Marketing yourself - share your ideas and what works
Thread poster: Ivana Friis Wilson

Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:55
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
May 25, 2008

Inspired by this thread http://www.proz.com/forum/money_matters/105472-discussing_low_paying_jobs_with_outsourcers-.html
I thought it would be a good idea to start a thread on how we market outselves.

It seems that a lot of Prozians are experiencing heavy competition on price - I think we can help each other if we share out ideas and experience with marketing and getting jobs off-proz.

I think marketing yourself and specialising is the key. It seems that a lot of translators get stuck doing too many jobs at low rates to pay the bills so they don't have the time to market themselves.

I read a lot of translations blogs and most of them are "singing to the choir". To a certain extent, we are waisting our time complaining to eachother here on proz - don't get me wrong, of course proz is a wonderful resource and a place we all really need because we all work from home and have no pysically present colleagues. But we also need to spread ourselves and get work from not only agencies and josb postings on translation portals.

What we need to do is spend more time marketing ourselves on our site (and if you haven't got one, get one!), writing about the importance of quality translations for our speciality and how great we are - with direct clients in mind! Clients are also interested in bypassing agency to save money and get the freelancer who is best for the job - but they can't find us, unless we are visible.

We also need to directly contact potential clients. I was inspired by another prozian who had contacted 40 hotels with not translations of their website in his target language and offered them a translation. He got 2 clients out of it - that's really not bad!

Inspired by this I searched internet for xxx in my target language (I can't mention exactly what, because of client confidentiality) and everytime I found a site with text that was obviously translated, all of them were either poor or incomplete. I then emailed the site owner and told them what the problem was and how I could fix it - of course mentioning my experience in this field and my qualifications. I got one client out of it so far - I think I emailed 15 sites. That's actually a pretty good rate! And it's a nice client who is happy to pay my rate and likes my work. The only problem is that he only has time to send me small files every now and again, but hey, it's a direct client!

Let's face it, the internet is flooded with rubbish translations. They key when you chose these sites is to pick one that is not major in the field (too difficult to get to a decision maker) but not one that is too small (no marketing budget). If possible, email them to arrange a telephone meeting, if not, just email them a sales letter where you state what the problem is (no or poor translation) and how to fix it (you).

Maybe you can use my approach as well.

What have you dones that works for you?

While I'm at it, read Stephen R. Coveys "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". I read it earlier this year and it is a real eye opener / life changer - not just for work, but for life.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

laure claesen  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 20:55
Member (2005)
English to French
from the collective to the individual? and then what? May 25, 2008

Thank you, really. Ivanna, this is a wonderful post . Really inspiring, positive and useful and I will certainly follow your advice, which is priceless especially as you are a few colleagues sharing and advocating the "self marketing" vision. And I will also read the book your are talking about.
However, I would like to insist on the point I tried to make in my "Rate going down" forum posting of yesterday.
Because, whilst finding solutions at a personal level is certainly the wise thing to do, maintaining the sense of community as much as possible is essential, especially as we are working in isolation.
That is, whilst doing as you advise, I would invite you all, a collective means of action, showing that we are not inert, to systematically nab up blatantly unethical behavior from agencies, telling them that what they are doing is wrong, and why, and that freelancers are being advised at a large scale to avoid them. I am not talking about agencies in developing countries, but about those like the one I criticized, who live in the richer countries, and who could afford to do fair trade, a concept not restricted to coffee or cotton, or to third world economics.
All this is just to get more from this forum that an exchange of views, and us, more than one + one + one + one=...... 0

L.A.D.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:55
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
My little bit May 25, 2008

laure, you are absolutely right. When I see job postings with ridiculously low offers, I usually bid on the job with a higher (realistic rate) - that's my way of telling the agency that their rate is too low. I suggest to everybody to do the same.

I also tell agencies who contact me with a low paid job that if I did take on the job I would be worried about the quality of my own work as I would have to rush to get the hourly rate up, so to speak. They never get back to me but I hope they read my email


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:55
Partial member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
thanks for your great ideas - here's a few more as for example a contract with YOUR terms May 25, 2008

Hi Ivana,

Thanks for the post. I was about to suggest the need for self-marketing as well. And I often toyed with the idea of contacting sites with terrible translations. I will take you up on that advice.
And, as I said on Laure's post, the good, mainly direct clients are out there. And, a lot of grief can be avoided by not giving in to the bad, the ugly, and the cheap. If a company wants a translation "yesterday" and for a measly price, they are not trustworthy in my eyes.
They will probably take their time in paying you as late as possible.

One advice I would like to give is that if you work with an agency for the first time or with anybody who you are not 100% comfortable with, have them fill out a(n) (order-) contract which they have to sign and e-mail back to you in PDF. At least you have a legal document in which you dictate the terms. See if they sign it. If not, forget about them.
If, on the other hand, the clients make you sign a contract, read it carefully and do not sign it if it does not reflect YOUR terms. Remember, the client should always abide by YOUR terms not you by theirs.

