Posted by: patenttranslator | April 19, 2011

Internet Is Full of Websites Offering Idiotic Advice for Really Stupid People, Including Translators, and I Think I Know Why

No one in this world has ever lost money by underestimating the intelligence of the great masses of the plain people. Nor has anyone ever lost public office thereby.
H. L. Mencken

I sometime discover these websites when I Google search engine terms left on the dashboard of my blog. I confess, I do that when I get bored and I need a distraction from the mundane work of a translator of incomprehensible and/or unintelligible patents. Well, OK, I do it every day.

Today, for instance, I Googled “wait, I have a blog” (I found nothing of interest there, some woman in England with a blog about poetry looked promising but I did not like her poems), “i cant wait to get paid” (some scary thoughts of a guy who is in the military and who got paid only half of what is owed to him because of the anticipated government shutdown), but then, when I Googled “do German translators make a lot of money?” I hit the mother lode. Lots and lots of websites with really stupid advice for people who want to become freelance translators!

I think the main problem is that people stopped buying the “Guides for Dummies” books. Not so long ago, there were these guidebooks that were published every year on all kinds of subjects, they had a black and yellow soft jacket and they used to cost about 12 dollars. There was a WordPerfect Guide for Dummies (while it was still around), and a Microsoft Word for Guide for Dummies, a Divorce for Dummies Guide and a Feng Shui for Dummies Guide and things like that. There probably was also a book called Skydiving for Dummies and another one called Climbing Mount Everest for Dummies too. I think they still publish these books but people are not buying them much. They just run a search on the Internet now.

So the same people who used to write those guidebooks for dummies sort of switched careers and started writing articles for websites aiming at the same market segment. Except that they don’t call them “Websites for Dummies” because it is just not very catchy any more. On these websites, I think they call them “portals” now, people who don’t really know much about anything write insightful articles offering great advice about anything and everything to people who are barely smart enough to be able to read.

The “hook” for these website articles is always “how to make money”. If you can write a website article about “How To Make Money As A Parking Lot Attendant”, you can write another one about “How To Make Money As A Translator.” Pretty much the same expertise is required for both subjects.

One of these guys, for instance, who writes for a website called wrote an article titled “Understanding How To Make Money Online As A Translator (Can You Say Make Money?”, in which he wrote among other things the following words of wisdom:

“However, to make money online as a translator, you must know your strengths and weaknesses ….. If you are fluent in Russian, you may not be qualified to translate into derivative tongues. Be realistic when bidding on these jobs in order to develop a reputation as an expert translator.”

What is a “derivative tongue of Russian?” As far as I know, there is no such animal, unless you accept the concept that Spanish is a “derivative language” of, say, French, and translators who can translate into Spanish should be “realistic” about bidding on translations into French (which they don’t know) “in order to develop a reputation as an expert translator”. Is there anybody on this planet who does not know that you should not try to translate into a language that you don’t know, except for the guy who wrote this article in which he created the interesting notion of “derivative tongues”?

The only explanation that I can think of is that the person who wrote this website article is the same guy who also wrote articles about “How To Make Money As A Painter” (Writer, Carpenter, Website Designer, Dog Walker, Real Estate Broker, Landscape Designer, Exotic Escort, Personal Trainer, Inventor, Football Coach, Etc.).

It’s the same guy, I’m telling you! He used to write for the Guidebooks For Dummies series for about 20 years and now he is paying his mortgage by giving advice to people who want to become freelance translators.

I think he is charging by the word and his rate is really low because he can crank out an article on just about any subject in less than 30 minutes. That is how he gets the work. The website operators then put some stock Photoshop images of sexy blondes, who are appropriately dressed or undressed depending on the subject of the article, on the website along with advertisements for products for the type of people who might be reading these types of articles (dummies), which is how people make money these days.



  1. That same guy should write the ultimate guide: “How to make money writing silly How to make money guides”. I think I would buy that one.


  2. A small correction:

    I think it should be called “How To Make Money Writing Silly How To Make Money Guides for Dummies”.


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