Pages in topic:   < [1 2 3] >
Off topic: Hard skills, soft skills, mindset
Thread poster: Andrew Morris

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Let the results speak of themselves Apr 21

@Kay-Viktor, I could just ask you some leading questions like: If you plan your biz, what is your margin? Do you offer fuzzy discounts and agree to payments after 30+ days? How do you assess and manage the risks? and so on, or just:
Are your usual rates close to what agencies charge end clients--from $0.25/word?
However, let's look at it from the very beginning: Where are newbies supposed to learn how to do the business?
They go to high school, occasionally making some money on the side, and after graduation from the uni--out of sudden--they are self-proclaimed freelancers at the global/international market full of American Dream unfair and exploitative practices, let alone scammers. (Of course, if Translation is one's minor, then the chances are a little better, yet not always.)

Most such wannabes agree to "for-novice" $.01/word, sending their CVs and
dealing with anonymous strangers, doing never-ending "free tests", buying specific/expensive CATs, offering "discounts", struggling to receive the promised pittance 60+ days after the delivery, and so on.

Looks very familiar, right? So, do you really believe that Math and intro to Economics could help to win a favorable contract, no?

Paraphrasing the question: Why should a PM offer $0.25+/word if a translator either don't know or cannot substantiate his rates, agreeing to psychological $.07/w minus "discounts"? (what often totals less than $.025/w GROSS)


@Andrew, while I admit there always must be those who succeeded, yet they either are just lucky or well-prepared: timely got at least the ABC of biz (even by trial-and-errors), have good contacts (mostly not the case with translators), or they are very businesslike individuals who can harmonize intellectual self and passions while following their OWN goals.

Seeing the average rates and acceptable terms here and at other places, I came to the conclusion that most translators are neither prepared for making money (business), nor see their better place now, let alone in the future.
And so it is--for now.

[Edited at 2019-04-21 09:04 GMT]


Kaspars Melkis
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Some, most, all, none... :D Apr 21

@DZiW

My experience is that optimistic people tend to get more luck than pessimistic people.

And I don't mean finding shiny gold coins on the road or meeting leprechauns in caves.

I mean looking for opportunities, responding to them, taking the initiative, taking risks, keeping their eyes open and generally learning, growing and changing faster.

As for whether MOST translators have the problems you mention, I couldn't say, not without doing
... See more
@DZiW

My experience is that optimistic people tend to get more luck than pessimistic people.

And I don't mean finding shiny gold coins on the road or meeting leprechauns in caves.

I mean looking for opportunities, responding to them, taking the initiative, taking risks, keeping their eyes open and generally learning, growing and changing faster.

As for whether MOST translators have the problems you mention, I couldn't say, not without doing an extensive survey. You've had far more experience than me in this particular forum.

But I can certainly agree that MANY both experience those problems and describe them at length, both here and on other social media...
Collapse


 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 16:53
Member (2016)
English to German
Okay, let's talk business Apr 21

DZiW, I think you are asking the wrong questions. Why do you think that the rate the agency charges does matter much to you? Why do fuzzy discounts matter to you? Why do even long payment terms matter to you?

Your first question as a businessperson should be: what is YOUR goal with your business? And while only you can answer that for yourself, I can tell you mine: I want to make the most money per hour of my time. Simple as that. It has something to do with having a comfortable lif
... See more
DZiW, I think you are asking the wrong questions. Why do you think that the rate the agency charges does matter much to you? Why do fuzzy discounts matter to you? Why do even long payment terms matter to you?

Your first question as a businessperson should be: what is YOUR goal with your business? And while only you can answer that for yourself, I can tell you mine: I want to make the most money per hour of my time. Simple as that. It has something to do with having a comfortable life, as Andrew mentioned, and I also have other goals in life, but I do other things in life to achieve them. When I work, my primary goal is making money, and that's what I concentrate on.

