The Financial Crisis and Translation

The news these days is full of market reports, minute-by-minute updates on the stock market and countless stories of small businesses being driven into bankruptcy. There is a general sense of tension especially for small business owners, and rightly so! So, what does this mean for the translation industry and how will it be affected?

Glancing at any timeline of the financial crisis is proof alone that all of our markets are interwoven, and what happens in one market will affect others on a global scale. As the translation industry largely depends on these global connections, to what extent will our services be affected? Across the globe, many freelance translators have been forced to find other sources of income and countless translation agencies have closed up shop as a result of the recession. While the demand for translations is undeniable, the resources to pay for them are now limited. Clients are struggling with their payments to the agencies, and in turn, payments to freelancers are delayed. As a result, more agencies have begun to enforce more rigid policies for clients regarding payment options, since the word “credit” nowadays is enough to strike fear into small business owners worldwide. However, many clients cannot afford to pay up-front and thus turn to the competition. Some agencies have increased their prices to compensate for overall losses, which places translation services out of the reach of many potential clients. On the flip side, other agencies have decreased their prices in an attempt to attract new clients. For many, the volume of work has slowed down, increasing competition for projects and thus driving down the prices of translation services.

So how will translation agencies and freelancers pull through this crisis? There is no easy solution to the problem, and much of the success of one business over another will be determined by their responses to the crisis and the whether or not the international relief packages will actually trickle down to small business owners.