Meditazione: a che punto è la mia carriera di traduttore?
Thread poster: gianfranco

gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:12
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Oct 31, 2005

Articolo comparso su Translatortips, di Alex Eames, e ripreso nel Forum di ProZ.com circa un anno fa:
http://www.proz.com/topic/25177

Lo trovo molto interessante e lo ripropongo, per coloro ai quali fosse sfuggito o per chi lo avesse dimenticato, come utile meditazione sui propri progressi come traduttori freelance.

ciao
Gianfranco



Evolutionary Stages in Freelance Translator Career
By Alex Eames


Stage 1: Hungry

When you first start out as a full-time freelance you...

* accept all work at almost any offered price

* make a lot of mistakes (not necessarily in the work, but by not
knowing what's expected of you)

* learn a lot of lessons the hard way

* are willing to work overnight and weekends if required - pretty
much any time the client calls.

* have your mobile phone switched on the whole time and if you
miss a call you get agitated

* do whatever you can to get work and to please the client

* accept low rates and silly deadlines and you get yourself
stressed and in a mess

* don't understand why clients take a long time to pay and
it's uncomfortable because you're getting hungry

You may be either fresh out of University, newly qualified, or
you may be doing a bit of part-time translation work in addition
to other work.

When you get a project, you're elated. When the phone rings
during work hours and it's a member of your family, instead of
possible work, you're disappointed because you're hoping it will
be work. (I remember that well).

You want work to come in, and when you get it, you find it quite
hard, but nevertheless rewarding once you get into it.

When you've got work, you don't have any trouble getting out of
bed, and you can sit for long periods of time at your computer.
You don't feel the need to pace yourself - like a cat feeding.
You eat and eat and eat as much as you can as quickly as you can
because you don't know when the next meal will be, or if someone
will come and take away the bowl.

You have this fear, that if you don't accept this nasty job with
a tight deadline, that the client may not come back to you next
time - there may not be another job round the corner for the next
couple of weeks. [The other side of this is that by filling your
work schedule for the next week on a poorly paid job may prevent
you from taking a more lucrative project.]

You're almost ashamed to charge your full minimum charge for 10
word jobs - despite the knowledge that you still have to make an
invoice, chase the payment, store the files in case of queries
etc.

For every business purchase you make, you're wondering whether
it's going to be a good investment or not. Can you really afford
that anti virus software or backup hardware? Can you really
afford
a decent computer, or should you proceed with a 2 inch black and
white monitor? Will translation memory software pay for itself
within 5 years?

You spend time considering all these things when you're not
actually working on a translation.

You ask fairly basic questions on online forums. In 5 years time
you will ask the owners to delete them because you will later be
embarrassed by them, and frustrated when the forum owners refuse
to destroy the usefulness of their web sites to other translators
who might have the same questions.

You're glad that people reply and care and give their honest
opinions, even if some of them may be a bit sharp and not what
you wanted to hear. Who hasn't been "bitten" in cyber-space?

You're not sure if your marketing is working and you're a bit
insecure about the whole situation in general.

I think this is a stage that most of us can either remember
or identify with. Some readers may well still be in this phase of
freelance translator evolution.

Don't worry. It doesn't last forever. It can't last forever
because if you don't get into stage 2 before you run short of
funds, you'll be forced to find other work that pays more
quickly.

Some people transition from stage 1 to stage 2 by translating
part-time.



Stage 2: Established

You've got a pretty good idea what clients are willing to pay for
your services and you are unwilling to give heavy discounts
unless there's a very good reason. (Ex. guaranteed regular volume
work).

You've figured out what type of work you like and what is most
profitable for you (hopefully you've got a good match).

You've got a handful of regular repeat clients.

You feel more secure but still sometimes wonder if it's going to
last.

You're still very keen.

You've had your work trashed a few times by malicious proof-
readers who are trying to steal your work for themselves. It
still hurts, but now you more fully understand the politics of
how the translation business works.

You no longer do short deadline "tests" for unknown clients.

You've probably had at least one "non-payment experience"

You're waiting for some of the cheap equipment you originally
bought to break, so you can justify upgrading to better stuff.
(Don't wait too long. It took 7 years for our first fax machine
to die before we could buy a plain paper fax).

