We frequently write about the importance of asking to get paid what you are worth and how essential it is to running a small business. After all, all small business owners in the languages industry have a very limited resource to sell (our time) and it is crucial to our (business) survival that we make enough to have a fulfilling career and life. Now, we are the first ones to give back to our profession and to donate our time to worthy charities and non-profits, especially to translation and interpreting associations. We have done so for many years and are very proud of the positive impact that work has. We recently even donated our time to a government agency, and even though we were quite torn about it, it's a great service to the community. However, we do not donate our time to for-profit businesses, nor do we quite understand why we should. Note: this is an article about services beyond translation.
|Photo by Judy Jenner.|
- We have worked very hard to get were we are, and our insight and expertise have value. Clearly the companies who ask us for advice recognize this. It's really quite simple: Just pay us for our work and we will share our insight. It's called consulting.
- 15 minutes. We recently received a request from a company that wanted to "pick our brain for 15 minutes" (it's never 15 minutes). In that time, the company's representative wanted us to basically explain the entire industry to her and hoped we could design her business plan since we were at it. We suggested that we send her a quote for consulting services, but not surprisingly, we never heard back. We don't get it. If we tried to start, say, a restaurant, we wouldn't go to some of the better-known restaurateurs and expect to be able to pick their brain for free. Have we, as linguists, conditioned others to think that our time and hard-earned insight have no value? That would be quite troubling, and it's food for thought indeed.
- You will get exposure! We usually have a good laugh when companies who are trying to get free work from us promise us exposure in return. As we mentioned, we have worked very hard to get where we are and we don't need exposure, as that doesn't pay our bills. We have plenty of paying clients, but in general, we want clients and not exposure.
- Yes, we charge for our services, and that's how it should be. In our industry, it's (oddly) been quite common to not want to talk about money. Of course we charge for our services, as does every businessperson. But companies have now caught up to the fact that the m-word in our industry makes some feel uncomfortable, and have perhaps gotten some linguists to donate their services to they can then reap the financial benefits. Not cool. Yes, we charge for our services. Doesn't everyone?
- It's about all of us. It's really begun to bother us that so many linguists receive these "work for us for free!" offers, but the reason they keep on coming is because linguists keep on accepting those offers. Just don't do it and perhaps this trend will stop. The "delete" button is your friend!
- For the record, we wanted to point out that of course we also get approached by plenty of lovely companies who ask us to send them quotes for consulting services. The folks who want to take advantage are still relatively few and far between, but they leave a lasting negative impression.
We'd love to hear your thoughts on this, dear colleagues!