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  1. Our joint friend Simon @RussianTranslatorPro Akhrameev has recently published an article called "Sad truth about the translation industry”. Here are some snippets I wanted to quote and discuss at the same time: I agree for the most part. Translation agency business seems so easy to start: You buy cheap, sell high, and swim in money. Needless to say, it rarely ends up this way. Most of such agencies fail very soon, but in the process they manage to “convince” several customers that “translators are scam,” and several translators that “agencies are scam.” On the other hand, they do fail, and I don’t really think we should “compete” with them. We just have to keep doing what we are good at, whether it’s translating, managing projects, or running a proper agency. While of course educating clients who can be educating and sieving out those that cannot — in the longer or shorter run, such clients will fail due to their attitudes, too, so they shouldn’t bother us much. That’s not really sad, to me. What is sad that in some localities mean income is so low that even good translators are willing to work for peanuts. Say, in remote Russian provinces $500/month can be considered a solid income. So if you are okay living there, you can translate 50,000 words a month (which is a sufficiently small wordcount to be able deliver a good translation) at $0.01/word and live happily. The same can be said if you are a retiree/student/someone who just does translation for fun. The way out? I think, good translators earning $500/month will soon understand that they are in a great demand and will be able to increase their rates — first to $0.02, then to $0.04, and so on. This is the way I’ve gone all the way from $0.02 to $0.10/word (which will hopefully grow as I continue building my reputation). This, indeed, is one of the biggest idiosyncrasies of the translation business. If you order a taxi, you can easily say if it was bad once you get out of that car with your legs shaking and your whole life having passed before your eyes a few times during that wild ride. Few industries can “boast” this feature where the client cannot judge whether what he gets is worth the money. My recipe here is to prove value, not quality. For instance, if I translate an email marketing campaign that was “translated” before, I will ask the customer to then make an A/B testing of my and previous translation. Usually the conversion rates for mine are times higher — which customer can easily see, even if they know nothing about “quality” or cannot even speak the target language. Personally, I think that the biggest plight here is not that they use machine translation post-editing, but that they have wrong expectations about it. PEMT is great when it is used with a clear purpose and a clear understanding of what it is by a translator. Too often, when I order PEMT from a “real” translator, I see that they are doing it wrong: Instead of ensuring a factually correct, if stylistically awkward, text, they spend precious minutes on rephrasing sentences to make them sound natural, while admitting unforgivable factual mistakes. Which is especially dangerous given that Neural Machine Translation is awesome at providing naturally sounding output that is, well, wrong. IMHO, yes and no here. Sometimes it is impossible to manage a 50-million-word project unless you are as big as, say, Lionbridge. On the other hand, if Lionbridge joined Smartcat they would see that they don’t need a plethora of subcontractors and subsubcontractors to work with — they could easily work either directly with freelancers, or with a small number of single-language vendors who would be in turn working directly with freelancers. So I would say disintermediation is one of the trends in the translation industry, as in many others, and it will soon become less of a plague. What about you guys? What do you think are the saddest truths of the translation industry?
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