You've probably got a filing cabinet and an ordered filing system
by now - like in proper offices - to keep track of your previous
work.

You still find it difficult to refuse work. Even if it's a little
bit inconvenient, or not quite the right subject. That problem
takes a long time to go away. Only when you become too busy or
too ill do you learn how to refuse work.



Stage 3: Busy

Work is coming in like there's no tomorrow.
You are in hot demand. You are happy that things are going well.
Will it last?

It can be a struggle to get your invoices out in a timely manner
and keep on top of other administrative work. Marketing? No time
for that, too busy working.

You seem to be working all the time, but the bank balance is
steadily improving, or that "black hole" debt is reducing. One
day you'll have time to think about what to do with some of your
earnings, but not today, because there's a deadline to meet.

This is where "urgency addiction" can set in. Ever heard of that?
It's when you're driven by urgency rather than importance. It
also often means that unless something is urgent it won't get
done. Or if there is something to do (that you don't enjoy doing)
it will be left until the last possible moment before it is done.



Stage 4: Deadline Dazed

Did I have a life before all this work? OK the money's seriously
coming in now, but isn't there more to life than work?

In this phase you've been working pretty solidly for several
weeks or months. Desperately trying to meet all deadlines, while
not turning away any work.

"What day is it?" Is probably something you have to think quite
hard about, because all the days are the same. You, your
computer, your work, your clients.

You've probably had a go at sub-contracting work out to others
and realised that there is no free lunch to be had in doing that
because you end up checking all the work anyway and unless you
have direct clients, there's not much profit margin for you, and
it's often not worth the hassle.

Did I used to do some sport or have some hobbies. Forgotten all
about that.

Busy busy busy. More more more. Work work work Until...



Stage 5: Imposed Slowdown

Something (outside your control) happens that forces you to take
a step back and re-evaluate. Either the birth of a child makes
you refocus your priorities, or maybe some kind of breakdown,
which could be physical or mental illness.

You realise that you've got to look after yourself. Of course you
have to earn a living, but not kill yourself in the process.

After a period of adjustment, you may either go through stages
2-5 again or proceed straight to stage 6.



Stage 6: Comfort Level - Mature Business

You still don't like turning away work, but if it's inconvenient,
too stressful, or you just don't like the "feel" of a new client,
you will be much more prepared to reject it.

You've probably made a big dent in your mortgage, or even paid it
off - depending on how long you stayed in stages 3 & 4 and what
you did with the proceeds of your work.

Through this you find that you don't actually need to earn as
much as before in order to satisfy your basic needs (not talking
about the fleet of sports cars in your driveway, or that shuttle
trip to the moon).

You have a stable base of repeat clients who are comfortable with
you, always pay within your comfort zone, and provide the kind of
work that you like.

Basically, you've reached a point of comfort and stability.

When I first started in business, I realised that by the time you
feel comfortable you've missed an opportunity. This is true.

But what I didn't know then, that I do now, is that since not
every opportunity is the right one, sometimes deliberately
missing opportunities is a good thing.



Where Have You Reached?

What stage are you at with your business?
If you're in stage 3 or 4 take some time out every week to do
physical exercise or something relaxing and pleasurable. Look
after yourself.

When you're self-employed, there is no sick pay. A day off sick
is a day not earning. So take your short breaks now to avoid an
enforced long break later. Too much work on? For goodness sake
don't be so greedy - turn the least attractive project away.






[Edited at 2005-10-31 10:42]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:12
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Nessuno degli scenari proposti... Oct 31, 2005

Io lavoro solo per mantenere la famiglia, altrimenti mi sarei dedicato al mio orticello da tempo.

Giovanni


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:12
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Io salterò il 4, spero... Oct 31, 2005

Caro Giovanni,

a me sembra che tu, per ragioni tue private, sia nel pieno della fasi 3 e 4, e non puoi permetterti ancora di rallentare, ma aspiri alla fase 5.
Peraltro, questa rappresentazione è schematica e arbitraria ma abbastanza rivelatrice. Io per esempio mi ritrovo un po' in diverse fasi, tra il 2 e il 5, forse con una maggiore tendenza a quanto descritto in 3...

