" while applying "internal fuzzy matches", "repetition discounts", and other pseudoscientific gimmick-ploys to press down the low price even lower.

Alas, unlike interpreters working with other people, translators are working with papers and they often are very poor(!) businesspersons, let alone introverts. That's why I know a decent translator with good business and interpersonal skills will always do much better than a topnotch linguist without the two.

Just diversify your income and learn to do your biz properly.
Cheer)

[Edited at 2018-07-17 18:40 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:19
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Use free software Jul 17

Anne LE ROMANCER wrote:
Would you invest in something like Wordfast to increase your chances to get work?


Start by using free CAT tools. These include Wordfast Classic (which is free except that there are one or two limits that would only really become a problem if you're working on large jobs) and OmegaT.


Heike Holthaus
Angie Garbarino
 

Hamish Young  Identity Verified
New Zealand
Local time: 01:19
Member (2010)
Chinese to English
Yes if you are serious about translation as a career Jul 18

CAT tools aren't yet essential for translators, I hardly ever use them myself and I never struggle for work. But I'm in a fortunate position where I can turn down a job if the agency requires the use of a CAT tool. For someone starting out you need to be able to accept as much work as possible, and as many agencies do require CAT tools nowadays then investing in one will maximize your chances of getting work. It will also tell potential customers that you are serious about your new job. Trados is the tool most commonly asked for but if you can't afford Trados I would suggest MemoQ - I like it more than Trados and you can generally use it for jobs that require Trados.

Ricardo Suin
Josephine Cassar
Angie Garbarino
Heike Holthaus
 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
You have a strong pair Jul 18

Anne LE ROMANCER wrote:

Hi,

I have launched my freelance business some 3 months ago as an ENG to FR translator. I do get some work and the feedback is good so far but the income is still not 100% reliable. Would you invest in something like wordfast to increase your chances to get work?


If you started only 3 months ago and got some jobs you are on the right path for sure, I recommend to invest in a cat tool, (SDL a bit expensive but mostly requested)
no problems for using it, I belong to an old generation but I learned to use it in one day, so it should not be a problem for you.

Welcome!


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:19
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
MemoQ vs Trados pricing Jul 18

Hamish Young wrote:
Trados is the tool most commonly asked for, but if you can't afford Trados I would suggest MemoQ...


A bit of an odd statement. Trados officially costs €855 (but it's almost permanently discounted to €675), and
MemoQ costs €620, so it's not that big a difference.

The long-term cost of MemoQ is higher, because their upgrade cost is calculated based on how many years it's been since your previous upgrade (but I was unable to find out how much that costs, after 5 minutes of Googling, so they must have decided to make it a secret). Trados often offers upgrade specials shortly before the next release, so that the upgrade includes the next version. I just upgraded from Trados 2015 to Trados 2019 for €180 via the official channels -- I believe a similar jump in MemoQ would have cost a lot more.

(There is currently a TGB special on MemoQ: for €434 instead of €620.)

[Edited at 2018-07-18 08:50 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:19
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
There are many advantages Jul 18

There are all sorts of reasons to use a CAT tool. I'm in the opposite pair with similar specialisations and I always use Wordfast Classic. No client has ever specified I must use it, they've never asked for those "grid" discounts, and I've never delivered a TM or bilingual file. But I use it anyway. I love some of the QA features, the glossaries, and the concordance searches.

Another factor is that sometimes it does save vast amounts of time. Just once, I've been passed a TM from a fellow translator. I was providing holiday relief for a clothing catalogue. The rate per word was just two thirds my normal rate, but in the several years I did the job I'd often find myself earning 2-3 times my usual hourly rate! I also have a long-term client whose jobs provide a handy filler on a take/leave basis. Just 50% of my normal rate but my CAT tool does most of the work nowadays as it's all very repetitive and easy.

So, it isn't just about being able to apply for more jobs. In fact, if clients insist on a CAT tool for persuasive marketing texts, I start to doubt my willingness to work with them. Marketing isn't about repeating the same sentences over and over again!

