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Anyone want to go on STRIKE?
Thread poster: Fei Ge
Fight back Sep 17

I am lucky, I can afford to turn down jobs. In fact I have been able to for most of my freelancing career, because I was offered more work than I could take on.

When I turned down a job, I very often gave the client a reason.
I simply let them know that their rate was too low, their deadline impossible, or their platform too much hassle, whatever. Then I said I had enough clients who paid me sensible rates without hassle, and sorry, but I was not interested in their offer.
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I am lucky, I can afford to turn down jobs. In fact I have been able to for most of my freelancing career, because I was offered more work than I could take on.

When I turned down a job, I very often gave the client a reason.
I simply let them know that their rate was too low, their deadline impossible, or their platform too much hassle, whatever. Then I said I had enough clients who paid me sensible rates without hassle, and sorry, but I was not interested in their offer.

If it was an attractive client, and I really did not have time, or the subject was outside my scope, I told them that too, and said when I could have delivered, or what subject areas I could take on instead.

That way I got noticed… As you say, you do the work clients need, so make them feel you are important. Make a real effort for good clients, so they come again, and let the others know you may not be cheap, but you are worth every cent. There ARE clients around who like that kind of translator.

[Edited at 2019-09-17 20:18 GMT]
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Sheila Wilson
Philippe Etienne
Sara Massons
 
Double confirm Sep 18

Laurent Mercky wrote:

of course, you are 100% right
but sometimes, it's case sensitive.
for instance, do you know how many persons can read/write/talk French language in China ?
you would be amazed.
20 years ago, you would still see French tourist guides for Chinese tourists coming at Paris.
Now, all Chinese tourist operators ask the help of their own people.

Things have changed.



You have to multiple things when it comes to China (hyper competitive rates, huge populations for all languages/industries,
idem for business.

A new client ( did a couple of small jobs lately) came to me and asked for a lower rate, claiming to establish a long-term collaboration, and I just asked him, instead of replying,
1) HOW MANY LANGUAGES YOU HAVE TO TRANSLATE INTO FOR INDIAN MARKET FOR INSTANCE?
2) AND HOW MANY FOR CHINA/ CHINESE COMMUNITIES AROUND THE WORLD?
3) HOW IMPORTANT THIS MARKET IS TO YOUR BUSINESS?
4) HOW DO YOUR (POTENTIEL) CLIENTS JUDGE THE QUALITY OF YOUR PRODUCTS/SERVICES?
5) HOW DO YOU JUDGE THE QUALITY OF MY TRANSLATION?
The client didn't reply to this particular email, but keeps sending me jobs though...
I Believe that he understood I would not accept that, and not YET replacable at the moment since i am able to offer him a plus-value beyond translation, because I know his CLIENTS (or even being one of them).

Well, let's get back to the topic of STRIKE @FEI GE,
I DO like Sameul's idea!!!
We are in some circumstances each other's competitors (and more & more are coming to town), how on earth is it possible to get a deal like strike?


 
I am not a business Sep 18

Samuel Murray wrote:

Fei Ge wrote:
I really have no experience in labor unions...


To have a labour union, you need labour. We are not labour -- we are the opposite of labour. We are businesses. But even businesses can "go on strike", you know. It's just... you can only go on strike when you have become invaluable.


I think it is a common misconception that a freelance translator is a business. While self-employment contains some aspects of business activities, it mostly is still a single professional activity. Real business involves hiring other people so that it completely different set of challenges and problems to be solved.

I used to falsely elevate myself to a business status too but since I have become more specialized, I can better understand that all professionals enjoy certain autonomy and in turn take greater responsibility for their actions. Nevertheless, there is nothing that prevent translators to make collective demands regarding the rates or work conditions.


Diana Coada
 
most of us are not employees Sep 18

If you are an employee, then you have an employer who dictates your wages and hours. I freelance, which means I tell my clients my fee for a job, by when it can be ready etc. How can one "strike" against customers? Either your customers agree to your fees and conditions, or they don't.

Sara Massons
 
Collective action Sep 18

.... there is nothing that prevent translators to make collective demands regarding the rates or work conditions.


This is a recurring issue. The translator's association that I belong to runs surveys on rates in various professional segments, as does ProZ. There are two specialist bodies that publicise rates: AIIC (conference interpreters) and AITC (conference translators), standardised for a highly-specialised professional environment. The difficulty, however, in standardising rates for the market as a whole is the sheer fragmentation of the supply side, in terms of experience, qualifications, legal status and location. In this state of affairs, large work providers are on the whole well placed to impose their terms and working methods. The only power translators have is to vote with their feet and issue veiled warnings to their colleagues about undue exercise of economic muscle - a euphemism for unscrupulousness - by certain large operators. Translators' associations have made creditable quantum leaps into the 21st century from the standpoint of professional relevance. Perhaps now they ought to be gearing up to analyse their markets for dominance, its abuse and effective measures to curb this.