Mi sa tanto che salto il 4, e non avendo figli da mantenere per 20 anni, passo direttamente a 5 e 6 al più presto possibile...

ciao
Gianfranco




[Edited at 2005-10-31 15:32]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:12
Member (2004)
English to Italian
Quale fase? Oct 31, 2005

Gianfranco Manca wrote:

Caro Giovanni,

a me sembra che tu, per ragioni tue private, sia nel pieno della fasi 3 e 4, e non puoi permetterti ancora di rallentare, ma aspiri alla fase 5.

ciao
Gianfranco




[Edited at 2005-10-31 15:32]


No, aspiro alla fase 6... o alla 7, la pensione...

G


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Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 05:12
Member
Italian to English
Surely not... Oct 31, 2005


What stage are you at with your business?
If you're in stage 3 or 4 take some time out every week to do
physical exercise or something relaxing and pleasurable. Look
after yourself.



Surely that should apply to ALL stages, not just 3 or 4?
*confused*


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 02:12
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Lavoro e stanchezza fanno abbandonare la cura del fisico Oct 31, 2005

Fiona Peterson wrote:
Surely that should apply to ALL stages, not just 3 or 4?
*confused*


Certo, è sempre valido, ma immagino che nelle fasi 3 e 4 sia più facile dimenticarsene, stretti da impegni pressanti di lavoro + eventuali impegni familiari + stanchezza, ecc... e si tende ad abbandonare l'attività fisica.
Il ravvedimento avviene in fase 5, se non è troppo tardi...

ciao
Gianfranco



[Edited at 2005-10-31 21:51]


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LuciaC
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:12
English to Italian
+ ...
Dipende... Nov 1, 2005

Concordo grossomodo con le fasi, ma per l'esercizio fisico dipende, appunto. Abito in zona pianeggiante e uso il più possibile la bicicletta. Ogni giorno scarrozzo in giro i bambini tra scuola, asilo, amichetti ecc. e alla fine della giornata ho percorso 10-15 km. Per un certo periodo mi sono iscritta in palestra ma non riuscivo ad andarci regolarmente per via del lavoro (appunto) e poi trovavo cretino dover prendere la macchina per andare a fare esercizio fisico. Andandoci in bicicletta, invece, arrivavo già stanca dopo mezz'ora di pedalata e allora ho felicemente rinunciato a un costoso e inutile abbonamento! Si vede come sono sportiva...?

Poi mi hanno fatto sorridere queste due frasi:

"You've probably made a big dent in your mortgage, or even paid it
off/You find that you don't actually need to earn as
much as before in order to satisfy your basic needs"

Ma quando mai?!
In quale paese riesci a pagarti *in pochi anni* (non mi sembra che la fase 6 riguardi chi è prossimo alla pensione, no?) un prestito ipotecario con il solo reddito delle traduzioni? Mah, forse i single ci riescono, a dire il vero. Con una famiglia è una chimera.
Anche con un partner che porta a casa una bella fetta di stipendio, i soldi non bastano mai. Chi ha figli adolescenti lo sa meglio di me - pare che al giorno d'oggi siano carissimi! E poi la manutenzione della casa (parlo della Gran Bretagna, sai come sono fatte le case qui, di cartone) è un pozzo senza fondo.

In generale, però, concordo sul fatto che ci siano delle fasi nel nostro lavoro, come in tutti i lavori, ma secondo me il nostro amico si è dimenticato un dettaglio. A nessun traduttore affermato viene mai voglia di cambiare lavoro? Voglio dire, a un certo punto si fa un bilancio, no? Ci si guarda intorno, si fanno dei calcoli, ci si chiede se la vita ha altro da offrirci, se non potremmo "brillare" anche in un altro campo... Poi è chiaro che spesso la riposta è no per motivi pratici, ma mi chiedevo solo quanti traduttori, una volta affermatisi, mettono i piedi sulla scrivania e contemplano soddisfatti il loro successo in attesa della pensione...

