Freelancers: How have you adapted to changes in the translation and interpreting industry in recent years?

Hi translators and interpreters.

There have been significant changes in translation and interpreting in recent years. How are you, as a freelancer, adapting?

What changes? For example:

  • Translation memory technology has improved
  • Machine transition is better and more widely used
  • Translation management systems are more commonplace
  • Projects are often shorter
  • Project timelines are in many cases tighter
  • Overall, volumes are up (while rates may not be)
  • Quality expectations are higher
  • Interpreting services may be delivered remotely rather than in person
  • ... and so on.

The question was posed in the forums: What has been your response to changes such as these?

Some of the responses so far... 

  • Andrea: "The only way to cope with the changes you mentioned is specialisation."
    Samuel: "... by increasing my productivity..."
  • DZiW: "Getting more referrals via diversity and quality... and working with direct clients"
  • Teresa: "... focusing my work on fields that rely more on creativity and less on consistency: advertising, marketing, journalism…"
  • Maxi: "There has been a sharp increase in the proportion of end clients. Since a portion of this work involves hard copies, I invested in a colour laser printer in order to provide them with the best looking copy to go with the quality that they expect and I deliver."
  • Chris: "I have not needed to adapt at all because I operate at the high end of the market."
  • Christine: "Updated my CAT and kept up a dialogue with clients who are interested… and paid into my pension scheme! ... I watch developments in my languages and subject areas... "
  • Alexander: "The system is becoming more and more interactive... it's 'on-the-fly' translating using [the] MT."
  • Henriette: "I have not had to adapt. I specialize in subtitling..."
  • N.M.: "Translation becomes just one part of a whole. So, I rebranded as a content creator in English." 
  • Silvina: "I've been adopting a cross selling strategy mainly focused on web copywriting and marketing services..."

We would like more input. Reading the responses so far in this thread, several questions come to mind.

End client questions

Are you, like Maxi and DZiW, working more frequently with end clients? If you are, is it because of an intentional effort on your part? Or does it feel like something that is happening to some degree on its own, so to speak (perhaps because end clients are out there searching for freelancers more frequently)? Do you see any changes in the end clients?

"Specialty" and "creativity" questions

Are you, like Andrea, Teresa, N.M. and Silvina, focusing more on work that is specialized or that requires creativity? What strategies are you using to do that? What type of work fits the bill? Do you notice an appreciation on the part of clients of the premium nature of such services? Are LSPs more or less likely than end clients to have such appreciation?

"Productivity" questions

Are you, like Samuel, taking steps to increase your productivity? If so, what steps have been effective? As you have become more productive, have you changed your rates? At the end of the day, do you wind up earning more, the same or less (on an hourly basis, and overall)?

Adopting new technologies

Are you, like Alexander, adopting one or more new technologies into your work? If so, which technologies? 

Unaffected segments

Are you among those, like Chris, Henriette and others, who feel that they are not that affected by recent changes in the industry? If so, to what do you attribute that? Do you expect the type of changes mentioned in my initial post to affect you eventually?

Exit planning

In past discussions and surveys on this topic, some freelancers have reported that they are diversifying into other industries. Christine mentions her pension here.icon_smile.gif Are you among those for whom having an "exit plan" (if I can call it that) is part of your adaptation strategy? If so, what is your "exit plan"?

I'd love hear your feedback! Please join the discussion:

Topics: freelancer, interpreter, translation industry, GALA


Written by Henry Founder

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