Why getting direct clients is difficult for translators

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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:48
Russian to English
+ ...
It is hard because big corporations Jun 16, 2016

have contracts with the government and almost any other more serious business. That is the problem, I think the government should have its own translation management office and hire vendors directly—highly qualified translators. Using agencies is a waste of money, time, plus sometimes the security may be compromised.

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Catherine De Crignis  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:48
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
Having trouble trying to register with ZingWord Jun 16, 2016

Has anyone else got this issue?
Once I type in my name and email, and click on "sign me up", it says "please wait" forever...


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Huw Watkins  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:48
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
I don't really agree Jun 17, 2016

LilianNekipelov wrote:

have contracts with the government and almost any other more serious business. That is the problem, I think the government should have its own translation management office and hire vendors directly—highly qualified translators. Using agencies is a waste of money, time, plus sometimes the security may be compromised.


I think most of the translation work I do is for private companies that may only be loosely related to the government (in some cases a company in one country tendering for a public contract in another for example). More commonly, it's companies trading with other companies. Why would the government pay for translation in those cases? Agencies are well positioned to serve these needs, as are we translators directly, if you can dedicate your resources to marketing and sales and so forth in between projects. That is why it is difficult for us translators to get direct end clients in my opinion, we are not sales people with 8 hours a day to dedicate to sourcing clients.

In the UK, the local authorities do actually have their own departments for taking care of some of its language needs, mainly interpreting, but also translating for the police for example. The EU has it's own translation directorate, as we all know.

I really don't get your point at all.

[Edited at 2016-06-17 04:01 GMT]


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DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
up in arms Jun 17, 2016

The 'government', 'state', 'nation', and some other notions are gradually overridden and replaced by numerous growing transnational corporations and biggy non-governmental organizations, which actually do the ratrace--oops!--biz.

However, I think, in this case it's no trend, nor size that matter, for the real issue is the very lack of hands-on exp. Why, a good translator is knowledgeable enough to work as a decent 'languages specialist', an experienced translator also has some theoretical background in the field, whereas clients often need a real translator who is a specialist in the field with languages competence.

That's right: (1) the real value first, (2) foreign languages as a bonus then.
For example, would you employ a good guide and a good interpreter OR a good guide who can speak a few languages? A specialist who can do without a translator/interpreter OR a translator/interpreter who can only translate?

As an owner of a small startup, it was not even a question for me)
Go direct! Go even straighter!

IMO


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:48
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
On the contrary! Jun 17, 2016

LilianNekipelov wrote:
have contracts with the government and almost any other more serious business. That is the problem, I think the government should have its own translation management office and hire vendors directly—highly qualified translators. Using agencies is a waste of money, time, plus sometimes the security may be compromised.

I completely and absolutely disagree! Government offices are systematically less efficient and more expensive than private companies! I do not see why the taxpayer has to pay public employees' high salaries, benefits, and long-term rights for a work that can be done cheaper by private companies in a competitive bidding process.

The ideal process in public translation work is competitive bidding between agile private companies who hire conscious translators who charge reasonable, sustainable rates in exchange for quality work. 99% of all public translations are, obviously, public. Any translations on sensitive matters are already done by carefully screened translators or by government employees.


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Daryo
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:48
Serbian to English
+ ...
you would say that, wouldn't you? Jun 17, 2016

Tomás Cano Binder, CT [Freelancer and outsourcer]wrote:

LilianNekipelov wrote:
have contracts with the government and almost any other more serious business. That is the problem, I think the government should have its own translation management office and hire vendors directly—highly qualified translators. Using agencies is a waste of money, time, plus sometimes the security may be compromised.

I completely and absolutely disagree! Government offices are systematically less efficient and more expensive than private companies! I do not see why the taxpayer has to pay public employees' high salaries, benefits, and long-term rights for a work that can be done cheaper by private companies in a competitive bidding process.

The ideal process in public translation work is competitive bidding between agile private companies who hire conscious translators who charge reasonable, sustainable rates in exchange for quality work. 99% of all public translations are, obviously, public. Any translations on sensitive matters are already done by carefully screened translators or by government employees.


Except repeating the ideological mantra that happens to suit you as being an outsourcer yourself, have you any concrete examples or proofs?