They say "You get what you measure." This phrase holds true in technology as well as in business. When my goal is to make as much money per hour as I can, this is exactly the metric I need to measure. Therefore, I record every project in a simple time tracking system. I simply click it on when I start working on a project, and click it off when I'm fnished, saving the time, project, kind of work and the client/agency I did it for. This system gives me a nice report at the end of the month where I can see how many hours I worked on what for whom. I put this in a very simple Excel form where I also enter the amount of money I have invoiced every client that month. And now it's just a simple division: money divided by time - and I know my hourly rate per client/agency.

And this metric, before anything else, is what drives my business decisions (namely, what work I accept and what work I decline). When I have nothing to do (which rarely happens), I will also accept work from the "low performers", but normally I will prefer the high paying projects, of course.

There are different factors that have an impact on the hourly rate. Of course, the rate per word is an important factor, but not the only one. Fuzzy discount grids, my personal abilities to work in a certain field, the chance to use dictation software, or the bureaucratic overhead an agency burdens me with, all this influences the hourly rate and therefore the chance that I may accept their jobs or not. Examples from my work: game translations often have lower word rates, but in most cases there are no discounts for fuzzies (only for repetitions), and with game translations I often can utilize dictation software, therefore I can make a nice average hourly rate in the end. Technical translations often have discounts for fuzzies, but in tech content the fuzzy matches often work quite well. In most cases I cannot use dictation (simply because Dragon won't understand half the terms), so in the end, I need a higher word rate for tech content than for games. There is of course a lot of trial and error involved, but I have my goal in mind, I know how to measure it, and therefore I can improve my situation continuously.

Maybe you noticed that some things do not appear in this equation. For example, the price the agency charges the end client for my work. It simply does not matter. When I do a project for the agency and the agency pays me $1000 and manages to sell this work for $2000, so what? It does not affect my hourly rate. As long as I am happy with my own hourly rate, the agency can make big bucks on this, for all I care. I fact, I hope they do. If the agency is successful with my work, this bodes well for future projects where I can make even better hourly rates.

And the fact that the agency pays me in 20, 40, or 60 days, does also not affect my hourly rate. Since interest rates are more or less nonexistent nowadays, I have no loss when the agency pays me later. So my main goal is not affected by the payment terms. Of course, I keep in mind what amount of credit I will extend to a single client/agency, and I will not accept more work when I have too much outstanding money. But I have several agencies that pay 30 or 45 days to the end of the month, where this has worked for years like clockwork, so this does not make a difference for my bottom line.

Disclaimer: I have a degree in business administration. I did not make much use of it in the last 25 years or so, but my first job was in a consulting firm where small and medium enterprises and startups were consulted and we did the number crunching for them. That's why I said that managing a small hairdresser shop might be more of a challenge than managing a one-person freelancer outfit. We don't need to do double-entry bookkeeping, we don't need to bother with salaries, materials, resources, and financing of all this stuff. Well, not much. Compared to that, a freelance translator has only some few things to focus on; as I said, I'd recommend to focus on your hourly rate and don't let yourself be bothered by too many other details like fuzzies or whatnot.
Collapse


 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Not even wrong answers? Apr 21

define:business . . .risks. . .making money
Thank you, Kay-Viktor for proving that most translators neither have business education about financial/reputational/confidential risks, nor they are willing to run the business properly–on their own terms. Very many freelancers keep behaving as if employees, shifting blame and responsibility unto agencies; otherwise, there would be just a few rare questions, supplications, and rants about low rates, missing clients, PEMT jobs, silly NDA clauses, claims, abuses, and on.

Considering your unexpectedly simplified statement–
I want to make the most money per hour of my time.
it seems a little fancy that you, as a business administrator, ask what higher rates, unreasonable discounts, longer payments and other valid metrics and performance indicators may have to do with biz/planning.

Let’s assume that irregular late payments are good for the business stability and it is but a clever ”no-loss-of-profits” know-how to translate a $1000-worth job for some $130 because of “internal/fuzzy discounts”, yet the disturbing question is:
(1) If you’re the boss and (2) want earning more, why don’t you…?
If clients are ready to pay $0.25+/word, how come freelancers–as independent entrepreneurs– should never ask for more than $0.07/word?

