View Full Version : How To Kill Your Translation Business

24-07-2015, 06:01 AM

There are a lot of ways to kill your translation business, but here are 18 of the
1) Charging low rates.

Charging low rates is a very quick way to kill your business right at the outset.
You will end up trying to get too much work, tiring yourself out, working too
hard for too little reward. You need to get it into your head that the only way
to survive on low rates is to live in a poor country. If you don’t live in a poor
country, you need to charge realistic rates.

2) Bidding low rates to get work on portals.

Why would you do that? Portals and bidding are OK right at the start of your
career to build up some experience – if you need that. But why would you
spend years chasing the dregs? Some people do. Oh well. They haven’t heard.
Or if they have, they weren’t listening.

3) Going for the high-volume low rates model.

The only way to earn a lot if you charge low rates is to do an enormous volume
of work. I don’t know about you, but I suspect the quality would suffer and you
would get exhausted. It certainly doesn’t sound like the intelligent person’s
choice does it?

4) Delivering poor quality product.

Obviously if your work is not fit for its intended purpose, when your clients find
out, they will cross you off the list of suppliers. Getting good clients is hard, so
try to deliver good quality that will meet their needs and keep them coming
back to you for more.

5) Being rude to customers.

This is just plain stupid, but all too common. Give them a positive customer
experience and they’ll be back. Only be rude if you are saying goodbye
permanently. Even then, better not to because you never know who they will

6) Delivering work after the deadline.

Just don’t do it, EVER! Unless there is an emergency, or a really credible
reason. Missed deadlines can cause clients major hassles, lost business and all
sorts of other problems.

7) Slagging off customers on public Internet forums.

Why would you do that? It doesn’t take much of a brain to realise that
anything you type on a public forum could come back to bite you in the bum at
some point in the future, does it? Assume your customer WILL find out what
you said. Don’t expect to hear from them again.

8) Not having a proper credit control policy.

One of our clients, TTC Creative, went bust in 2008. We lost about £300. It’s a
shame, but not a major hit. One translator on the published creditors list was
owed £12,000 (~$19,000) OUCH. I would cry - literally. But how on earth was it
allowed to happen? Would you extend £12,000 in credit to any client? Set a
level you are happy with for each client and do not over extend it. Once the
credit limit is hit, do not accept additional work from them until you have been
paid for the previous work.

9) Not examining the work before accepting it.

You’re busy. A project manager (PM) on the phone wants you to take a job,
and you just want to get on. You haven’t looked at it and you just say “yes” to
get rid of them. OOOPS. You just accepted a real pig of a job. It will take you
ten times longer than usual because it’s got some horrible terminology in it. It’s
badly written and you’ll wish you’d never accepted it – and for a discounted
rate too. Oh dear – we have got a lot to learn haven’t we?

10) Borrowing money to fund expansion.

This is the best way to go bankrupt. Borrow money, take on staff, fail to grow,
bye bye business. Yes it can be done, but very few people have the business
acumen to make it work. Don’t expand until you can afford to do it with real
money that you have already earned.

11) Excessive Internet/Forum Usage.

Spending all day moaning about low rates instead of actively looking for new
direct clients? Bleating about the latest 0.0000000000001 cent per word offer
(even though it was posted by one of your “friends” to wind you up)? Try to
limit your forum usage to specified periods of the day or you may find you
waste the whole day chatting and getting wound up by other people with no

12) Accepting a large project from a new client without checking them out.

Unless you can negotiate staged payments, this is a sure-fire way to commit
commercial suicide. Always check out new clients to make sure they are not
known scammers. There’s enough info sharing sites out there, so there’s no
excuse not to do it.

13) Not answering the phone, emails or other correspondence.

I read something on a forum the other day about not answering the phone
while you’re working. Well, from the client’s point of view, if you don’t answer
the phone, I will ring the next person on the list. Surely it’s not rocket-science?
OK, if you’re busy working, you might not be able to take that job right now
anyway, but how do you know? Can you afford to take that chance? No. If it’s a
timewaster, just hang up. It could be an excellent opportunity though.

