Working on the Croatian market Outlooks for translation

Greater than 2 minutes, my friend!

The third December for me. As a small entrepreneur, I embarked on this road to make myself a place under the Croatian sun. The Croatian sun is somewhat rigorous and lacking mercy this year, but I still tread on this, at times joyful, at times troublesome path towards business “consistency”.

Tenacity, obstinacy, you can add on the words that mean the same-it’s highly important to continue what you’re doing, even when there’s not much sign of going ahead. Months of a poor ebb and flow in business terms could at times make you want to regret that you chose a trade, a job, that doesn’t bear fruit- in Croatia, IT is still a domain that can guarantee better revenues than translating, for example.

Agencies prevail. They take the lion’s share of what there is to take. Freelancers and small businesses can only wish for revenues equaling the amount of effort invested into providing their clients with translations that are professional and apt. At times you feel desperation, that there is no justice, as you see people in other professions reaping more money in just one hour, whereas a translator must constantly catch the meaning, find the right phrase, read tons of relevant books, search for the expression amongst various sources that he/she must make available…all this often can’t be done in an hour. The rate I charge for the translation of a certain amount of text (mostly 250 words) sometimes doesn’t include all the activities I must do in order to deliver a quality translation. Because if I include all that, I would probably chase my potential clients away. The Croatian market is, as I said, dominated by agencies. The CEOs of such agencies are very often not even translators or interpreters (greedy collectors), they simply found an agency, employ a few translators, who receive monthly pay and are set to dictate the terms to other translators freelancers, who are not in the position to run a business, but have to generate some kind of a revenue. Most often a translator can’t ask a higher rate even if the text itself is very demanding or when the deadline is remorseless. Agencies tend to speak of standard rates, and offer rates which are well below deserved. Their rates are usually almost 3 times higher than the rate paid to the actual job doer. Where is justice here? The agency will say- well, we found the client, we invest in advertising and administration, we employ people…but why does the translator have to feel so deprived here? It’s almost like the relationship between an unrecognised and unknown author, whose work the publisher rejects, but later on decides to publish under a different name. A bitter aftertaste.

Such is the situation at the moment- you are to left to your own devices, you try to ask what you feel is more then righteous, you try not to fall prey to the rates agencies offer and aim to attract new clients who will want to return, because the service you provide is outstanding and they can depend on you. You run the business as long as there are means for it, that come to your aid.

Mariann Makrai

About Mariann Makrai

Living in Croatia, born in Szekesfehervar, Hungary. As if that wasn't enough, added two more languages. Now juggling with four balls of fire, minding not to be burned too much.

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