Páginas sobre el tema:   < [1 2 3]
Online translation market: How is the current model able to sustain itself?
Autor de la hebra: dale newton

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:49
alemán al inglés
+ ...
A professional hired for a services sets his/her own fee Apr 28

My last post probably won't be read, since it takes a day to appear, and by then other posts come in. The same may happen to this one. My point is that the entire hypothesis started in the beginning is that the customer sets the fee. I stated what my fee is. I am trained in the profession, and not just bilingual, and experienced in the field. I stated my fee from day 1. Both end clients and agencies pay the same fee. This is only fair, since I do the same amount and quality of work.
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My last post probably won't be read, since it takes a day to appear, and by then other posts come in. The same may happen to this one. My point is that the entire hypothesis started in the beginning is that the customer sets the fee. I stated what my fee is. I am trained in the profession, and not just bilingual, and experienced in the field. I stated my fee from day 1. Both end clients and agencies pay the same fee. This is only fair, since I do the same amount and quality of work.

If you set your own fee, then it doesn't matter how much extra your middleman customer charges. If I get what I charge, that is the only thing that matters.

If, on the other hand, my fee is based on $0.18/word, and the agency decided to undercut competing agencies by offering $0.10/word and wants to pay me $0.05, well then he's got a problem. That is not my fee. He is not my employer but my customer.

The entire question posed in the beginning, and the idea of terrible things "are", falls apart if professionals calculate their fee (and timeline), rather than the customer thinking they have the role of dictating it. Yes, of course there will be platforms out there, and "big" agencies who do otherwise. Doesn't mean we choose to deal with them.
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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 22:49
Miembro 2004
inglés al italiano
Exactly Apr 28

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Sure, by exploiting employees and giving them more work to do without paying them more.


Nothing new there... common practice. But they might get a slight raise if they make a frappuccino to the boss every day.


 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 22:49
Miembro 2004
inglés al italiano
well, no... Apr 28

Stephen Emm wrote:

Would it?

They would have to employ a team of project managers and editors, who, in this case knew 15 different languages!

Would they be able to find enough French to Finnish translators, for example?

It's easier (and probably cheaper) to contract it out.



They don't have to employ anybody... they can use freelancers, just like an agency does. They can cut out the middle man and save a lot of money. It might be a steep learning curve, but a lot cheaper in the long run.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 05:49
Miembro
chino al inglés
+ ...
Sure Apr 28

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Sure, by exploiting employees and giving them more work to do without paying them more.


Nothing new there... common practice. But they might get a slight raise if they make a frappuccino to the boss every day.

Just not the kind of company I'd like to work for, even as a freelancer. If a company is in the habit of treating its employees badly, they can hardly be expected to treat their freelancers well. Plus, PMs who are not treated well tend to be rather cavalier about their work. The experience is not likely to be much different from working with a bad agency.

More often than not, the companies that look to cut costs by eliminating the middle man are also quite aggressive about cutting costs in terms of translators' fee.

[Edited at 2020-04-28 09:32 GMT]


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Países Bajos
Local time: 23:49
Miembro 2006
inglés al afrikaans
+ ...
@Dale Apr 28

dale newton wrote:
Immediately obvious, and puzzling in themselves for me, are the 'service fees' and general rates of the agencies. Market leading agencies apparently charge a 50-100% 'service fee'...


I haven't followed the discussion between you and the other participants here, but allow me to reply to your original post.

Translation agencies justify these high rates by pointing to their overhead, but it is also possible for translators to justify those costs by asking "is what the translation agency gives me worth all that money"? And with a good translation agency, the answer is "yes".

The agency takes care of a lot of things that the translator would otherwise have had to deal with. This includes administrative things, negotiating payment, making sure payment is received, taking risk for non-payment, ensuring that the client remains happy enough to return for more jobs, simplifying invoicing, etc. It includes client liaison -- anyone who has had to deal with direct clients can tell you that clients don't often know what they want, know what they can get or expect, know what the translator can or can't do for them, etc. The agency shields the translator from all of this. In addition, the agency has the task of preparing the source texts and the translator instructions in such a way that the translator can just jump right in and do the work. Not all source texts are suitable for translation (at all, or in its current state), and not all clients know how to effectively communicate their requirements, so the agency's job is to make sure all the necessary information is ready for the translator.

