How to make money as a translator

Published by: jankapoun, dated: December 30, 2021

If you are a translator, I am sure, you want to make more money. Just like everyone. But well, the-milion-dollar-question is: how?

Well, there are basically 3 approaches to this problem. Let’s tackle them one after another.

1. More money per source word or source page

The trouble with the pesky competition

Yes, this is the most straightforward approach. The problem you are facing as soon as you ask for more money per word, is your competition. There are just far too many translators who would happily “cut your throat” to get your job. Just take a look at Proz.com, the sheer numbers of e.g. English-Czech translators …. there are at least some 2500 of them there…

And your clients know this. As soon as you ask for a higher price, they will just ask someone else.

Everyone can translate

It is what it is. As we say in Czech: “Everyone with a hole in their butt can do translations”. And that’s just about right. Yes, I know this surely offends your translator’s pride, but let’s face the facts: Today’s customers are mostly not looking for a linguistically beautiful and perfect translation, they are looking for something that’s fairly understandable, reflects the source and has a reasonable price.

And of course, to be able to reasonably translate, you practically need just a B2 foreign language level…. and to be able to write in some reasonable quality in your own native language. Just the most important grammar rules, that’s enough, you don’t need to be an absolute linguistic expert in your own native language either. If you had good grades in your native language in primary/high school, you will do just fine.

And yes, I hear you screaming! What a bunch of bulls*it! Translators must be at the top, providing exceptional linguistic quality! Well, I am here to tell you, this is simply not the case. Sorry, guys.

A different perspective

Take it from yet another point of view: Among the car manufacturers, who do your think are the richest companies? The manufacturers of ultraluxury quality cars or exotic hypersports? Is it perhaps the Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Ferrari?

No! It’s the freaking VW, Toyota, or Renault! I.e. those who manufacture cars in reasonable quality for a reasonable price!

Do clients want a high quality translation?

So forget about offering high quality …. for a higher price. That’s not what clients want. At least the majority of them. They want a reasonably understandable translation for a reasonable price. And often, they want the price as low as possible.

Because who do you think reads those freaking coffee machine manuals?! Have YOU ever read it? Perhaps you read the part with button descriptions – to know what to press if you want to make a cup of coffee. But have you ever read the guarantee conditions? The EU conformity statement?

Seriously, come on. The translation is there just because the EU wants it. Customers never read it. From the customer’s point of view, this part could literally just read “bulls*it, bulls*it, bulls*it”… and they would be OK with it.

So don’t be surprised, the manufacturers only want to pay what is absolutely necessary… and ideally nothing at all.

When can you ask a higher rate per word?

But, well, there are situations when you can certainly ask for more. For instance, in case you started with a really substandard price so that you can just level it up with other translators, to a standard price for your language combination.

Or, you can also ask for a higher price if you posses some really rare knowledge. Perhaps an expert in nuclear energy? Particle physics? Highly specialized medicine? So, yes, you can ask for a higher price, because there are not that many translators with such a specialization…. all those experts obviously prefer working in their own fields, they don’t really want to do translations… or they do not know languages well enough to be able to do that.

2. Working with direct clients

Yes, this is definitely one way how to make more money. Cut out the middle man!

But of course, there are problems, too.

This is what I have observed on the Czech translation market:

Yes, here in CZ, you can get some 10 – 20 % higher rate on direct clients. But the problem is that direct clients do not understand (or better: they don’t care) translator’s work. So they do not prepare their documents in any way. Often, it is just: “Hey Jan, we have these PDFs here. Could you please translate them into Word and make the layout look more or less like on those PDFs? And yes, we pay you for the translation… formatting the target layout is included in your rate per word, right?”.

Well, no, it isn’t. Formatting the final docs to make them look similar to PDFs can take as much time as the translation itself. Sure, you can use some PDFtoWord converters…. they do work pretty well these days. But still – if you have lots of tables, complicated formatting, images…. there still will be some (considerable) work to be done on those resulting Word files.

And do the direct clients pay for this additional work? No, of course they don’t! Why do you think they started working with you in the first place? To save money! What a surprise…. You didn’t think they wanted you for the excellent quality of your work, right?

