Guest post: Reflections on 2017, my first $US 100,000+ year from translation 12

DJHartmann is a NAATI Certified Thai-English Translator specializing in the translation of issues relating to applied anthropology, international development, NGO’s, refugees and migration, human trafficking, indigenous peoples’ rights, the effects of mining and resource extraction on local communities, social impact assessments, land tenure and environmental management.

He is a ProZ.com member and member of the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network.

 

He shared this success story last week in ProZ.com forums.


We don’t normally share our successes here on ProZ.com. Most often we hear about issues that aren’t so hopeful such as bad clients or non-payment, problems getting established or a slow workload. I’d like to share my 2017 experience with everyone and what I’ll do differently in 2018.

To start off, I’ve only been a full-time translator and ProZ.com member since mid-2014. At the start of 2017 I had been fully dedicated to translation for a mere 2 1/2 years (having translated part-time since 2011 while studying and working).

The year 2017 was the first calendar year that I earned over $US 100,000 from translation, around $130,000+ if including other services. I think that this story is possible for anyone here on ProZ.com, that’s why I wanted to share.

What did I do differently to previous years?

Translation and my business came number 1.

What does that mean? Everything else got put behind me:

Family, wife, children, socialising, cycling and fitness, health, alcohol, holidays, anything that might’ve been deemed a waste of time…placed number 2

Saying this, I didn’t just take translation and my business seriously, I “became” DJHartmann Translation. Work became my existence. I generally would wake between 2-3am and work through till 6pm, in bed normally by 7-8pm, 7 days/week. This was the routine until the regular big projects would come through and I’d work for 20 hour + sessions, at least a couple of times/month. This lasted through till NYE, when I was pushing to finish a 40k word job that was previously due on 26 Dec but I got an extension…

I only had a handful of clients, most work coming from 2. Big projects (150,000+ words) were the norm and I said goodbye to the nagging, undercutting multinationals who wanted me to work for less than 1/2 my rate. I became very close with the project managers that I worked with and we built an excellent level of understanding and great professional relationships with one another. While these big projects occupied my month-long vision, I would of course have daily, well-paid jobs that didn’t take too much time at all (certified TRs etc). I never refused these and delivered ASAP.

Quality was paramount. As I mentioned above about needing an extension, if the job didn’t meet my own quality standard expectations, I wouldn’t deliver it. This was in no way regular but when it did happen it would frustrate the PMs who were being hounded by their clients to deliver. Upon seeing the delivered project, which was often more extensive than they’d first thought (Thai source WC is often underestimated), they’d always thank me. I built up a reputation with all in the process chain: proofreaders, quality assurance, project managers and end-clients. This kept those big jobs coming.

I stopped sub-contracting translations. Running on from the above point, with quality being my priority, and a complete lack of time to proof others’ work, it was not in my best interest to use sub-contractors. Instead, I branched out my service offerings to one ‘almost’ passive-income pursuit and one ‘easy money’ task. Without giving too many details, the passive-income task involves a team working for me in Thailand and the easy-money task is a job that most others refuse to take! Neither of these are translation but are both assigned to me by translation agencies. The agencies also have full knowledge of the team working for me, which I’ve helped to screen.

I’ve strengthened partnerships. Some colleagues in this industry are out to get you, ready to stab you in the back or undercut you at their first opportunity! Others are worth keeping close and worth building a mutually-beneficial future together. In the past I would’ve just sub-contracted work to them but for the reasons above I stopped doing that. Instead, I gave opportunities and shared their names with clients who needed desperate help. Everyone is happier in this situation and it promotes trust and friendship, better quality work and more money going to the right people!

I became accredited. For my language pair, there are only a very few translators who are accredited or certified. Most are non-natives and those who are natives (bar one or two) didn’t learn the source language at a higher-educational level. This is not a criticism of all translators without degrees, I’m just trying to show that on the whole, Thai-English translation has very poor quality. There are even varying levels of bad translations in this pair. Becoming accredited through testing gave all those I work with a level of assuredness that my translations were good. It also gave me a renewed confidence, which helped my own work. NAATI accreditation was expensive and very hard but I have no regrets after doing it.

After saying all of this, I also moved my wife and two daughters back to Australia with me. We packed our whole lives from Thailand into a shipping container, sold the car and moved onto my family’s farm here in Australia for 9 months, living in the spare bedroom. My intent throughout 2017 was to save money for a house deposit. This was the driving force for all those above-detailed accomplishments…but I found out afterwards that internationally-sourced funds cannot be deemed ‘secure’ financing for a loan. Instead of buying a house, I’ve moved my family into a rental in one of the nicer suburbs of Brisbane that is near a good, well-known school. We’ve forgotten about buying a house because we couldn’t ever afford to buy the place we’re living in now!