Saluti
Lucia


[Edited at 2005-11-01 17:12]


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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 04:12
Member (2004)
English to Italian
appunto... Nov 1, 2005

Lucia Cavalli wrote:


In generale, però, concordo sul fatto che ci siano delle fasi nel nostro lavoro, come in tutti i lavori, ma secondo me il nostro amico si è dimenticato un dettaglio. A nessun traduttore affermato viene mai voglia di cambiare lavoro? Voglio dire, a un certo punto si fa un bilancio, no? Ci si guarda intorno, si fanno dei calcoli, ci si chiede se la vita ha altro da offrirci, se non potremmo "brillare" anche in un altro campo... Poi è chiaro che spesso la riposta è no per motivi pratici, ma mi chiedevo solo quanti traduttori, una volta affermatisi, mettono i piedi sulla scrivania e contemplano soddisfatti il loro successo in attesa della pensione...

Saluti
Lucia


Io sono uno di quelli. Se potessi, cambierei volentieri lavoro dopo quasi 15 anni di traduzioni. Ma non posso, per i miei impegni familiari. Quindi tiro avanti.



E poi la manutenzione della casa (parlo della Gran Bretagna, sai come sono fatte le case qui, di cartone) è un pozzo senza fondo.



Vero, la manutenzione costa. Ma la mia è in piedi dal 1630 e non dà ancora segni di cedimenti...

Giovanni


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Francis Kastalski  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:12
Member (2010)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I fit in... Nov 17, 2005

Hello, Gianfranco...
That was funny..at a certain moment in your [very nice] article, I wondered: "Did I write my odyssea somewhere and someone picked it up?"
Rather pertinent the text, thanks so much.
Francis


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Arturo Mannino  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:12
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Fase 2 Nov 17, 2005

... e spero di arrivare all'ultima fase saltandomi le altre

Traduttore avvisato, mezzo salvato...


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Elena H Rudolph
Italy
Local time: 05:12
English to Italian
+ ...
Io mi sono divertita Nov 26, 2005

A leggere soprattuto la fase 1, forse perché l'ho superata (spero definitivamente) e mi identifico nella fase 2... Anche se temo che la ricerca "dell'altro lavoro" (MA QUALE DI QUESTI TEMPI E A QUESTE CONDIZIONI CONTRATTUALI?) sia sempre in agguato.

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Luca Tutino  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 23:12
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Fotografia perfetta - tranne che su un punto Jan 2, 2006

Grazie per la piacevole lettura! Anche a me viene da chiedermi se Alex Eames abbia spiato la mia vita, nascosto in qualche cassetto, da diversi anni a questa parte.

Basta sostituire qualche dettaglio (la laurea fresca con l'improvvisa perdita di una carriera ben avviata, il mutuo con la formazione di una coppia con una "business woman" canadese, e la nascita dei figli con il prepotente ritorno della pratica musicale abbandonata da oltre vent'anni) e il quadretto diviene probabilmente ancora più realistico di quanto lo stesso Alex non immagini.

Forse lui ha avuto gioco facile a indovinare tutto, poiché sono stato suo fedele allievo nel passaggio dall'impiego alla libera professione. Solo un punto non ha potuto cogliere, ovviamente, in quanto americano: nonostante il rispetto degli obiettivi economici da lui indicati qui purtroppo lo stadio 6 è molto meno sereno di quanto lui non descriva. Per esempio, pur non facendo economie al momento di scegliere una casa, grazie alla famigerata legge sugli affitti ogni quattro anni siamo costretti a cambiare di abitazioni per improrogabili "esigenze personali" dei nipoti dei proprietari. Sono ben pochi nei miei dintorni, almeno tra i componenti dello tsunami demografico - a sentirsi già confortevolmente stabili per i soli fatti di avere qualche cliente fisso, ragionevole e soddisfatto, e di potersi permettere di saltare qualche opportunità.

Se le cose continuano per questo verso non escludo che nel mio caso tra le fasi 6 e 7 potrà essere necessario emigrare... ma se resterò in Italia prevedo ragionevolmente che la serenità potrà arrivare entro la fase 18, prima del mio 74° compleanno


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Giuseppe Orlando
Italy
Local time: 05:12
English to Italian
+ ...
Fase 2 tendente alla 6 Mar 22, 2011

Molto carina questa discussione.
Mi ritengo molto fortunato. La fase 1 non l'ho mai vissuta e la 2 è stata finora priva di quegli episodi negativi descritti.
Speriamo che la 6 arrivi presto. Lo capirò entro settembre.


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