Searching for Relevance in Facebook Translators’ Groups

[Updated 2017-07-17]

Although I have recently rejoined two non-Japanese-related Facebook groups of translators, the reasons for the irrelevance of one of them to my situation remain.

Some of these reasons overlap with my reasons for leaving Japan Association of Translators, discussed elsewhere. The sequence is of no particular significance.

  • Discussions of CAT products are not relevant to me because I do not use such products. The reasons are (1) I am productive enough without them, (2) I have tried them and find that, overall, I would not gain (and I am again investigating one or two, with decidedly non-encouraging results), and (3) I have never been forced (like some translators) to use them, simply because my company’s direct clients do not require a translation provider to use some specific software product; they are paying for translations, not the tools you use to produce them.
  • Discussions of LinkedIn are not relevant to me because (1) I quickly realized that all LinkedIn was getting me was offers to be victimized by scammers and (2) I am in a market where clients and potential clients are generally not on LinkedIn, and certainly don’t go to LinkeIn to find translation services. I recently saw a posting on a Facebook translators’ group that assumed that most translators are “marketing” themselves on LinkedIn. Good for them.
  • Discussions regarding ProZ (including, sadly, suggestions to join) are not relevant to me because (1) I deal only with direct clients and (2) even if I did deal with agencies (never have and never will) I would never compete on ProZ with translators in India and China for Japanese-to-English translation work.
  • Discussions regarding the ProZ “Blue Board” are not relevant to me, because I only deal with clients who are ethical and, in nearly 40 years of business, have only been burnt once, that being not a non-ethical client, but rather a bankrupted client.
  • Discussions of how to market yourself on Facebook (suggestions to do so have, amazingly, appeared on a list I just joined) are not relevant to me because Facebook is not where high-paying (or any) direct clients I would work for go for translation services.
  • Discussions of marketing through a webpage or a blog are not relevant to me, because, although having a website is basically a given (and I have a company website, of course), it only comes into play after I have a face-to-face meeting with a client and it is not designed to–and would not–attract new clients.
  • Discussions of whether to work for a certain agency (translation: whether they are ethical, sometimes phrased, quite strangely, “payment practices”) are not relevant to me, because I deal with direct clients, almost all Japanese companies and law/patent firms, which are highly ethical and have been visited by me in almost all cases before any transactions takes place.
  • Discussions of how this or that translation marketing coach does not know what they are talking about are not relevant to me because these people are extremely rare in my language pair. I cannot think of a JA-EN translator here who is doing so poorly or is so incompetent that a career switch to coaching colleagues is the only way to survive.
  • Discussions regarding an advert by or offer of work by agency ABC are of no interest to me. To be sure, I have participated in such discussions, but only to the extent of outing them as having a virtual office address or no address at all and essentially having no substance (i.e., a kitchen tabletop operation).  But that too is irrelevant to me, since I don’t accept work from agencies, with or without substance.
  • Discussions regarding Paypal are irrelevant to me because Japanese direct clients would find Paypal quite amateurish (if they even knew what it was) and overseas law firms (virtually the only overseas clients I have) universally pay by bank transfer.
  • Discussions of translation “platforms” are irrelevant to me because I work with clients, not platforms and, even if I were to work for an agency (never have and never will) I would not work for the bottomfeeders running so-called translation platforms.
  • The use of the terms project, collaboration, and partner to refer to translation provider-purchaser interactions is not itself irrelevant, but it reveals an adoption of the language of translation brokers. Nobody in my market (direct clients dealing with translation providers) describes a job as a “project” or “collaboration.”  And my company has clients and I am one of their vendors.  Neither of us is a “partner” with the other.

The above covers the major portion of posts on almost all the Facebook translators’ groups in which I participate.

Naturally, the other side of the above listed irrelevancies is that virtually anything I say about those discussion topics sounds (and is) irrelevant to most of the people in groups in which the above-noted topics are frequently discussed.

Because I actually operate as a company, my market and my situation are so radically different from most translators in those groups that my advice is pretty much irrelevant, annoying, or both.

Although I have returned to two such groups, the irrelevance (particularly of one of the two) remains. That will not change, unless I start accepting projects from agencies, collaborating with them as their partner. That is highly unlikely to happen.

About William Lise

Long-term resident in Japan, involved in Japanese-to-English patent translation and interpreting for patent litigation. Former electrical engineer, and has worked in millimeter waveguide and fiber optics laboratories and in electronic measurement and test equipment.

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