Always ask to be paid for (sometimes multiple) translation tests, reviewing training material, QAD..
Autor de la hebra: Tanja Tilch

Tanja Tilch  Identity Verified
Local time: 17:50
inglés al alemán
+ ...
Jul 31

Dear colleagues,

I'm concerned at the amount of unpaid work some agencies try to get for free from their long-term (and new) translators.

Examples:

1) Despite a long-standing business relationship (10 years+) and daily assignments, large agencies try to get free samples for every new client account they'd like you to work on

2) They send training material (which it may take 2 to 8 hours to walk through) with tests which are expected to be done
... See more
Dear colleagues,

I'm concerned at the amount of unpaid work some agencies try to get for free from their long-term (and new) translators.

Examples:

1) Despite a long-standing business relationship (10 years+) and daily assignments, large agencies try to get free samples for every new client account they'd like you to work on

2) They send training material (which it may take 2 to 8 hours to walk through) with tests which are expected to be done without any compensation for time spent, with promises you'll become their no. 1 translator if you pass (which may never come true, as they'll tell 20 people the same thing)

3) They send requests for providing counter-feedback and attending conference calls with the LQA team without compensation for time spent

4) They ask you to run tedious QAD checks in Xbench and similar tools without compensating for the extra time

5) They ask you to implement changes to the (defective) source text in your translation days after you delivered your translation, requiring you to dig out the text again, interrupting other projects for it.

Please do not accept such tasks UNLESS you actually get PAID for your time!

Have you yourself ever been offered a free haircut or a free 2 hours service from your craftsman/car mechanic? No? Well, there's a reason for it: They want to earn money for a living. And you do, too. And you won't if you spend 4 hours of your 8-hour working day with unpaid work.

Therefore remember to charge for everything you do for your customers - unless they pay a very generous rate already. And by that I mean the same as/more than you pay for buying services yourself.

Kind regards,

Tanja
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Philippe Etienne
Yolanda Broad
Philip Lees
Elena Aclasto
Marcus König
Agnes Fatrai
 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Alemania
Local time: 17:50
Miembro 2009
inglés al alemán
+ ...
Free tests Jul 31

There is an increasing demand for free tests. To top it off, the agencies expect the translators to attend endless (and usually senseless) conferences.

Any translator, except maybe those fresh from university, thus inexperienced in the professional world - and even they shouldn't start the free-test-circle, should decline free test translations or subtitling, and leave no room for any discussions. There should be at least a compensation for the time spent on the translation of the t
... See more
There is an increasing demand for free tests. To top it off, the agencies expect the translators to attend endless (and usually senseless) conferences.

Any translator, except maybe those fresh from university, thus inexperienced in the professional world - and even they shouldn't start the free-test-circle, should decline free test translations or subtitling, and leave no room for any discussions. There should be at least a compensation for the time spent on the translation of the translator's half rate per word. And also a percentage of the translator's hourly rate in case excessive reading material or videos are provided.

A few years ago, I don't remember when exactly, one really "smart" agency sent free tests to - I don't even know how many - translators, and ended up with the flawless translation of a large project for free. Of course, the translators never heard anything from that agency again, let alone, ever received any projects.

We all make our own decisions, but my advice would be, decline all free tests.
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Tanja Tilch
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Alemania
Local time: 17:50
Miembro 2016
inglés al alemán
Anonymity Jul 31

I think it all depends on the real relations between agency and translator. You are talking about "large" agencies, and I think the main problem is the anonymity in large agencies. If you don't know your PMs and your PMs don't know you (and what you can do for them), the agency has to rely on tests and scores and whatnot, in order to find out who is the best translator for a certain client with special requirements and special content. In smaller agencies (not actually one-person-shops but compa... See more
I think it all depends on the real relations between agency and translator. You are talking about "large" agencies, and I think the main problem is the anonymity in large agencies. If you don't know your PMs and your PMs don't know you (and what you can do for them), the agency has to rely on tests and scores and whatnot, in order to find out who is the best translator for a certain client with special requirements and special content. In smaller agencies (not actually one-person-shops but companies where people still know each other), PMs will know their pool of translators much better and be better prepared for selecting the best translator based on what they know about them.

Unpaid tests can be quite acceptable. Funny, but I don't compare myself with a hairdresser or car mechanic. I compare myself with a consultant, or with an architect, or with other kinds of high tier independent contractors. And guess what, it is quite usual for consultants or architects to do some sample work for free, in order to land a big job. Doing a 300 word free test (or even a training of several hours) for getting a job of 100k words or a regular client who sends work every week is not unreasonable. Of course it does not always work, but that's true for all kinds of marketing efforts.

