I'm talking about the discussion at http://www.proz.com/forum/russian/158030-Движения_на_рынке_переводов.html
The discussion was about recent tendencies in the translation market:
- More and more direct clients and translation agencies insist that translators should lower their rates for translation. Many prefer to seek translators in the former USSR territory because the cost of life is cheeper there and because there's a huge amount of translators willing to work for prices as low as 0.02 USD per word and less.
- There are more and more agencies. Many of them have very short life, but still clients prefer to look for agencies than individual translators for reasons which are important for their business. But it is not exactly a great tendency since agencies traditionally suggest lower rates for freelancers and working just for agencies will merely help you and your family survive, but no more than that.
- There is a clear tendency for not taking quality into consideration. There are cases when serious companies just prefer machine translation or low quality translation made by "cheap" translators. And then they try to hire more expensive translators to do the proofreading (which in some cases is about rewriting the whole thing) at a lower price than a good translation would cost them initially.
There were also other points, I'd encourage my Russian-speaking colleagues to look through the whole discussion. These are the points that have touched me the most since I also have noticed these tendencies. And as a relatively young freelancer I can't really make comparisons between earlier times and now, but it's interesting how my opinion about my work has changed with time.
When I just started my career as a freelancer my greatest concern was "there are so many better translators than me. How can I make clients turn to me?" And my first instrument was my rate. I made it as low as possible and... met the first agency that never paid me. Later it was banned from ProZ. That taught me a very important lesson: if I want my clients to appreciate my work, I should set the rates that will 'tell' my clients that I am a serious person. And the next issue which can't be separated from the first one is the quality of work, of course. I realized that I didn't know how a real translator should work. I did my own small research reading translators' forums, looking through the profiles of more experienced translators, asking some of them for advice etc. I am deeply grateful for a friend of mine from Canada (she lived in Israel then) who gave me a chance to do my first freelance project and who gave me valuable advice concerning the importance of using google, wikipedia and of doing my own small research in the Internet on the topic of my translation. Now I view translation as my business and I want it to prosper at least till the time I decide to retire :)
I do admire several of the translators who took part in the discussion. They are some of the best professionals I know. I learned a lot from them and I continue the learning process. So what did I learn from this discussion?
My goal is still the same - I want to become THE VERY BEST translator in my areas of specialization. So I need to work on my quality and raise my rates gradually as I see that my quality of work becomes better. I already have quite a few clients who are pleased with my work, but I do remember some projects where I could have done a better job. As a perfectionist (and by the way there's nothing bad in being a perfectionist if you're a translator! - IMHO) I will continue striving for the very best results of my work. As a business woman I will continue marketing my services and probably increase my marketing efforts in the near future. And as a Christian I will continue keeping my rates very moderate for non-profit projects because it's not just all about business. Translation's also my ministry.