Have a great day!
Bernhard

[Edited at 2008-05-25 20:04]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:55
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
About contracts and prices May 26, 2008

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
If, on the other hand, the clients make you sign a contract, read it carefully and do not sign it if it does not reflect YOUR terms. Remember, the client should always abide by YOUR terms not you by theirs.


Hi Bernard,

you said something absolutely true, and yet the translation market seems to be unable to grasp this simple concept.
In all other businesses, terms & conditions as well as prices are set by the seller, and the buyer can accept it or perhaps try to haggle a bit, or go to shop elsewhere.

In the translation business we are used to the reverse: buyers (and I refer here mainly to intermediaries/agencies) are almost used to impose their terms to the sellers.
Basically, the translators, those who actually do the work, are told at what price they should deliver their service, which is absolutely ridicolous from any point of view.

I cannot accept that this is due to an excess of offer, compared to the demand (many more translators than actual volume of work), for two reasons:
firstly, there is plenty of work out there, but how it comes to us, via the agencies, it is becoming increasingly unacceptable, and secondly, in many other businesses there is also a lot of offer, all sellers are in competition for the same customers, and yet they would not accept a customer to dictate prices and conditions.

Imagine this conversation:
Buyer - "How much is that large fridge, top of the range, in the window?"

Seller - "2999 EUR Sir, it's the latest model, energy saving, no frost, guaranteed 24 months, and..."

Buyer - "Yeah, I know, my brother-in-law got one last month for 899. I offer you 850 US dollars, you must delivery it to my country house, 80 Km out of town, by tomorrow morning, 8am sharp, you install it and I will pay in 90 days."

Seller - "But Sir, this is impossible, it costs me much more, I would take a large loss, let alone the payment terms and delivery cost... And sorry, why you pay in US dollars, we are in Europe..."

Buyer - "I know we are in Europe, but I do business only in dollars because I have American customers, and they pay me in dollars, so you don't get 850 EUR but 850 USD.
Ah, almost forgot, your guarantee will include any food that will go off in the fridge for the next 2 years... Please sign here because I need the fridge immediately."



Well, if may appear surreal but, unfortunately, this is how many agencies behave these days and what many translators are led to believe is normal.
If all translators, or many more than currently do, had a firm understanding of these basic business concepts, the agencies would not even try it, as they do now as a matter of routine.

I believe that the so called slump in rates is due to the great number of intermediaries, fighting with each other on price, rather than quality, and they make us pay the price of this war. If we stand our ground, the war on prices would determine which agencies are worth surviving (in my opinion, those adding value only) and we would work at reasonable rates.


bye
Gianfranco





[Edited at 2008-05-26 02:59]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:55
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
LOL - gianfrancos post May 26, 2008

I might just copy and paste your fridge selling joke into my reply to the next rude agency who find their way to my inbox

But really - surely I am not the only one with marketing ideas? Please share your thoughts - it's no good if we all sit on our knowledge unwilling to share anything but grief!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Allesklar  Identity Verified
Australia
Local time: 04:25
English to German
+ ...
agencies vs. direct clients May 26, 2008

Not so long ago, we had an AUSIT workshop in Adelaide on "Working for Agencies: Pros and Cons".

It was very interesting and many of the points made in this thread were raised, including the perspective that rather than the agency paying you, it is you, the freelancer, who is paying the agency for the services it provides to you (i.e. taking care of the marketing, the client interaction etc.).

Agencies certainly have their place and give you the opportunity to keep your overheads low while you establish yourself and learn the ropes. The downside of agencies is the lack of flexibility and the relay of communications. While the business models of agencies vary, from a certain size on they have to focus on volume rather than specialsiation. In order to handle large volumes of work more efficiently, they are standardising and automating the way work is assigned and distributed. This simplifies the bulk of their processes, but means that any specialised requests that do not quite fit the norm become more difficult to handle for their staff.

With the shift of focus from specialisation to volume, the price becomes the main distinguishing feature, on which these agencies are competing with each other.

So I reckon Ivana is on the right track when she says:
"I think marketing yourself and specialising is the key. It seems that a lot of translators get stuck doing too many jobs at low rates to pay the bills so they don't have the time to market themselves."


The presenter of the workshop recommended a meeting in person as the best marketing method from her experience. She was even able to charge higher rates to her clients than most agencies do, because she is able to communicate what distinguishes her services from the rest of the pack (and she didn't even have a website!!).

Anyway, personally I am not there yet, but I have been inspired to devote some of my working day to the development of my marketing skills and work towards this.

As to the price war, I am not too worried - if there is not enough work for me at rates that are worth my time, I shouldn't be a translator but do something else.



