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Poll: Do you agree to provide free sample translations to potential clients?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 00:33
SITE STAFF
Apr 14, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you agree to provide free sample translations to potential clients?".

This poll was originally submitted by jbhatia. View the poll results »



 

Markus Perndl
Austria
Local time: 09:33
Italian to German
+ ...
No, why should I? Apr 14, 2015

Does anybody know a doctor who is offering a free "test treatment" or a hairdresser who is offering free "test haircuts"? It seems that translators are the only ones who are submissive towards their clients.

Sure, a client doesn't know if a translator is qualified. But 1) we also don't know if a client is "qualified" (= if he is a reliable payer) and 2) is a client really able to assess a translator's skills with a short test translation? I don't think so.

And there is another reason why clients should not require free test translations: Who are these translators that still need to work for free to get new clients? The good ones or the bad ones?


 

Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 09:33
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Yes Apr 14, 2015

I am happy to provide free sample translations as long as they are not too long.
This seems to me a fair and direct way to check a translator's skills. I much prefer it to providing references as I reckon my clients are busy enough without me asking them to write recommendations for me.


 

DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:33
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Other ... Apr 14, 2015

I generally don't get such requests from serious potential clients. Any new clients who approach me tend to approach me with actual jobs on basis of a recommendation from someone else, so I don't remember the last time I was asked to do a free sample/test translation. Though I wouldn't have any objection in principle to providing such a sample, given I actually had the time to do so and the sample was a reasonable length, like a paragraph.

I remember when I started out and I was building a clientbase I did get some such requests from agencies and I did do some samples and I never heard anything from them ever again. I came to the conclusion then that if agencies have work they wish to assign they send work and if not they send samples - so doing samples for agencies quickly became a low priority.

[Edited at 2015-04-14 09:41 GMT]


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 08:33
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Yes, me too! Apr 14, 2015

Marjolein Snippe wrote:

I am happy to provide free sample translations as long as they are not too long.
This seems to me a fair and direct way to check a translator's skills. I much prefer it to providing references as I reckon my clients are busy enough without me asking them to write recommendations for me.


I was opposed to free tests but the truth is I gained several excellent clients after agreeing to a test…


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:33
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No - not at this time Apr 14, 2015

I haven't had the time. I've got too much else to do. But I'll never say never.

 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 10:33
Turkish to English
+ ...
Other Apr 14, 2015

I have a large number of sample translations on my web site, and I will also do a brief test translation for prospective new clients. I am a top-notch legal translator from Turkish into English, but I don't expect anybody just to take my word for it.

 

Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:33
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Sometimes Apr 14, 2015

...but only for large or frequent projects, where there is a real possibility of work. I would much rather provide a sample translation than a reference as evidence of my abilities.

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
No, but I totally understand why agencies ask for them Apr 14, 2015

Markus Perndl wrote:

is a client really able to assess a translator's skills with a short test translation? I don't think so.



As an external assessor for one large and very credible agency, I found that 90% of test translations were sub-standard.

By this, I mean proper full-on translation errors in a straightforward 200 word text. Poor style, bad grammar and even spelling errors were also par for the course.

And these tests were from established translators. The obvious jokers/amateurs/newbies had already been weeded out earlier in the process.

I'd always thought tests were a waste of time because the translator has all the time in the world to perfect them, but I was wrong.


 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 09:33
Member (2006)
German to English
Yes Apr 14, 2015

If I have time, and why not?

 

Yetta J Bogarde  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 09:33
Member (2012)
English to Danish
+ ...
Yes Apr 14, 2015

it's kind of fun to do a short test, I also think it is preferable to providing references.

 

Erzsébet Czopyk  Identity Verified
Hungary
Local time: 09:33
Member (2006)
Russian to Hungarian
+ ...
test translation of 500 words Apr 14, 2015

Teresa Borges wrote:

Marjolein Snippe wrote:

I am happy to provide free sample translations as long as they are not too long.
This seems to me a fair and direct way to check a translator's skills. I much prefer it to providing references as I reckon my clients are busy enough without me asking them to write recommendations for me.


I was opposed to free tests but the truth is I gained several excellent clients after agreeing to a test…


I was against this practice but last year I won a huge project after test translation of 500 words. Larger of this I do not accept but any time can provide samples from the past translations with a phone number of the client. IMHO, a personal recommendation laways works better.


 

John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:33
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sure, sometimes Apr 14, 2015

If it looks like a serious offer, isn't urgent and is short, why not?

After all, this is a completely unregulated profession. Anybody can throw their hat in the ring and give it a try, so I don't blame companies/agencies for asking to see what they're going to get. It's a bit like trying the free samples you get at supermarkets. There's nothing unreasonable with "Taste and try before you buy".


 

Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:33
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not a panacea, but Apr 14, 2015

I've been promoting my translation portfolio on my website, slowly but surely. These are samples from past translations (past as in done recently). They are not editable files and not PDF files, but images of the source text and the target text. Others are samples of translation and desktop publishing projects I've done.

Because the samples are images, they cannot be copied or scraped by unscrupulous operators.


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 09:33
English to Russian
+ ...
Always Apr 14, 2015

If the prospective project is highly specialized, one short test can tell more about translator's aptitude in that field than ten diplomas and five CVs. From time to time, I am asked to review such tests, and let me tell you, they reveal potential problems very clearly. Accordingly, when asked to do such a test myself, I will gladly do one because I know the client is taking the most reasonable way to check if am a good fit.

 
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