The new twist on the relatively recent avalanche of spam from unfortunate beings who seem to be neither dead nor fully alive, which is why I started calling them zombie translators in this post, spam that I have to keep deleting from my e-mail every few hours, is that a large percentage of them now contains in addition to same wording of the subject line “Perfect Translation Skills Available” also the following moronic sentence:
“My goal has always been to dexterously convey the message in the target language with honesty and precision while maintaining a reader-friendly style that lends itself to the topic at hand. Nothing is untranslatable. Skill-backed experience is the name of the game. Plus, a translator’s personal touch is what makes all the difference”.
Listen up, zombie translators? Is it possible that it really never occured to you that if this sentence, which was clearly written by a commercial propaganda specialist (called marketing professional in our degraded culture) who knows nothing about translation, is used by more than one or two people, it could lose its magic power?
The only message that you are so dexterously conveying when you buy a database with a questionable list of translation agencies from some unscrupulous salesman who is selling refrigerators to Eskimos, and then send to each of them the same moronic sentence, is that you are a zombie incapable of a single independent thought.
True, if you send thousands of spam e-mails like this, and unsolicited e-mail is the definition of spam, to unverified e-mail addresses, a tiny percentage of you may in fact find a translation project that needs to be done very quickly at an extremely low rate, although you would have a much better chance that your e-mail will be in fact read if you sent information about your services (without copying the nonsense above) only to translation agencies who encourage on their websites translators to send them their résumés.
This may be a partial solution for you in the short term. But in the long term, it is a curse when you are still locked into this kind of zombie world because you will never make enough money to be able to pay your bills if you are locked into this market segment.
To paraphrase Steve Jobs:”THINK DIFFERENT-LY!”
You have to start thinking outside of the zombie box that is full of simple, one-size-fits-all solutions to all of your problems for 50 or 100 Euros.
First of all, I don’t know how to break it to you gently, but I am convinced that most of you are not translator material at all. Hopefully you have other talents and skills, but you will never be real translators. In my book you are not even subprime translators, a category on a higher level that is distinctly different from zombies like you as I write in this post.
There are other jobs out there for people who are partially bilingual or partially multilingual, as long as they still have a pulse. Perhaps you can find a job as a “multilingual customer services representative”. It’s not such a bad job! I did it myself for the first three years after I emigrated to United States three decades ago.
There must be other jobs like that out there.
But if you are truly determined to become a translator and this zombie disease is only a passing stage of a curable disease … you have to stop thinking and acting like a zombie translator.
The name of the game is using your brain for thinking on your own, not mindlessly imitating what thousands of other zombie translators are doing.
Snap out of your zombie trance and open your eyes!
Who would be your end customers? How can you find them or how can you make sure that they will find you?
Different people will have different answers to these questions and different strategies.
Maybe you need to join a club of budding or established translators, such as your local association of translators. For example I understand that they will have sessions at the American Translators Conference this year about how to work for direct customers, and some experienced translators sell online courses on the same subject.
Maybe you yourself can put together a local group of translators.
Maybe you need to have a website or at least a blog aimed at your potential customers. It costs time and money to design and maintain a professional website, and a lot of time to write an entertaining blog, but how else are they going to find you?
Or maybe you need to start mingling with your potential customers, or even learn how to “cold-call” (although I could never bring myself to do that).
There are many things that you could be doing. What they all have in common is that they require a lot of effort and at least to some extent thinking out of the box.
If you want to stop being zombies, the first thing you have to do is to start thinking outside of the zombie box and leave the “dexterous”, “skill-based, “personal touch” to massage parlors.