The importance of appearing confident

I've been neglecting this blog for some time, but thanks to a nice reminder from a reader, I'm back. 🙂 As translators, we need to be humble about our work. Translation spans so many fields, from foreign-language study, to writing, to subject-matter knowledge–not to mention the actual skill of translation–that it's nearly impossible to fully […]

Some numbers

A freelance translator's income can be calculated by the following formula: r * p * h * d * w where: r = rate p = pages per hour h = hour worked per day d = days worked per week w = weeks worked per year Let's try plugging in some numbers. Say that […]

Rates: Barbarians at the gate

This is kind of a follow-up to my recent post about the 2010 work situation. It seems to me that a lot of translation buyers are shopping around for extremely cheap rates — as in a third or less of what I normally charge. That in itself isn't so unusual, as there are always cut-rate […]

Work situation 2010

How has 2010 been shaping up for you? I've been pretty busy. 2009 was fairly slow. I earned about 10% less than my average, although I also took a lot of time off (about two months total). But right around the beginning of 2010, my work started to pick up, even more than average years. […]

Ignoring reference translations

A few weeks ago, a translation agency asked me to do a trial translation for a potential new client. They sent me a short text to translate, and a few past translations that the potential client had commissioned before to serve as a reference. (The agency paid me for this trial, incidentally. An agency that […]

The worst job ever?

I recently took a job from a translation agency that will remain nameless. I had passed their test some time ago, but didn't do much work for them because their rates were usually too low for me. They recently contacted me about taking part of a big job, and agreed to my usual rates, so […]


The other evening, I was out at a pub with some friends, when my cell phone went off at around 10pm. My friends asked me if I was going to take the call. I pulled out the phone, and saw it was from a translation agency, so I put it on "manner" mode (vibration mode), […]

Translator bait and switch

Some of the more unscrupulous translation agencies practice what I call the bait and switch. They use their more expensive translators on the first couple of jobs for a new client, and then switch to their cheaper translators after they've locked in a juicy contract. Of course, you always want to do the best possible […]

Talk on translation at Japanese high school

Last week, I gave a talk at Naha Nishi High School about the translation profession, as well as language learning and some of my experiences in Japan. The talk was arranged through an educational company called Kids Corporation. Although my talk was in Japanese, the students emceed the presentation in both English and Japanese, and […]

Can you read kanji?

Just a month after writing about how agencies should give translators direct access to their clients, an agency asked me to go with them to meet their client for a big new job. The back story The end client had been burned a couple of times by horrible translations. So they contracted with this new […]