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This time last year, I decided to register my business as an LLC. This year, I’ve decided to broaden my services and reflect that through changing my domain name, thereby setting off a cascade of other changes. After all, January is a time for new beginnings!
I want to stop advertising myself as medicalsciencetranslations.com for 3 reasons.
For a few weeks, I've let various domain names ferment, tasting each one regularly and having friends taste test them too. Factors that weighed in:
Ultimately, I prioritized 2 and 3. The result: CochranLS.com. The LS stands for Language Services. As my editor friend put it, it’s clean, simple, contemporary. I will use this site to advertise my services as a translator, machine-translation editor, translation editor, and non-native editor.
I just bought the domain today, so give me time to get it set up. I will be sure to share updates. My goal is to diversify in 2022 and this will certainly start the cascading effect I need. Wish me luck!
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The New Year holiday is when I reassess my life/business goals and values, then I start wholeheartedly implementing changes to align with the latter. As you can guess, blogging is one aspect I want to address in 2022. If I play my cards right, this post will be the first of many that help propel my business forward.
Tying into the holiday spirit above, I’d like to share that this season’s translation work predominantly involved machine translation jobs. I had mixed feelings about this, but ultimately had to accept this thing that I could not control.
As a proud, bilingual translator, I’d much rather have the challenge and creativity that accompany a genuine translation from scratch. On the other hand, the easiest machine translation jobs require minimal brain power, leaving me plenty of energy for my hobbies after I’m done. That, my friends, was exactly what the doctor ordered for the holidays.
Below, I’ll explain what some of these machine translation jobs looked like, and maybe it will give you some perspective on what translation work looks like in the 21st century. I know I had to adjust my own POV.
Simple Machine Translation Jobs
A client will often send similar documents to their preferred translation agency throughout the year, and machine translation helps the client save money and time with such documents. These are usually repeatedly used forms or communication chains filled with different information depending on the project. Thus, the same headings and general message/tone appear consistently across projects.
My example from this holiday season is accreditation certificates for French laboratories. I did several of these jobs that took anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour. These certificates were all based on the same approval form issued by COFRAC, the French Accreditation Committee. Their content boiled down to, “XXXX has approved XXXX laboratory for performing the following…” Plus, since many laboratories are approved for the same tests/analyses, those lists repeated across certificates.
My job was to edit machine-translated segments in a translation tool, and it was the translation agency’s job to handle the rest. I saw segments that needed 1-2 words or hospital names changed where they differed from previous documents fed through the machine translation process. I saw segments that needed a “tag” inserted, which is just a digital placeholder that I copy and paste. I checked to make sure dates and other numbers were correct, too. As you can tell, there was not much translation involved. My eye for detail was the skill I relied on most.
So, while I had feelings about this not being actual translation work with my ego telling me to take it as an insult, I used reasoning to accept this work and instead see it as the least stressful thing on my plate during the holiday season. I was fortunate to be making money with my freelance business. It was also conducive to helping me focus on what I mentioned at the beginning – my year-end reassessment of goals and values.
What kind of work did you have during the 2021 winter holiday season?
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In 2021, technology platforms play a major role in supporting clinical trials, making it possible for documentation to be tracked and submitted securely online and for any concerned parties to quickly access the latter.
As a French medical translator, I have frequently seen references to one such platform used by the CNRIPH (Commission Nationale des Recherches Impliquant La Personne Humaine [National Committee for Trials Involving Human Subjects]) called the SI-CNRIPH, with SI standing for information system. However, in recent months, I noticed a shift to SI-RIPH2G. I wondered what the 2G stood for and what it was modifying in this acronym.
Well, I was pleased to find a manual for France’s information system and a French ethics committee website that gave me some answers.
SI-RIPH2G means Système d'Information des Recherches Impliquant la Personne Humaine 2ème Génération, [2nd-generation information system for research involving human subjects]). I learned that the 2nd generation modifies the IS, because this is an IS replacing the SI-CNRIPH. According to the CPP SUD MED 2 website, the shift to the 2G IS took place as of May 26, 2021. Now, the old IS is only available for viewing purposes, and all submissions will now be made on the new system.
I also learned that, in this SI-RIPH2G, the sponsor can submit documentation related to their research, a CPP is assigned and can communicate with the sponsor, and opinion/request notifications can be accessed easily. This supports the correct application of European law and the creation of a robust information system on clinical trials in France.
Hopefully, this short post has piqued your interest to better understand the clinical trial process in France or even in the USA. I have translated for this field for 6 years, and I’m always learning new facts, which keeps me on my toes and always coming back for more.
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Are you attending or thinking about attending this summit? Maybe my preview here will help you decide.