Naturally, there are pass-through agencies who do nothing more than pass work from the client to the translator. There are agencies whose administrative skills or offerings are so bad that the translator ends up having to do more work, not less.

Ultimately, the translator should continuously ask himself: is the lower rate I'm paid worth the reduction in effort required? If an agency starts requiring translators to use systems that waste their time, sooner or later you reach a point where you must decide that working for that agency for their low rate is no longer worth the money.

What the agency's own markup is, is not relevant for the translator. So what if the agency takes 50%, 100%, 200% etc.? The only thing that matters is what the translator gets. The translator is not being exploited if he gets value for money.

==

Added: I just read Dan's first post and realised that he had said all that I wanted to say. Sorry, Dan!


[Edited at 2020-04-28 13:01 GMT]


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Dan Lucas
Thomas T. Frost
Vera Schoen
Agneta Pallinder
Jorge Payan
 

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 22:49
Miembro 2004
inglés al italiano
It was tongue in cheek... Apr 28

Lincoln Hui wrote:

Sure, by exploiting employees and giving them more work to do without paying them more.

Just not the kind of company I'd like to work for, even as a freelancer. If a company is in the habit of treating its employees badly, they can hardly be expected to treat their freelancers well. Plus, PMs who are not treated well tend to be rather cavalier about their work. The experience is not likely to be much different from working with a bad agency.

More often than not, the companies that look to cut costs by eliminating the middle man are also quite aggressive about cutting costs in terms of translators' fee.


But I still think it's cheaper than hiring a translation agency. The company cuts its costs and the freelancers earn more. Win-win situation.


 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 05:49
Miembro
chino al inglés
+ ...
Probably not Apr 28

Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL wrote:

But I still think it's cheaper than hiring a translation agency. The company cuts its costs and the freelancers earn more. Win-win situation.

I have seen more than one corporate end client offer lower rates than my agency clients, sometimes by as much as 50%.

High-end translators' rates typically surpass low-end agencies anyway. Sometimes people confuse end-clients who want direct control over quality, and end-clients who just want to cut costs. They are generally not the same people, and often these two goals are not compatible at all.

The latter type is going for the same translators as the cheap agencies are, and such translators are a dime a dozen, so these end-clients can push the rate as low as the cheap agencies.


 

DZiW
Ucrania
inglés al ruso
+ ...
No self-regulated market, just middlemen market Apr 28

Dale, a sensible businessman prefers to deal with his equals in biz who can—to a reasonable extent—guarantee the job is done (1) properly, (2) timely, and (3) as agreed. Hence, the problem is not so much temps-oriented intermediaries or profiteers, but the fact most so called freelancers (ex-hired, band-aids, self-unemployed, and unwanted) are no real businesspersons: they are no equal party. That’s why an agency can easily charge exorbitant prices for the biz/risk management, prese... See more
Dale, a sensible businessman prefers to deal with his equals in biz who can—to a reasonable extent—guarantee the job is done (1) properly, (2) timely, and (3) as agreed. Hence, the problem is not so much temps-oriented intermediaries or profiteers, but the fact most so called freelancers (ex-hired, band-aids, self-unemployed, and unwanted) are no real businesspersons: they are no equal party. That’s why an agency can easily charge exorbitant prices for the biz/risk management, presentation, and so on, acting for the freelancers—following own interests.
With a few exceptions, of course.

Un/fortunately, most wannabe and acting freelancers are but disposable MT-stopgaps who were taught as mere push-buttons, without understanding the one-man company idea. There's no use even talking, when a prospect businessman cannot tell incomes from gains and profits. Why should one deal with those who don't understand what they are doing?

Just an educated opinion: if real [non-translation] specialists can use foreign language skills, there will be very little to no “pure” translators. The less amount of non-business freelancers, the less number of greedy spongers.
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Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 22:49
Miembro 2004
inglés al italiano
yes, but... Apr 28

Lincoln Hui wrote:

I have seen more than one corporate end client offer lower rates than my agency clients, sometimes by as much as 50%.

