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"The Premium Market: Hiding in Plain Sight" -- your thoughts?
Autor wątku: ChrisED

ChrisED
Francja
Local time: 11:15
Aug 25, 2020

Reading this blogpost by Kirti Vashee made me stop and ponder.
And wonder what people here think of the points he's making.
Anyone?
(apologies if this has already been discussed)
Chris

https://kv-emptypages.blogspot.com/2020/08/the-premium-translation-market-hiding.html


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Wielka Brytania
szwedzki > angielski
+ ...
Not translation Aug 25, 2020

I gave up about halfway through but I think I got the gist of it.

As far as I can see, “premium translation” is not translation at all, but copywriting.

Quite why any company would want to pay a premium translator to produce critical texts from poorly written originals, rather than getting the text sorted in their own language and then having it translated in the conventional way, I have no idea.

... is my instinctive response.


Mervyn Henderson
Aline Amorim
Vesa Korhonen
Peter Motte
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Niemcy
Local time: 11:15
Członek ProZ.com
od 2016

angielski > niemiecki
SME Aug 25, 2020

"Information asymmetry around buyer perceptions of quality, a solitary freelance work-from-home culture and a lack of clear professional accreditation signals add to the problem. This phenomenon undermines truly professional workers, but it is an unfortunate fact of the translation business today." - I disagree with this. The fact that there are a lot of poor or mediocre translators peddling their work for cheap rates just means that clients who are interested in or even dependent on quality nee... See more
"Information asymmetry around buyer perceptions of quality, a solitary freelance work-from-home culture and a lack of clear professional accreditation signals add to the problem. This phenomenon undermines truly professional workers, but it is an unfortunate fact of the translation business today." - I disagree with this. The fact that there are a lot of poor or mediocre translators peddling their work for cheap rates just means that clients who are interested in or even dependent on quality need to do their due diligence. Which is true for other markets as well. At the same time, there is a clientele that is not interested in quality and just decides on price or uses MT. All this does not undermine professional translators, it makes them more valuable. "Professional accreditation" is for niches and irrelevant for most market segments.

However, I recommend the paragraph "Translator Specialization" for reading. This is what the premium market (or at least "one premium market") is really about: Subject matter expertise. (I found the usage of the acronym SME confusing because it normally is for "small and medium enterprises"). The fact that many "bulk localisation market players" (you could also say "generalists") miss this market simply stems from the fact that you need decades for building this kind of subject matter expertise, so that it is not an option for translators with a linguistic degree.
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Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
Jorge Payan
Dan Lucas
Mina Chen
Lynn Fang
Nataliia Gorina
Alison Jenner
 

ChrisED
Francja
Local time: 11:15
NOWY TEMAT
Thanks Aug 25, 2020

Many thanks for your comments.

@Chris S -- sorry, I think you do have to read the whole thing to understand his points (I realize it's long!)
But I figure unclear/poor source texts can be due to the "curse of knowledge" (specialists talking among themselves, not accustomed to reaching out to non-specialists, much less in another language). Or to committee writing. Or to the fact that the authors are good at, say, medical research and/or M&A and/or IT applications and/or (fill
... See more
Many thanks for your comments.

@Chris S -- sorry, I think you do have to read the whole thing to understand his points (I realize it's long!)
But I figure unclear/poor source texts can be due to the "curse of knowledge" (specialists talking among themselves, not accustomed to reaching out to non-specialists, much less in another language). Or to committee writing. Or to the fact that the authors are good at, say, medical research and/or M&A and/or IT applications and/or (fill in blank) -- but not writing, even in their native language. (Not many people are.)

@Kay-Victor -- so for you it's caveat emptor/onus on the client to vet their "translation talent".
Re "SME", I had the same reaction not so long ago, but was told by, er, an SME, that in localization that's what subject-matter experts are called.
FWIW, I know translators with degrees in languages who have become SMEs in technical and other subjects, but they were definitely not part-timers -- and definitely ready to roll up their sleeves and do the work!

Chris (Durban)

[Edited at 2020-08-25 23:18 GMT]
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Juan Pablo Sans
 

Chris S  Identity Verified
Wielka Brytania
szwedzki > angielski
+ ...
Read the rest and still not convinced Aug 25, 2020

ChrisED wrote:
But I figure unclear/poor source texts can be due to the "curse of knowledge" (specialists talking among themselves, not accustomed to reaching out to non-specialists, much less in another language). Or to committee writing. Or to the fact the the authors are good at, say, medical research and/or M&A and/or IT applications and/or (fill in blank) -- but not writing, even in their native language. (Not many people are.)

