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Improving work efficiency

aaya_t
Active Member
Aaya T Member Since: Apr 5, 2019
1 of 4

Hello,

 

I would like to ask the more experienced members of the community for advice. Since the beginning of this year, I have been trying to earn extra income through freelance translation, editing, and transcription. I am a graduate student, and I am also a caregiver for my grandmother, and I have a lot on my plate. However, even taking this into account, I am very slow; I am a perfectionist and tend to get caught up in the finer details, sometimes spending days researching one small element for a job.

 

Recently I received a terrible review from a repeat client who had hired me to translate part of a book and edit/proofread the part that had already been translated. While I completed the translations successfully (but not without some delays), I found myself quagmired when it came to the editing. In the end I apologized to the client and declined to complete the remaining portions to be edited, and he cancelled the editing contract; then when I closed the translation contract because that work was done, he left his review there.

 

It bothers me that I'm like this, and not only because I earn much less than I potentially could, although of course that is part of it. What can I do to improve my efficiency?

 

Thank you,

Aaya

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
2 of 4

Aaya T wrote:

Hello,

 

I would like to ask the more experienced members of the community for advice. Since the beginning of this year, I have been trying to earn extra income through freelance translation, editing, and transcription. I am a graduate student, and I am also a caregiver for my grandmother, and I have a lot on my plate. However, even taking this into account, I am very slow; I am a perfectionist and tend to get caught up in the finer details, sometimes spending days researching one small element for a job.

 

Recently I received a terrible review from a repeat client who had hired me to translate part of a book and edit/proofread the part that had already been translated. While I completed the translations successfully (but not without some delays), I found myself quagmired when it came to the editing. In the end I apologized to the client and declined to complete the remaining portions to be edited, and he cancelled the editing contract; then when I closed the translation contract because that work was done, he left his review there.

 

It bothers me that I'm like this, and not only because I earn much less than I potentially could, although of course that is part of it. What can I do to improve my efficiency?

 

Thank you,

Aaya


I think the main problem here is that you are neither a translator nor an editor.

Your profile says:

 

"I am a biomedical engineer currently completing a master's program in health informatics, having just completed a master's in management information systems."

 

Speaking two or more languages no more makes you a translator and editor than owning scalpel makes you a surgeon.

 

Also, professional translators do not offer translations into their non-native language, let alone offer literary editing services.

 

You will have an uphill struggle now because when you get a JSS (Job Success Score) those poor outcomes will slam it...

 

I don't think the question is so much how you can do what you offer more efficiently but whether you should offer what you are offering at all.

 

Maybe rethink your profile from the ground up (maybe offer something that is related to your area of expertise)

 

Also, don't spread yourself too thin.If you already have too much on your plate, do not take on more. It will not end well, stress you and cause (clearly) great frustration to clients (as can be seen by that 2 star feedback...)

 

aaya_t
Active Member
Aaya T Member Since: Apr 5, 2019
3 of 4

Thank you, Petra. Of course, I understand that knowing two languages is not the only requirement to be a translator. However, I don't really have much expertise in anything; my education is practically the only thing I have. I've always been interested in linguistics and I grew up bilingual, so I felt I had the best chance in translation. I don't currently have the option to find other work because of my grandmother's situation, and this is the best I can do.

 

Regarding translation in a non-native language, my idea was more to translate from French to English rather than the other way around, since I have a working proficiency in French that while not native level is still fluent. As for editing, the work I have done is closer to proofreading-- checking grammar and spelling and comparing the translation to the source for accuracy. But this proved harder than translating from scratch, and I developed a sort psychological and mental block against that particular project, building up anxiety and stress. I don't think I will be undertaking any other such combination editing/translation projects. 

 

I am a little confused about the JSS. I recall at one point a couple of months ago seeing a job success score on my profile, but about two weeks ago I received an email that I had been admitted into the Rising Talent program, and when I checked my stats I no longer had a JSS. I presume I lost Rising Talent status either when the client cancelled the editing contract or when he left the poor review. Now I still don't have a JSS, although I've been on Upwork since last year and got my first job in January of this year.

 

On a slight tangent, what are the usual rates for translation? The work I've done with this client paid at 3-4 cents / word, while for the editing I lowered my original proposal from $800 for 150 pages to $730, which would have come out to 1.5 cents / word. While this seemed really low to me, I did not feel I could ask for more because of my lack of experience, and because I felt guilty for missing deadlines on previous projects. Also related, how long should it take to translate, say, 10000 words?

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
4 of 4

Aaya T wrote:

As for editing, the work I have done is closer to proofreading-- checking grammar and spelling and comparing the translation to the source for accuracy. But this proved harder than translating from scratch,


That is often the case if the translation was poor.

 


Aaya T wrote:

 I don't think I will be undertaking any other such combination editing/translation projects. 


I think that would be that would be wise.

 


Aaya T wrote:

On a slight tangent, what are the usual rates for translation?


On Upwork? It depends on the language pair, the client and the material. There are "cheaper" and "more expensive" language pairs, generally determined by supply and demand. Language pairs where there are lots of "native" speakers in low cost countries are cheaper than language pairs where there are fewer native speakers who tend to live in more expensive countries cost more.

 

And even for the same language pair there are HUGE differences. There are people who translate my language pairs for a fraction of a Cent and others who charge between 10 Cent and 20 Cent or more for specialized fields.

 


Aaya T wrote:

Also related, how long should it take to translate, say, 10000 words?


Again, it depends. I can reach a pretty high "words per hour" output in short bursts on material I am very familiar with or which is very easy, especially if the client also has a proofreader so I don't have to fulfill both roles,

 

On the other hand, very complex text (technical, medical, legal etc) takes far longer.

I "can" translate 10 000 words in 2 days, but not something overly complex or with great enthusiasm because I like to take breaks. I have translated 10 000 words of not dead easy text in one day once, but that was a dire emergency and I would not wish to repeat the experience (although that was the most money I've ever earned in a day)

 

It also depends on the language pair. I can translate German to English faster than an equivalent text from English to German and take longer from Italian to either German or English.

 

 

 

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