Come January 2018. What has changed? I no longer have the ‘save money for a house’ mantra driving me like a madman. I burned out, seriously burned out after New Years and one of my main resolutions was to say “No”. I am unavailable on weekends, as these are now set for my family, wife and kids. I’ve prioritised health and fitness and am cycling most mornings once again (eg. prior to 2017). I’m back to enjoying cider and wine!!!! And now am glad to start work at 9am! I’m back to loving my job, loving my lifestyle, and my family is loving me for it! My income might’ve taken a cut but it was that extra 20% effort that caused all the pain. My feeling is now that this level is sustainable, whereas the other max-effort nearly killed me.

I thought this experience was worth sharing and hope that others can gain something from it.

Finally, it’s worth noting that I am the sole income provider for my family. My eldest daughter is 6 and youngest nearly 2. My wife stays at home caring for #2 and helps look after me through those long work-stints. Much of our success is thanks to her continual support and I couldn’t have done half of it without her!!!

Regards,

DJH


This post was originally made in a site forum.

Participate in the forum discussion, or leave your comment below!

Thank you to ProZ.com site moderators, class of 2016-2017 Reply

The ProZ.com moderator class of 2016-2017 is coming to an end, but before this happens, ProZ.com would like to thank all of those members who have given of their time to help maintain a positive, results-oriented atmosphere on the site. Each person in the class has made valuable contributions to ProZ.com, and some of them even beyond the moderator program.

ProZ.com moderators are volunteer members who have benefited from ProZ.com and have chosen to give something back by playing their part, in turn, in a system put in place to ensure fair play. Their role is to foster and protect the positive, results-oriented atmosphere that makes ProZ.com possible, by:

  • Greeting and guiding new participants, and helping them to properly use and benefit from what is available to them at ProZ.com.
  • Enforcing site rules in a consistent and structured manner to maintain a constructive environment.

The moderator class of 2016-2017 is certainly a very good example of the role. Thank you mods!

Now, the moderator class of 2017-2018 is scheduled to begin in September. So, if you are a ProZ.com member and would like to volunteer for a one-year term as site moderator, please visit http://www.proz.com/moderators or contact site staff through the support center.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Alejandro

Thank you to ProZ.com site moderators, class of 2015-2016 Reply

The ProZ.com moderator class of 2015-2016 is coming to an end, but before this happens, ProZ.com would like to thank all of those members who have given of their time to help maintain a positive, results-oriented atmosphere on the site. Each person in the class has made valuable contributions to ProZ.com, and some of them even beyond the moderator program.

ProZ.com moderators are volunteer members who have benefited from ProZ.com and have chosen to give something back by playing their part, in turn, in a system put in place to ensure fair play. Their role is to foster and protect the positive, results-oriented atmosphere that makes ProZ.com possible, by:

  • Greeting and guiding new participants, and helping them to properly use and benefit from what is available to them at ProZ.com.
  • Enforcing site rules in a consistent and structured manner to maintain a constructive environment.

The moderator class of 2015-2016 is certainly a very good example of the role. Thank you mods!

Now, the moderator class of 2016-2017 is scheduled to begin at the end of July. So, if you are a ProZ.com member and would like to volunteer for a one-year term as site moderator, please visit http://www.proz.com/moderators or contact site staff through the support center.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Alejandro

A silver bullet against translation scammers 1

Scammers who prey on translators will not go away. They operate under fake names, pretending to be clients, and cheat translators out of their work or money. The community has taken on the task of creating resources and sharing information about these scams with impressive results, creating an abundance of posts raising awareness about scams targeting translators. The oldest such article I could find dates back to January 2011, and since then they have multiplied. There are also discussion hubs like ProZ.com’s Scams forum in which information about scammers is shared on a daily basis. I think it is safe to say that creating content to fight this blight is a step that has been successfully taken.

As the manager of ProZ.com’s Translator scam alert center since 2011, I have been in touch with people that have fallen for scams for a long time. A pattern that stands out is that only those who are unaware of online scammers fall for scams. Knowledge of online scams and risk management procedures, in this case, works like a vaccine that makes the one exposed to it immune to scams. The knowledge is out there and it’s being shared, but not everyone may be exposed to helpful information in regards to spotting scammers.

No amount of posts about known scammers will prevent new scammers from finding new victims, but a solid method for risk management method may. I would like to propose the following steps as the silver bullet for risk management:

  1. If you are offered a job that does not make sense to you, does not match the service they offer, is below your rates, etc., simply dismiss it.
  2. If you are offered a job that you find interesting, ask for verifiable contact information.
  3. Once you receive verifiable contact information, check it until you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
  4. After that, check payment practices and other information (for instance in the ProZ.com Blue Board).

