Poll: Clients tend to treat freelancers more like ...
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff
ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 12:58
SITE STAFF
Nov 23, 2007

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Clients tend to treat freelancers more like ...".

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Marcelo Silveyra
United States
Local time: 12:58
Member (2007)
German to English
+ ...
Other Nov 23, 2007

Like...uhmm...freelancers?

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Russell Jones  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 20:58
Italian to English
Collaborators? Nov 23, 2007

I know this is the term in Romance languages but in English it has the connotation of someone who assists an occupying military force. It is distinctly pejorative.
Please stick to freelancer.


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Erik Hansson  Identity Verified
Germany
Member (2002)
Swedish
+ ...
Collaborators and partners Nov 23, 2007

I think that this question is closely linked to the poll question whether translators see themselves as business people or not.
In an ideal case, clients (translating agency) should treat freelancers like business partners on the same eye-level, and not as employees. I once had a case when a translating agency behind my back had agreed new rates (i.e. lower rates) with an end-client without asking the translators first, and then dictated the new rates for the next job. Of course I refused to take on the job and referred to breach of contract. Haven't heard a word from those people ever since.

Erik

[Bearbeitet am 2007-11-23 13:13]


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Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 22:58
English to Russian
+ ...
Cab driver! Nov 23, 2007

Replying to my question about my status and prospects for the future, one of my best clients ever smiled and said: "Well, you are like a taxi driver." This conversation took place as far back as in 1993, but I remembered it as it gives, in my opinion, the best definition of the free-lance translator's status. I'm not saying, however, that there is anything distressing or discouraging about being a free-lance translator)

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maryblack  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:58
Member (2013)
Spanish to English
+ ...
depends... Nov 23, 2007

That depends on the client. Some truly work with me as an equal, respect my opinion, etc. But there are others that don't even treat me las well as an employee - i.e., the argument I have so often with clients after holidays, even long weekends and they just haven't managed to get around to paying me. My reply: "But you got paid, didn't you? And your employees got paid, didn't they? So is there any reason why your freelancers didn't get paid?" Hmmm, I've yet to hear a good reason why not... and prompt payment has not exactly become the norm....

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Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:58
Italian to English
+ ...
"collaborators" Nov 23, 2007

Although I see why Russell dislikes the term! My clients treat me as a valued equal in their business. I wouldn't work with any who tried to treat me as their employee (unless they were just offering me holiday pay, I might accept that).

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Sven Petersson  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 21:58
English to Swedish
+ ...
MUSHROOMS Nov 23, 2007

Most agencies treat translators like one treats mushrooms; direct customer treat translators like they treat any other supplier.

***********************
Sven Petersson
Medical translator
Web site: www.svenp.com
***********************


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Heidi C  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Depends Nov 24, 2007

On the client

On how one educates the client (when necessary)


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:58
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Cab drivers Nov 24, 2007

Alexander Kondorsky wrote:

Replying to my question about my status and prospects for the future, one of my best clients ever smiled and said: "Well, you are like a taxi driver." This conversation took place as far back as in 1993, but I remembered it as it gives, in my opinion, the best definition of the free-lance translator's status. I'm not saying, however, that there is anything distressing or discouraging about being a free-lance translator)


... or, indeed about being a cab driver?
But I see what your client meant - we're there to be hailed by whoever hails us first, but we can refuse to take the fare south of the river ...
Regards,
Jenny.


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Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:58
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Mushrooms Nov 24, 2007

Sven Petersson wrote:

Most agencies treat translators like one treats mushrooms; direct customer treat translators like they treat any other supplier.

***********************
Sven Petersson
Medical translator
Web site: www.svenp.com
***********************


Hullo Sven,
In the days when I was an employee as opposed to the freelancer I am now, I found that most employers treated me like mushrooms too - kept in the dark and fed on manure - to put it politely.
I find the status of a freelancer is actually less mushroom-like. We can always refuse the manure.
Regards,
Jenny.


