My 2 cents about dealing with the clients - 1
Thread poster: Narasimhan Raghavan

Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:55
English to Tamil
+ ...
Jan 17, 2006

I have been practising the profession of translation from 1975 onwards. I guess I can say a few words on the ways and means of attracting clients. One thing is certain. One should know what one wants and should have clear ideas as to how one goes about getting it. Once this is settled, half the battle is won. The rest is just doing things as per plan. I intend to give a few posts on this.

1. The most important thing consists in identifying and capturing new clients. This is an ongoing process. A separate post is required to talk about the ways of reaching up to a potential client. The aspiring translator has to write to him. What to write and whom to write and so on form the subject matter of the second part of this post.

2. Know thyself. Be clear about your capabilities and non-capabilities. If you promise impossible things and fail to deliver, your credibility will be the casualty. For example, if the client mentions a deadline for a given job, you should agree only if it is possible for you to meet it. Nine times out of ten the client will just be bluffing about the urgency of the job. If you are browbeaten into accepting the deadline and are unable to meet the deadline, you have only yourself to blame. So, this aspect will form the subject matter of a separate post.

3. Be clear about the rates. Many translators lose out on this aspect. It may be true that the job is easy for them and they love this work. But there is no need to tell this to the client. If you do so, he will start behaving as if he is doing you a favor. So another post for this aspect.

4. Do not for God's sake accept at face value whatever the client says. Some clients are in the habit of saying that they have thousands of jobs in the pipeline and expecting to get some reduced rates from you. This too will just be a bluff. Most probably the job in hand will just be a one-time job. No further work can be expected in the near future. Their stake is in lowering the price. I will tell you how I deal with just such ploys in one of my future posts.

5. Do not give unnecessary details. For example, you are working full-time in a company. This freelance translation is just a peripheral activity for you. In such a scenario, you cannot be too careful. You should keep the two activities in separate water-tight compartments. You should never tell the translation clients as to where you are working full-time and the full-time employer should not know that you are working freelance elsewhere. This is an extreme example and I will elaborate on it in a later post.

6. Be always accessible. Keep your communication channels open. In the present-day setup it is easy to execute. We will deal with this at the appropriate time.

7. Always try to make the best of your situation, whatever it might be. Till 2002, I had no computer. Now I do. I converted both the situations to my advantage. More about it later.

8. Doing the translation is just half the job. Collecting the money is equally important. I will come to this later.

How am I qualified talking about these things and more? I have been practising them myself from 1975 onwards. At present I am a very successful translator in Chennai, India. No false modesty shall hold me from saying this.

Regards,
N.Raghavan


[Edited at 2006-01-17 14:17]


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Timothy Barton
Local time: 02:25
French to English
+ ...
Not necessarily Jan 17, 2006

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

5. Do not give unnecessary details. For example, you are working full-time in a company.



Not necessarily. I'm quite open about the fact I work part-time translating the website of one of the country's most prestigious universities. It means my client can trust me, as I wouldn't have the job I do if I didn't translates well. It also means I can provide my clients with quick access to a huge sample of my work (www.uab.es - click English). Finally, if the client is proposing me a translation in mt specialist field of Education, it means I have something backing up why I claim to be a specialist in that field: hundreds of thousands of words translated.


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Aleksandr Okunev
Local time: 03:25
English to Russian
Yeah... :) Jan 17, 2006

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
If you promise impossible things and fail to deliver, your credibility will be the casualty. For example, if the client mentions a deadline for a given job, you should agree only if it is possible for you to meet


"If someone stubbornly refuses to complete a job before a certain time, you are probably dealing with a professional."
                                                              (popular wisdom)

Thanks for the tips!
Happy translating,
Aleksandr

[Edited at 2006-01-17 14:39]


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:55
English to Tamil
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
In your case it is not unnecessary data Jan 17, 2006

Dear Timothy,

All I said was about unnecessary data that will rather hinder your style if divulged unnecessarily. The corrolary to this is not to miss giving any necessary data. That is the other side if the coin and in my case the unnecessary data became necessary data as my circumstances changed. I will make special reference to that aspect in one of my subsequent posts.