The effectivity of collaboration with direct clients

So you get 10 – 20 % more on your rate per word, but you spend e.g. 30-100 % more time on document preparation and finalization. The only thing that might save the day is that direct clients might not know anything on CAT tools. So you could possibly charge all those context and 100% matches and fuzzies for a full price. That could work … sometimes. That is actually the very original idea of all CAT tools and that’s what all CAT tool manufacturers will try to sell you these days: Buy our overpriced CAT (Trados and memoQ both always for some EUR 450… permanently discounted from some EUR 650… I hate these cheap marketing tricks) and it will save you your time! You will be much more productive so you make more money in the end! Yes, that might work well…. if your direct clients didn’t use any CATs themselves.

So, what’s the point of working for direct clients? Like it or not, translation agencies (mostly) do their part of work. They do prepare the documents for you in some translatable format, ideally a CAT format – and that saves you lots of work.

Partner with other translators

The only way to work with direct clients and to make substantially more money is to partner with other translators with various language combinations so that you can offer a complex linguistic package, translation into multiple languages at once. Thus, becoming a translation agency yourself. Then, you can ask for a higher price, because your clients will understand that it takes some effort to successfully manage several translators working on the same project at the same time.

3. Doing the volumes – the healthy approach for an independent translator

The Kaizen philosophy

The last option is all about the Japanese Kaizen philosophy. Optimize your processes to the maximum, remove all unnecessery steps, achieve maximum productivity.

That means you translate as effectively as you can to produce maximum translation output per hour… with reasonable quality. You make money on volumes.

Inspired by Henry Ford

This is the healthy approach most companies take these days. After all, that’s exactly what Henry Ford did to produce his Model T – the assembly line put into practice…. to produce as many cars with as low production costs as humanly possible.

And that’s what you should do, too.

But how?

Kaizen ruined by some CAT tools

Using just the CAT tools does not make too much sense these days, because translation agencies use them themselves, thereby removing the primary advantage such CAT tool can offer – the context/100% matches and fuzzies. They will only pay you some 10% for the context matches…. or worse, they won’t pay anything at all, saying those matches are already translated.

Rather than advantage, using CAT tools has became a necessity – you don’t use Trados? Well, sorry, we don’t have work for you.

Of course, to say the truth, using CATs still makes you more productive, even if agencies utilize the so-called “grid-payment-scheme”, i.e. paying different rates for different segment types (100% matches, fuzzies, nomatches…). It is still more comfortable and faster to translate a text in a CAT tool than in 2 Word windows positioned next to each other on your PC screen.

On the other hand, there are some tools, e.g. an infamous German tool that just causes more headaches than what it actually offers on productivity. For instance, try spellchecking a 50 page document in it…. Everything you might have gained on productivity so far will be lost during this spell check – due to its hilarious user-unfriendliness, it just takes a ridiculous amount of time to spell check the whole document. I can only speculate why they did not use the well-tried system know from MS Word or LibreOffice. It just seems that EVERYTHING in this German tool is made to be DIFFERENT, preferably more complicated and slower than what you might be used to.

Well, using such CAT tool does not bring any advantage whatsoever. On the contrary: due to decreased productivity, you are actually losing money.

Are agencies willing to pay you more to work in this German CAT? Ha ha ha ha ha…. don’t make me laugh please.

The solution

So what know? How to achieve high translation volumes?

Well, you have to outsmart the whole system. Or as we say in Czech, in a bit vulgar way: “You have to pi*s the system over.”

You have to use something that the direct clients or translation agencies cannot use themselves, because it actually makes no sense for them. It’s just like Henry’s assembly line – could his end customers use the assembly line to get the cars cheaper? No… how would they do it? Why would they do it? It would have made no sense. His customers actually did not give a da*n about his assembly processes, they just wanted an affordable car.

And that’s exactly where Bohemicus comes in. It’s a productivity tool that can make the translation work extremely productive for a translator…. but the end clients or agencies actually cannot use it to rip off their translators even more. Just like they cannot require a lower price because you just bought a new super fast SSD that makes your computer run 2× faster.

