Recently I conducted a short survey to find out whether translators are satisfied with what they have now. I had certain assumptions and I wanted to find out the opinion of my colleagues about that. My survey consisted of five simple questions with multiple-choice answers. In general, I wanted to know what translators think about their current rates, workload, promotion and marketing for translation services, and use of personal websites.
The questions were as follows:
- Are you satisfied with your rates?
- Are you satisfied with your workload?
- Do you use online/offline marketing methods to promote your services?
- Do you think you need to learn more about self-marketing?
- Do you have a website where you promote services online?
The main purpose of this survey was to understand if my assumptions about rates and workload are the real concerns of translators and whether my colleagues do anything to improve the situation and/or willing to learn new things to become more successful freelance translators. Survey results are rather interesting and I hope you will find them useful too. Some answers were predictable, proving my initial assumptions, other answers were astonishing.
In addition, the survey was a start point of this new website – Successful Freelance Translator which originated from another project – Russian Translator Pro blog about freelance translation.
Well, let’s get closer to the results of my short survey.
Are you satisfied with your rates?
Rates for services are a real headache not only for translators. Plenty of questions come to one’s mind in this regard: how much to charge, how to negotiate the price, what if I’m charging less than I’m worth, how to find out if I’m charging the right price. You may continue this list on your own. The first and probably the main question of the survey was as follows: “Are you satisfied with your rates?”
I’ve set up several fixed answers with an ability to provide a free answer.
- I’m not satisfied with my rates
- My rates are OK but I want to increase them
- I’m quite satisfied with my rates
It turned out that 37.7% of respondents are not satisfied with their current rates. 47.7% of translators think that their rates are OK, nevertheless, they want to increase them, and only 11.5% of respondents are satisfied with what they charge for translation services. Though the sample size was not very big (130 people at the time of writing this post) I think that the situation is rather clear – 85% of translators are either not satisfied with their rates or want to scale them up.
Other responses were as follows:
I keep trying and occasionally raising my rates
I am okay with lower rates if the job is easy
I still didn’t fix rates
I’m working with an agency, but I’m not satisfied with the rates they pay.
Are you satisfied with your workload?
Another important question was about the workload, which may seem stable when you work with translation agencies or fluctuating when you start searching for direct clients.
The results also proved my assumption with almost 50% of translators suffering feast-or-famine cycles. The matter of price still exists for 36.9% of respondents who have enough work from agencies but want to find better-paying direct clients. Only 6.6% of translators work with direct clients and have sufficient workload.
7.7% of respondents provided their own answers:
I have agency and direct clients but would like to find more ongoing regular direct clients
I am overloaded (never have a day off). I want to discard low paying agencies and find higher paying agencies
I have more than enough work as I have both direct customers (well-paying) and get work from agencies
I have too much agency work, but hardly any work from direct clients.
I only work with agencies and am offered more work than I can take.
I have enough work from translation agencies, colleagues, and direct customers.
I work primarily with agencies and I have a sufficient workload
My workload could be better but I get turned down because of “too high” rates
I have a lot of work and prefer working for reliable translation agencies. Direct clients may pay better, but stress, risk, and responsibility are higher as well.
As you may see, there are many other opinions about workload. To my opinion, having too much work and being overloaded is one of the fastest ways to burn out at work that may cause serious damage to your health. It might be frightening to lose a stable ground when you have a regular workload from low-cost agencies since stable but low salary is very demoralizing. But it is better to refuse work from low-cost agencies and focus on self-improvement, building your personal brand and promoting your quality translation services to other respectable agencies or direct clients.
On the other hand, not all translators are ready to work with direct clients as this type of collaboration inevitably results in higher risks, additional tasks required for attraction of clients, launching and maintaining marketing campaign, keeping communication with clients, making financial plans and taking closer attention to taxes.
Finding the golden mean is hard but possible. Once you start treating your freelance career as a real business, implementing necessary steps to find stable and well-paying clients (either agencies or direct) you will soon achieve the results you never expected before.
Do you use online/offline marketing methods to promote your services?
This question revealed very interesting but deplorable fact: 34.6% of translators do not use online or offline methods to promote their services. In spite of the fact that 65.4% of respondents do apply some efforts to market their services, one-third of translators (I think those who are not satisfied with their rates and workload) do nothing to improve the situation.
Do you think you need to learn more about self-marketing?
The next question comes out of the previous. This time, the results are more promising. 83.1% of translators want to learn more about self-marketing and understand that this will help them to grow professionally.
Still there are 13.8% of translators who think they don’t need this.
Other answers were as follows:
I`ve already done the big course from the big name
I just have to practice what I preach
Don’t have time
I self-market pretty well I believe
I know a lot, I worked with this, but it’s always good to learn more
I need to introduce few marketing methods but because of lack of time (small baby at home) I am not able to make it right now.
Do you have a website where you promote services online?
The last question I asked in my survey was about a personal website. I have already written why having a personal website is important for translators and how a website can be used to promote translation services. Thus, it is very interesting how many translators use this powerful online tool.
I’m pleased to know that 42.3% of respondents have personal websites (though it requires further development to attract clients) while 41.5% of respondents don’t have a website but want to create one.
I know that there is always a group of skeptical people who don’t believe in the power of Internet and online work, therefore, 10% of translators that took part in the survey think that personal website is a waste of time.
Only 6.6% of respondents have a website that works quite well. I was not surprised to find that almost all of them are the same respondents who work with direct clients and have sufficient workload.
As you may see from the results, major problems that I outlined before launching a survey appeared to be topical for translators. However, not all translators are ready to learn something new to improve their performance, find better-paying clients and promote services using modern tools.
Nevertheless, thanks to this survey I understood that the major part of respondents is aware of problems and is working to promote their translation business.
Based on the results of survey and according to my previous content plant, I decided to continue blogging about freelance translation business focusing on the following topics:
- How to build your personal brand
- How to setup and promote personal website
- How to run successful online self-marketing campaign
- How to find better-paying clients
This new website is designed to create a strong community of translators who are ready to invest their time in development and promotion of personal translation business using online and offline methods, ensure stable workflow and find better clients paying what you’re really worth. I want to help you achieve these ambitious goals through blog posts, free and paid courses where I will share what I’ve learned during 9 years of freelancing and 3 years of website development.
I appreciate the attention of my readers and I hope for your further support. I also have many plans for this website and associated resources. For instance, I’m going to launch a forum for blogging translators and members of SFT community where you can ask questions and find answers for important questions, share good news about your business, post promotional materials about your translation business and much more.
Join SFT community and start building your successful freelance translation business today!