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I noticed a decline in demand for subtitling -- am I the only one?
Thread poster: Jocelin Meunier

Jocelin Meunier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:17
English to French
Jun 11

Hello everyone,

It has been a while now that I noticed a decline in demands for translation (mainly in subtitling, the vast majority of my work). It may be a dumb question but I was wondering if I was the only one who hadn't landed a single job in months. I even got new clients (agencies though) that pay better than the other agencies I'm in, offered new services and tried to check with them myself, but even getting a response seems miraculous. I have always received praise for my w
... See more
Hello everyone,

It has been a while now that I noticed a decline in demands for translation (mainly in subtitling, the vast majority of my work). It may be a dumb question but I was wondering if I was the only one who hadn't landed a single job in months. I even got new clients (agencies though) that pay better than the other agencies I'm in, offered new services and tried to check with them myself, but even getting a response seems miraculous. I have always received praise for my work and I am not one to be rude in my exchanges, so it strikes me as odd, even more so since they all seemed to stop sending work at the same time.
Am I the only one in this case or are there others who experienced something similar lately?
And if I am the only one, maybe someone already experienced that and would have some wisdom to share?
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Katharina Mergl
Laurent Mercky
writeaway
 

Elif Baykara Narbay  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 00:17
Member (2015)
German to Turkish
+ ...
Directly contacting a few clients? Jun 11

Sorry to hear that you are experiencing such a problem. I am sure that this must be frustrating.

Having different language pairs, fields and country than yours, I might not be helpful. Still, it may be a temporary down in the business in general.

Since you point out that you are on good terms with your clients and that you are good in your job, it is strange that this happens so abruptly. Did you ever consider the possibility of impersonation fraud? I haven't experience
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Sorry to hear that you are experiencing such a problem. I am sure that this must be frustrating.

Having different language pairs, fields and country than yours, I might not be helpful. Still, it may be a temporary down in the business in general.

Since you point out that you are on good terms with your clients and that you are good in your job, it is strange that this happens so abruptly. Did you ever consider the possibility of impersonation fraud? I haven't experienced myself but there are many cases shared in ProZ.

In any case, it might be a good idea to contact some clients directly. Why don't you pick up the phone and talk to a couple of clients you have good relations? Then you might get a clue on what is happening.

Good luck!
E.

(edited to correct an auto-correction error)

[Edited at 2019-06-11 13:22 GMT]
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IanDhu
 

Jocelin Meunier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:17
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
@Elif Jun 11

If I have been impoersonated, it would be hard to know I guess. In any case, the last person who responded to my reminders didn't mention anything like that.
But yeah, maybe it will yield better results if I call in person, I just keep wondering if it's not tu "pushy".


 

LIZ LI
China
Local time: 05:17
Member (2008)
French to Chinese
+ ...
Every summertime! Jun 11

Every time when I noticed a sudden silence in my mailbox, it was usually because holidays started to come in France.
I suppose you just need to take a break and look for new clients while staying confident. Business emerges and declines all the time for all and for every single industry.


DZiW
Hedwig Spitzer Cáceres
Morano El-Kholy
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
summer holiday Jun 11

Everything goes individually, yet how about diversifying into other specializations, services (e.g. copywriting, rewriting, transcreation) or even activities--from interpreting to mentoring, consulting, and so on?

Unfortunately, aggregating sites like ProZ are no good for personal branding (making a good name), so besides checking local inter/related offices you may consider marketing via a personal site or blog and learning how to do the business properly (including negotiat
... See more
Everything goes individually, yet how about diversifying into other specializations, services (e.g. copywriting, rewriting, transcreation) or even activities--from interpreting to mentoring, consulting, and so on?

Unfortunately, aggregating sites like ProZ are no good for personal branding (making a good name), so besides checking local inter/related offices you may consider marketing via a personal site or blog and learning how to do the business properly (including negotiation and presentation skills with the difference between price and value in mind).

Good luck

P.S. I don't work on my holidays, unless I want to, some of my people asks me pretty please, or as a hobby)
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Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:17
German to English
Unexplained fluctuations Jun 11

I have a couple of customers (agencies and direct clients) who each send on average 50+ projects/year. From time-to-time there have been slack periods, some lasting weeks or more, during which I've received no work from them. Summer holidays explain some of these slow periods, but for the most part they are unpredictable.