High-end translators' rates typically surpass low-end agencies anyway. Sometimes people confuse end-clients who want direct control over quality, and end-clients who just want to cut costs. They are generally not the same people, and often these two goals are not compatible at all.

The latter type is going for the same translators as the cheap agencies are, and such translators are a dime a dozen, so these end-clients can push the rate as low as the cheap agencies.


we are talking in general terms and in general terms cutting out the middle men is cheaper... then we can have about 3 zillions permutations on the matter...


 

Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Alemania
Local time: 23:49
alemán al inglés
The profitability of the agency is indirectly relevant to the translator ... Apr 28

... I am sure it would be much more pleasant to work for an agency that made 50 cents on every euro of sales (if there were such a thing) than for an agency that makes 4 cents on every euro of sales, because the latter would be forced to cut costs and corners every step of the way. In that sense, more "exploitative" agencies would be likely to (or at least have the ability to) treat their employees and freelancers in a much less "exploitative" manner.

And I assume you've recognized
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... I am sure it would be much more pleasant to work for an agency that made 50 cents on every euro of sales (if there were such a thing) than for an agency that makes 4 cents on every euro of sales, because the latter would be forced to cut costs and corners every step of the way. In that sense, more "exploitative" agencies would be likely to (or at least have the ability to) treat their employees and freelancers in a much less "exploitative" manner.

And I assume you've recognized by this point that you were confusing the variable "all money not going into the translator's pocket" with the variable "all money going into some lazy, rich parasite's pocket" (minus a negligible third variable consisting of all costs besides translators' fees). Dan offered numbers for that. And, more generally, if the system were about to collapse, it probably already would have: I don't have the feeling that things have radically changed in the ten years I have been translating, but you never know.

Lots of people need lots of different things from translators in lots of different contexts. Individual freelancers or small pools of them, internal departments, specialized translation agencies and generalist translation agencies all have a useful part to play somewhere in this system. That is not to say that a lot of people don't end up with bad solutions for solving the tasks facing them.

Along those lines: It is appropriate to equate the "50% of fees that don't go in the translator's pocket" with "50% of fees that don't go in the translator's pocket," so if you want it all and you want it now, don't find work through agencies. Particularly for people translating into English, there are lots of small businesses and organizations out there that use English as a lingua franca, providing a significant amount of volume without any need for multiple languages and usually only involving one or a handful of specialized fields.

If you want to work in that market and you gather enough experience to arrive at some meaningful numbers and then you use them to do the math and to tweak exactly what it is you are doing, then that avenue of finding work is certainly available for a large number of translators. For various reasons, I am almost certain that the math works out to my advantage in my case and I haven't worked for an agency in years. For many others, it makes more sense to work for both types of clients or only for agencies.
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Dan Lucas
 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Países Bajos
Local time: 23:49
Miembro 2006
inglés al afrikaans
+ ...
@Dale Apr 28

dale newton wrote:
Unless the service in question cannot be done by some other means with the same quality for less profit than these agencies build into their prices ... the agency's existence represents a market inefficiency.


From a purely theoretical point of view, I suppose you're right.

And let me assure you that new agencies spring up all the time, poaching both clients and translators from other agencies, with fewer startup costs, hoping to become big agencies in the end. Do these new agencies charge clients the same, and end up paying the translators more? No, they charge the clients much less (to convince them to switch), and pay the translators a little less (with promises of high volumes later on).

There will always be agencies that have a higher margin of profit and agencies with a smaller margin of profit. The existence of the former means that, theoretically, there is an "inefficiency" in the market, but I don't think you'll ever reach an equilibrium. There comes a point at which the potential for profit compared to the risk of failure becomes so small that newer agencies simply can't go cheaper.

Has that point been reached? Well, we're closer to it. The downwards pressure on rates paid to translators is evidence of it. When I was a young translator, I was too scared to say "no" to low rates, but I regularly say "no" these days. And the fact that the agencies to whom I say "no" rarely agree to then pay me more, tells me that for many of these agencies my bottom rate is already as expensive as they can afford. These [small to medium-sized] agencies lose money if they can't procure a translator, and the client goes elsewhere and does not become repeat business.