Anyone who fails any of these checks should be deemed too risky for collaboration. This doesn’t mean they are confirmed scammers, they are just too risky to consider doing business with them.


Have you ever been the victim of a translation-related scam? If so, what could you have done differently to prevent it?

Thank you to ProZ.com site moderators, class of 2014-2015 Reply

The ProZ.com moderator class of 2014-2015 is coming to an end, but before this happens, ProZ.com would like to thank all of those members who have given of their time to help maintain a positive, results-oriented atmosphere on the site. Each person in the class has made valuable contributions to ProZ.com, and some of them even beyond the moderator program.

ProZ.com moderators are volunteer members who have benefited from ProZ.com and have chosen to give something back by playing their part, in turn, in a system put in place to ensure fair play. Their role is to foster and protect the positive, results-oriented atmosphere that makes ProZ.com possible, by:

  • Greeting and guiding new participants, and helping them to properly use and benefit from what is available to them at ProZ.com.
  • Enforcing site rules in a consistent and structured manner to maintain a constructive environment.

The moderator class of 2014-2015 is certainly a very good example of the role. Thank you mods!

Now, the moderator class of 2015-2016 is scheduled to begin in August. So, if you are a ProZ.com member and would like to volunteer for a one-year term as site moderator, please visit http://www.proz.com/moderators or contact site staff through the support center.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Alejandro

Thank you to ProZ.com site moderators, class of 2013-2014 Reply

The ProZ.com moderator class of 2013-2014 is coming to an end, but before this happens, ProZ.com would like to thank all of those members who have given of their time to help maintain a positive, results-oriented atmosphere on the site. Each person in the class has made valuable contributions to ProZ.com, and some of them even beyond the moderator program.

ProZ.com moderators are volunteer members who have benefited from ProZ.com and have chosen to give something back by playing their part, in turn, in a system put in place to ensure fair play. Their role is to foster and protect the positive, results-oriented atmosphere that makes ProZ.com possible, by:

  • Greeting and guiding new participants, and helping them to properly use and benefit from what is available to them at ProZ.com.
  • Enforcing site rules in a consistent and structured manner to maintain a constructive environment.

The moderator class of 2013-2014 is certainly a very good example of the role. Thank you mods!

Now, the moderator class of 2014-2015 is scheduled to begin in August. So, if you are a ProZ.com member and would like to volunteer for a one-year term as site moderator, please visit http://www.proz.com/moderators or contact site staff through the support center.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Alejandro

Protecting yourself from fraud: a recent example 5

I’d like to share a recent case of a fraudulent job, which may serve as complimentary information to Enrique’s post on scams earlier this month, and as an example of how important it is for translators to do their homework when entering into negotiations with a potential new client.

A job was posted on the site. The job itself met the requirements and rules for posting a job.

However, upon entering into communication with the poster of the job, at least two site members noticed certain aspects which sent up red flags for them, and they reported these through the support system. The causes of the suspicion included a free webmail address, a resistance to provide full contact details, and in one case “awarding” the job and emitting a PO only to then cancel not long afterward.

When this was reported through support, further investigation into the matter revealed that a case of potential credit card fraud was also present. In the end the job was removed, the posting profile was removed, and translators who had quoted on the job were contacted and warned to proceed with caution if they were in contact with the job poster.

First, this is a nice example of how a couple of alert members were able to help save colleagues some time and headache. Equally important, though, is the example of being vigilant when it comes to business decisions, in this case, “Should I choose to work with this person?”

Some job postings require vetting, and this vetting is done by site staff. However, a majority of the jobs posted do not require vetting (for example when the job poster has membership or has been “whitelisted” for having posted previous jobs which were in line with site rules, having a strong Blue Board record, etc.). Regardless of whether vetting is required or not, efforts are made to ensure that the jobs posted are legitimate and to protect ProZ.com members. However, this is not a replacement for thoroughly checking out a new client! Always be sure to do your homework when it comes to entering into a new working relationship with a client. This applies, of course, in general, not just on posted jobs, and not just on ProZ.com. Following the right procedures to protect yourself and your business can seem like it takes more time and hassle, but think of the time, hassle and money you can save by avoiding being on the receiving end of a scam or of non-payment.

If you aren’t practicing a strong risk management, please start doing so. And be sure to share what you know with fellow translators! In the case above, the key information in identifying the fraud was shared via the support system, allowing staff to then alert other members. Sharing scam and risk management information on ProZ.com and other sites for translators is a powerful way of protecting yourself and your colleagues. Knowledge, procedures and common sense are the best tools for keeping safe from this kind of threat.

Alejandro