Procuring Direct Clients
Thread poster: Michael Michael_Mathieu

Michael Michael_Mathieu  Identity Verified
Member (2016)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Sep 5

The main agency I have been translating medical texts (Japanese to English) for for the last 3 years is now under "immense pressure" from their client to cut costs. They have told me they have no choice but to cut costs by $0.02/target word by next month. I feel very let down by this, as I had a wonderful working relationship with the agency, they always paid on time, and the project managers were fantastic. Still, I have to look for new opportunities that will pay me a fair rate.

I
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The main agency I have been translating medical texts (Japanese to English) for for the last 3 years is now under "immense pressure" from their client to cut costs. They have told me they have no choice but to cut costs by $0.02/target word by next month. I feel very let down by this, as I had a wonderful working relationship with the agency, they always paid on time, and the project managers were fantastic. Still, I have to look for new opportunities that will pay me a fair rate.

I am now curious about finding direct clients.
What have you done in the past to find direct clients successfully?

Any advice is appreciated.
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Ebrahim mohammed
 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:51
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Sad to hear Sep 5

Michael_Mathieu wrote:
I feel very let down by this, as I had a wonderful working relationship with the agency, they always paid on time, and the project managers were fantastic. Still, I have to look for new opportunities that will pay me a fair rate.

That's a tough break. May I ask where this agency is headquartered?

Dan


 

William Tierney  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:51
Member (2002)
Arabic to English
Doesn't make sense Sep 5

Since Japanese is the hardest of the Cat Four languages (according to the length of the course at the Foreign Service Institute), it doesn't make sense that the rate would be this low. Are you working from Japanese to English? How long have you been a professional translator? If you haven't been at it long, I would get my name out to more agencies. After you have spent some time getting feedback/editing from the agencies, if the rate is still too low, go to direct clients. It is all about s... See more
Since Japanese is the hardest of the Cat Four languages (according to the length of the course at the Foreign Service Institute), it doesn't make sense that the rate would be this low. Are you working from Japanese to English? How long have you been a professional translator? If you haven't been at it long, I would get my name out to more agencies. After you have spent some time getting feedback/editing from the agencies, if the rate is still too low, go to direct clients. It is all about supply and demand. If there are not a lot of English-native translators out there and there is a large demand for translation into English, the rate should be much higher. If your translations read poorly, start asking yourself, "How would an English-native professional in this field write this semantic content?" Write that. It takes some courage in the beginning, because you may have to re-arrange, add, and delete text, but you will get used to it.Collapse


 

Michael Michael_Mathieu  Identity Verified
Member (2016)
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Location Sep 5

Dan Lucas wrote:

Michael_Mathieu wrote:
I feel very let down by this, as I had a wonderful working relationship with the agency, they always paid on time, and the project managers were fantastic. Still, I have to look for new opportunities that will pay me a fair rate.

That's a tough break. May I ask where this agency is headquartered?

Dan


New Zealand, I believe.


 

Michael Michael_Mathieu  Identity Verified
Member (2016)
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Reply Sep 5

William Tierney wrote:

Since Japanese is the hardest of the Cat Four languages (according to the length of the course at the Foreign Service Institute), it doesn't make sense that the rate would be this low. Are you working from Japanese to English? How long have you been a professional translator? If you haven't been at it long, I would get my name out to more agencies. After you have spent some time getting feedback/editing from the agencies, if the rate is still too low, go to direct clients. It is all about supply and demand. If there are not a lot of English-native translators out there and there is a large demand for translation into English, the rate should be much higher. If your translations read poorly, start asking yourself, "How would an English-native professional in this field write this semantic content?" Write that. It takes some courage in the beginning, because you may have to re-arrange, add, and delete text, but you will get used to it.


I've translated thousands of medical documents at this point. With this agency, I've only had the client complain once during my first year working with them. So that's more than two years of satisfactory work. My partner is also a doctor and I have my work read frequently and I'm told everything is fine. So, I really don't think it was a quality issue, but rather the client needing to cut costs for whatever reason. I have no choice but to look for better opportunities that pair fairly.

I'm interested as to why you think agencies are the better deal here. Wouldn't you be able to charge the portion that an agency would normally take from you?

My original question is how you might have found direct clients in the past.