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 15:58
English to French
+ ...
Yup Nov 24, 2007

Heidi C wrote:

[Depends] on the client

On how one educates the client (when necessary)


Yup, that is correct. I have noticed that there are lots of clients out there who treat us like employees, even though there are also lots who treat us like an expert on whose services they rely. I'd say that it's 50/50. Why is that, when other service providers like lawyers, dentists and such are treated far better on the whole?

A little bit of psychology... It is because many translators are asking to be subordinates that they are subordinates, and after a while, seeing the number of people wanting to be treated like subordinates, outsourcers start thinking we all want to be treated like subordinates. Lots of people who "can English" don't understand that being a freelancer doesn't just come down to translating, that you have to know your market, negotiate, have your own terms like payment terms and such, etc. When a freelancer doesn't practice this, the outsourcer sees someone who doesn't know where he's going and is in need of someone to lead them. Then, that person becomes a subordinate. The classic situation is when a new outsourcer asks a translator "how much do you charge?" and the translator's answer is "how much do you have in mind?". He is supposed to know how much he is worth, and if he leaves this up to the outsourcer, well, the outsourcer will start dictating how much he thinks the translator is worth. That's when the translator becomes a subordinate.

It's not for nothing we are called independent contractors...

[Edited at 2007-11-24 16:46]


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David Russi  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Manure, lots of manure Nov 24, 2007

Jenny Forbes wrote:

I find the status of a freelancer is actually less mushroom-like. We can always refuse the manure.



I guess it does depend on the quality and quantity of the manure, which I have seen getting deeper and deeper over my almost 20 years as a freelancer.

Frankly, for me it is the exact opposite: since I started working in-house, I feel like my work is actually appreciated, I am praised for it, and I am no longer subjected to the unreasonable whims of the business/development world.

Then again, I do have a particularly good job!


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Hilary Davies Shelby
United States
Local time: 14:58
German to English
Know your worth Nov 24, 2007

Viktoria Gimbe wrote:

A little bit of psychology... It is because many translators are asking to be subordinates that they are subordinates, and after a while, seeing the number of people wanting to be treated like subordinates, outsourcers start thinking we all want to be treated like subordinates. Lots of people who "can English" don't understand that being a freelancer doesn't just come down to translating, that you have to know your market, negotiate, have your own terms like payment terms and such, etc. When a freelancer doesn't practice this, the outsourcer sees someone who doesn't know where he's going and is in need of someone to lead them. Then, that person becomes a subordinate. The classic situation is when a new outsourcer asks a translator "how much do you charge?" and the translator's answer is "how much do you have in mind?". He is supposed to know how much he is worth, and if he leaves this up to the outsourcer, well, the outsourcer will start dictating how much he thinks the translator is worth. That's when the translator becomes a subordinate.



I think this is a very interesting point. Knowing your worth (and your market) is key. I know that when I first started, I had no idea what a translator was paid per word or per hour, and I did a lot of work for less than half of what I charge now for agencies who took advantage of my naiivety. I did learn a lot - but I didn't eat much!

There are some great agencies out there too. In the early days, one agency very kindly told me that I was charging too little, and refused to pay me the rate I had timidly requested. Instead, they INCREASED it, and would not take "but..." for an answer. They are respectful of my availability and handle queries promptly and politely. They are still one of my favourite clients.

Four years later, I can afford to be a bit more choosy about my agencies. I do, however, still have a few clients on my books who offer more interesting (to me) projects, but who expect me to be at their beck and call whenever I've agreed to help out with something. I've learned to take "only a few lines" with a sack of salt, to expect the job to arrive late and for it to be requested back early. (All of these, incidentally, have been good lessons to bear in mind whenever I accept work from a new agency). I do still accept work from these people when I'm having a slow week, or if i've had a run of more boring jobs and need a bit of a change. If, however, I found another agency who would offer me similarly interesting work, I would suddenly become "extremely busy".


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