Was your last literary translation rate under $0.05/word?
Nevermind.

As for me, I strongly believe that freelancing implies that one is a one-man company, where he does ALL the tasks himself–accounting, promotion/marketing, planning, translation, researching, servicing, mediation, mitigation, education, cleaning, outsourcing, and everything else–at his own expense.

P.S. I don’t have a degree in Business Administration, just in Business Management)


Andrew, is it a bit offtopic now or we are doing fine? I think it's related and interesting, so instead of deleting just split the topic plz.

[Edited at 2019-04-21 20:58 GMT]


 

Kaspars Melkis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 15:53
English to Latvian
+ ...
This is a very important point that needs more attention Apr 21

DZiW wrote:
Where are newbies supposed to learn how to do the business?


There is no roadmap how to become a successful freelance translator. Therea are no mentoring programms available and nowadays even in-house positions are practically non-existant.

And even if one manages to attain some additional qualifications or skills on his/her own, there is no assessment framework that would enable potential clients to consider suitability of a translator. In fact, achieving more competencies to justify asking higher rates usually leads to losing that client without guarantees finding better paying jobs.

This downwards pressure on prices not only harms freelance translators but also end users who ultimately receive poor translations that often are no better than MT or are MT. The whole industry is in serious crisis that needs real solutions. Asking translators to remain positive, act nice and more businesslike (while not bad things by itself), is not going to change anything if the current attitudes of all stakeholders remain unchanged, i.e., that the profits are the only thing that matters.


DZiW
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Carry on! Apr 21

@DZiW, fine, go ahead. To me, off-topic suggests someone coming in on a different issue altogether, not a discussion that evolves organically as this one seems to be doing.

 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:53
German to English
+ ...
looking at OP Apr 23

Andrew Morris wrote:

There are translators who say the only way to success (in its various guises) is through hard graft, ten thousand hours, constant revision, and nose to the grindstone.

There are others who say that's all well and good, but you need soft skills (service mentality, approachability, sales, presentation) to complement those hard skills.

And there are still others who say that your own mindset – the story you tell yourself – is a vital element on top of your hard AND your soft skills.

I've been translating full time for several decades, and tbh, I could not make head or tails out of this. Two things are being compared when neither of them are what is involved.

First, you need the required knowledge and skills, like for any other profession. This means superb language skills in both working languages, and preferably a grasp of linguistics since you must manipulate language. The second set of skills is in translation itself: the criteria you will work toward for translation accuracy and target language excellence. Hand in hand with this are you translation processes, which begin with assessing your client's project (whether you'll take it on), asking the right questions - on to the translation work itself, then the careful proofreading, and finally sending to the client, ask for feedback to make sure everything is fine, and getting paid. You need to know how to do all of that before starting out.

If you can deliver quality because you know your field, most of it is already done. But this is not a 'grindstone' kind of deal. Efficient work with knowledge supporting you.

Your "soft skills" don't mention a word about knowledge in the field itself!

The other part has to do with keeping and attracting customers. If you provide quality and ensure reliability, the customers will come. We are in a world of such indifference, with mega companies having staff that are mouthpieces of preprogrammed everything, that if Joe Average finds a professional who will handle his needs with care and expertise, he'll spread the word. There is also an element of guiding your client, being organized, and so on.


P.L.F.Persio
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Hard skills Apr 23

This one is easily clarified. For me hard skills means the ability to translate, revise, write, research, etc.: exactly what you refer to as “knowledge and skills”.

By soft skills I mean more what it takes to run and market a business, interact with clients, etc.

Hope that helps!


