I can’t get rid of this catchy Meghan Trainor earworm, except in my head it goes “It’s all about the rates, ‘bout the rates, no trouble”. This is not true, of course, because where rates are discussed trouble is not far behind, or so we are told, but what the heck. I’ll start.
I started my translation career working for $0.05/word on, where else, Proz.com. I just bumped into the site one day while job hunting, and I was beyond thrilled that here, apparently, was a way back into the profession I had thought I’d had to give up for good when I abandoned my Translation studies at the University of Amsterdam to move to the agricultural Central Valley of California. So when I found Proz and realized that physical location no longer mattered, I set up a profile faster than you can say “bulk-versus-premium market” and happily jumped into the bidding fray. Continue reading
Getting your own business website is a huge milestone. I loved the excitement of the the design phase, creating the content, and finally seeing it out there “live” on the internet. Of course I’d heard about hackers and such but that seemed like one of those things that happens to other people. There’s a saying among con artists, though, that if you look around the room and you can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you. If I’d looked a little closer I might have seen the “hack me” sign on my back. Continue reading
A few months back I was faced with a bit of a moral dilemma.
You may recognize the scenario: I had been asked by an agency with which I have a long-standing relationship to evaluate the work of a potential new translator. The translation was excellent and earned a high score on the evaluation sheet; simple enough. But when I emailed the project manager with the results I found myself hesitating, as it occurred to me that having another talented translator around might mean less work for me. Did I really want to add fuel to the fire by adding a personal note of praise for this potential interloper? Continue reading
The Dutch are a no-nonsense, straightforward people, and I always thought the language expressed this national characteristic pretty well.
Not for us those expressions of affection that roll off the tongue so easily in English. Ik hou van je is much harder to say than “I love you” for some reason, which logically speaking is bizarre of course, since the Dutch love their nearest and dearest as much as anyone else. The only reason I can think of is that effusiveness is simply not in line with the Dutch character. We are a nation of farmers and seafarers after all. Fighting sea and soil does not leave much energy for poetry. Continue reading
I received an assignment from a long-standing client last week that made my Spidey-sense tingle as soon as I read the instructions. It was billed as a super easy review of a translation done in-house at a hospital which should take no more than half an hour. Uh-huh. A quick glance at the translation told me that this was going to take a lot more than thirty minutes, especially since they also wanted me to explain every change I made and check the terminology against a reference document. I explained I’d only be able to scratch the surface in that time, so the agency agreed to pay me for an hour and asked me to do what I could within that time frame.
It was a textbook case of You Get What You Pay for and Why the #&!! Did You Not Hire a Professional in the First Place. Continue reading
Image by Mike Licht on Flickr
If your response to this title is “Absolutely nothing, HUH! (say it again y’all),” to the tune of War, What is it Good For, you are probably thinking in terms of how effective blogs are as marketing tools. A common complaint is that blogs do nothing to bring in new clients and are therefore a waste of time.
It’s an interesting debate which surely does not just apply to the translation industry, so out of curiosity I decided to look at a few other professions to see how their practitioners use blogs. Continue reading
The freelancer-large agency relationship is often an ambivalent one. On the one hand, the industry behemoths can provide a steady flow of work, which is a good thing if you have bills to pay. On the other hand, larger also means more layers of organization, so the people you talk to don’t have the authority to make decisions, and the people who do tend to be well-protected behind the organizational line of scrimmage. Plus some of them don’t pay a lot. When I first started translating I didn’t realize this was an issue, because I was happy to have work at all and I jumped on every job offer, no questions asked (which, in hindsight, I don’t recommend). Continue reading
Translation is one of those professions that sound like an easy way to make some extra cash to certain people. They don’t understand what it involves, exactly, but when they find out you’re apparently making a pretty good living at knowing a few languages, you can practically see the thought forming: “Hey, I could do that!”
I’ve had a few people over the years approach me for advice on how to get a translation business going. At first I dove right in with enthusiastic advice about ways to gain experience, build a resume, find clients, etc., but I have found that a lot of times the eager nodding is not turned into action, let alone perseverance, and when I see these people months later they are still wistfully waiting for some magic jump-start. Continue reading
It’s almost December, and that means it’s time to start thinking about business Christmas gifts. Gift-giving can get complicated fast. There are thousands of websites and stores that offer gift ideas for businesses, but just because you can give your clients a tub of tootsie rolls with your logo on them, does that mean you should? Here are some thoughts on the why, the who and the what of giving. Continue reading
This is the first time I’ve posted a blog in a while, as my social media activities have been on the back burner for the past month. Nothing against y’all, but I’ve had family from the Netherlands staying with me and there is only so much of myself to go around. I did keep tabs on other people’s posts and tweets so I know I have a lot of good stuff to catch up on, but I’ve mostly been confined to lurker status.
During this period of social abstinence a few thoughts occurred to me about my usual forms of interaction.
If you’ve read some of my other posts you know I’m not a fan of the phone call. Continue reading