3,165 freelance translators participated in a survey on current trends in translation pricing called ‘Voices from the Freelance Translator Community’, which was conducted by Common Sense Advisory in 2012. The authors of the report are Nataly Kelly, Donald A. DePalma, and Vijayalaxmi Hegde.
As reported from the respondents:
- Freelance translators receive 65.60% of their income from translation agencies, and 34.40% from direct clients. 47% of the 3,165 respondents received a very high percentage of their income – 90 to 100% – from agencies.
I’m one of the translators trying to raise their income from direct clients, but I know several colleagues who prefer working with agencies exclusively, mostly because they want to avoid the hassle of finding and working with direct clients. I think that trend is decreasing though, what do you think?
- 34.7% of the freelance translators had been victims of a translation agency failing to pay them.
That means that a staggering 65.3% had never dealt with a non-payer! That sounds incredible to me, having experienced 4 such cases during my 11-year career. I asked colleagues about this on Twitter a few months ago and most of the people who replied to me had at least 1 non-payer client. Lesson learned: I could have avoided a few of bad payers with more extensive research beforehand.
How do freelance translators react when agencies fail to pay them? Respondents could select multiple answers.
- 49.8% said they wouldn’t accept projects from the company in the future. 30.0% indicated that they would warn colleagues not to work for these agencies and 28.8% would post about them on translator forums.
I did all three, plus emailed and called my non-payers repeatedly, to no avail… After years of reading translation blogs and attending translation conferences, I now know many more ways to claim payments, I’ll write a post about it soon, stay tuned.
Do the three aforementioned reactions work? How are the agencies’ reputations affected?
- 40.3% of the respondents indicated that they had refused projects based on feedback from other translators
I always check the Blue Board at Proz.com and Payment Practices before working with a new agency. Several years back, I saw a low grade for an agency on BB, talked with the project manager about it, decided to trust them and ended up chasing my money for the following 2 years (at least they paid in full at the end).
What about CAT tools?
- 66.5%of freelance translators use CAT tools regularly. SDL Trados was on top of the list with 68.47%, followed by Wordfast (27.99%).
The most interesting part of this survey is that it offers far more than numbers and statistics based on answers. It’s full of tips and advice for translators on how to deal with pricing concerns, working with various client types, the differences on working with large MLVs as opposed to Small and Medium-Sized MLVs, how to approach language vendors and direct clients and so much more. The statistics are also accompanied by useful insights and quotes from the respondents.
The myth of the non-paying client