As I already mentioned in the title of this reply, it was necessary data in your case and you did the right thing in giving it.

Regards,
N.Raghavan

Timothy Barton wrote:

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

5. Do not give unnecessary details. For example, you are working full-time in a company.



Not necessarily. I'm quite open about the fact I work part-time translating the website of one of the country's most prestigious universities. It means my client can trust me, as I wouldn't have the job I do if I didn't translates well. It also means I can provide my clients with quick access to a huge sample of my work (www.uab.es - click English). Finally, if the client is proposing me a translation in mt specialist field of Education, it means I have something backing up why I claim to be a specialist in that field: hundreds of thousands of words translated.


[Edited at 2006-01-17 14:44]


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:55
English to Tamil
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Another toungue-in-cheek example for professionalism!! Jan 17, 2006

This anecdote deals with the study of animal behaviour. A chimpanzee was kept in a cage and was assigned a task. The reward for that was a banana, that will roll down a ramp to reach the chimp in the cage as the animal opeartes a lever. It successfully carried out the task repeatedly and got the reward each time.

But the researcher had a bright idea. He refrained from putting the banana in the chute. The chimp finished the task and operated the lever but no banana came this time. It gave a few shakes to the lever but still no result.

The researcher set the task again. The chimp just turned its back on the observer and did nothing. Thereupon the researcher noted in his observation sheet, "The kid has turned professional".

Regards,
N.Raghavan

Aleksandr Okunev wrote:

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
If you promise impossible things and fail to deliver, your credibility will be the casualty. For example, if the client mentions a deadline for a given job, you should agree only if it is possible for you to meet


"If someone stubbornly refuses to complete a job before a certain time, you are probably dealing with a professional."
                                                              (popular wisdom)

Thanks for the tips!
Happy translating,
Aleksandr

[Edited at 2006-01-17 14:39]


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Nikolsky
English to Russian
+ ...
thanx Jan 17, 2006

tips were much appreciated

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 17:25
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Sometimes it is better to tell Jan 17, 2006

Timothy Barton wrote:

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:

5. Do not give unnecessary details. For example, you are working full-time in a company.



Not necessarily. I'm quite open about the fact I work part-time translating the website of one of the country's most prestigious universities. It means my client can trust me, as I wouldn't have the job I do if I didn't translates well. It also means I can provide my clients with quick access to a huge sample of my work (www.uab.es - click English). Finally, if the client is proposing me a translation in mt specialist field of Education, it means I have something backing up why I claim to be a specialist in that field: hundreds of thousands of words translated.


I too tell clients immediately that I am employed full-time and sometimes I also tell them where (in the medical education field). As you say, it adds to my credibility and it explains why I can't meet stringent deadlines. More often than not, clients are willing to give me some leeway.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:55
English to Tamil
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TOPIC STARTER
I see that I have not written clearly Jan 18, 2006

Let me explain. The unnecessary details referred to by me vary from person to person. And even in the case of a single person, what was unnecessary in the beginning may become very much necessary in the course of time and vice versa.

I still maintain that unnecessary details are not to be disclosed. Where I was working full-time, part time work was frowned upon by the employer. Hence my advice. Later on in life, as I took voluntary retirement and became a full-time freelancer, the information about my past employment has become very much necessary detail and I never fail to give this news.

Regards,
N.Raghavan


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Confidentiality does not mean dishonesty Jan 18, 2006

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
For example, you are working full-time in a company. This freelance translation is just a peripheral activity for you. In such a scenario, you cannot be too careful. You should keep the two activities in separate water-tight compartments.


I agree. In fact, you should keep each client in a separate water-tight compartment.

You should never tell the translation clients as to where you are working full-time and the full-time employer should not know that you are working freelance elsewhere.


I disagree. If you simply choose not to tell, then that is your decision, but you should not be dishonest about it.