 

Marjolein Snippe  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:51
Member (2012)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Agencies do offer things in return Sep 5

I have worked with very few direct clients (two were friends or colleagues of friends who needed a translation; another two found me in the directory of the Translators' Association I am a member of, or here at Proz.com) and although it can be very enjoyable, I find I do not earn more in the end. Direct clients are not always quite sure what they want/need, so quite a bit of back and forth emailing of corrections and suggestions may occur. Also, in my experience a lot of medical work just does n... See more
I have worked with very few direct clients (two were friends or colleagues of friends who needed a translation; another two found me in the directory of the Translators' Association I am a member of, or here at Proz.com) and although it can be very enjoyable, I find I do not earn more in the end. Direct clients are not always quite sure what they want/need, so quite a bit of back and forth emailing of corrections and suggestions may occur. Also, in my experience a lot of medical work just does not flow via direct clients. I translate mostly medical texts, and very often these are part of a project where the end client will need not just Dutch, but also, say, German, French, Danish and Hungarian. These clients are very unlikely to work with several translators, assess the quality for each and find new ones whenever one of their trusted translators is busy or they need a new language. Agencies take care of this whole client-finding side, and the good ones also negotiate with the end clients and educate them if necessary, so I can focus on translation. Plus, if a second pair of eyes is needed for checking, they find the other linguist. They also take care of file formats other than the basic files I provide (word, excel, pdf, that is about it).

Finally, in my experience direct clients may need a translation only once, or perhaps twice; agencies tend to send me more reliable streams of projects.


@William - I believe you may have misread "cut costs by $0.02/target word" - Michael never mentions the new or current rate.
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Michael Michael_Mathieu
Teresa Borges
Tradupro17
Dan Lucas
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 02:51
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Direct clients Sep 5

For me, direct clients are a pure prestige play. I could charge higher than most agencies in my language pairs do, and still make less money per hour at the end of the day.

[Edited at 2019-09-05 16:19 GMT]


Michael Michael_Mathieu
Natalia Potashnik
 

Michael Michael_Mathieu  Identity Verified
Member (2016)
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Sep 5

Marjolein Snippe wrote:

I have worked with very few direct clients (two were friends or colleagues of friends who needed a translation; another two found me in the directory of the Translators' Association I am a member of, or here at Proz.com) and although it can be very enjoyable, I find I do not earn more in the end. Direct clients are not always quite sure what they want/need, so quite a bit of back and forth emailing of corrections and suggestions may occur. Also, in my experience a lot of medical work just does not flow via direct clients. I translate mostly medical texts, and very often these are part of a project where the end client will need not just Dutch, but also, say, German, French, Danish and Hungarian. These clients are very unlikely to work with several translators, assess the quality for each and find new ones whenever one of their trusted translators is busy or they need a new language. Agencies take care of this whole client-finding side, and the good ones also negotiate with the end clients and educate them if necessary, so I can focus on translation. Plus, if a second pair of eyes is needed for checking, they find the other linguist. They also take care of file formats other than the basic files I provide (word, excel, pdf, that is about it).

Finally, in my experience direct clients may need a translation only once, or perhaps twice; agencies tend to send me more reliable streams of projects.


@William - I believe you may have misread "cut costs by $0.02/target word" - Michael never mentions the new or current rate.


All very good points, thank you very much for the insight!


 

Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 19:51
Member (2003)
English to Italian
+ ...
Business Plan Sep 5

Marjolein Snippe wrote:

I translate mostly medical texts, and very often these are part of a project where the end client will need not just Dutch, but also, say, German, French, Danish and Hungarian.


I don't think this is the case, here. Multilingual projects are usually from English into several other languages. The OP translate from Japanese to English.

I think the mistake was, as they say, "put all your eggs in one basket." I have been working as a translator for 30 years and the lesson I have learnt is that things change. The most reliable agency suddenly is acquired by another company, the PM moves and the new one prefers to work with someone else, the agency itself (this is probably what is happening here) receives a lot of work from one end client who suddenly decides to get a better rate, to use another agency, etc.

It's a hard but extremely frequent lesson to learn. Let's assume your goal is to make 50,000 USD a year (just an example). You should split it as follows:
- 2 agencies which give you work for 10,000 USD each
- 4 agencies which give you work for 5,000 USD each
- several occasional agencies which give you work for 10,000 USD in total

This was, even if you lose one agency, you can still rely on the other ones.

