Should you work for translation agencies outside your own country?
Thread poster: Neil Kendall (X)

Neil Kendall (X)
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:04
Spanish to English
Sep 26

So far I've been contacting translation agencies in the country I live in (UK), but I'm wondering whether other successful translators work for agencies worldwide? Obviously it'll expand your possibilities if you include agencies outside your own country too, but is it recommended? Are there any payment issues etc when working for agencies outside your own country?

Thanks.


 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Of course Sep 26

If you work as a freelance translator you should work with clients all over the world, there is no risk provided that you check info online or better in the Blue Board here at Proz.com

Best wishes


Neil Kendall (X)
Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Dan Lucas
Sabrina Bruna
Teresa Borges
Laurent Mercky
Philip Lees
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 03:04
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Yes Sep 26

Neil Kendall wrote:
I'm wondering whether other successful translators work for agencies worldwide. ... Are there any payment issues etc when working for agencies outside your own country?


Yes, a lot of us work for clients in as many countries as possible, I believe. Some translators avoid certain countries because e.g. (a) it is difficult to get money from those countries or (b) the living costs in those countries are so low that the rates tend to be very low as well or (c) personal/embargo related reasons. As for payment issues: the risk that you won't get paid is about the same whether you are working for an overseas or a local client, but you should try to find out if it is easy and/or cheap for the client to send you money. Whether you should charge overseas clients tax, would depend on UK laws. With regard to rates, some translators believe that the translator's own cost of living should determine his rate (i.e. never work for less simply because the client is in a cheaper country), but I think you should think of a client's country as a "market", and different rates are typical or more competitive in different markets.


Angie Garbarino
Marco Belcastro Bara
Josephine Cassar
Neil Kendall (X)
Kevin Fulton
Daniela Galleguillos-Parra
Carolina Finley
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Currently on 35 countries Sep 26

In addition to providing French to English translations, I often work on monolingual English texts, which means I have even fewer geographical constraints. But, in addition to the francophone region, I've had translation clients in Bulgaria and Japan at least.

Country of residence is so unimportant in our profession that only one client cared at all when I moved my business from France to Spain. The one that I lost lived in a neighbouring village.

Currency exchange and
... See more
In addition to providing French to English translations, I often work on monolingual English texts, which means I have even fewer geographical constraints. But, in addition to the francophone region, I've had translation clients in Bulgaria and Japan at least.

Country of residence is so unimportant in our profession that only one client cared at all when I moved my business from France to Spain. The one that I lost lived in a neighbouring village.

Currency exchange and non-payment issues are simply things that have to be managed, as does the accountancy/tax aspect. But there's nothing inherently difficult or dangerous involved, and lots potentially to gain.
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Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Sabrina Bruna
Zeineb Nalouti
Laurent Mercky
Neil Kendall (X)
Philip Lees
Niina Lahokoski
 

The Misha
Local time: 21:04
Russian to English
+ ...
I beg to differ Sep 26

Angie Garbarino wrote:


If you work as a freelance translator you should work with clients all over the world, there is no risk provided that you check info online or better in the Blue Board here at Proz.com

Best wishes


"All over the world" is a recipe for trouble, as is "in as many countries as possible," and for more reasons than I have fingers on my both hands. Regardless of what the Blue Board, your Uncle Roger or anyone else says, there is ALWAYS risk, and you always need to decide whether you are willing to bear it or whether you are sufficiently compensated for doing so. Simply closing your eyes to the existence of such risk (non-payment, cultural differences and misunderstandings, bad faith, you name it) will eventually land you on the street nine times out of ten. Personally, I do not, as a matter of policy, accept any orders outside of areas where I would have at least a modicum of legal recourse in the event of non-payment or other such nastiness. This essentially limits me to my own country (US) and, to a lesser extent, the UK, but that's all right since this is where 75%+ of my potential jobs are anyway. Overall, I am always very, very suspicious of any new clients, regardless of where they may be, especially if they come in "from the cold".

That said, what you should really be asking is not WHERE your clients physically sit but rather WHO they are and how good a match you have between the two of you. Developing a potential client is a long and intricate process not unlike an elaborate courtship that, if successful, may result in a long and happy marriage. The alternative is trying to grab quickies with anyone and everyone "all over the world" - but we all know how that usually ends, don't we?

I guess what I am trying to say here is that a bit of healthy paranoia goes a long way in this business. Once you have that in place, geography and its associated technical details become secondary.