 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 16:53
Member (2016)
English to German
Maxi and DZiW Apr 23

Maxi, you are right when you say that superb translation skills and knowledge in the field are at the core of the skill set we need for this job. But is this enough, or do we need more skills? Your answer seems to suggest that quality and reliability are enough to make a freelancer successful. I have my doubts. You do not consider the competition aspect. Even in the market segment "highly skilled and reliable", supply can be higher than demand, so that the individual freelancer needs to do more ... See more
Maxi, you are right when you say that superb translation skills and knowledge in the field are at the core of the skill set we need for this job. But is this enough, or do we need more skills? Your answer seems to suggest that quality and reliability are enough to make a freelancer successful. I have my doubts. You do not consider the competition aspect. Even in the market segment "highly skilled and reliable", supply can be higher than demand, so that the individual freelancer needs to do more in order to stand out. (I believe that the situation in the different language pairs is very different, we have very different markets here, and I am sure that there are language pairs where the supply of highly skilled and reliable translators is higher than the demand.)
Apart from that, we often have the problem that the client is not really able to appreciate the quality of the work, simply because they do not speak the target language. That means that the results of poor work will show only later, when the client might realize that they fail to achieve their objectives with the translation, or when complaints occur. This time gap is a problem.

DZiW, please do not imply things that I did not say. For example, I said that longer payment terms are no big problem, but I did point out that this is the case with a regular payer, not an irregular payer. An agency that pays me 45 days after the end of the month regularly and reliably can be an excellent business partner and I have no measurable loss when I accept such a deal. In fact, I believe that when you have half a dozen such agencies that send you work regularly, this is an excellent foundation for a freelancer business.

I respect your way to run your business by doing everything yourself, but I think this is not the only way to run a freelancer business. For my part, I know that I am not a good marketing person, therefore I let the agencies do the marketing for me. And there are things that only an agency can do: for example, manage the translation of a tech manual into 20+ languages at the same time, including updates for the next 5 years. The end client needs an agency for this (or a department of their own). So in order to get these translation jobs, I have to work with agencies.

I know that I won't get $0.25 per word this way, but I can easily get half of it and at the same time I can devote all my working time to actual translating. I am very happy with the result.
Collapse


Tom in London
Andrew Morris
P.L.F.Persio
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
Maslow's pyramid Apr 23

Put as simply as possible, my own response is that our hard skills as translators form the very basis of our success. But only the basis. If you can't translate, try hairdressing or open a petshop.

If you can translate/write/interpret/revise, then the next stage involves some good business strategies. A bit of marketing, a website, reaching out to agencies, to match the level of your ambition. There's no point being a genius translator if no one knows you exist.

And o
... See more
Put as simply as possible, my own response is that our hard skills as translators form the very basis of our success. But only the basis. If you can't translate, try hairdressing or open a petshop.

If you can translate/write/interpret/revise, then the next stage involves some good business strategies. A bit of marketing, a website, reaching out to agencies, to match the level of your ambition. There's no point being a genius translator if no one knows you exist.

And once you've done that, if you add a dollop of pleasant service mentality – being someone that's easy to work with, a headache-remover, humble and flexible, then you'll make even more progress.

Finally, if you have ALL those things and then tell yourself a story about how far you can go, breaking with your traditional limiting beliefs, then you can reach even greater heights.

But always, and only, if you can do the work well in the first place...
Collapse


 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:53
German to English
+ ...
Maslow etc. Apr 28

I know Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I haven't found a pyramid, or anything pertaining to busiess.
Andrew Morris wrote:

Put as simply as possible, my own response is that our hard skills as translators form the very basis of our success. But only the basis. If you can't translate, try hairdressing or open a petshop.

If you can't translate, get training. If you want to try hairdressing or open a pet shop, get training in that, for heaven's sake.

If you can translate/write/interpret/revise, then the next stage involves some good business strategies. A bit of marketing, a website, reaching out to agencies, to match the level of your ambition.

Substitute "agencies" for clients, among which agencies may also be included. The "level of ambition" strikes me as flat. How about: level of potential, ability, something of that nature.

And once you've done that, if you add a dollop of pleasant service mentality – being someone that's easy to work with, a headache-remover, humble and flexible, ...