I suggest you carefully review the BB and find reliable agencies which:
- handle the Japanese into English language pair
- work in the medical field
- are reliable in terms of payments

Then you send your CV with a letter which should be as specific as possible, trying to make a connection between what they do and what you have to offer (ie high quality Japanese into English medical translations, revised by and MD if needed).

HTH a bit.
Laura


 

Michael Michael_Mathieu  Identity Verified
Member (2016)
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Sep 5

Laura Gentili wrote:

Marjolein Snippe wrote:

I translate mostly medical texts, and very often these are part of a project where the end client will need not just Dutch, but also, say, German, French, Danish and Hungarian.


I don't think this is the case, here. Multilingual projects are usually from English into several other languages. The OP translate from Japanese to English.

I think the mistake was, as they say, "put all your eggs in one basket." I have been working as a translator for 30 years and the lesson I have learnt is that things change. The most reliable agency suddenly is acquired by another company, the PM moves and the new one prefers to work with someone else, the agency itself (this is probably what is happening here) receives a lot of work from one end client who suddenly decides to get a better rate, to use another agency, etc.

It's a hard but extremely frequent lesson to learn. Let's assume your goal is to make 50,000 USD a year (just an example). You should split it as follows:
- 2 agencies which give you work for 10,000 USD each
- 4 agencies which give you work for 5,000 USD each
- several occasional agencies which give you work for 10,000 USD in total

This was, even if you lose one agency, you can still rely on the other ones.

I suggest you carefully review the BB and find reliable agencies which:
- handle the Japanese into English language pair
- work in the medical field
- are reliable in terms of payments

Then you send your CV with a letter which should be as specific as possible, trying to make a connection between what they do and what you have to offer (ie high quality Japanese into English medical translations, revised by and MD if needed).

HTH a bit.
Laura


Brilliant insight, thank you very much! Yes, I knew in the back of my head there was no way I could work with the same agency until retirement. I am simply "mourning" at the moment I suppose lol. Thank you for the concrete example there, I think that makes a lot of sense. I have a pool of agencies to turn to in the meantime, so I should be grateful for that, but I've been hit hard by this rate change. Again, thank you.


 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:51
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
I would avoid Sep 6

Michael_Mathieu wrote:
New Zealand, I believe.

Yeah. They're something of a bottom feeder. I worked for them a few times when I was starting out, but found them difficult to deal with. Rates were low. You can do better.

Dan


 

Chris Pr
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:51
German to English
In other words... Sep 8

Dan Lucas wrote:

Michael_Mathieu wrote:
New Zealand, I believe.

Yeah. They're something of a bottom feeder. I worked for them a few times when I was starting out, but found them difficult to deal with. Rates were low. You can do better.

Dan


The agency may well be the OP's issue - and not the end client.


Dan Lucas
 

Michael Michael_Mathieu  Identity Verified
Member (2016)
Japanese to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Possible Sep 8

Chris Pr wrote:

Dan Lucas wrote:

Michael_Mathieu wrote:
New Zealand, I believe.

Yeah. They're something of a bottom feeder. I worked for them a few times when I was starting out, but found them difficult to deal with. Rates were low. You can do better.

Dan


The agency may well be the OP's issue - and not the end client.


I asked directly if it was due to the quality of my work, they denied it. I've never once had an issue with the project managers. They paid on time (usually early), and the rates were good. That's why I'm suspecting it is the end client, but who knows. That's the name of the game, isn't it. No use in speculating beyond the available information.


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Dutch to French
+ ...
IPO Sep 8

Michael_Mathieu wrote:

Chris Pr wrote:

Dan Lucas wrote:

Michael_Mathieu wrote:
New Zealand, I believe.

Yeah. They're something of a bottom feeder. I worked for them a few times when I was starting out, but found them difficult to deal with. Rates were low. You can do better.

Dan


The agency may well be the OP's issue - and not the end client.


I asked directly if it was due to the quality of my work, they denied it. I've never once had an issue with the project managers. They paid on time (usually early), and the rates were good. That's why I'm suspecting it is the end client, but who knows. That's the name of the game, isn't it. No use in speculating beyond the available information.


They try to milk you after their recent IPO: shareholders first
A bottom feeder anyway as it was said before


 


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