Sheila Wilson
Tradupro17
Niina Lahokoski
Daryo
Kevin Fulton
Katalin Horváth McClure
 

Laurent Mercky
France
Local time: 03:04
Member (Jul 2019)
Chinese to French
+ ...
yes Sep 26

like says the proverb: money has no color.
If your new agencies pay for the job you've done AND you are polite with the young ladies who must process your job,
why to refuse working with clients all around the world ?


Victor Muruet
Angie Garbarino
 

Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
You differ over what specifically? Sep 28

The Misha wrote:


"All over the world" is a recipe for trouble, as is "in as many countries as possible," and for more reasons than I have fingers on my both hands. Regardless of what the Blue Board, your Uncle Roger or anyone else says, there is ALWAYS risk


Did I wrote with whoever? No, I did not,

I guess what I am trying to say here is that a bit of healthy paranoia goes a long way in this business. Once you have that in place, geography and its associated technical details become secondary.


Exactly, so over what do you differ? I am not native in English but as far as I know, all over the world has never meant whoever.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Source and target countries only Sep 28

Working with customers outside your source and target language countries should be the exception. These jobs are unlikely to result in repeat work, which is what you want. Many translators here seem to be happy doing odd jobs for 50 different agencies worldwide, but it makes far more sense to work instead with a handful of regulars who know you and value you. I get 95 per cent of my work from just four customers, all of whom have been using me for over a decade. You’re not going to find custom... See more
Working with customers outside your source and target language countries should be the exception. These jobs are unlikely to result in repeat work, which is what you want. Many translators here seem to be happy doing odd jobs for 50 different agencies worldwide, but it makes far more sense to work instead with a handful of regulars who know you and value you. I get 95 per cent of my work from just four customers, all of whom have been using me for over a decade. You’re not going to find customers like that in random countries around the world.

Plus there are all the risk/payment issues others have mentioned.

My experience is that customers in source language countries are easier to obtain and easier to satisfy. The work is normally more satisfying too: target country customers generally just want to know what the text says, while source country customers are actively selling and want something special.
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The Misha
Christine Andersen
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 03:04
Member (2016)
English to German
Disagree Sep 28

Chris S wrote:
Working with customers outside your source and target language countries should be the exception. These jobs are unlikely to result in repeat work...


My experience is quite the opposite. You should look for niches, and niches might be exactly there where you don't expect them. Even though my pair is EN>DE, some agencies in Asia are among my best clients. I even specialize a bit in translating the sometimes "uncommon" kind of English produced in Asian countries.

Don't limit yourself by preconceived opinions or by things people tell you, and not even by unpleasant experiences. Try things, try markets, try services, find out what clients want and if you are the one to provide it, no matter what you have learned and no matter how things are done elsewhere.


Angie Garbarino
Mirja Maletzki
Laurent Mercky
Christel Zipfel
 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:04
German to English
+ ...
also disagree Sep 28

Chris S wrote:

Working with customers outside your source and target language countries should be the exception. These jobs are unlikely to result in repeat work, which is what you want.

Almost ten years ago I was contacted my someone in the Far East. They became a steady and major client with frequent work. I charge my usual fee, which is not at the low end of the spectrum.
Plus there are all the risk/payment issues others have mentioned.

A good customer is a good customer, regardless of where they are, and the same is true for a bad customer.
My experience is that customers in source language countries are easier to obtain and easier to satisfy. The work is normally more satisfying too: target country customers generally just want to know what the text says, while source country customers are actively selling and want something special.

Neither of these things has been my experience. The wants and needs of clients depends on the circumstance driving the need for a translation.


Angie Garbarino
Sheila Wilson
Christel Zipfel
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 03:04
Member (2018)
French to English
. Sep 29

Chris S wrote:

Working with customers outside your source and target language countries should be the exception. These jobs are unlikely to result in repeat work, which is what you want.


Nice to see you back Chris!
However I disagree with you. I got a Fr-En job from a Spanish agency last year. The PM actually told me that it was highly unlikely that I'd get any more work from them because they rarely had work in that pair. However they have sent me two more jobs since then. I think I'm their only contact for my pair, so they ask me by default. I remember having the same setup with ES-EN when I was a PM: we rarely had anything and I only had one person, who luckily was always able to step up when I needed her services.

Personally, I don't want to have to work with countries all over the world, and deal with bank charges and exchange rates. Luckily since I'm in the euro zone, there are plenty of countries I can work with. I only have a couple of non-French clients though, in Belgium and the Spanish agency mentioned above.

Certainly, any translators living in the UK would be advised not to only work with British agencies, especially given the current predictions for an economic crisis triggered by the Great Unmentionable.


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Angie Garbarino
Gethin Sugar
 


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