I am all too familiar with the joys of dealing with badly written texts, but isn’t that all in a day’s work for any translator?

I just can’t see where this market is.

Nike might well put a bit of time and effort into rendering “Just do it” in other languages, but the occasional slogan does not a market make. Nor, indeed, is that a task for a translator. It’s the job of an ad agency/copywriter in the relevant country. And where does SME come into that?

Nuclear buttons? Well, I imagine that’s going to be layers of assurance like in the drug industry, not the job of a lone über-translator.

I translate or polish market-sensitive English-language reports for a number of leading financial institutions. I manage to do so without true SME, because like most reports they aim to convey information clearly and simply to a diverse audience. And I do so without consulting the CEO on every word, because very few words are ever that important.

So I’m not convinced that there is either the demand or the need. And if there were, surely the premium market evangelists wouldn’t have time to go round telling everyone else how they’re missing out?!

It’s late, I’m on my phone and I’m tired from working all day on an important report where the CEO is trusting me to just get on with it, so apologies that this isn’t the most coherent response. But at the end of the day, I am a translator after all: a wordsmith, not a content provider...


Viesturs Lacis
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Niemcy
Local time: 11:15
Członek ProZ.com
od 2016

angielski > niemiecki
It's always caveat emptor Aug 25, 2020

ChrisED wrote:
@Kay-Victor -- so for you it's caveat emptor/onus on the client to vet their "translation talent".
Re "SME", I had the same reaction not so long ago, but was told by, er, an SME, that in localization that's what subject-matter experts are called.
FWIW, I know translators with degrees in languages who have become SMEs in technical and other subjects, but they were definitely not part-timers -- and definitely ready to roll up their sleeves and do the work!
Chris (Durban)


It's always caveat emptor, and the "emptors" will learn that or face the consequences. Clients with a sense for quality will have a competitive edge. Of course that does not mean that every client needs to vet every individual translator (that vetting can be done by agencies as well), but clients (and agencies) need to be aware that there are quality differences and these translate to price differences.

Of course translators with degrees in languages can become subject matter experts (but it's not like "choose a field of expertise and then it's off to the races"). In the same way, subject matter experts can become translators, and not the worst ones.


Jorge Payan
Chris S
Dan Lucas
Josephine Cassar
 

ChrisED
Francja
Local time: 11:15
NOWY TEMAT
Still thinking about this Aug 26, 2020

(and I appreciate you guys taking the time to engage when so many people have closed up for the summer)

If I've been talking up premium market segments (for a while now), it's because:
(1) I see strong, unmet demand in many language combinations. And not just for taglines and the like (premium technical translation, anyone?)
(2) so many other markets (bulk & added value per those definitions) are already under fierce price pressure from MT and PEMT. And it's going to ge
... See more
(and I appreciate you guys taking the time to engage when so many people have closed up for the summer)

If I've been talking up premium market segments (for a while now), it's because:
(1) I see strong, unmet demand in many language combinations. And not just for taglines and the like (premium technical translation, anyone?)
(2) so many other markets (bulk & added value per those definitions) are already under fierce price pressure from MT and PEMT. And it's going to get worse as Covid-19 persist and a deepening recession gathers speed. Lots of pain coming.

So I see moving upmarket as an attractive and timely option for people who meet the criteria that Kirti Vashee describes. OK, definitely not a good place for ditherers, dabblers, part-timers and "lifestyle translators".

I also enjoyed the blogpost because over the past few years (decade?) many of these localization/MT guys have claimed that premium markets are a figment of someone's (my?) imagination. To my face, but more often behind my back (good grief), in their blogs, in pseudo-academic papers, hey, just on and on (poor guys ).

Whereas my daily experience confirms that the demand is there -- and I know that the work itself is stimulating.

But it's not for everybody, that's for sure.
You have to start with an in-it-for-the-long-term mindset. Have a serious specialization --- and as Kay-Viktor says, this has to be an area where there's demand. And write really well, and translate really well, and have a reviser. Also, I think you need direct clients.

So not for everybody.

Chris
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Nataliia Gorina
Juan Pablo Sans
 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:15
niemiecki > angielski
+ ...
when articles are well written, then .... Aug 30, 2020

.... you don't get lost. For me it just sort of rambles on and on. I see no main points, no real conclusions to be grasped. I'm not even sure what a "premium market" is supposed to be. Maybe I'm not smart enough (or patient enough). I may well not be smart enough. I can't make head or tails of this, tbh.

