[JIF2017] Sales Techniques and the Economics of a Freelance Japanese-English Interpreter in Japan: Winning from Day One

Ippei Maruo

Born in 1970 in Japan, Ippei lived in New York from 1980-85, and after graduating from college in Japan he went to work for a whiskey and spirits JV. He started a career as an interpreter from 1999. Currently freelancing, Ippei provides interpretation services in diverse fields such as financial services, investor relations, manufacturing, IT, whiskey and spirits, etc., mainly focusing on corporate clients, with recent exposures to assignments for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

A husband and a father of two, striving to win bread for the family. Plays Rock n’ Roll guitar in the evening hours. Loves beer, whiskey, spirits and almost everything that has alcoholic content.

Sales Techniques and the Economics of a Freelance Japanese-English Interpreter in Japan: Winning from Day One

Those of you who aspire to be a freelance interpreter, or even those who have started a career in interpreting, must have an interest in or are anxious about the monetary aspects of the industry. Simply put, the question is, “Can I make enough money?” Working in Japan, our culture somewhat restricts you from having an outright conversation about money with your fellow interpreters, and especially, with your SENPAI (people who are more senior in the career) interpreters.

So, YES, I am going to talk about the monetary aspect of the industry. Plus, I’m going to talk about how to build a good relationship with interpretation/translation agencies, how to win business, how to protect yourself in a tight situation, etc., I am going to share with you my learnings from my 7 years as an in-house interpreter and 10 years as a freelance interpreter. Throughout the years, with what I have learnt, I have managed to survive the ruthless competition of the industry (I may be over-exaggerating things a little bit).

I am going to also talk about my perspectives on professional attitude—specifically, the attributes required by a professional interpreter.

I will allocate some time for Q&A at the end, but in my session I will set out to answer the following questions:

-What is it like to earn 10 million yen per year as a freelance?
-When is the best time to start your career as a freelance interpreter?
-What is the market rate for our service?
-What is the most important point for selling yourself as a freelance interpreter?
-How should you perceive jobs from agencies, vs. jobs directly from clients?
-How could I effectively negotiate to increase the rate from agencies?
-How should I deal with complaints / negative feedback from the clients?
-What sort of interpretation would have highest satisfaction from our clients?

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