Because Bohemicus helps you produce higher translation volumes. It does it by providing on-demand machine translation, voice dictation and a bunch of very useful productivity-improving features (e.g. automatic look-up in your connected offline/online dictionaries and translation memories, useful editing functions, clipboard manager, unit conversion… and much more)…. all of this in ANY Windows application.

And boy, work it DOES. When properly used, you can achieve up to 300% productivity boost or even more. You can watch e.g. this Youtube video where I translated some 780 words in just 30 mins!

 So if you want to make more money, I cannot recommend Bohemicus enough. I made this tool myself a couple of years ago to help me work more productively. And now, you can have it too.

Blogposts

About me and why I created Bohemicus

Me pretending some work… I have been a professional technical translator since 2007, ... Read More

How to use Bohemicus with Crowdin

Learn how to use Bohemicus with Crowdin I am going to show you how you can very effectively use... Read More

Bohemicus 1.068 released!

What's new: improved machine-translation-marks remover, now removes also the AMT marks... Read More

How to make money as a translator

If you are a translator, I am sure, you want to make more money. Just like everyone. But well,... Read More

Keeping track of translation business records

You can use Bohemicus to keep track of your business records, and to issue invoices. Before you... Read More

Quick content preview of Trados packages

This feature can be very helpful when you need to preview the content of a Trados package. For... Read More

Removing the AT & NMT marks in Trados Studio

You can very easily remove those light-blue AT or NMT marks in machine-translated... Read More

Keeping track of translation jobs

This has happened a couple of times to me: I just forgot to do a job! This usually happens to me... Read More

Changing the language code of your SDL translation memory

This post can especially be useful to users of older SDL Studio versions. If you are using newer... Read More

Bohemicus 1.059 released!

What's new Support for online CAT tools (SmartCat, Crowdin, XTM, Coach...) has been... Read More

How to translate PDF files

The PDF format is truly ingenious - documents in the PDF format will appear exactly as... Read More

CAT Tools Crash Course – Part 1: What is a CAT tool and how it can be useful to you

Before I explain the basic idea behind all CAT tools, let me consider the naive approach to... Read More

Bohemicus vs. online CAT tools – why it isn’t always smooth sailing?

This post is only for those interested in hard-core deep-level computer programming. It was... Read More

How to translate a webpage (or a whole website)

Translating a webpage is a very easy task... if you know how to do it. Definition of a... Read More

How to translate 5000 words in 3 hours

Yes, this is indeed possible. I remember those times 13 years back when translating 5000... Read More

How to use machine translation in Across (GoogleTranslate, DeepL…)

This is a short video on how you can configure the Across CAT tool (made by Across GmbH, Germany) ... Read More

How to start a career as a freelance translator

These are a few tips I would give to every aspiring translator trying to start his/her career... Read More

How to spot a good translation agency you will enjoy working with

(from the translator's perspective) This article is based on my 13 years of experience... Read More

The Ctrl+Alt+Space shortcut and why you should definetely use it

The raison d'etre The Ctrl+Alt+Space shortcut was originally conceived to deal with the... Read More

Bohemicus v. 1.045 is out!

The new version of Bohemicus is out! What's new: 1) added support for Memsource 2)... Read More

The top 10 features of Bohemicus I use every day

These are the 10 features of Bohemicus I use every day. You can watch this video to see... Read More

How I used to convert units ….and you should definitely NOT

Unit conversion is something you will definitely encounter when working as a... Read More

How to remove the machine-translation marks in every CAT tool

What are they? As soon as you try to machine translate just about anything in any major... Read More

A clipboard manager. Why is it useful?

Definition of a clipboard manager For those who don't know what a clipboard manager is.... Read More

What is the core idea of Bohemicus and how it can be useful to you

So, this is the core idea of Bohemicus: Let's create an interface between you and your CAT... Read More

How I became a professional translator

This is the story of how I became a professional translator. The beginnings I certainly... Read More

Why do we, translators, actually hate CAT tools?

