Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's Not How Busy You Are, It's How Much You Make

This seems to be the year of natural mini-disasters in New York City. A heat wave in July, a tornado ripping through Brooklyn in September, and now there's a blizzard that has stopped the city in its tracks. But I've already written enough this year about backups and disaster preparedness (How I Handled the Tornado and Other Service Problems, Backing Up Work, Backup Procedures & Disaster Preparedness), so I won't belabor the point. The advantage of a home office is that besides shoveling the sidewalk in front of my house, I didn't have to venture outside.

In 2010, a number of surveys on how the recession affected businesses were conducted, including some about the recession's impact on the translation industry. Many, if not most, translators who answered these surveys said that they had plenty of work. At the same time, though, translators in forums and discussion lists were talking about agencies and clients asking for price cuts. So while there was work, how well was it paid?

That seems to me to be the real question: not, did we have as much work as before, but did we earn as much as before per hour worked? I, for one, found that I needed to spend more time marketing myself than I had to before, so the same per-word rate had to cover more unpaid work. In addition, some smaller agencies went out of business, or at least stopped dealing with German translations, some agencies requested price cuts, and one (non-U.S.) agency simply stopped paying altogether.

So while I worked more hours in 2010 than I did in 2009, my net earnings were probably lower than they had been in the previous year, certainly if I divide them by the time I spent working. So how did 2010 treat you?

A happy -- and more prosperous -- New Year!

1 comment:

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