14) Poor security, breaching confidentiality.

Don’t ever post identifiable portions of a job on the internet without
permission. Don’t submit your translation memory (TM) containing such jobs
to a public web site (otherwise the SOAR project could become a SORE
project). I’m not saying don’t submit (that’s your choice) just be VERY careful
about what you submit.

15) Trying to steal your agency’s clients.

Don’t be naive enough to think you will get away with it. This is stealing. It’s
unethical and you WILL most likely be caught. You will then get a bad name
(don’t for a moment think that agencies don’t talk to each other about

16) Working into a language in which you don’t have native level ability.

Just because you can understand a language and translate out of it, doesn’t
mean you can write at an acceptably good level in it. I can always tell when
English is written by a foreigner because the articles are horribly abused or
simply not used at all. (The definite article THE, and the indefinite article A). If I
tried to write sentences in Polish or French, the readers would be laughing
their socks off before reaching the third line of text. Don’t do that to your
clients. They might not be able to get the work checked until they get laughed
out of a meeting.

17) Sub-contracting large jobs by splitting, without checking and unifying the
quality of each submission.

Two sins in one. Firstly, splitting up a job is to be avoided if at all possible. If not
possible, the whole lot needs to be Quality Assurance checked (QA) by one
translator to make it consistent. Oh, and you did ask the client’s permission to
sub-contract didn’t you? I thought not.

18) Taking the wrong advice.

There seems to be a large number of translators out there on the Internet,
who think that the way to go is to continually keep dropping rates and chase
the work all the way down to the bottom. This only works if you are in a low
wage economy. If you live in a country where you can make a good wage and
earn a decent living for 10% of what I need, there is never going to be a way
that I can compete with you on price.

To all of you out there, who are worried about these people – STOP! There is
nothing you can do about it, so spend your time on something more
worthwhile. You will never get rich by chasing after the bottom end of the
market. It’s simply not the way in the service sector.

Bidding for jobs might be a good way to get some experience when you are
first starting. But it is not the right way to go if you want to build a successful,
satisfying, high-earning business as a freelance translator.

It seems almost too obvious to state, but the secret to high earnings is high
rates. There. I’ve said it now! There will always be people out there who are
willing to pay decent prices to get decent service. How cheap is the translation
which costs your company millions of dollars in lost business?

You need to educate clients. It takes time. It might not be easy. But it is
certainly worth it. How is it possible that a company will spend thousands or
millions creating their corporate communications and then let some fairly lowgrade
secretary “who knows a bit of the language” translate a very important
document for them. It’s ignorance – pure and simple.

Educate those clients, win them, keep them. Build your own future. There is
more than enough work out there for those who can do this. Are you one of

helping translators do better business

24-07-2015, 07:58 AM
Συναφές νήμα: How to ruin your translation business (http://lexilogia.gr/forum/showthread.php?15502-How-to-ruin-your-translation-business)

24-07-2015, 08:05 AM
Τι συναφές, το ίδιο κείμενο είναι! Κύδος για την παρατηρητικότητα, cougr! :)

24-07-2015, 08:51 AM
Παρόμοιο, αλλά όχι ακριβώς το ίδιο.

24-07-2015, 10:07 AM
Εμ, δεν το θυμόμουν. :(

24-07-2015, 10:20 AM
repetitio est mater studiorum κλπ κλπ

24-07-2015, 11:03 AM
Τώρα που τα ξαναδιάβασα, βλέπω ότι το 11 αφορά τη Λεξιλογία αρκετά.

24-07-2015, 12:25 PM
Εννοείς την τελευταία πρόταση (other people with no work). Αλήθεια είναι. Δεν έχεις ακούσει τα νέα; Λιγόστεψαν οι δουλειές. Ποιος δουλεύει μετάφραση πια στην Ελλάδα;

19-01-2016, 08:01 AM
Ας το βάλω εδώ, σκέφτηκα, να υπάρχει για αναφορά:http://lexilogia.gr/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=5272&d=1453186834