Chapter 1. TRANSLATION SERVICES MARKET

There are many types of work related to translation: translating texts and oral interpreting, which in its turn can be consecutive and simultaneous and performed in person or via the Internet; proofreading and editing; post-editing, i.e. editing of machine translations, although this type of job is hardly worth taking. One can work through agencies or directly with customers who can be from your home country or from abroad.

Besides, there are jobs which are not translation as such, but require knowledge of a foreign language: searching for particular information, coding (when one has to assign answers obtained in the course of a marketing research to certain categories), evaluation of the Internet searches quality. One can engage successfully in these activities and earn money with them.

It’s important to find your niche in this variety. When starting work as a freelancer and not having enough jobs, one has a tendency to grab any work. In reality, there is an ocean of jobs. One just needs to learn finding and getting them. It’s better to do what you love and good at, where you are competitive – simply better than others – than trying to figure out a totally foreign topic, spending twice as much time and producing quite a mediocre translation as a result. That’s why you should

CHOOSE YOUR SPECIALIST FIELD

Course for Freelance Translators. Introduction

With my deepest gratitude to: my wife Victoria – for inspiration and wisdom; Ole Nydahl – for the advice to look for “translator colonies”; Bodo Schaeffer – for the “seventy-two hours” rule; Joanne Angulo – for the Marketing Techniques for Translators course.

Let me introduce myself: my name is Evgeny Marusik, I live in Wroclaw, Poland, and do translations for over 15 years, and in this course I want to share experience how to be successful in earning by freelance translation. The course consists of the theoretical part, containing the following sections:

  1. Translation Services Market
  2. Promoting Your Translator/Interpreter Services
  3. Translator’s Proficiency
  4. Financial And Legal Safety

and a practical tool in the form of Excel spreadsheets allowing to plan your activity and monitor successes.

The course duration is two months – that’s how long it took me to ensure a stable workload when due to moving to another country I had to start from scratch and master new ways to earn my living. Maybe with the help of this course you can make it faster.

THE COURSE WON’T HELP YOU IF

  • you don’t have time for freelance,
  • you can’t translate with good quality and in time,
  • you already earn more than 1000 euro per month.

If none of the above applies to you – Welcome onboard! Join the club of successful freelance translators.

Freelance translator course

I’ve decided to post in this blog short excerpts from my course for freelance translators, which is called HOW A FREELANCE TRANSLATOR CAN EARN OVER 1000 EURO. (This was the initial title, based on my current experience, the figure can be replaced with 2000 euro). It does not contain any particular revelations or super efficient tricks. So for I have not discovered anything more efficient than everyday work on the quality of translations, strengthening ties with the customers and promoting my services in the Internet. It’s more of an essay about my first 6 months in freelancing. Hopefully there are people who will be interested to read it. I’ll be glad to see your questions or comments to this post. Here is the table of contents, for a start:
Introduction. 3
Chapter 1. TRANSLATION SERVICES MARKET 4
CHOOSING YOUR SPECIALIST FIELD 4
Consecutive interpretation 4
Simultaneous interpretation 5
Interpretation by Skype or phone 5
Translation 5
Correcting translations 5
Proofreading translations 6
Post-editing translations 6
Evaluating quality of Internet searches 6
Transcribing 6
Subtitling 7
Coding 7
Looking for information in the Internet 7
DETERMINE YOUR RATE 8
How to calculate the volume 8
Prices 9
Chapter 2. PROMOTING YOUR TRANSLATOR/INTERPRETER SERVICES 10
CV 10
SPECIFIC NATURE OF INTERNET COMMUNICATION 10
TEMPLATE FOR REPLYING TO A JOB OFFER 11
OWN WEBSITE 11
BUSINESS CARDS 11
BANK CARD 12
“FIVE HUNDRED” RULE 12
Chapter 3. TRANSLATOR’S PROFICIENCY 17
TRANSLATOR’S TOOLS 17
Dictionaries 17
Computer Aided Translation (CAT) Software 18
COMPUTER SKILLS 20
Chapter 4. FINANCIAL AND LEGAL SAFETY 22
How to secure oneself from non-paying customers 22
Legal aspects of a translator/interpreter work 23
PREPARE THE CHANNELS FOR RECEIVING MONEY 25
APPENDIX  
Plan 500 Excel file  
 

Summing Up 2014

25.05.2015

So, the results of the experiment announced in the first post of this blog. Of course, it would be better to sum it up at once, in January, but the last three months were very busy with hectic moving around Siberia, then Europe, and working in between.