Last week, I got my ticket for the first Innovation in Translation Summit scheduled for October 4-6. I knew it would be a quality and worthwhile event after I looked through the website, read the session titles and list of presenters, and SAW THE COST - FREE! (or a small fee for the Power Pack, which includes some useful extras.)
Today, I signed in to the platform and looked into the details. The sessions are all 20 minutes and will be pre-recorded, so attendees can access them at their own convenience during a 24-hour period. I was very pleased to find that this summit hits on all of the growth points that I’m working on this quarter: time management/ways to work efficiently, diversification (what other services can I offer besides translation), and networking/marketing. There are other topics, of course, so I encourage you to go check out the sessions to see what appeals to you, then sign up, if you think it’s right for you.
Below are highlights of events and features that have me excited about the summit.
Summit sessions I'm looking forward to:
Features that make the virtual event feel personal:
Power Pack extras I’m excited about:
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As a business owner, I’ve learned to look at my year in terms of 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarters. When I pay my quarterly estimated taxes, I like to spend some time taking stock of business and life. Those were due September 15, hence this post.
This quarter started off with a bang in my personal life that is setting the tone for my business. In fact, I've been trying to write a more medical and translation-specific post, but I can't get my focus off of making the best of this "Big Bang."
I received an inheritance from my lovely grandmother and went to work spending it wisely. Among other things, I used it to pay off some debt and put a down-payment on my first home. This “windfall” of money has flipped my financial POV upside down, consequently impacting my business plans for the remainder of the year and giving me hope for my business in the coming years. What follows are a 3 specific plans I will implement this quarter, then check back in on my business in the new year and adjust accordingly.
I’m going to make a renewed attempt at connecting with people in the translation community. Gosh, saying that out loud is SCARY! Because it means showing up, being a presence in the community, despite my imposter belief that I don’t belong (which has made me very shy). By putting energy into forming connections, I will be more in touch with current trends and news and appreciate the value of my own translation services as a legit business.
I will admit that work has been slow and minimal and will consistently spend time contacting potential clients until I am working at the rate I need. This will go hand-in-hand with the above plan. As I use LinkedIn and my website to connect with individuals, those efforts will support reaching out to clients, too. Specific to this plan, though, I will need to create a “portfolio.” Currently, all I have is a CV, the key component for any freelancer/translator. I would like to add to that a sample of my work and a new description of my services.
I will allow myself 2 full days off every week, ONCE I have put 30 hours into my business. One key action that will make this possible is to track my hours. Turn on a timer every time I start/end work, and categorize that time into translation, networking, or administrative time.
This seems like a good start to me. Now, to start identifying smaller, tangible steps to take and holding myself accountable for completing them.
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My only experience as a service provider has been as a translator. On top of that, I work for large translation agencies 98% of the time. So, I have become accustomed to certain payment terms within the bounds of these limitations. I started paying attention to OTHER service providers’ payment terms when I went through the process of selling my house, and I found key differences. This led me to look further into one of those differences to better understand it - the timing of payment. It was educational, informative.
Timing of payment differences
When working as a translator for large translation agencies, net-30 or net-45 are the most common payment turnaround times. This means that I provide the invoice after completing the work, and the agency pays me within 30 or 45 days. If the agency does not pay, I have to contact their vendor relations department and ask what went wrong, then “patiently” wait to be paid.
My newest client recently missed two payments, and I was too timid to take the opportunity to charge them a late fee. Although, I did threaten to share my bad experience with the translator community and discourage LSP’s from working with this client. At this point, they hustled to pay me.
For certain service providers:
On the other hand, some service providers, such as plumbers, roofers, carpet installers, and others, ask for payment at a couple of points in time. Some will ask for a deposit before they begin work. This is common when a large quantity of materials is involved (for example 100’s of yards of carpet). This deposit seems to safeguard the service provider, ensuring I will use their service and not leave them high and dry with supplies they may not be able to re-use.
Then, once the work is completed, they expect to be paid as soon as possible, within 7 days. I haven’t tested the limits of this, though. Perhaps some providers allow 14 days. Perhaps some start adding on late fees or interest. I do not know.
Why these differences?
I believe the biggest reason translators working for large agencies are paid on lengthy terms is the size of the company paying us. Large agencies need time to process the invoices of dozens, even hundreds of vendors, and time to acquire payment from the actual client, then go through the steps of paying their vendors. In fact, I’m pretty sure agencies have entire departments devoted to this. In short, they need more time to get everything in order before being able to pay us.
Whereas the service providers I mentioned are paid by individual customers most of the time, so they only have to collect payment directly from those individuals, then the job is over.
As in my example above, you can see why it’s difficult to chase down late payments and even more difficult to enforce late payment fees (agencies don’t have a system to process such fees). This is something I have accepted. Nevertheless, I know some translators are more active and wish to promote change.
Are you one of those translators? What would you suggest needs to change to ensure better payment terms from large agencies?