[Edited at 2008-05-26 05:51]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Jenny Forbes  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:55
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Tact ! May 26, 2008

Ivana, it's a good idea to go looking for poor translations on websites in order to suggest one's services as a means of improving them, with the aim of acquiring direct clients - but let me issue a gentle warning.
Many years ago I was invited to a wine tasting in London by a rather grand French vigneron. I noticed that the promotional material had been very poorly translated from French to English, and mentioned it to the patron, suggesting my services as a translator. He was visibly wounded and said that he had translated it himself.
He did not accept my offer, nor did I receive any further invitations to his events ... so my advice is to be extremely tactful in such situations.
Best wishes,
Jenny


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:55
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good point Jenny May 26, 2008

- What a shame, no client and no more wine either!

The type of client who translates his own material himself is probably no our typical client either - the marketing budget is obviously too low.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 15:55
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Working in teams May 26, 2008

I agree that specialization, good marketing (including a professional website), being well equipped and dedicated can be very useful, for a single freelancer to survive in these difficult times, but there is perhaps another possibility to explore.

It is possible that there in the market a large potential space for well organized teams of translators, able to offer not only a wider choice of languages and specializations, but also some basic additional services, such as DTP.

A team is not easy to organize and run, and it would probably require at least one person working full time, or most of its time, as a project manager for the rest of the team, but it could be competitive in price and quality of service compared to some basic agencies that add very little value to their intermediation.
Large and well organized agencies, able to deliver a wide large of services have their place and reason to exist, but micro-agencies who do nothing more than shifting files, can be replaced by organized teams of translators, possibly giving to the translators a better pay and, at the same time, a better deal to the customer, with the same level of service or even higher.

The teams should be able to offer translation + revision + final QA in a single package at a competitive price, stay very lean in structure and concentrate their efforts in a common marketing action.
Also, when the occasion arises, they could offer the same service in a variety of languages, mostly using the team's internal resources and rarely outsourcing.

This is something that the individual translator, even when targeting direct customers, can hardly do.

bye
Gianfranco



[Edited at 2008-05-26 11:58]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 20:55
Italian to English
Word of mouth May 26, 2008

From a quick glance at my list of currently active clients, which admittedly includes very few agencies, it would seem that most, regardless of size or sector, were initially recommended by other customers. To put it another way, every job is a potential marketing tool.

I can also confirm that Dirk's friend at AUSIT was right when she said meeting people was a good marketing ploy, particularly if you treat it as a way of cementing an existing commercial relationship. Cold calling probably isn't worth the effort, though, unless you are just starting out or attempting to break into a new sector or language combination.

FWIW

Giles


Direct link Reply with quote
 

MariusV  Identity Verified
Lithuania
Local time: 21:55
English to Lithuanian
+ ...
For me proz is NOT the place for "cheap jobs to pay the bills" May 26, 2008

"It seems that a lot of Prozians are experiencing heavy competition on price - ... It seems that a lot of translators get stuck doing too many jobs at low rates to pay the bills so they don't have the time to market themselves."

I TOTALLY DISAGREE.

Because:

1) I do not think that proz is a place for “a heavy competition on price”, i.e. to find MANY jobs as to have work to pay the bills - proz so far was one of the best self-marketing places to get GOOD jobs, good clients who pay a DECENT rate.

2) I do not quite get what it is all about – is it about self-marketing as such, or is it about marketing trying to get jobs to pay the bills? Why? Simple marketing ABC - what is the "target segment" of the translator who is looking for jobs? I do NOT think that proz is a place specialized in cheap jobs nor for translators who are targeting/looking for cheap jobs to pay the bills. Yes, there are a lot of jobs/poasts on proz with rate proposals with really small rates (much below the usual market rates), but it is a free market like ANY other market (and we are not obligated to accept those jobs).

3) being a proz member "by default" does not mean that you do not have time to market yourself - proz is JUST one of the many ways for that.


AND to the point of the topic - the best and most efficient self-marketing is telemarketing. Well, at first it can seem a difficult and time consuming task (and quite an expensive one, esp. for international calls), BUT is gives very good results.

[Edited at 2008-05-26 17:24]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Ivana Friis Wilson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:55
Member (2008)
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The point May 26, 2008

Marius, my point of this thread was to get people to share their marketing ideas, as stated.

Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Marketing yourself - share your ideas and what works

Advanced search







PDF Translation - the Easy Way
TransPDF converts your PDFs to XLIFF ready for professional translation.

TransPDF converts your PDFs to XLIFF ready for professional translation. It also puts your translations back into the PDF to make new PDFs. Quicker and more accurate than hand-editing PDF. Includes free use of Infix PDF Editor with your translated PDFs.

More info »
BaccS – Business Accounting Software
Modern desktop project management for freelance translators

BaccS makes it easy for translators to manage their projects, schedule tasks, create invoices, and view highly customizable reports. User-friendly, ProZ.com integration, community-driven development – a few reasons BaccS is trusted by translators!

More info »



All of ProZ.com
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs