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Should I join an online translation platform?
Konuyu gönderen: Joanne Maddocks

Joanne Maddocks  Identity Verified
Birleşik Krallık
Local time: 17:55
İspanyolca > İngilizce
+ ...
Dec 8, 2016

Hello,

I am new in the field of translation and I am looking for ways to start earning a little money as well as boosting my translation experience. I have already started translating on a voluntary basis for several charities and have completed a 8 month internship with a translation agency, however I am yet to find any work on a paid basis.

Is it recommendable to join an online translation platform?

I'd appreciate any advice or experience as I am always a little wary of internet sites offering quick work and instant payment!

Thank you

[Edited at 2016-12-08 17:17 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
İspanya
Local time: 17:55
Üye (2007)
İngilizce
+ ...
You're right to be wary Dec 9, 2016

Joanne Maddocks wrote:
Is it recommendable to join an online translation platform?

I'd appreciate any advice or experience as I am always a little wary of internet sites offering quick work and instant payment!

I've yet to find any that target "real" translators. They may say they do, but when you get down to the details - which are always incredibly difficult to find - they don't. I've seen ones that want people to sit glued to the platform all day, in case a job arrives. Maybe fine if you're a bored stuck-at-home carer, or a retiree, unemployed person, student, etc., but not a way to put bread on the table at the end of every month. The ones I've looked at pay stupidly low rates, want instant work, expect you to pay for and pass their ridiculous "language tests", and often have very restrictive payment practices, e.g. only in USD; only after a delay of 2-3 months of doing the work; only if you've earned above a certain amount; only through expensive channels; no invoices accepted (a requirement of most tax authorities); etc. But if you can find one that isn't like that, go for it .

ProZ.com can be a good place to find clients, if you avoid the low payers and do all the right things to attract the better clients. They are here but they normally have a far lower profile on the site than those who post publicly every week or month that they have an urgent need for translators in every pair. It doesn't take much to figure out why they can't keep regular translators on their books! You'll find loads of info for meeting clients here in the Site Guidance Centre: http://www.proz.com/guidance-center


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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Çek Cumhuriyeti
Local time: 18:55
Rusça > İngilizce
+ ...
In one word: NO Dec 9, 2016

...unless you want to compete against the bottom feeders.

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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
Amerika Birleşik Devletleri
Local time: 09:55
İngilizce > İspanyolca
... Dec 9, 2016

Anton Konashenok wrote:

In one word: NO

...unless you want to compete against the bottom feeders.


With your permission, I will allow myself to make a little clarification here...

According to The Free Dictionary:

Bottom feeder:
a. An opportunist who profits from the misfortunes of others

So, probably one could rephrase your comment like this:
...unless you want to compete against those who work for bottom feeders.


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:55
İngilizce > İspanyolca
+ ...
Stepping away from titillating namecalling Dec 9, 2016

I agree with Mr. Carmona: let's not call others bottom feeders or worse. We're beginning to sound like polarized politicians looking for votes. We can do better than that.



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Joanne Maddocks  Identity Verified
Birleşik Krallık
Local time: 17:55
İspanyolca > İngilizce
+ ...
KONUYU BAŞLATAN
Thanks Dec 10, 2016

Thanks all for taking the time to reply to me and for confirming my suspicions!

Sheila, I'll take your advice and check the career guidance section and see if I can find myself a client or two through ProZ.com


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Danimarka
Local time: 18:55
Üye (2003)
Danca > İngilizce
+ ...
Network and specialise Dec 10, 2016

I would stay away from platforms. This is what I would do instead:

Pick a subject area to specialise in, and fill in your profile with all the details you can, especially which language you prefer to work in. It is better to be really good at one than half-good at several! (I do a little Swedish and Norwegian besides Danish, and have dabbled in French and German, but I don't advertise the fact.) The best clients are the ones who sort through the directories and find you, as opposed to posting a job on a platform or this site or one of its competitors and waiting for translators to find them.

Attend powwows and possibly trade fairs if you can, though at trade fairs you have to be pro-active, not to say pushy, and find the right people. Your in-house experience may have given you an idea of the kinds of people to talk to, but be careful not to poach the agency's clients, at least for a year or two.
Attend any other language events you can. It may be easier to find contacts there, if not direct clients. Agencies may be on the lookout there.
Colleagues who specialise in other languages or other subject areas have been a good source of work for me - they sometimes outsource or refer clients to me if they have work they can't take on themselves.
They can give good advice, too.

Join the CIoL and/or ITI. The CIoL have restructured their membership, but look into the possibilities as a student. http://www.ciol.org.uk/

Best of luck! There are not too many really professional translators around, and they are going to be needed for many years to come.


[Edited at 2016-12-10 11:06 GMT]


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neilmac  Identity Verified
İspanya
Local time: 18:55
İspanyolca > İngilizce
+ ...
Location, location... location Dec 10, 2016

You might think about moving to your source language country, where demand from local businesses may be higher than in the UK. I certainly found it very hard to find enough continuous work either in TEFL or translation when I tried it, though that was 20 years ago. But I doubt the scene has changed much.

PS: I second everything Sheila says in her post too. I tend to avoid "online" and "cloud" things like the plague whenever posible, just in case.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Hollanda
Local time: 18:55
Üye (2006)
İngilizce > Afrikaans
+ ...
What a bottom feeder is Dec 11, 2016

Miguel Carmona wrote:
Anton Konashenok wrote:
...unless you want to compete against the bottom feeders.

According to The Free Dictionary:
Bottom feeder:
a. An opportunist who profits from the misfortunes of others


FWIW, the Oxford dictionary gives the meaning Anton had in mind:
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/bottom_feeder
bottom-feeder (North American, informal): A member of a group of very low social status who survives by any means possible.

The "Free Dictionary" also mentions other definitions:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bottom%20feeder
It's important to note that the "Free Dictionary" is not a single dictionary, but rather a collection of dictionaries. So the defintion "An opportunist who profits from the misfortunes of others" is not from The Free Dictionary but rather from the American Heritage Dictionary. The Free Dictionary also contains the definition from Merriman-Webster, namely "a person who functions or seeks to gain at the lowest level of an activity".


[Edited at 2016-12-11 09:05 GMT]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Hollanda
Local time: 18:55
Üye (2006)
İngilizce > Afrikaans
+ ...
Why not... you might get lucky Dec 11, 2016

Joanne Maddocks wrote:
Is it recommendable to join an online translation platform?


You might get lucky, so why not. However, it's important (as others have said) that you realise that these platforms are not typically meant for professional translators. The per-word payment is typically very, very low, and the assignments are usually quite short, and the online platforms are speed-killers, so you end up spending a lot of time and earning very little. But it can be interesting, and you may get lucky and land yourself a large job.

Sheila Wilson wrote:
...no invoices accepted (a requirement of most tax authorities); etc.


My local tax authority does not require my clients to accept my invoices. It only requires that I issue invoices. Whether I actually send the invoice to the client is not relevant. So it's perfectly acceptable to work with clients who use online systems that do not accept my invoice, but which does keep track of payments in some or other way.


[Edited at 2016-12-11 09:12 GMT]


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Miguel Carmona  Identity Verified
Amerika Birleşik Devletleri
Local time: 09:55
İngilizce > İspanyolca
... Dec 11, 2016

Samuel Murray wrote:

What a bottom feeder is

Miguel Carmona wrote:
Anton Konashenok wrote:
...unless you want to compete against the bottom feeders.

According to The Free Dictionary:
Bottom feeder:
a. An opportunist who profits from the misfortunes of others


FWIW, the Oxford dictionary gives the meaning Anton had in mind:
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/bottom_feeder
bottom-feeder (North American, informal): A member of a group of very low social status who survives by any means possible.

The "Free Dictionary" also mentions other definitions:
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/bottom%20feeder
It's important to note that the "Free Dictionary" is not a single dictionary, but rather a collection of dictionaries. So the defintion "An opportunist who profits from the misfortunes of others" is not from The Free Dictionary but rather from the American Heritage Dictionary. The Free Dictionary also contains the definition from Merriman-Webster, namely "a person who functions or seeks to gain at the lowest level of an activity".


@Samuel,

Thank you for your detailed comments. I learnt a few things I did not know. And, clearly, Anton used the term properly.


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Joanne Maddocks  Identity Verified
Birleşik Krallık
Local time: 17:55
İspanyolca > İngilizce
+ ...
KONUYU BAŞLATAN
Relocation plus Arabic Dec 11, 2016

I certainly plan to move out of the UK once I have finished my degree. (For employment reasons as well as for cheaper wine!)