I don't think I see things quite this way. It served me well to form a backbone later in my career. Translation, imho, is a profession where we have expertise, and that implies a degree of leadership and decision-making. One can be overly "humble", accommodating, flexible to the point of hurting the quality and integrity of your work. "Easy to work with", when are the one running your business and providing the professional service means to be well organized, competent, providing a degree of guidance and some push-back if you know a proposed thing won't work. A lot of clients are looking for that. The words "service mentality" don't say anything to me. My own philosophy is to have the client's needs central. do you mean something of that nature?

...breaking with your traditional limiting beliefs...

The limiting beliefs are not traditional. They are newly forged in a modern world. The traditional beliefs are not limiting, to turn this statement around.


Andrew Morris
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:53
Member (2018)
French to English
headaches and bullies Apr 29

Andrew Morris wrote:

And once you've done that, if you add a dollop of pleasant service mentality – being someone that's easy to work with, a headache-remover, humble and flexible, then you'll make even more progress.



I try to be pleasant to work with. I try not to make things difficult, reliability is useful there. If the client has a headache because they need something translated, I can help with that, otherwise I'm no doctor.
I try to be as flexible as possible but you do have to put your foot down at times. Sending a document at 23.05 and requesting delivery of the translation before 10am the next day warrants an extra charge for example.

As for being humble, I don't see the importance at all. A humble attitude could be interpreted as "walk all over me please". We women are always being told we are not assertive enough in business... I think it's more important to be able to command respect (on the strength of your translation and business skills) rather than kowtow to clients. If I wanted to act the meek and humble servant, I could have stayed an employee, bosses can be so much better at bullying than mere clients.


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Chris S
Yvonne Gallagher
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:53
Member (2018)
French to English
$0.25?? Apr 29

DZiW wrote:
Are your usual rates close to what agencies charge end clients--from $0.25/word?


I know for a fact that a lot of agencies in my pair and in the zone I work in charge closer to half that in euros.


 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
TOPIC STARTER
No pushover Apr 29

Thanks for your comment, Kay. It’s great to be assertive and by humble I certainly don’t mean being pushed around by unscrupulous clients, either direct or agency. So I agree with you.

I meant it more in the sense of awareness of my role as a service provider, not god’s gift to the client.

I know many of my clients personally and I see a human, not a profit-seeking taskmaster, on the other side of the equation, which helps me keep perspective in business.


P.L.F.Persio
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 16:53
Member (2018)
French to English
OK Apr 29

Andrew Morris wrote:

Thanks for your comment, Kay. It’s great to be assertive and by humble I certainly don’t mean being pushed around by unscrupulous clients, either direct or agency. So I agree with you.

I meant it more in the sense of awareness of my role as a service provider, not god’s gift to the client.

I know many of my clients personally and I see a human, not a profit-seeking taskmaster, on the other side of the equation, which helps me keep perspective in business.


OK yes, I remember some translators like that from my stint as PM. They couldn't take a word of criticism even when you're pointing out that you can't talk about "the book" in English when in fact you mean "books" (as in a love of books) or literature in general or even the publishing industry, or when you point out that the word "not" is missing somewhere.
If you mean being able to take comments gracefully and admitting that sometime the client might come up with something better than you, and knows their line of business better than you, yes that's important.


Andrew Morris
P.L.F.Persio
 
Pages in topic:   < [1 2 3] >


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:

Moderator(s) of this forum
Fernanda Rocha[Call to this topic]

You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Hard skills, soft skills, mindset

Advanced search






PerfectIt consistency checker
Faster Checking, Greater Accuracy

PerfectIt helps deliver error-free documents. It improves consistency, ensures quality and helps to enforce style guides. It’s a powerful tool for pro users, and comes with the assurance of a 30-day money back guarantee.

More info »
Déjà Vu X3
Try it, Love it

Find out why Déjà Vu is today the most flexible, customizable and user-friendly tool on the market. See the brand new features in action: *Completely redesigned user interface *Live Preview *Inline spell checking *Inline

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search