The Translation Myth Series Myth #1: Translators Charge Way Too Much

This is a new series I’m going to do about translation myths that non-translators tend to have about what translators do.

The reason I’m doing this is so that new translators have an idea of some of the misconceptions they might face when starting out.

The more prepared you are to overcome the doubts that your clients may have, the better you’ll be at getting new ones.

Translation Myth #1:
Translators charge too much for a job that
Google Translator does in 3 seconds.

This is a great myth that the majority of clients won’t have.

The only people that seem to have this mentality are those that have never dealt with any type of translation in the past.

If someone needs a translation done and thinks that Google Translate will do just a good a job as a professional translator, the person in need of a translator is obviously not going to spend their money on a real translator.

Instead, they’ll go straight to Google Translate (not to be confused with the Google Translator Toolkit) and get what they need there.

And that’s OK.

If someone can get what they need translated at Google Translate for free and have it be exactly what they need, why shouldn’t they do that?

Sometimes, translators get so hung up on automatic translators.

One one hand, they bemoan the fact that one day they are going to take over the industry while at the same time claiming that they’re terrible translators that nobody in their right mind would ever use.

Here’s the truth, though.

Automatic translators like Google Translate
can be a great benefit for those who don’t need
professional language translation services.

For example, the other day I was watching an Indian movie with subtitles. Throughout the movie, I used Google Translate to look up words that the subtitling didn’t seem to get right.

It wasn’t always perfect but it really helped me understand the movie better, and even helped me improve my English.

Why would I pay a professional translator for that kind of translation help?

It would be impractical, inconvenient, and wholly unnecessary.

Most legitimate translation clients that have been around the translation business, though, understand the difference, and hence the need, to use professional translation services.

They’re not going to compare your translation to what you can get for free with Google Translate.

But what if you get a client who has never dealt with translation or translators before and wonders why you chargeĀ so much when Google doesn’t cost anything?

Dealing With a New Client

In this instance, I’d explain (politely or maybe not) that if the person wants to use Google, he can go ahead.

I won’t be stopping them and it might be exactly what they want and/or need.

Plus, it makes it much easier on you the translator to deal with someone that actually wants and needs a professional translator, as opposed to having to deal with someone who merely thinks they do.

However, if they know they want a professional translation and are genuinely interested in the rationale behind your pricing, remember this:

Don’t ever feel like you have to justify
your pricing to anyone, including your clients.

You clients can accept your pricing conventions or not.

If they don’t like your pricing, they can be free to look elsewhere.

Nobody questions a lawyer’s rates or what their accountant charges.

Why should they question you?

Don’t feel guilty. You don’t have to justify.

Until next time.

3 thoughts on “The Translation Myth Series Myth #1: Translators Charge Way Too Much”

  1. Dani Translator

    Not translator, but middle services.

    [buyer] -> [agency] -> [agency] -> [agency] -> [translator]

    Example:
    [$0.1] -> [$ 0.02] -> [$0.02] -> [$0.02] -> [$0.04]

    The chain is too long and the chain cost is too high.

    A smart buyers directly deal with translators to cut the chain costs.

    1. That’s true. That’s why most successful translators try to get out of the agency game and work directly with clients. The more you can do that, the more money you’ll make, and the less time you’ll spend dealing with stupid people.

    2. It’s just finding those clients (buyers) knowledgeable enough to do that. Most first-time clients are not.

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