26.04.2015



Seeing a publicity about a free webinar which content was a central part of a paid online course by the same provider (actually a course that I previously attended and obviously paid for) made me feel.... stupid. Afterwards, realizing that in fact a lot of the tips and solutions provided in that very course have been far disseminated here and there via translators free-access blogs articles, translators associations free videos, articles published on internet and so on made me feel... even more stupid.

Have you never felt tempted to follow the suggestions, to get some of the same experiences or to follow some professional tips that a prominent professional translator freely displays in his/her gorgeous and highly attended blog? Of course, you did. So did I. After all, in this translation and translators community, the keyword is "sharing", isn't it? (Yeah... Please do not insult me!)Even if the reasons for that may vary...

Have you ever read or bought promising books (yes, some in this prominent group are really gifted, they can not only be more than good professional translators but also authors of best seller's blogs that become best-seller's books that become a best-seller online course that become multiple online courses and so on... the sky is the limit!) thinking "Oh, this sounds interesting enough to give a try!" or more like "Oh, how stupid of me! Never thought in this way! Let's do it. After all, if it works for others it can certainly work for me too!"? Maybe yes, you already have got through this too. But, have you already decided to attend (and accepted paying an amount of money, let's say, more than what you would consider a reasonable one) a called "course" specially designed for us - either translators in the beginning of their freelance careers wishing to run a successful business, or senior independent translators far beyond in experience aiming to re-launch, improve or upgrade their already established business - that keep promising you hot solutions for your freelance career and business in all senses? Well.... unfortunately, I did.

Let's say that I truly believed that successful tools, miracle business strategies and some more miracle practical tailored treasures (even when paid for) would be disclosed especially for me in order to let all of us, professional translator colleagues, achieve the same success the owner's did. I was certainly not the only one. Some of those believers, like me, also paid for such so promising (and already so well-known) online courses. I was seduced by the marketing about promising strategies for a real reboot in an already settled freelance translator career (who doesn't need an extra boost?), all developed by the senior and self-conscious translator and course's owner her/himself: from how developing a successful business management to how landing big-money end clients, from how conceiving an optimal operational daily time management to how applying (a lot) higher rates per word in any translation segment or language, from how reaching higher-quality translation agencies as formal clients to how (even) acquiring a final monthly/yearly budget which was supposed to be a lot higher than the one you are used to... (why not??) Promising, isn't it? And promises did not stop there. This was a one of a kind pearl course, don't forget it. It even promised to let you know (if you are a newbie) or to remind you (if you are a senior) how constructing, developing and actually improving your own personal and tailor-made self-marketing plan, selling yourself and your services in order to increase your workflow and reach the right highly-scaled client segment in the translation market! WAW! This is great! Who does not wish to increase ones' own incoming, knowledge or even develop new skills? Life is learning. After all, EVERYBODY nowadays became a "freelance translation market-expert"! We can find tons of Websites and Blogs "teaching" us, professional translators, how practicing our profession or how becoming a (highly successful) freelance translator. Even (for my surprise) some major Translation Agencies in the market are publishing free online "guides" on how becoming a freelance translator, step-by-step, with all the benefits and disadvantages of this status, together on how improving your already settled freelance translator career! Except that for this case, the guide was free...

But my point is: what do translation agencies profit from being so generous and providing so much useful, hyper-detailed and translation market-oriented FREE information, after all? And what about those paid online courses provided by professionals like us, common freelance professional translators? The answer to the first question is: they get more freelancers (professionals or not) in the market to manipulate in order to increase their already fat clients portfolio and incoming. They become bigger and stronger, they can monopolize the translation market imposing lower and lower rates to freelance translators who directly or indirectly - and you know that - depend on them to survive professionally, while charging higher rates to their own direct clients. Above all, they get high-quality work from professional translators under zero labour rights duties or legal assurance engagements, employment benefits or legal impositions. What is a huge economy for them. They have only to think on cashing the final clients payments. Answer to the second question is: they get notoriety and reputation, they get known by other professional colleagues who either make them influential on the translation market (attracting more clients or indirectly more workflow and traffic) or help them to increase their workflow and their clients portfolio with mouth-to-mouth indications and references to translation agencies, companies related to their translation specializations, associations and yet, doing job collaborations. Above all, they get private fixed income getting inside their pockets from their regular courses. Point.

And what about you? What do you get from it? Are you going to achieve the same success they did after attending their famous and promising classes?