The main issue is that the paid work is paying well. It makes no sense to deliver freebies in order to get tons of work at lousy rates. When doing a free test, make sure up front that the rates for the actual jobs will be fine.
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Jan Truper
Sheila Wilson
IrinaN
Thomas Pfann
Philippe Etienne
Yolanda Broad
Aline Amorim
 

Thomas Pfann  Identity Verified
Reino Unido
Local time: 16:50
Miembro 2006
inglés al alemán
+ ...
Who is being tested? Jul 31

I am very happy to do free test translations of a reasonable length. However, the following does, of course, not fall in this category and no reasonable agency would ask for it to be provided for free:

Tanja Tilch wrote:

1) Despite a long-standing business relationship (10 years+) and daily assignments, large agencies try to get free samples for every new client account they'd like you to work on


In this case, the agency wants to impress a potential client and win business from them. So asking a translator to do the job for free does not make any commercial sense at all. The agency should (and in most cases will be) prepared to spend more than usual – after all, they need something really good if they want to win over the client.

Don't confuse the two different types of test translation - those sent out by agencies or direct client to test a new translator before using this translator's services, and those sent out by end clients before using an agency's services.

The first type of test translation is often expected to be done for free and some (not all!) translators are happy to do it for free because it is effectively a marketing tool for translators trying to get a new client. In this case, the translator invests time to land a new contract.

The second type of test translation is basically the same but one step further up in the chain. The translation agency might not charge their (potential) client for the test translation because it is a means to get work from that client. But by the same reasoning, they will, of course, pay the translator (and they will use a trusted translator, not try out a new translator). In fact, they will often pay more than usual because they will want top-notch quality in order to impress the potential client. This is the agency's investment in order to land a new contract.


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Miranda Drew
Philippe Etienne
Yolanda Broad
Vera Schoen
Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
Philip Lees
 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
España
Local time: 16:50
Miembro 2007
inglés
+ ...
That is not the way an agency should be Jul 31

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:
I think it all depends on the real relations between agency and translator. You are talking about "large" agencies, and I think the main problem is the anonymity in large agencies. If you don't know your PMs and your PMs don't know you (and what you can do for them), the agency has to rely on tests and scores and whatnot, in order to find out who is the best translator for a certain client with special requirements and special content. In smaller agencies (not actually one-person-shops but companies where people still know each other), PMs will know their pool of translators much better and be better prepared for selecting the best translator based on what they know about them.

I totally agree. I only have one client who asks for "tests", training and reading to be done for selected new end-clients. They are (or were initially) a start-up in a university incubator. They absolutely insist on paying each time for this type of service, although I did provide a free sample (as offered by me) for them on our first contact. It's been many years since I last agreed to collaborate at all with the type of agency being described in the original post, so I can't comment except to say that the more you give them, the more they'll take. Your "favour" today becomes a demand tomorrow -- from every translator.

Unpaid tests can be quite acceptable. Funny, but I don't compare myself with a hairdresser or car mechanic. I compare myself with a consultant, or with an architect, or with other kinds of high tier independent contractors. And guess what, it is quite usual for consultants or architects to do some sample work for free, in order to land a big job. Doing a 300 word free test (or even a training of several hours) for getting a job of 100k words or a regular client who sends work every week is not unreasonable. Of course it does not always work, but that's true for all kinds of marketing efforts.

The main issue is that the paid work is paying well. It makes no sense to deliver freebies in order to get tons of work at lousy rates. When doing a free test, make sure up front that the rates for the actual jobs will be fine.

My lawyer and accountant both invested quite some time in getting me happy and on-board with their services. My kitchen and garden designers both spent hours preparing designs to my specifications before I signed any contract. Even my gardener comes round just to discuss requirements and costs. I fully expect all these service providers to be accounting for such "freebies" in their hourly/project fee. All freelance translators should be doing the same.

I work exclusively on persuasive texts as a translator, and some of my English copy-editing work involves fiction and marketing texts. In both roles, I think it's essential that the client has the opportunity to see how I'll approach their text. I could do a perfectly adequate job that wouldn't be at all what they wanted, and I accept that. But I wouldn't call it a "test". It's a sample of my work; one that's 100% related to their job.


Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Yolanda Broad
Philippe Etienne
Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
Philip Lees
Teresa Borges
IrinaN
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 00:50
Miembro
chino al inglés
+ ...
Tests Jul 31

My lawyer and accountant both invested quite some time in getting me happy and on-board with their services. My kitchen and garden designers both spent hours preparing designs to my specifications before I signed any contract. Even my gardener comes round just to discuss requirements and costs. I fully expect all these service providers to be accounting for such "freebies" in their hourly/project fee. All freelance translators should be doing the same.

Sometimes I suspect that people who say "lawyers/accountants/[insert profession here] don't give free tests" have never seen a lawyer in real life.


Thomas Pfann
Sheila Wilson
Philip Lees
Teresa Borges
 


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