The target, reaching the income of 100 euro per day, was reached. In December the earnings made 2700 euro, i.e. more than 100 euro per day if we assume that a freelancer has 25 working days in a month. But this achievement is not stable yet, and the following months I failed to repeat this heroic deed. So the next target is stable earnings not less than $2000 per month. Let’s see what will come out of it.

Why am I writing about it in the blog? Because this is also a method, and quite effective one. You send you request to the space, and gradually things start going in the right direction.

PS 2016: Frankly, I wasn’t persistent enough in focusing on this new target of earning $2000 regularly. There were 2 months in 2015, October and November, which exceeded this amount, but this is not enough to be called a regularity. Well, one of a freelancer’s life benefits is that you don’t have to be obsessed with working and earning all the time, and there are other exciting activities which one can enjoy.

Prioritizing Tasks

19.02.2016

Not so long ago I was translating a sophisticated manual for satellite Internet equipment and there was a section describing in what sequence various data packages are processed depending on their priority indicated in the settings. And so I had an idea that the same algorythm can be applied to any activity, including activity of a freelance translator.

Priority No. 1 is, of course, the current work due to a certain deadline. But if one have some reserve of time, than one can, from time to time, check the mail to see if there are any new propositions. For sure, this depends on one’s individual psychological characteristics. For some people it is difficult to switch from one activity to another, and it is easier to finish, keeping one’s head down, the current job and then proceed to the unread emails. But for me such distractions are a kind of relaxation, a rest in the form of changing the activity.

And then we have such hierarchy, for example:

1. Answer the customers you already work with.

2. Answer new potential customers who have sent an inquiry about your services themselves.

3. Reply to an ad about a particular job.

4. Reply to an ad from an agency inviting new translators to expand their contractors database.

And important factor is not only presence of some job “per se”, but also its weight, i.e. at which rate it will be paid. And from this point of view the priorities are the following:

1. An order from a direct client.

2. An order from a US, German, British agency, i.e. from countries with high wages.

3. An order from an East European agency.

4. An order from a Russian (Ukrainian, Kazakh) agency.

5. An offer from an Indian agency. Answering the latter is a waste of time, but one must believe in miracles:) Maybe one day something will change.

And, to make things even more complicated:

1. A job in your specialty field.

2. A job not quite in your specialty field, but from your long-established customer who knows you do your job well, and so you will perform better than someone new.

3. A job totally outside your specialty field.

I course, it’s too hard to algorythmise all the parameters, but it’s good to be aware of them so that one could get distracted from the main task (translation) with maximum efficiency.

10 plagues of the PM world

24.12.2014

This post is about the much-suffering PMs, i.e. project managers of translation agencies. I say they really have a hard life. So it’s just impossible to be angry with them.

The story goes like this: in the evening I get a request for proofreading from a US agency. Because of the time difference for them it is late at night already, and so they want the job done by the morning (their time). And having sent this request the PM evidently goes to sleep. I am trying hard to understand, where this agency comes from and how they know me, and finally I remember that a couple of days ago I proposed translation of a text for them. This is all very nice, but they sent me neither Purchase Order, nor the desired price for the job, nor which of the files I am to correct: the bilingual or the clean one. Well, the job won’t take much time, not more than doing a free test translation, and here I will probably get paid, with more jobs in the long run maybe. So I do the proofreading, submit it and ask to send me a PO.

And then during the whole week we have communication in the following key: “Oh, my PC keyboard is out of order!”. “Oh, our PO system broke down!”, “Oh, I am out of office today!” I am gradually starting to simmer and be suspicious, but the Blueboard entries for the agency are positive, so I am keeping my temper. At last, the long-awaited PO comes – with an amount double of the expected. I am cautiously inquiring: is that a premium for my patience? – “Oh, no, I got it wrong, thank you for noticing, I’ve issued over 50 POs today!”

So, when PMs are slow and get it all wrong – it’s not the manifestation of their inherently evil nature – they are just too busy!

