A wanna-be business.
So do you wanna be a translator? It’s fun and easy. Join the international jet-set, pick your own hours.
But do you have what it takes? Can you speak another language? Turn a phrase? Catch a sentence in one language and cast it in another?
Plenty of folks out there ready to go, if my inbox is any indication. But my pay-per-click guys don’t like it.
For every legit business prospect, we probably get maybe ten to twenty solicitations from translators or translation services offering services. And every time they click through a Google ad to find us, it costs us a buck or two. So maybe that’s where business opportunity lies, or at least the opportunity to lower Adwords expenses.
I was thinking about this as I was getting an earful on the phone the other day from someone who was suspicious about our interpreter certification offering. Since we don’t have such an offering, I was getting suspicious too.
Why I was put on the phone with the person I have no idea. My staff screens all my calls, but I’m not sure how they do it, since it seems as soon as a caller says “CEO” and “kitchen sink,” in the same sentence, they are immediately dropped into my current conversation. Mention of “copier sales” or “aluminum siding” also seems to trigger the same “forward to Ken” response among my staff. Okay. That’s another blog.
It actually turns out the caller was questioning the credentials on someone else’s website, and she was just calling us by accident. After all, we are 1-800-Translate. We get a lot of wrong numbers, for example when Language Line announced to their staff that their new number was 1-800-Translate. Okay, that’s another blog too.
Anyway, this random caller brought to light a charming little scam, quaint even, in these times of billion-dollar Madoff-I-mean-Ponzi schemes. Here’s how it works: First you pay $295 to this credentials service, then they send you a language test. If you pass, you get a life-time certificate of accreditation.
Of course, this $295 accreditation document from some made-up certifying body is not worth the paper it’s printed on, but this is the digital age. What percentage of reviewers will even bother to Google it, or even open the PDF continuing the bogus award?
The moral of the story: It’s easy to find translators. It’s just hard to find good ones. If you can even find the good ones, which is hard because they are already pretty busy and aren’t looking for more business. And if they’re smart, (and they usually are) they charge a lot more. Price and quality always finds its level, and the level of skill provided by most translators is pretty poor. So that’s why the pros are yucking it up in the VIP room, and the wanna-bes are negotiating up the bouncer on the street. Champagne anyone?
A translation diploma mill. Shocking, eh? And on the Internet, no less. But it is instructive on that score also. The Internet made us do it. Through the Internet we’re drawn to interaction where reputations are at stake, where relationships are deep enough, and interlocked enough so that a person’s word is his bond. Novel concept, ain’t it?
So I believe in brand. It’s the badge of reputation, of integrity and accountability. That we know enough people and enough know us to hold us to the promises we make in the name of the brand. This is the key to success in any service business.