Kaspars Melkis
Christine Andersen
Philippe Etienne
 
Define:business x2x Sep 18

Considering the idea "freelancers are self-employed businesspersons without social security or benefits" and the fact most freelancers can't even make $12,000+ a year net, such a business is but a poorly disguised unemployment, a pocket money, or a hobby.

1) For the real biz there're should be no "pure" translators, but specialists in some fields with decent foreign language skills.
2) Freelancers must get at least the ABC of business to run it properly, knowing their a
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Considering the idea "freelancers are self-employed businesspersons without social security or benefits" and the fact most freelancers can't even make $12,000+ a year net, such a business is but a poorly disguised unemployment, a pocket money, or a hobby.

1) For the real biz there're should be no "pure" translators, but specialists in some fields with decent foreign language skills.
2) Freelancers must get at least the ABC of business to run it properly, knowing their absolute bottom and assessing the risks.
3) Freelancers should charge as much or even more than agencies do, gradually eliminating sponging middlemen and random people.


As one clever man once neatly replied to a cocky free*lancer: 'Independent from what, needy?'
This process is going on and everybody eventually gets as agreed and deserved, why?
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Daryo
 
Yes and no .... Sep 18

The Misha wrote:

Fei Ge wrote:

... increasingly difficult and unfair situation that we translators have been put... If a bunch of people said no to these shitty conditions...


No, "we translators" have not. You put yourself into that situation yourself by agreeing to those conditions. It's as simple as that.

This is a business like any other. No one owes you anything.


There might or might not be some merit in your arguments, but they remind me of the idea of

"a free fox in an free hen house" ...


 
Wrong way to see the problem Sep 19

I mostly agree on the fact that freelance translators are businesses and that you are the one who sets your rates so you can't strike against your clients.

However, we could ask for a better recognition of "something", let's say a diploma but not necessarily, that would assess one's skills in translation and that would be mandatory to become a professional translator. This way, people with basic language skill offering very low rates and delivering poor quality would no longer be ab
... See more
I mostly agree on the fact that freelance translators are businesses and that you are the one who sets your rates so you can't strike against your clients.

However, we could ask for a better recognition of "something", let's say a diploma but not necessarily, that would assess one's skills in translation and that would be mandatory to become a professional translator. This way, people with basic language skill offering very low rates and delivering poor quality would no longer be able to draw prices.

I also mostly agree on the fact that specialization is a key.

When I started, I made a few calculation to know what I wanted to earn, and decided the lowest price possible. I never accepted a job under this price even on starving days and gradually increased my rate as I gained new clients and experience. I also narrow my specilization areas to increase my specialization level. Now my net wage is higher than what I used to earn when I was an employee and I am satisfied with it. I also regularly calculate how much I earn for an hour of work for every client/project/field as this can vary a lot between clients so I can choose to favor the most profitable and/or the most interesting projects.
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Try think of it from the point of view of your end customer Sep 26

Try think of it from the point of view of your end customer.

The reality is that your end customer is currently dealing with major global trade wars, a starting major recession, Brexit, spendthrift governments that borrow excessively and burden their citizens while the citizens are too often already in debt to the hilt, an increasing number of businesses are either nationalized or are heavily dependent on sucking the government's (so tax payer's) subsidy tit therefore being in fact
... See more
Try think of it from the point of view of your end customer.

The reality is that your end customer is currently dealing with major global trade wars, a starting major recession, Brexit, spendthrift governments that borrow excessively and burden their citizens while the citizens are too often already in debt to the hilt, an increasing number of businesses are either nationalized or are heavily dependent on sucking the government's (so tax payer's) subsidy tit therefore being in fact government employees so paying poorly and demanding too much, man major chains are going bust being poorly managed and also being unable to bera the increasing burdens or not coping with consumers' move to the internet, major war conflicts are also looming, borders are being shut down or opened for just a trickle of people across the globe etc.

At this moment your end customers are therefore in big trouble.

We translators are especially heavily affected by the international issues, since we help people from different countries trade with each other.

Going on strike is not going to change these issues. Adapting your business model to the tough circumstances is one option. Another is to go into a totally different business line if you can, one that is not so dependent on cross-border traffic.

As to the few exceptions among us that are not yet affected by these international issues, kudos to them, but they will not be outside the firing line for a long time.








[Edited at 2019-09-26 07:44 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-09-26 07:46 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-09-26 07:48 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-09-26 07:50 GMT]
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v.cresevich
 
Go on STRIKE? Sep 26

If you strike, you starve. Like Uber drivers, translators are part of the gig economy. Sad but true.

 
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