Matheus Chaud
John Fossey
Elizabeth Tamblin
Morano El-Kholy
 

IanDhu  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:17
Member (2005)
French to English


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


May is a lean month for freelancers in France Jun 11

LIZ LI wrote:

Every time when I noticed a sudden silence in my mailbox, it was usually because holidays started to come in France.
I suppose you just need to take a break and look for new clients while staying confident. Business emerges and declines all the time for all and for every single industry.


As Liz points out, the numerous public holidays in this country slow business to a snail's pace.

However, I cannot help thinking that a long-term trend has set in, with MT, towards unrealistically short deadlines for long jobs. Some agencies are offering work almost exclusively on such terms, with at times a detrimental impact on quality. I think the translator community will need to equip itself to take MT on board, and to have a say on policy in this area.


 

Jocelin Meunier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:17
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Maybe summer is at work too Jun 11

but again, it has been months. Almost six, actually. My last work was on the 29th of december and nothing since then. Like some odd reboot happened at new year's Eve.
Also Kevin, I'm impressed. I'm a bit ashamed to say that even my best year doesn't come close to 50+ projects.


 

Katharina Mergl
Germany
Local time: 22:17
Member (2016)
English to German
+ ...
Same here Jun 11

Thank you for being so honest and sharing your experience.

It's similar with me. The last few years, my workload was more or less steady (with the occasional quiet periods that lasted a few days or, at the worst, two to three weeks). But somehow, since the end of last year, fewer and fewer jobs have come in. My clients still seem happy with me (at least I have not received any negative feedback and they still send assignments every so often), but just less frequently than before. A
... See more
Thank you for being so honest and sharing your experience.

It's similar with me. The last few years, my workload was more or less steady (with the occasional quiet periods that lasted a few days or, at the worst, two to three weeks). But somehow, since the end of last year, fewer and fewer jobs have come in. My clients still seem happy with me (at least I have not received any negative feedback and they still send assignments every so often), but just less frequently than before. After a while I started thinking that it might be something I did (or did not) do, but I did not change my way of working and I just can't get rid of this feeling that, at least in some language pairs or fields, there might be a longer-term lull (be it because of Brexit, MT, a combination of several factors?).

Recently, I got a call from another translator looking for work (German > English). He said that he had had a steady workload during the past 15 years, and "suddenly" he is receiving way fewer jobs. So I really don't think it's only you or me.

I think we should – even if this can be hard on some days when motivation is low after such a long quiet period – keep focusing on how we can improve our service portfolio, our quality, or way of working, network etc., look for clients elsewhere (and use the spare time to do something for yourself). This way, the quiet period will not only be over more quickly but probably also sooner!
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LIZ LI
China
Local time: 05:17
Member (2008)
French to Chinese
+ ...
6 MONTHS for real !? ! Jun 11

Jocelin M wrote:

but again, it has been months. Almost six, actually. My last work was on the 29th of december and nothing since then. Like some odd reboot happened at new year's Eve.
Also Kevin, I'm impressed. I'm a bit ashamed to say that even my best year doesn't come close to 50+ projects.


I am really sorry to hear that. I would not be able to sit still even if for 1 month.
Perhaps you may try to widen a bit your services or look for alternatives with your language skills.

It's true that our univers is soon to be changed with AI, machine learning, and people keep mentioning neural translation. And I start to do more and more translations for new clients in tech related fields. We don't really have options but to follow the trend and live with it.

I know little about the language pair you work. But it's obvious that the competition is fierce, and when new comers join in with us, it gets even worse.


Olavo Nogueira
 

Jocelin Meunier  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:17
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Yup. Jun 11

LIZ LI wrote:
6 MONTHS for real !? !


For real. That's why I said I'm a bit ashamed. Everytime I read the forums, I see lots of posts from people who seem to never run out of work and get paid rates that I know I could never even begin to negotiate for (except for one client).
As for AI, machine learning and all that, I strongly believe they will never be able to replace humans, at least in subtitling. It takes a creativity only humans can use.