So, I suppose, the original idea of a CAT tool was something like this: Let's create a... Read More

How I developed, marketed and sold a translation software product that Proz.com would not let me speak about

And why do some people seem to utterly hate it ...without even trying it out? Am I getting... Read More

Why do translation agencies require translation tests free of charge?

I have never really understood this concept. So, an agency requires you to do a translation... Read More

Rename file extensions easily!

Why is file extension rename useful? You can very easily rename a file extension. This... Read More

Transferring large files with a download link

You can very easily and conveniently send large files up to 100 MB through the Bohemicus... Read More

Working with hotkeys

What are hotkeys? Hotkeys are the heart of Bohemicus. They are simply combinations of... Read More

Connecting an Android phone through WiFi

If you want to use the speech-to-text feature, you can connect your Android phone/tablet also... Read More

Quick-open folders

What is it good for? You can very quickly and easily open your pre-defined folders just by... Read More

Machine translation

Setting it up Machine translation is very easy in Bohemicus. First, you need to set it up -... Read More

Snipping tool

You can very easily and conveniently launch the Windows Snipping Tool to make screenshots by... Read More

Hints

What are hints in hintboxes Every time you press the Ctrl key, a couple of semi-transparent... Read More

Activating Bohemicus

Activating Bohemicus is easy. You will need your activation code that you received upon your... Read More

How to get the Google API translation key

Prerequisities 1. In order to receive a Google API translation key, you will need a Google... Read More

Quick set-up

You should set up Bohemicus before you run it for the first time. Set up the machine... Read More

Working with online CATs

If you want to work with online CAT tools, such as SmartCat, XTM, Crowdin, Coach, etc..., just... Read More

Metric/imperial unit conversions

Converting metric/imperial units is very easy with Bohemicus. You can set up 3 hotkeys to... Read More

Connecting Bluetooth

Now, let's see how to connect your Android phone to your Windows and then to Bohemicus. If... Read More

Troubleshooting Bluetooth

Why you should use Bluetooth Bluetooth is the preferred way of connecting Bohemicus both in... Read More

Local file transfer between your office computers

In Bohemicus, you can very easily transfer files and folders between 2 or more local computers... Read More

Taking notes in Bohemicus

Why do translators and writers take notes Note taking is an important task for all... Read More

Working with translation memories in Bohemicus

How to work with translation memories in Bohemicus Use your own translation memories...... Read More

How to insert the current date with Bohemicus

What is it good for? You can use this function to e. g. distinguish various folders from... Read More

Non-breakable spaces

What are they good for? Non-breakable spaces are an important text element in case you want... Read More

How to google in Bohemicus

We have all been there: you need to google someting, so normally you would just select your... Read More

Quotation marks

Quotation marks can be a hassle Different languages use different quotation marks. The... Read More

How to make more money as a translator

Make more money as a translator If you are a translator, I am sure, you want to make more... Read More

Text editing features

Bohemicus offers a bunch of text editing features that can be really handy. It is... Read More

Speech recognition (voice dictation) in Bohemicus

Speech recognition, or speech-to-text functionality, or just voice dictation, is... Read More

Working with online dictionaries

You can use Bohemicus to interactively search in online dictionaries. How it... Read More

Working with local offline dictionaries

While working with Bohemicus, you can plug-in 2 local offline dictionaries. This can be very... Read More

Voice dictation with Bohemicus

Voice dictation (speech-to-text functionality) is an extremely important feature of Bohemicus. Why... Read More

Help & Blogposts

Bohemicus is now available on a montly subscription basis of EUR 9.99! Learn... Read More

How to increase translation speed and productivity: machine translation

Machine translation can greatly increase your translation speed, there's no doubt about it.... Read More

How to translate and write faster: a clipboard manager

What is a clipboard manager? As you probably know there is this very useful feature in Windows: the... Read More

Convert the Imperial units to the metric system and vice versa

Here is a video presentation of the Bohemicus Imperial/metric unit conversin... Read More

Bohemicus WordPress theme design by Mgr. Jan Kapoun (c) 2022 | Data Protection Policy | Contact: bohemicus@bohemicus-software.cz, +420775601385, skype: yankapoun
PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com