I do quality translations, sticking to what I'm competent to do. People need translations for real purposes,
... See more
.... you don't get lost. For me it just sort of rambles on and on. I see no main points, no real conclusions to be grasped. I'm not even sure what a "premium market" is supposed to be. Maybe I'm not smart enough (or patient enough). I may well not be smart enough. I can't make head or tails of this, tbh.

I do quality translations, sticking to what I'm competent to do. People need translations for real purposes, as a real need. A poorly done translation is a useless thing. They find me. I provide them. That's the market I know. I have no idea if this is "premium". It's what I do.

On this:

Most will agree that translation work does not have the same cachet as jobs done by accountants, nurses, lawyers, teachers, and many other professions in the public eye.

In my "other life" I am heavily involved in music, incl. ongoing learning. Music teachers have the same problem. Anyone who once played the piano can put out a shingle and ruin studennts. Same story. In Canada there is translation certification with teeth, and a lot of jobs are closed to uncertified translators or at least difficult to come by. That raises standards and expectations. But we also have the situation faced by the music teachers. We're not alone in that particular boat.
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Rachel Waddington
Sheila Wilson
Chris S
Novian Cahyadi
 

ChrisED
Francja
Local time: 11:15
NOWY TEMAT
Target readers Aug 31, 2020

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Maxi.

I guess it's fair to say that Mr Vashee's thoughts on this subject don't resonate with members of this group.

His blog usually targets MT and tech people (the "localization" community), which could be one reason.

Because of that, I thought it was significant that he singled out human expertise as a/the key factor -- usually they pay it lip service at
... See more
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Maxi.

I guess it's fair to say that Mr Vashee's thoughts on this subject don't resonate with members of this group.

His blog usually targets MT and tech people (the "localization" community), which could be one reason.

Because of that, I thought it was significant that he singled out human expertise as a/the key factor -- usually they pay it lip service at best, but here he seems definitely on board.

Chris
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Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czechy
Local time: 11:15
rosyjski > angielski
+ ...
What's the point? Aug 31, 2020

Upon reading this article, I am surprised: what's the point of writing 4000+ words to state such an utterly obvious thing? Yes, there is a separate premium market. For some of us, including yours truly, it's the only market we work in. However, it takes serious skills beyond the pure linguistics.

Sheila Wilson
Michele Fauble
Beatriz Ramírez de Haro
Novian Cahyadi
 

ChrisED
Francja
Local time: 11:15
NOWY TEMAT
Definition -- specialization, for example Aug 31, 2020

Thanks for your comment.

I don't think it's all that obvious, actually -- but as noted, KV's target readership is often localizers and MT geeks, who are by definition at the bulk end of the market. And who generally seem more into trading stories about number-of-words-translated (in the millions, billions or gazillions).

He does talk about deep specialization being one criterion, and I thought Dave Jemielity gave some good examples.

I can see from your pr
... See more
Thanks for your comment.

I don't think it's all that obvious, actually -- but as noted, KV's target readership is often localizers and MT geeks, who are by definition at the bulk end of the market. And who generally seem more into trading stories about number-of-words-translated (in the millions, billions or gazillions).

He does talk about deep specialization being one criterion, and I thought Dave Jemielity gave some good examples.

I can see from your profile here that you've got 32 specialisms (but maybe you work with other people for some of those).

Big wide market out there, in any case!

Chris
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Carlos Alvarez  Identity Verified
Wielka Brytania
Local time: 10:15
Członek ProZ.com
od 2005

francuski > angielski
+ ...
Or it could be indicative of their higher earnings. Sep 4, 2020

Chris S wrote:

So I’m not convinced that there is either the demand or the need. And if there were, surely the premium market evangelists wouldn’t have time to go round telling everyone else how they’re missing out?!



Or the fact that they do have the time could be indicative of their higher earnings. People on subsistence earnings usually don't have time for marketing / speaking tours / holidays / retirement.


Chris S
 

Peter Motte  Identity Verified
Belgia
Local time: 11:15
Członek ProZ.com
od 2009

angielski > niderlandzki
+ ...
Too much babling Sep 4, 2020

Anton Konashenok wrote:

Upon reading this article, I am surprised: what's the point of writing 4000+ words to state such an utterly obvious thing? Yes, there is a separate premium market. For some of us, including yours truly, it's the only market we work in. However, it takes serious skills beyond the pure linguistics.


I haven't read the article, but you have a point: there are too many babling articles on whatever on the world wide internet. Most of it is a waste of time.

