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Is it worth it to expand? August 14, 2008

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in Business practices.

Sarah Dillon’s blog post, The Royal We: Why Small is the New Big, made me stop and think today in the midst of translating my 11,000 word marketing survey (ok, think about something other than mobile phones 🙂 ). She writes about whether translators market themselves as “we” or “I” and lists various reasons why translators might not necessarily decide to use the royal “we” when marketing themselves. Count me as an “I.”

With my workload, I could certainly branch out and hire on other translators to help (and I sometimes do), but the risk is high that I would be unhappy with the quality of an unknown translator. One of my colleagues was recently burned when she subcontracted a job and the subcontractor left her in the lurch, leaving early for the weekend and delivering a sub-par and incomplete translation. She spent the night fuming and translating the document for delivery to the client the next day. I only work with translators I know are responsible and professional, but everyone can have a bad day. At least if I screw up I only have myself to blame.

I was offered a translation agency two years ago – for free. The owner knew I was responsible and diligent and wanted his agency to go to someone who would run it properly. This was a tough decision for me, and I debated for several weeks, talking to several agency owners I knew and weighing the pros and cons. In the end I decided I would miss translating too much, so I decided not to do it.

I have never regretted that decision. I for one prefer to be an I. It’s safer, and I can control the quality of my work better than if I were to work with others.



1. Sarah Dillon - August 21, 2008

Hi Jill

You make a really good point about subcontracting here. When I wrote the post I was thinking specifically about translators who work alone yet still feel the need to brand themselves as “we”, but subcontracting is definitely a whole other reason to use “we” instead of “I”.

I agree with you, I’m not so keen on expanding this way either. Especially as I operate under my own name so I’m fiercely protective of it! For now, it’s translation I’m interested in, not management, although who knows? Maybe I’ll feel differently in the future. (How exciting to be offered the option of a translation agency though!)

Hope the marketing survey translation is going well 🙂


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