My other reason for liking my CAT tool is that it can give rise to client loyalty. I have a client who needs hand-crafted translations (descriptions of mansions for sale, promotion of top sporting events, etc). Many of his texts don't really benefit from a CAT tool at all, but I still use one. He sometimes sends similar invitations to various groups of people, or he'll send details of this year's event, with few changes from its previous editions. I started offering him discounts, based on the fact that I've got about four years of his texts in my TM. I tell him that we're sharing the benefits of that TM. It gives him an extra reason to stay loyal. Of course, I don't give him the discounts some agencies demand icon_smile.gif .


José Henrique Lamensdorf
sam@fr-uk
Oleksandr Ivanov
Josephine Cassar
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 13:19
Member (Apr 2018)
French to English
Not really Jul 18

It seems you have much the same kind of profile as me, with just the language pair back to front. Most of the fields you work in require some creative input (marketing, tourism, food and drink...). The more creative input is required, the less sense it makes to use a CAT tool. I would say the answer to your question depends on which fields you prefer working in or manage to find work in.

I see you listed IT. If you want to forge a reputation for instruction manuals, that's the ideal usage of CAT tools. But it looked to me like IT was rather the odd one out in your list of fields, so it's maybe just grunt work for you?

If you do a lot of recipes, a CAT tool could be useful for the repetitions. I built up an impressive TM for high-end caterers when working in-house, although I manage just fine without it now that I'm free-lancing (My brain, manually generated glossaries, and the Research/Replace function in Word handle terminology consistency just fine).

Before making an investment, you might want to download a trial version of something when you have a bit of time. You can watch a few "getting started" videos then try it out on a customer whose work might be suitable. Bear in mind that it only really gives you an edge once you have built up a TM: it might be worth aligning some previous translations for that client.

Otherwise, there are agencies who send you a floating licence for whichever CAT tool they use. You can use this as another opportunity to try something out.

As Tom says, there are perhaps better ways to improve your likelihood of getting work. I believe there are videos available here in which translators explain how to go about marketing your services. LinkedIn is another good place, because in between your translation studies 20 years ago and launching your business three months ago, you presumably learned about other stuff and came into contact with people who might just be in a position to send you work now. I have had work come from the most unlikely contacts there!


 

Merab Dekano  Identity Verified
Spain
Member (2014)
English to Spanish
+ ...
To CAT or not to CAT... Jul 18

A modern CAT tool to translators is like power steering or airbags to drivers. You can still drive a car without “modern” features and, in some cases, it would even be legal.

CAT tools save up to 40% of your time (unless you translate poetry or the like). And with normal project flow, you’ll get your investment back in less than a month’s time.

Not sure I can mention brands here, but I stated with Trados (still have Studio 2014 license), but for many reasons I disliked it. I then acquired a license for Déjà Vu X3 (still the current version) and liked it very much for two reasons: (i) it’s user friendly and give you no "stupid" problems (such as when you cannot export a document due to some "tag" issue that you cannot possibly find or solve, etc.), and (ii) the total cost of ownership is much more attractive that that of the mainstream CAT tools.

Bear in mind, a CAT tool isn’t doing the work for you. It helps you carry out your work in a more organized way. Some say it’s not worth it. I say they may even work with "pen and paper". But will they? Perhaps they will.


Angie Garbarino
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 13:19
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Normal project flow Jul 18

Merab Dekano wrote:
CAT tools save up to 40% of your time. And with normal project flow, you’ll get your investment back in less than a month’s time.


Sure, but the OP is a new translator. I doubt that she has "normal project flow" or will have it anytime soon. Also, a 40% increase in speed can only be the result of extensive fuzzy matching, so 40% is too optimistic for work done for new clients.


 

Daniel Frisano
Switzerland
Local time: 13:19
Member (2008)
English to Italian
+ ...
Not necessary Jul 18

You can easily get by without a CAT tool.

I use Wordfast only for documents with a substantial number of repetitions, perhaps 1/4 of all my volume. Otherwise, I work directly on the document, usually in MS Word.

Most of the times, there really is no need for CAT in the translation process itself, quite on the contrary, it feels refreshing to be able to do your work without any specific tool other than your head.

In your situation, it may be a good idea to get a free CAT tool and use it sparingly.

[Edited at 2018-07-18 12:00 GMT]


Tom in London
 
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