The few lines I have read by this author, give the impression he - urrm - wants te make an impression.
Just look at that language:
"Information asymmetry around buyer perceptions of quality, a solitary freelance work-from-home culture and a lack of clear professional accreditation signals add to the problem. This phenomenon undermines truly professional workers, but it is an unfortunate fact of the translation business today."

That's university babble you put in your paper to get your degree.

I like the picture though.


[Edited at 2020-09-04 18:09 GMT]


Novian Cahyadi
IrinaN
 

ChrisED
Francja
Local time: 11:15
NOWY TEMAT
Bingo! Sep 5, 2020

I got a kick out of your reference to academic babble, Peter.

That particuar "information asymmetry" chunk is a piece of pseudo-profundity recycled directly from a report on "The status of translators in Europe" that was commissioned by the EU a few years back. I'm told the university team that produced it was asked to conclude that an accreditation system was needed, which they duly did. The "research" itself, includ
... See more
I got a kick out of your reference to academic babble, Peter.

That particuar "information asymmetry" chunk is a piece of pseudo-profundity recycled directly from a report on "The status of translators in Europe" that was commissioned by the EU a few years back. I'm told the university team that produced it was asked to conclude that an accreditation system was needed, which they duly did. The "research" itself, including income data, was (how to put this?) "lite" and missed the existence of premium markets altogether.

Re this particular blogpost being a waste of time or not, I figure it all depends.

For example, I'm aware that many translators have reported serious price pressure in the past few years, compounded by a fall-off in work due to cv-19. So to the extent that *awareness* of more attractive market segments might encourage people to shift their focus and work on specific skills to break into it-- well, yes, I think some might find the article a good starting point.

(Although it doesn't go into great detail about exactly *how* to do that; instead it's focused more on chiding MT geeks for acting as if commoditized translation is the only game in town. I appreciate Kirti Vashee making that point.)

Chris
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Kaspars Melkis
 

Juan Pablo Sans  Identity Verified
Meksyk
Local time: 05:15
Członek ProZ.com
od 2011

angielski > hiszpański
+ ...
The Premium Market is a marketing problem, not an experience or writing problem Oct 23, 2020

OK, so I wanted to cue in here for future references.

The discussion of premium market seems to confuse many colleagues.

And frankly most of the articles you see around it don't offer a real roadmap on how to find it besides the "be a good translator" (wow, thanks I thought I wanted to be a bad translator), "write divinely" (whatever it means) and "do your time" (like 40 years?)

After studying 2 years of marketing, positioning and pricing, I could finally u
... See more
OK, so I wanted to cue in here for future references.

The discussion of premium market seems to confuse many colleagues.

And frankly most of the articles you see around it don't offer a real roadmap on how to find it besides the "be a good translator" (wow, thanks I thought I wanted to be a bad translator), "write divinely" (whatever it means) and "do your time" (like 40 years?)

After studying 2 years of marketing, positioning and pricing, I could finally understand it.

But I really recommend colleagues read the book Pricing Creativity, where you will understand the following:

1) You need to charge according to the problem your service solves, not for the service.

If you are translating a will for a wealthy grandmother, probably she will be more willing to pay you a premium to make sure everything is OK than a student for her certificates for school.

2) You are selling her assurances, and taking more risks with your translation.

They just don't want a word cruncher or someone who will juggle with 10 more projects to make ends meet.

They want someone who can guarantee them that there is no comma missing.

3) And they will go with experts in the matter, not with just a translator jumping from one area to another.

4) So, ask the client before engaging, how important and mission critical their document is, and then estimate how much you are totally worth.

5) It is not a matter of writing divinely or being the best a Shakespeare-like translator ever.

It is a matter of marketing and understanding your value within the equation in your client's head.

And the best part is that translation agencies can't possible reach and commoditize it for their own business model where they work on efficiencies and not with real experts (who wouldn't work for them at 20 USD/hour).

Of course, arriving there may take some time (not decades, for crying out loud).

But it does exist.

For example, my main expertise is in digital marketing, which is something I learnt in the last 2 and a half years, and I have offered higher than usual rates to translate a landing page or optimize FB ads (none of which existed in 2010, by the way).

So, my friendly recommendation:

1) Believe in the existence of such a market.

2) Read the book Pricing Creativity.

3) Really become an expert in a subject matter

4) Learn marketing and sales (or outsource it) to understand your value facing a client.

5) Land those clients.

6) Enjoy.



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Jorge Payan
 
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