Haha! But this is the point. You are not really going to be able to sell yourself and your services in this hard competitive translation market just like they do, nor in the same highly profitable level they do, simply because you are, just like me, a good, very good or excellent professional translator and not an "inborn professional self-marketing seller" like THEY ARE in the first place! And that what it is. Point. We are no longer talking about two professional freelance translators here. We are talking about real professional self-marketing sellers. They are SO GOOD in selling themselves, their words, their image, their books (usually the compilation of their blogs - but nothing against that!) and whatever they pretend that works fine out in the translation market, that you really believe they are Gods, and that they know all better than you do. I believed it. I paid for it. And I regret how stupid I was thinking like that. And I will tell you why and how.

To begin with, all what I got from the supposed tailor-made course especially developed and intended to personally help and guide me (and the other freelance translators who also paid for that) to better build a reliable freelance business was actually a convivial workshop where long forms should be filled out answering and detailing as much as possible all about our own experiences and business as freelancers in order to be better oriented. My guess is that all together, we have (for free) provided more personal and active info than one had (against payment) intended via the"course". After all, it must be nice (and smart) to be paid for receiving even more material to add to your next course content for the next month and next group, and the next year... Workshops are not courses. In a real course you listen, and you learn. In a workshop, you collaborate and provide others with information material as much as you are provided with information from them. But for this kind of sharing, you should not be paying.

The pre-constructed formula was limited to the US cultural environment, and basically composed of blog articles that were previously and freely displayed on the Internet, and alternatively, also based on translators colleagues who accepted being mentioned and re-directed to their respective blogs. Not bad for their publicity, in fact. (Do you feel alright paying a course to access what is free for the public to read?). When it comes to talk about better incoming approaches, the eternal questioning about min. and max. suitable USD rating per word references, and direct clients or agencies willing to pay higher USD rates strategies... all this became soon entirely usefulness for all those who did not work with USD rates nor live in the US. But it is not all. When eventually questioning about the actual and relevant obstacles to reach better-paid rates per word for senior translators working with certain language pairs and currencies, the challenge answer I got from the course's provider was simply the following: "well...in this case all I can suggest you is considering change your translator career!" answered me my dearest "professor"... WOW !!!! Many thanks! I could not imagine a better, and more supportive guideline and professional advice to boost my business as a professional translator... (or even a more effective strategy to make me feel better or pleased with myself!) And just remember: I paid for that...! The course's closure was (again) a swapping session about time management. Some more new material should be shared. But there was not much to be shared. At that point, many participants had already given up on writing or sharing their professional lives. Between many other disappointing details I will spare you from, this promising experience finished as an expensive fiasco.

When you are already lucky enough to have created a highly responsive site, collected and displayed a great deal of useful information, helped people, improved professional colleagues lives, assembled admirers and (mainly) made a damn good publicity of yourself and your professional services through that, (and eventually tripled your translation-related clients portfolio, in case you still need them), it is, in my opinion, already OK. More than OK. Congrats! When you go even further (so gifted you are) and manage to publish books based on this same blog's content and your professional experiences... Nice! How smart you are! Nobody here is saying that this isn't great or that should not be honoured. Specially, nobody here is intending to be ungrateful to the sheer amount of useful free information displayed in there and available to all professionals in our category (provided that one has enough free time to read it all). And many thanks for that! But honestly... when you keep profiting of people's belief that you have something ELSE to tell (or to sell) in order to help them, when in fact all what you are doing is selling and re-selling the free published content of your site again and again.... this is, in my opinion, going too far. Then, it is enough. Then it is time to get your feet back, slow down your ambitious and just realize that maybe you don't need to make a living of fooling people... you are already a star.

I know that some people will say that the above-mentioned is just called "business as usual". Well, I don't feel like that. I feel I was trapped and fooled. I was even discouraged from my own professional career expectations instead of taking any profit from new solutions.

All that said, here is the most important thing: I will keep in mind what I knew before attending such a promising miracle guidance. That there are no miracle guidance or rules for running and succeed a freelance business, either in the translation market or any other one. But mainly in the translation market. That every single statement in this market should be first analysed geographically and culturally. That the only thing that really counts is still your experience, your competence and your perseverance. And talent. That each experience is unique and that one's successful tools are not a guarantee for others’ success even if in the exactly same conditions, local and terms. That a bit of luck or unlucky really counts, and that we must, before believing in other people statements, start believing in ourselves in the first place. Believing in what we do and what counts for ourselves. And invest in our own experiences. Then, soon or later, things will move. At our own rhythm. And in our most suitable conditions.

Believe in yourself. And don't (always) believe in what others make you believe.