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Poll: Do you feel a recession in your translation business?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 07:55
SITE STAFF
Oct 27, 2011

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you feel a recession in your translation business?".

This poll was originally submitted by Helena Grahn. View the poll results »



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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 17:55
Turkish to English
+ ...
Yes Oct 27, 2011

I voted 'yes', but it is all relative. I find that business is far worse now than it was prior to the summer of 2008, when the recession started. On the other hand, things have picked up markedly from last year, when it was so bad that I was considering throwing in the towel.

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:55
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Oct 27, 2011

Not personally, although other colleagues with fewer direct clients are feeling the pinch.

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xxxInterlangue
Angola
Local time: 16:55
English to French
+ ...
Yes Oct 27, 2011

But maybe I am just getting (much) slower or my lucky star is not as good as it used to be ... Once upon a time, when the economy was slowing down, I could accept a new customer or two and keep my income level or even increase it.
Not this time: most of the extra offers had very tight deadlines and came during the few stretches when I already had a heavy workload. Shit happens


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Angus Stewart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:55
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
No, but I am feeling "the recession" in a wider sense Oct 27, 2011

I answered "yes", even though I have only started translating earlier this year and my business is continuing to grow. Hence, whilst I do not have any experience of the translation industry prior to "the recession" in order to make a full comparison, I have the perception that it is making it more difficult (but not impossible) to become established (in terms of finding new clients etc.) than would otherwise be the case. In addition, I am very acutely aware of the broader impact of "the recession" on various aspects of my private life.

"The recession" is also influencing the nature of the source texts I have been asked to translate, since a number of them have been related to liquidations. Accordingly, I feel "the recession" in my translation business, even although I am not experiencing "a recession" in it.


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Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 00:55
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Yes Oct 27, 2011

A big resounding YES!

Yes, it is all relative -- relative to the economy.

I live in a Japan and this country is heavily dependent on exports. When the yen gets abnormally strong and gains from 100 to 75 yen to 1US$ in the short space of a few months and stays that way for what feels like an eternity, the first thing that exporting manufacturers do is, well, the obvious -- cut back on exports and sit out the storm until it becomes economically viable to sell overseas without selling at a loss.

The next part of the chain reaction involves stringent cutbacks in the outsourcing of value-added services like translation.
And the heads of J>E technical translators like yours truly are sitting there, plum in the middle of the chopping block.

After the events of especially the past year or so, I feel like a punchbag in a kickboxing gym!


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Oliver Lawrence  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:55
Partial member (2008)
Italian to English
+ ...
No Oct 27, 2011

I might have said 'slightly' a couple of weeks ago, but the last week has been mayhem, so I currently have no reason to think so.

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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 15:55
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Likewise... Oct 27, 2011

[quote]JulianHolmes wrote:

A big resounding YES!


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Helenp  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:55
Member (2010)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Survey Chamber of Commerce Oct 27, 2011

A Dutch survey by the Chamber of Commerce showed all independent professionals suffered from the recession in the Netherlands, especially IT people and business consultants, sometimes with their rates dropping to 40%; one group formed an exception to this trend: translators and localization professionals. They seemed to be the only group (at least in the Netherlands) increasingly in demand and with rates rising to approx. 20%.
Interesting....


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Michaël Temmerman  Identity Verified
Costa Rica
Local time: 09:55
English to Dutch
+ ...
not at all Oct 27, 2011

It is as busy as ever, even though I moved from Belgium to Costa Rica in January.

Helenp wrote:

A Dutch survey by the Chamber of Commerce
anslators and localization professionals. They seemed to be the only group [...] with rates rising to approx. 20%.
[/quote]

I wonder whether the survey was based on freelance or agency rates. I suspect the latter... But interesting indeed!


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Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 10:55
Member (2004)
English to French
Absolutely Oct 27, 2011

I used to be busy every week-end on freelancing assignments (besides my in-house job), but the last 2 years, I barely had any assignments. A regular client (10+ years) used to send me lots to translate, but these past 2 years, I suppose they asked anyone who spoke French in their company to translate their documents so that they would not spend a dime of translation. I can't wait for this recession to be over.

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Angus Stewart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:55
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
Agreed Oct 27, 2011

Nina Khmielnitzky wrote:

I can't wait for this recession to be over.


Likewise, the past few years have been a very depressing time. I can't wait for it to be over in order to start feeling more optimistic and energized in general.


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DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:55
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Yes ... but stay positive Oct 27, 2011

I am based in Greece - there is no way you could avoid feeling recesison here. I find
local direct clients are much more frugal than previously, and rates offered to me by some Greek agencies are low (e.g. half of what they used to offer in 2006). So, I just increase the amount of work I do for foreign clients. But the market conditions in Greece combined with the ever increasing taxes and increasing cost of living is crippling for colleauges I know who rely mostly on local/national market for work.

More generally, I also see recession in the type of translation work I have. FOr example, while I have work in technical fields, I do see many less translations for new products, new constructions, etc.

I just try to stay postive, there is work out there, for good clients, for good rates ... even if I have to look a little harder for it.


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Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
France
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
No, but... Oct 27, 2011

I only launched myself as a freelance translator at the end of 2009 and it was a rotten time to get started!

I quickly realised that the arts field (my obvious "best bet" specialist area) wasn't going to provide enough work at the right rates, so I have been retraining in a related but more technical and lucrative "niche" field, which is now starting to bear fruit. Also, by pulling my belt ever tighter for the first year and saying "no" to most offers of unsuitable or badly-paid work, I have been able to build up a group of clients who need the rather idiosynchratic skill-set I offer.

I feel I'm doing well this year, but I know I'm only making headway because I'm running uphill faster than the escalator's going down. The thought of another year living mostly on tinned sardines has been a big incentive - and at 53, I'm not going to mess about!

So, courage, mes braves !
Alison


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 16:55
Italian to English
It's been a bit of a roller coaster Oct 27, 2011

I had a very good year in 2009 as many clients - old and new - tried to reposition themselves in the market by aiming for quality, even though a lot of price-conscious customers stopped sending me work.

In 2010, things calmed down to a certain extent and I invoiced less than in the previous year but this year things have picked up again. My advice would be to focus on quality, maintain your prices (I have raised mine this year) and give the punters the best service you can.

For the time being, the market is quality-driven.

FWIW

Giles


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