I have told my current employer before I started working here that I also engage in freelance work, and I have not been told by him that I am no longer allowed to do freelance work. I make sure that my freelance work does not interfere with my current employment, and I just let sleeping dogs lie.

I do, however, tell my freelance clients that I am a "part-time" translator. I do this because it is important for them to know why I can't do a rush job in three hours, if those three hours are in the middle of the day.

I also tell clients so that they don't think that my stated capacity for number of words per day (800-1000) is a reflection of my translation speed and abilities. Doing 1000 words in 8 hours (in die day) is a lot different from doing 1000 words in 3 hours (in the evening).

If also helps if clients know that your freelance job is not your daytime job -- then they know why you can't spend a lot of time on the phone with them during the day, and they know why you can't do a lengthy e-mail conversation during the day, and they know why you don't have your Instant Messenger on all the time.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:55
English to Tamil
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It depends on the circumstances Jan 18, 2006

What is dishonest about it? If your fulltime employer does not allow you to do freelance work, I suppose you will either not take up employment from him or refrain from freelance work.

I think differently. What I do in my freetime is no business of the fulltime employer. As far as I am concerned I don't even ask him for permission. He is nobody to permit me, is my stand.

Yet he can cause you trouble if he knows you are doing this and give you uncomfortable duty hours. In our country if you are employed in government, you may even have to shell out one third your earning to it in extreme cases. Rules are like that. Of course nobody pays that sort of amount. There are people taking up agencies in their wives' names.

And if you tell the translation client where you work, it is a potential case for blackmail on the part of the translation client. You see Samuel, life is not always straight forward. I maintained this water-tight compartment status for 23 years.

Samuel Murray wrote:
I disagree. If you simply choose not to tell, then that is your decision, but you should not be dishonest about it.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 01:25
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I guess it depends on your country's labour legislation Jan 18, 2006

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
I think differently. What I do in my freetime is no business of the fulltime employer. As far as I am concerned I don't even ask him for permission. He is nobody to permit me, is my stand.


I agree that what I do in my spare time is none of his business, but it depends on the type of relationship you have with your employer.

Yet he can cause you trouble if he knows you are doing this and give you uncomfortable duty hours.


Depends on your country's labour legislation. I'll have my labour union official sitting right on top of my employer the moment I realise what he's up to, if he does that.

In our country if you are employed in government, you may even have to shell out one third your earning to it in extreme cases. Rules are like that.


Rules are there to be followed. If your employer can legally demand a third of your freelance income, and if you are required to declare it, then you should not lie about it.

And if you tell the translation client where you work, it is a potential case for blackmail on the part of the translation client.


It can only be a case for blackmail if you've done something to be blackmailed for in the first case, I think.


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Narasimhan Raghavan  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:55
English to Tamil
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All very theoritical sir Jan 18, 2006

I think the topic is being diverted. Suffice to say that you should know what to tell and what not to tell the client and others. This changes from person to person.

Regards,
N.Raghavan
Samuel Murray wrote:

Narasimhan Raghavan wrote:
I think differently. What I do in my freetime is no business of the fulltime employer. As far as I am concerned I don't even ask him for permission. He is nobody to permit me, is my stand.
Regards,
N.Raghavan


I agree that what I do in my spare time is none of his business, but it depends on the type of relationship you have with your employer.

Yet he can cause you trouble if he knows you are doing this and give you uncomfortable duty hours.


Depends on your country's labour legislation. I'll have my labour union official sitting right on top of my employer the moment I realise what he's up to, if he does that.

In our country if you are employed in government, you may even have to shell out one third your earning to it in extreme cases. Rules are like that.


Rules are there to be followed. If your employer can legally demand a third of your freelance income, and if you are required to declare it, then you should not lie about it.

And if you tell the translation client where you work, it is a potential case for blackmail on the part of the translation client.


It can only be a case for blackmail if you've done something to be blackmailed for in the first case, I think.


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My 2 cents about dealing with the clients - 1

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