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Off topic: Are you tired of translation?
Thread poster: Jing Nie

Jing Nie
China
Local time: 21:16
Member (2011)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Dec 28, 2011

I think I am an experienced translator. Just recently, I bought Proz formal membership for 2 yrs after being on Proz since 2004.

And I think I know a lot about translation business. And I always trying to keep up with the newest development in this field. I have some direct clients and several long-term cooperated translation agencies in USA.

But just a few days ago, I felt that I am totally tired of it after completing a very big project. With the increasing of my clients, I have to spend more time everyday on translation, talking with clients on the phone, sending invoices, dealing with all kinds of problem my clients can not solve.

I felt that I am more like a machine than a human, working everyday even at weekends. Answering phone calls in the same way, repeat the same words to different people.

And I understand I can not relax, if I travelling for 1 month, my client will not find me and they will hire other people. That is the sadness of being a freelancer, more successful you are, you have to work more hours each day, you just can not stop.

But I am really tired of working everyday, and even think if one day I sleep and never wake up will be a happy ending for me.


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 20:16
Member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Eagerness Dec 28, 2011

I am still happy with translation: to peep into people's confidential matters and latest technology.
Soonthon Lupkitaro


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 14:16
English to Russian
+ ...
Tired after only 6 years? Dec 28, 2011

If you are tired after 6 years, just think of Jack Slep, a fellow ProZ member who has been in this business for SIXTY years!

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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:16
English to German
+ ...
Are you tired of translating or simply tired of wearing too many hats? Dec 28, 2011

As a freelancer or any self-employed person, for that matter, you always have to combine several professions in one. You are in management, you are customer service, you are the front-desk, you are the accounting department, all at once - and when all people are finally happy and by the time you are tired and worn-out from all this communicating and it is already late afternoon - hey! then you might even find the time to do the productive job that you are paid for. Translating, that is.

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Jing Nie
China
Local time: 21:16
Member (2011)
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hmm, interesting Dec 28, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

As a freelancer or any self-employed person, for that matter, you always have to combine several professions in one. You are in management, you are customer service, you are the front-desk, you are the accounting department, all at once - and when all people are finally happy and by the time you are tired and worn-out from all this communicating and it is already late afternoon - hey! then you might even find the time to do the productive job that you are paid for. Translating, that is.


Hi Nicole,
Although I did not agree with you in many discussions , lol, I totally agree with you this time. You have to do everything and anything besides translation.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:16
English to German
+ ...
You know, Dec 28, 2011

Jing Nie wrote:

Hi Nicole,
Although I did not agree with you in many discussions , lol,


Whenever I am a bit down and frustrated myself, I tend to interpret a lot of things in a negative way and I disagree with just about everything.

Back to the topic:

You have to do everything and anything besides translation.


There is one thing I learned (from my clients): They want you fresh and rested, energetic and full of vigor. Vacations are important. Sleep is important. They won't replace a trusted, reliable go-to translator with a new one at the drop of a hat. But they will replace a burned-out one and I have seen several colleagues with whom I worked regularly on the same accounts vanish into oblivion. During the last two or three years I mercilessly developed the habit of having my phone turned off 90% of the time. I get so much more work done. I also don't drop my work to answer each and every email that is not related to my current job immediately.


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 21:16
Chinese to English
Don't give away your services Dec 28, 2011

First, I completely agree with Nicole. Fortunately, I don't live in the same country as most of my clients, so I don't get too many phone calls. But I never never turn on any chat software (MSN Messenger, QQ, GTalk). I check my email once every couple of hours. I just accept that I'm going to miss some "urgent" jobs.

Second, I think more and more that what we sell - particularly in our language pair - is not the language itself, but the extra-linguistic knowledge and experience that we build up. We all know that you can translate a Chinese document quite "accurately", and yet your American client will still not have a clue what it says; and the same is true the other way round.

If your clients read a document, still don't get it, and ask you for clarification, you should charge for that service. xxx RMB for half a day of background documentation and clarification.


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Germaine  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:16
Member (2005)
English to French
+ ...
Not yet tired, but... Dec 28, 2011

I've been a freelancer for more than 21 years now and yes, at some point, I also got tired of being available and responsible anytime for everything and everyone, to plan my vacations with those of my clients and mostly, to have no life but a business. And the fact is that more you give, more you're asked for... and the hardest it is to slow down the machine!

So, it took me more than a year to get my clients - and friends! - used to my new Monday-to-Friday-9:00-to-5:00 "opening hours". I don't answer the phone in the evening or week-ends anymore, except for very special clients who never ask unless they really are in trouble or who are such a pleasure to work with that I would feel bad for missing the opportunity. I still plan my vacation taking into consideration my client's, but I also allow myself some long week-ends if I need to and although I have to rush the day before and after, I can enjoy such free time in peace, no remorse in tow.