@Katarina:
Sorry to hear that. I hope it is not a trend that will last long. I've also heard once that agencies sometimes just went full ghost and simply hired new translators with more "competitive" rates to reduce costs, so maybe it's something like that happening lately...
Although if it can reassure you, I have not been idle. I worked so that I can now propose subtitle creation on top of translation and I am strengthening my mastery of Japanese so that I can finally propose it as another language pair. At least I have more time to focus on that.


Laurent Mercky
Susanna Martoni
Katharina Mergl
 

Laurent Mercky
France
Local time: 22:17
Member (Jul 2019)
Chinese to French
+ ...
Agree with you Jun 11

Jocelin M wrote:

LIZ LI wrote:
6 MONTHS for real !? !


For real. That's why I said I'm a bit ashamed. Everytime I read the forums, I see lots of posts from people who seem to never run out of work and get paid rates that I know I could never even begin to negotiate for (except for one client).

You are not the only one translator to be in such situation.
I have done this job for 22 years, and for sure lately the economic tendency will not help to improve our income.
But in France you can have some financial help from government as freelancer (micro-entrepreneur), maybe you should try to ask.


 

Silvia Schulz
Netherlands
Local time: 22:17
English to German
+ ...
How's your marketing? Jun 12

Hi Jocelin,

Do you actively market your business? Do you have a website? Are you using social media platforms like LinkedIn to find clients?

I think there is plenty of work out there. I get contacted almost weekly by agencies recruiting new translators. Most of them find me via LinkedIn.

I can highly recommend following some business/sales/marketing gurus like Jenae Spry (Success by RX) or Tess Whitty and implementing some of their strategies.

... See more
Hi Jocelin,

Do you actively market your business? Do you have a website? Are you using social media platforms like LinkedIn to find clients?

I think there is plenty of work out there. I get contacted almost weekly by agencies recruiting new translators. Most of them find me via LinkedIn.

I can highly recommend following some business/sales/marketing gurus like Jenae Spry (Success by RX) or Tess Whitty and implementing some of their strategies.

Sources:
https://www.marketingtipsfortranslators.com/
https://www.successbyrx.com/

Another proposal I have is to start updating your Proz profile: add a photo (very important) and showcase all your skills and experience.

Good luck!

Silvia

[Bearbeitet am 2019-06-12 08:26 GMT]

[Bearbeitet am 2019-06-12 08:27 GMT]
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Rachel Waddington
Mr.Q
 

Suzanne Smart  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
Italian to English
+ ...
There's definitely a change happening Jun 12

I've discussed this issue with many fellow translators and agencies recently. Lots are reporting a slow down in work and pressure on pricing, with many translators telling me they are setting up second businesses. For me, it has been very slow for about three months now and it feels like it's almost grinding to a halt. A couple of agencies I have previously worked with have told me I need to cut my price to around 0.04, 0.05 GBP per word, while other have almost completely stopped sending me wor... See more
I've discussed this issue with many fellow translators and agencies recently. Lots are reporting a slow down in work and pressure on pricing, with many translators telling me they are setting up second businesses. For me, it has been very slow for about three months now and it feels like it's almost grinding to a halt. A couple of agencies I have previously worked with have told me I need to cut my price to around 0.04, 0.05 GBP per word, while other have almost completely stopped sending me work. I'm also getting a lot more requests for evening and weekend work without a rush rate which seems to be a separate phenomenon!
It is comforting to hear that some translators are busy and still doing well but the number of people who have told me they are struggling, together with my own experience, tells me that there is indeed a downturn. Brexit possibly isn't helping matters but I'm not convinced that is the whole picture as some translators working in language combinations that should presumably be unaffected have also said they are receiving less work. So I don't know what the reason is but, yeah, there's something going on here for sure!
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writeaway
Jennifer Forbes
Katharina Mergl
Laurent Mercky
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:17
Member (2018)
French to English
. Jun 12

I'm not sure that Brexit can be having an effect yet? I have actually had to translate stuff for people gearing up for it...

I often get the impression that my clients all gang up at meetings and decide to all refrain from contacting me till the end of the month when suddenly everyone needs something urgently.


Sheila Wilson
Sabine Braun
John Fossey
 
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