"agile private companies"? agile in what? collecting CVs of qualified professionals when bidding and then passing the work to whoever is the cheapest translator available when there is a translation to be done? etc etc ...

Government and other public bodies directly managing and coordinating freelance translators is a very sensible solution!


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Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2011)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Economics Jun 17, 2016

In theory it will be more efficient and so cheaper to use agencies than for a company or government body to outsource translations itself (specialisation, laws of economics).

But the system falls down when, as in Sweden, the agencies bid stupidly low to bag the contracts and so have to use the cheapest and nastiest translators, and the government bodies then complain and complain but go on to choose the same old agencies next time contracts are awarded because they can't realistically sign contracts with freelance translators for 200 different language combinations.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 07:48
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Bad quality should be pushed out of the system Jun 17, 2016

Chris S wrote:
But the system falls down when, as in Sweden, the agencies bid stupidly low to bag the contracts and so have to use the cheapest and nastiest translators, and the government bodies then complain and complain but go on to choose the same old agencies next time contracts are awarded because they can't realistically sign contracts with freelance translators for 200 different language combinations.

Clearly then the government is failing to perform their duty to supervise what is being supplied. The bidding system must include a clause whereby an accumulation of quality issues to a certain level automatically means disqualification of the agency for a number of years. This way, agencies would take their business more seriously.


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nordiste  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:48
English to French
+ ...
not very objective Jun 17, 2016

The author claims he wants to help tranlators who have poor selling skills ...and in fact advertizes for the zillionnth translators' platform.

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Hubert Porteu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:48
Member (2016)
French to English
+ ...
Going direct is best if you have enough direct clients Jun 17, 2016

Personnally I don't work with government authorities. Their bidding processes are usually cumbersome and fuzzy. When they put out a call for tender it's a mere formality. At the end of the day, they choose whoever they want. Not necessarily the most qualified or the cheapest.

With private companies - large or small - it's much easier. If they find a good interpreter and/or translator who is also reliable, they will stick with him/ her. They'll tell you in advance when they have a big translation job coming up. And if from time to time you're ready to give up a night sleep or a week end because they have a rush job, they will very grateful... and loyal forever. At least until the next HR reshuffle. When you've become irreplaceable it's easier to negotiate prices.
All the Tanslation Agencies are not bad. Sure they won't pay you as much as a direct client (they have to make a margin) but some of them have loyal clients. To keep them, they also need good and loyal translators, not necessarily the cheapest ones ...


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 07:48
English to Polish
+ ...
Agency fraudulent advertising/deceptive marketing and marketplaces Jun 17, 2016

Agencies cut costs at the expense of quality but promise you pure gold if you look at the copy.

Marketplaces are breeding grounds for zombie translators for agencies*.

* Not strictly breeding because it has more to do with necromancy than procreation.


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LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:48
Russian to English
+ ...
Rather, why does the taxpayer have to pay three times as much Jun 18, 2016

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

LilianNekipelov wrote:
have contracts with the government and almost any other more serious business. That is the problem, I think the government should have its own translation management office and hire vendors directly—highly qualified translators. Using agencies is a waste of money, time, plus sometimes the security may be compromised.

I completely and absolutely disagree! Government offices are systematically less efficient and more expensive than private companies! I do not see why the taxpayer has to pay public employees' high salaries, benefits, and long-term rights for a work that can be done cheaper by private companies in a competitive bidding process.

The ideal process in public translation work is competitive bidding between agile private companies who hire conscious translators who charge reasonable, sustainable rates in exchange for quality work. 99% of all public translations are, obviously, public. Any translations on sensitive matters are already done by carefully screened translators or by government employees.

for the translations that various governmental entities outsource to companies which make huge profits, and pay the cheapest translators they can find one fourth of what they charge? A fact.
Bidding is a nonsensical approach as far as translation work is concerned—it is like having tenders when looking for concert pianists. It may make a lot of sense when looking for construction companies or engineers but not translators. Licensing legal translators may be a solution for the system not to be abused. Individual licensing, companies precluded. Like sworn translators in some countries—individual liability.

[Edited at 2016-06-18 15:01 GMT]


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