Life is good… and good life is better

24.12.2014

Although I didn’t totally believe it myself, my decision to switch gradually from rouble customers to foreign ones proved to be very prudent. The recent events show this very clearly. And the question serving as the title of my course – how to earn over 1000 euro per month – now has a very definite answer: you have to earn them in euros.

When I was very young, I used to work at a public secondary school as a teacher of English. And once I happened to leave my wallet on the windowsill in the classroom. There wasn’t much money in it, actually next to nothing, but still, when I came back and didn’t find it, I felt quite sour.

And a few days later during a lesson the classroom door opens and someone throws the wallet into the classroom. I pick it up and find a folded sheet of paper in it. I think to myself: damn, they not only robbed a poor teacher but definitely wrote some nasty comments as well. But at that time I already started practising some positive mind-developing teachings, so I decided I would take it as a blessing, whatever that might be. So I unfold the paper and see only four words: “You should live better”.

A couple of months later I stopped working at school, and my life really started becoming better.

I recalled this little story to support my idea that the current hard situation with the rouble is a perfect stimulus to focus on finding customers paying in dollars and euros. Because for one hour of working for a foreign customer one can earn the amount equal to working the whole day at Russian rates. And due to the fact that although the rouble purchasing power also deteriorates, it does so not as fast as its exchange rate, so when you earn abroad and spend it Russia, you’re on the winning side.

PS: this post is one year old, but it is even more true now, in February 2016: away from rouble customers! But the task is not that easy, and although there is some progress comparing to the previous year, my personal budget is still rouble-dependent.

Memsource little tricks

28.11.2014

I have found out that deleted jobs in Memsource Cloud are kept in the recycle bin for a month, and you can resore them from there and just continue the work from where you started. So the restriction of the basic free version that does not allow having in the cloud work than 2 jobs at a time is not that restricting. You can easily dump a job to the recycle bin, for example, to load a new file to analyze it or do a short urgent translation, and then restore the deleted job and continue working with it.

But the possibility of working with the TM offline is absent at all, as well as offline loading of the completed translation. That’s a pity.

How to identify scam offers

12.11.2014

Actually I hardly remember receiving any scam offers in the English segment of translation jobs (I mean English-speaking customers outside Russia). But in Russia they are quite frequent, some it might be interesting to some of English readers how it is done. So here is an example of such suspicious offer:

And international publishing house offers interesting job to people who know one or more European languages.

Requirements
– advanced knowledge of a foreign language;
– readiness to work 6 hours a day;
– stable high-speed Internet connection;
– typing fast in English would be an advantage.
Responsibilities
– translating magazine articles, texts and business correspondence from/to a foreign language
Terms
– flexible working schedule;
– possibility to work remotely;
– advance payments.
Testing will be required.
Send your CVs at mikhail.markov.60@mail.ru

First, mailbox at a free server. of course there are exceptions and some employees of real companies also use such addresses. But that’s the first reason to be on alert. For without additional checking there is no guarantee that the author of the ad really represents the company on whose behalf he/she is writing.

Second, no company name. Which is already strange. Also no website, address, or any data which would allow identifying it. In case of any problems you will have no contacts but the free mailbox which is created in 5 minutes.

The next suspicious detail is absence of details:) Any translators from any languages for any topics are sought for. Did they open only yesterday? A real publishing house which works for many years would specify that they need a translator in a particular language pair for a particular topic.

Other symptoms of scam are details which are not important for the matter or uncharacteristic of translation business. For example, any experienced translator knows that freelance work implies flexible schedule and possibility to work remotely. And as for advance payment, this, unfortunately, is not practised by most translation companies. So these phrases are inserted only to get a newcomer’s brain snowed.

And the main thing, if you send you CV to this address, after doing the test (which will be approved, no doubt!) you will be offered to deposit 600-700 rubles as a guarantee in case you do translation badly or fail to do it. Which is absurd, of course. That’s how this scam scheme works.

So I wish everybody good faith customers and stay alert!

Copypasting

01.11.2014

Sometimes, not as often as I would love to, a translator manages to find in the Internet a completed translation which is practically identical to the one he/she is working on, and then all the work is reduced to 2 key combinations: CTRL+C and CTRL+V, plus preferential changes (for being not too bored).

If only I could get an offer to translate ten similar IEC standards. 100 pages each. From a direct customer… Ah, dreams, dreams…