I encourage you to take good care of yourself. You've been waiting long enough! Remember that YOU are your most valuable asset.


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Monika Coulson  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:16
Member (2001)
English to Albanian
+ ...
Still happy Dec 28, 2011

I have been working as a translator for about 19 years now and I am still happy with my job.

I did take two big breaks from my work (which were not related to this work at all). The first break was 1 and 1/2 years (2006 - 2007) and the second break 1 year (mid 2010 - mid 2011). Both times I bounced back just fine and I am still working for the same clients I have worked since a decade ago.

If you feel overwhelmed with your work, you might consider subletting some work to translators you trust and who have the same style as yours.

However, you are the only one who knows what's best for you. If you do not enjoy this type of work, there isn't much point of continuing with it and being miserable or tired.

Hope you are happy with whichever choice you make.

Sincerely,

Monika


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Gennady Lapardin  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 16:16
Italian to Russian
+ ...
May be it's not the case Dec 28, 2011

but as an option: suppose, you are tired to lift every day 100 kg, it's too monotonous, and the optimism faded. Try to slightly increase the weight. I repeat, good health is mandatory precondition!!
Happy New Year 2012!

[Edited at 2011-12-28 07:33 GMT]


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Halil Ibrahim Tutuncuoglu "Бёcäטsع Լîfe's cômplicåtعd eñøugh"
Turkey
Local time: 16:16
Turkish to English
+ ...
We can open a hamburger shop Dec 28, 2011

if you will cry uncle. I would be more than glad if someone finds me a job like the one on TV serial "private investigator Thomas Magnum, based in Hawaii"

[Edited at 2011-12-28 08:49 GMT]


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Joeri Van Liefferinge  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 14:16
Member (2002)
English to Dutch
+ ...
I got rid of all that is not translating Dec 28, 2011

A few years ago, my wife took over invoicing, payments and all the red tape aspects of being a freelancer. That takes a lot of weight off of my shoulders and I can concentrate on what I like most: interacting with my clients and translating!

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:16
Spanish to English
+ ...
Master of none Dec 28, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

As a freelancer or any self-employed person, for that matter, you always have to combine several professions in one. You are in management, you are customer service, you are the front-desk, you are the accounting department, all at once - and when all people are finally happy and by the time you are tired and worn-out from all this communicating and it is already late afternoon - hey! then you might even find the time to do the productive job that you are paid for. Translating, that is.


So true, which is why I get so angry when people (usually Trados proselytizers) tell me I ought to recycle my skills, offer new services etc. The actual wordsmithery of translation is a labour of love for me. All the rest - billing, management, PR - is simply a slog.


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Helena Chavarria  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:16
Member (2011)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I totally agree Dec 28, 2011

neilmac wrote:

So true, which is why I get so angry when people (usually Trados proselytizers) tell me I ought to recycle my skills, offer new services etc. The actual wordsmithery of translation is a labour of love for me. All the rest - billing, management, PR - is simply a slog.


And I think the paperwork you need to plough through every three months is even worse if you live in Spain - as I do.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 11:16
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Tired of some translation market idiosyncrasies Dec 28, 2011

After 38 years doing it professionally, I'm not tired of translation in itself. I'm not tired of wearing too many non-translation hats (customer service, billing, accounting, logistics, software, etc.). I really enjoy wearing an entire rack of translation-related hats, such as DTP, PPT, PDF, video editing, subtitling, DVD authoring, etc.

However I am tired of several unique quirks the translation market has:
  • Too many clients who feel entitled to impose all terms and conditions: turnaround time (regardless of feasibility), price, payment terms, payment methods, etc.
  • Several clients demanding specific tools (viz. Trados) even when there is no reason to use any such tool (e.g. a 300-word handwritten document).
  • A flock of clients who demand their requests to be fulfilled to the dot, while they are quite careless about their own commitments (e.g. pay late).
  • Some clients assigning translators an urgent job keep them waiting for an extended period of time before giving them anything to work on (while that short deadline remains unchanged).
  • A few clients attempting to apply severe penalties on nondescript and undocumented quality flaws, merely by stating that they should exist.
  • (add your own list)


It seems that over the years too many "translators", low in both self-esteem and business acumen, have taken "Client is king!" to a new level, turning many of these kings into drunken dictators.

I'm not saying this applies to all nor most translation clients, however the growing number of such drunken dictators among them has become a nuisance.


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