You read and hear all these horror stories on social media and translation blogs about translation companies. How the owners or project managers have no knowledge about the translation industry, how they only care about profit, how impersonal their emails are (Dear translator/provider) and so on. Some freelance translators and/or translation company owners tell positive stories sometimes about great working relationships with agencies, high rates, communication, I even wrote a thank-you letter to my favorite agency client a few years ago.
I want to tell you about a lovely person, a translation company owner, that I met recently. It was such a positive experience in so many ways that I had to share it with you. In my 13 years of experience in this field and the thousands of emails I have exchanged with clients, never have I seen such a communication style in the first and second contact emails. I’ll quote some parts of his emails (in Italics) but without personal details to avoid embarrassing him 🙂
…I am a member of XXX group on LinkedIn, so I thought of you when this translation project surfaced…
If you’ve known me, read this blog before, read one of my interviews online, followed my social media shares and/or attended one of my presentations: this is a great example of making great contacts through LinkedIn groups! I don’t even participate much in discussions of that specific group; I just share our Weekly Favorites every couple of weeks so group members can discover great content from fellow translation bloggers.
…I am attaching our non-disclosure agreement
It was half a page, clear and concise. I have never read such a nice and short NDA before!
… my broader interest would be to establish a working relationship with you going forward in the future, beyond this most immediate project.
I think that should be the ultimate goal for both freelancers and clients; to establish mutually beneficial relationships. And he is the first person I’ve know who said that in his very first email! After I happily replied to his email, he went into even more trouble to write a long and honest reply, parts of which I quote below and I would love you to read carefully. It will change your faith to humanity, at least with regard to translation company owners.
I am continually told that we “are not like most agencies”, which I personally take great pride in. I was brought into the field before the era of the internet. I personally proofread hundreds of translations into English, and worked side-by-side with translators, learning how taxing, vexing, and beautiful translation truly is. Now that I am owner of the company, I preach the importance of treating translators like gold (nay, even better than that, “Greek gold!”) because you truly are the lifeblood of our success. I always want you to feel like we are right there in the trenches with you, and not have you feel like you are “like electricity” to be turned on and off without any notice.
What irritates me to no end are many of the nasty remarks and cynicism that you see in LinkedIn translator forums about agencies “not doing anything, just marking up the prices” and this whole movement to “just get direct clients and by-pass agencies”. I generally ignore most of it, but this is one reason why I am not more active in forums, because I have just grown tired of the “language trolls” who insist on things being an adversarial relationship (most likely because they or their family felt personally wronged by some agency 112 years ago, and just refuse to let go of it, etc., etc.). And by the way, this does not mean that I have any problem or disagreement with your change in business model to work with direct clients as you are a company owner yourself. The difference is purely one of professionalism and positive attitude, both of which you clearly possess.
In short, we are a “drama free” agency because life is short, and we have too much important work to carry out by people who are relying on us, and we should simply treat each other with respect and dignity and have fun learning from each other every day.
Last, but not least, this is the last part of his email. The only reason I am quoting this is to show that the hours and efforts you spend on sharing great content on social media is totally worth it, because there are people and colleagues in general who appreciate it. And if you are lucky like me and you get to meet some of those lovely people, you’ll know what I mean 🙂
…thank you for your great content on the industry in social media! This is appreciated by all of us in the industry.
Feel free to share your positive experiences with either translation company owners/project managers or direct clients. If you feel up to it, you can also write a guest post for our blog in a similar format like this one, we’d love to publish it.