I am also thinking of taking a masters in Contemporary Arabic Studies which is taught completely in Arabic (it also requires the dissertation to be written in Arabic), with the view to adding Arabic to English as a translation combination. I am currently working from French and Spanish (Catalan at a push) to English, but it seems that work opportunities for these language pairs are limited at best!!

I also don't have any specialist areas at present - my previous work experience has been basic clerical work, as well as general dog's body in various hotels and hostels around the world!! As such, I feel as though I have nothing new to offer potential clients, and with very limited experience in the field, I see it unlikely that anyone would chose me over a more experienced translator. Rather disheartening, but I'm hoping that the addition of Arabic could boost my opportunities..


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ALEX KITONDO
Kenya
Local time: 19:55
İngilizce > Svahili
Intrerested in arabic Dec 12, 2016

I can speak English, Swahili ,am interested to advance in Arabic since I can convers and speak ,I have assisting my friend to conduct bussines now I need to take it as my proffessinal. How do I go about it ,yet I have basics.

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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Danimarka
Local time: 18:55
Üye (2003)
Danca > İngilizce
+ ...
Don't underrate basic clerical work! Dec 12, 2016

Joanne Maddocks wrote:

I certainly plan to move out of the UK once I have finished my degree. (For employment reasons as well as for cheaper wine!)

I am also thinking of taking a masters in Contemporary Arabic Studies which is taught completely in Arabic (it also requires the dissertation to be written in Arabic), with the view to adding Arabic to English as a translation combination. I am currently working from French and Spanish (Catalan at a push) to English, but it seems that work opportunities for these language pairs are limited at best!!


That is probably a good move. Within the EU, the amount of work does not depend on the size of the country, and competition is fiercer with FIGS languages. Choosing a more unusual language will give you an edge. (There are definitely not too many well-qualified Scandinavian to English translators, at any rate!)


I also don't have any specialist areas at present - my previous work experience has been basic clerical work, as well as general dog's body in various hotels and hostels around the world!! As such, I feel as though I have nothing new to offer potential clients, and with very limited experience in the field, I see it unlikely that anyone would chose me over a more experienced translator. Rather disheartening, but I'm hoping that the addition of Arabic could boost my opportunities..


Don't be disheartened - hotels and hostels need lots of translation, and you know the actual kind of language they use, and probably more than you are aware of about how they function - work at it. I was nearly 50 before I started translating, and almost despaired about the amount of time I had 'wasted' in unskilled jobs - in the home care service in my case. However, it proved really valuable for medical translation later. Real life experience is an important asset, so take a second look at those dog's body jobs and make sure you could do them in both languages.

Another thing I keep telling beginners: your training and experience may be more up to date than those of us who have been around for years - it can be a struggle to make sure that our favourite translations sound dated! Apart from that, in freelancing the job has the same value to the client, no matter who does it. You have to deliver a professional job that is fit for purpose, and I have proofread and reviewed some excellent work by beginners.

Of course, experience does help, but don't underrate yourself, and don't undersell yourself!

Best of luck with the Arabic!


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Robert Edison  Identity Verified
Amerika Birleşik Devletleri
Üye (Apr 2017)
Japonca > İngilizce
Welcome to 2017 Apr 17

I think it is pretty close-minded of you all to call people who work on sites like that bottom feeders. I'm just getting started on Proz, but I've made good money and gained valuable experience working for sites like Gengo. The rates may not be as high as what all of you fancy well-established freelancers get, but for someone starting out part-time, it is a great experience. I will agree that you do have to be there at the right time for the best jobs that are worth it for the rate to come along, but if you're at home anyway, set up auto-refresh on the page that plays a sound when a new job comes in. I made 15,000 working part-time at Gengo last year, and I could probably make 30,000 or more if I went full-time. The site is improving all the time, and if you're in the right language pair, you can make good money. They've even implemented a system that automatically increases the pay rate for jobs that linger on the dashboard because they probably aren't worth it at the original rate. The support staff are also very good. You can get the occasional bad customer, but most are responsive if you have questions or need their input.

As for the assignments being short, that is also not true. Just last month, another site I work for, YAQs, gave me a big $3000 job translating online restaurant menus for a very large and popular Japanese website. That may be peanuts for the big shot patent translators, but that is almost a year of rent money for me. Also, the short jobs can be great. Many of them are quite easy, and you can make $5 in just a couple of minutes.

For someone like me, who can translate, but has no credentials or formal training, these sites have been a godsend.


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