What exactly is preventing the market from configuring itself in a more efficient way?


At the bottom end of the market, the fixed business costs associated with running an agency would a much greater portion of the expenses, so at that level in the market the markup would need to be higher to make any kind of profit. On the other end of the spectrum, I suppose there is a gap in the market, but higher paying clients often also demand higher levels of personal service, so unless a new agency can provide that extra level of care, they won't be able to keep clients.

Is it your point of view that the reason that agencies run directly by associations/cooperatives don't exist is because they CANNOT, [or...]


No, I'm sure it's possible for an association to run a translation agency. Reasons why they don't do that may be because they're not interested, or because they don't have the necessary business acumen (and they know it), or because they don't have the necessary start-up funding.



[Edited at 2020-04-28 14:29 GMT]


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
sueco al inglés
+ ...
@Samuel Apr 28

I think it’s telling that I agree with almost everything you say but I also disagree with most of it...!! 🙄😂😂

For example:

Samuel Murray wrote:
The agency takes care of a lot of things that the translator would otherwise have had to deal with. This includes administrative things, negotiating payment, making sure payment is received, taking risk for non-payment, ensuring that the client remains happy enough to return for more jobs, simplifying invoicing, etc.

You just have to do all that with the agency instead.

anyone who has had to deal with direct clients can tell you that clients don't often know what they want, know what they can get or expect, know what the translator can or can't do for them, etc. The agency shields the translator from all of this.

In my experience, the agency just adds a layer of Chinese whispers.

In addition, the agency has the task of preparing the source texts and the translator instructions in such a way that the translator can just jump right in and do the work. Not all source texts are suitable for translation (at all, or in its current state), and not all clients know how to effectively communicate their requirements, so the agency's job is to make sure all the necessary information is ready for the translator.

Most of this prepping is an unnecessary step invented by the agencies. Most end-customers send a Word file and want a Word file back...


Giovanni Guarnieri MITI, MIL
jarda
 

jarda
República Checa
Local time: 23:49
inglés al checo
+ ...
if looking after another 100 years, you will be shocked even more May 24

@dale newton
I believe, that modern economy leaders want to make their customers stupid, hence no pay for writers. This condition can be observed hundreds of years by now.

From a book "World Without Mind: The existential Threat of Big Tech" by Franklin Foer, 2017:
"But reading through the papers, I came to see that the sum Cowley paid was the disturbing revelation: $150 for a review. When I saw this figure in a letter, it gave me a stir. It was precisely the same amount
... See more
@dale newton
I believe, that modern economy leaders want to make their customers stupid, hence no pay for writers. This condition can be observed hundreds of years by now.

From a book "World Without Mind: The existential Threat of Big Tech" by Franklin Foer, 2017:
"But reading through the papers, I came to see that the sum Cowley paid was the disturbing revelation: $150 for a review. When I saw this figure in a letter, it gave me a stir. It was precisely the same amount the New Republic still paid for reviews of approximately the same length that we published on our Web site. I stared at the page. EIGHTY YEARS of inflation . . . and stagnation. Writers are still paid precisely the same sum they received at the lowest moment in the economic history of the modern world."
And
"No penny-pinching technology can remove the human from the fundamental process of creation, no piece of software can speed the production of thought, even as the cost of producing books gallops ahead with the reset of the economy."
Link:
https://books.google.cz/books?id=Q8gPDgAAQBAJ&pg=PT179&lpg=PT179&dq="penny%20pinching%20technology"&source=bl&ots=Q-2Hsg15BZ&sig=ACfU3U36LDUL8xk26uIgywtablnbqsRuhA&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwifi_ub3srpAhUEqaQKHdMDDn8Q6AEwAHoECAoQAQ#v=snippet&q=amount&f=false

Who would like to see this as a balanced market? What is the market then? "An opportunity for psychopaths to have a field day to let their steam off and not to interfere in politics", perhaps.
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