Posted by: patenttranslator | May 15, 2012

Not Even Dogs Are Interested In Yellow Pages These Days

“Sic transit gloria mundi” (Thus passes the glory of the world), I was thinking to myself as I was fishing out two huge Yellow Pages books floating in the pond under the footbridge behind our house, while my dog Lucy was patiently waiting for me to finish this dangerous operation with a puzzled look that goes so well with her pensive pit bull’s face.

I often think lofty thoughts, usually in  medieval Latin, when I walk my dog Lucy. She somehow has that effect on me, and I think she knows that.

After a series of torrential rains, I sometime fish out floating objects from the pond (you can see the pond here) because things like unread newspapers wrapped up in a plastic bag are washed away with rainwater through the drain system into the pond.

When people don’t bother to pick up things like newspapers on a rainy day, these things often end up as debris in the pond, which I find very sad because we still have a fair number of birds, turtles and small fish who call this pond a home sometime, although a mysterious green slime forming on the surface on hot days scared away a couple of very pretty and very poisonous snakes who used to live there a few years ago.

When I threw the ruined phone books toward Lucy, to my surprise she completely ignored them, although she never fails to sniff out judiciously with her big flat nose every piece of animal excrement that she may encounter when I walk her. She can normally extract a wealth of information from just about any object with her big, flat and twitching nose, which is very interesting to watch, but she must have known somehow that there is no need to waste her time with Yellow Pages.

I used to advertise in Yellow Pages for almost twenty years when I lived in San Francisco and the Bay Area in the eighties and nineties and I met some interesting customers through those ads as I wrote in a post a couple of years ago, but I pulled the plug on my ad here in Eastern Virginia about five years ago.

It probably still makes sense to advertise in Yellow Pages if you own for instance a pizza joint, although probably only senior citizens who “don’t do computers” will be looking up your place in a heavy paper book. It is cheaper and much more effective to have a website and a Facebook account because most people under 60 will usually just look up anything on a computer or a smart phone.

If you want to survive as a freelance translator, you have to make sure that potential customers can find you. But who will look for a translation service in Yellow Pages these days? Not many people.

Any freelance business is often a fight for survival. But advertising in Yellow Pages these days is like trying to survive by bringing a pretzel to a knife fight, when what you should really do is bring a gun to a knife fight.

It is not illegal to bring a gun to a knife fight, I think. Or if it is, it does not really matter, as long as you survive the competition because knife fights are probably just as illegal as gun fights.

Are you now, or have ever been, advertising in Yellow Pages? Is it working?

What does really work these days?

If you have some ideas about the big guns that translators could and perhaps should be bringing to win in the constant battle for survival, why not share them here?



  1. No Yellow Pages for me. Not having a web presence is akin to not being in the phone book – you don’t exist. But give me blues, any day….


  2. If you pay taxes, you exist.

    It is very hard not to exist these days.


    • I meant, you don’t exist ‘professionally’, or more to the point, ‘business-wise’. Vis-à-vis the all-seeing, big-brotherly State, you exist since you take your first breath…for the almost exclusive purpose of extracting money out of you, alive or dead…


  3. I know what you meant.

    I was just thinking about how all the money for this long job that I am working on now will go to pay taxes.


    • I hear you. The other day there was an article in one of our local newspapers, stating that on average, the Uruguayan taxpayer must work some 130 plus days a year just to pay taxes…


  4. It’s probably worse here.

    When is the last time that Uruguay invaded and occupied a foreign country?

    That’s were my tax money is going.


    • I see your point, and yes, it does seem such a waste, more in lives than money… I suppose that once you are in, you must see it through, but it is so sad. Trouble is, here, it doesn’t go to wars, but it remains a mystery as to where it actually goes to…. (I would risk saying, to finance/bribe junkies and do-nothings who keep them – the rulers, that is – in power with their votes). As the saying goes, death and taxes: you can’t do a thing to avoid them!


  5. I made the mistake of agreeing to a free listing on the Yellow Pages website. After 17 sales calls about upgrading to a paid account, it took an FCC complaint to get them to leave me alone. No sales have ever come of that listing.

    By far my best investment has been membership in my local translators association. Especially when I was starting out, nearly all my clients found me through the association’s online listing.


    • Thanks for your input, Holly. After responding to Steve, I got followed by this website on Twitter, and I thought, what the h…, it’s just another free listing, so I made the necessary input. So far nobody has bothered me (although it’s just a couple of days since I registered) and maybe this is because I am not based in the U.S. However, I will keep my eyes open and my ear to the ground.


  6. These people called me many times, at least a dozen times from different cell phone numbers in different US states, although they seem to have foreign accents, mostly Indian.

    Although I never agreed to anything and kept telling them that they will end up in jail if they are participating in a scam, they kept calling.

    Come to think of it, I haven’t heard from them in at least a month. Maybe they got finally busted.

    Instead I am now getting a couple of prerecorded calls a week from a “Rachel” who wants to give me a new credit card. That must be a phishing expedition. “Rachel” probably needed some cash for crystal meth.


  7. […] It is that time of the year when new telephone books hit the driveways in front of the porches in my neighborhood. Because some people don’t seem to bother to pick them up quickly enough, when it rains they sometime slide down the driveway into the rectangular openings created in the curb for rain water and the phone books may, much to my dismay and no doubt that of the ducks and geese too, end up floa…. […]


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