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how does your client approach you?
Thread poster: Doroto
Doroto
Local time: 02:52
English to Chinese
+ ...
May 22, 2007

I received two emails recently from abroad requesting me to do legal translation (as I specialize in ths area) for them and they came from Proz after looking at my profile here.

Since generally I am quite busy with my other businesses, I seldom submit resumes here in response to offers posed by potential clients.

How do your guys' clients approach you?


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:52
English to French
+ ...
Pretty much the same way May 22, 2007

I also occasionally get ProZ mail offering me contracts. I always take a look at these and am happy to say that two of my most regular clients contacted me this way. While I also occasionally get offers for jobs with ridiculously low rates, I did get some very interesting ones, too, that turned out to be excellent clients.

My only advice is to examine these and if you feel they are interesting for you, go for it. You never know - they might turn out to be contracts that will turn into rewarding regular collaborations.


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Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:52
Member
English to French
Always good to spread one's details May 22, 2007

First of all, I target agencies. Were I to attract end customers, I would probably have a website.
My two virtual points of contact for prospects are Proz.com and TranslationZone. Other leads originate from agency staff, fellow translators and private acquaintances.

Whenever I am namely approached and I feel it could lead to something interesting, I reply, busy or not busy. I believe the more your name is out there in a certain category (specialty-wise AND pricewise), the better for your business.
Since I am not really looking for new customers, I always state higher rates than my current ones, and see what comes up. It gives a hint about the temperature of the market.

I reply to jobs announced on Proz.com under very specific circumstances: to practise my marketing/negociating skills, if the rate stated is higher than my current one, and/or out of curiosity.

In actual terms, I may reply every year to 10-15 unsollicited offers carefully filtered, assessed and screened by myself. BTW, I noticed my exposure increased since I have been a Member (Platinum). Not surprising since the sytem is made this way (higher ranking in directories, engine searches, etc.)
My current overall exposure resulted in 3 jobs so far this year: 65kwords in January (from my Proz.com profile), 12kwords in Feb (friend of a friend) and 1200 words (PM I knew from an agency recruited in another) in April from three new customers.
All of them came to me with unsollicited offers.
A bit early to categorize them as regulars, but one came back with bits of the same project later and I am pretty confident that the others kept my details handy.
So as Viktoria, I suggest that you not overlook these opportunities when they arise.

Good evening,
Philippe


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Doroto
Local time: 02:52
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
website is good way. May 25, 2007

While you guys had sucessfully grabbed business opportunities, those writing to me had turned away. : )

I guessed that is because my rate has frightened them away.

I am not sure that kind of clients would like to approach translators in such private manner rather than through a public ad, but I think they are those who like to solicit low rate affordable for them.

My rate for English to Chinese is 33 USD per 1ooo chinese characters (inlcuding punctuations). Is it really high?

What about the rate of you guys, like from English to French or otherwise?

It will be indispensable to have a website in today's world. We do many things on the internet. I have one being built though there has been no business coming from it.

Good Luck.


[Edited at 2007-05-25 03:17]


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:52
English to French
+ ...
I don't think they are out looking for low rates Jun 2, 2007

On the contrary. The clients I met through ProZ that didn't post jobs but instead contacted translators through their profiles pay, based on my personal observation, higher rates than the average displayed in the job board of this site for similar jobs in difficulty, volume and deadline. To me, it looks like these clients know that there are lots of translators on this site who accept lower rates and who will submit substandard work. I don't want to blame them - but it is the sad truth. There are clients out there who are willing to pay for quality and these same clients are scared away by the low rates they see in ProZ profiles and in quotes they received through the job board. I know that many of my colleagues will not fully agree, but many clients think that you get what you pay for. I think these clients are not on the same market as those who offer jobs on the job board asking for your best rate in advance (or even worse, fixing the rate themselves before even being contacted). So, it's not about finding clients - it's about finding clients to whom quality matters. Those always pay better and are much nicer to work with than the people who offer two pennies per word.

So, I am not sure whether they are scared away because your rates are high or because they are low. Please, understand that the average rates in job postings on this site are not representative of the industry as a whole. There is an entire market outside of ProZ and their rates are often considerably higher. If you charge 8 cents per word when most jobs in your language pair are advertised at 6 cents, you might be fooling yourself by thinking "it's because my rates are higher than the rest". No! On today's market, clients always want to pay less than the going rate, and that is what they display in job posts. Maybe the clients who don't get back to you know that your 8 cents is actually low and they don't trust the quality of your work because a TV bought for $50 usually breaks within three months. I saw your rate next to this phrase in your profile: "legal professionals with relevant legal qualification and license". I am sure that as a legal professional, you could earn more than this - and the client also thinks that. The client will think "If this person could earn more in the legal field with all their diplomas and experience, why does s/he translate for a lower revenue?". One of the possible answers is that the person is not that competent in the legal field. Another one is that the person is not that competent as a translator. In any case, a client will move on to the next profile in the directory without even reading the rest of your profile. You may be underselling your services without realizing it - and there is no way for potential clients to know that you are actually underselling yourself, not offering a low rate for low quality services. Food for thought...

[Edited at 2007-06-02 18:30]


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Doroto
Local time: 02:52
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
deeply impressed Jun 3, 2007

Thanks Viktoria!

Your reply post is very impressing, and I think you hit the point. The rates I post there are the adjusted ones after taking advice from fellow translators here.

I know from my work experience in an International law firm, my rates there are 250 USD per hour and we usually work out a little more than one A4 page trasnslation in an hour.

The domestic market has been ruined by fierce competition. The main reasons for my taking part-time translation work are my interests in it and financial need in life.


I think you are quite right to some degree. Maybe my lower rates have scared them away. : )


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ViktoriaG  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:52
English to French
+ ...
You vs. others Jun 6, 2007

I have examined your rates versus other profiles in your language pair and specialization. One thing that was clear from the beginning is that most translators in your language pair who do legal translation also do a bunch of other things - they are not specialized. Therefore, they are not in a position to ask for higher rates. Another thing I noticed is that many of those profiles are written in bad English - that doesn't help their credibility as translators. Once again, this does not put them in a position to ask for higher rates. However, your rates are very similar to theirs, whereas you seem to concentrate on legal translation AND you are able to express yourself in English much better both in the forum and in your profile. The other profiles I mentioned above are more likely to attract clients who want to pay rates on the lower end and don't mind getting substandard translations. I don't want to generalize, there are a few profiles up here that do create a good impression - but they are not many.

You have an advantage over the majority - you are a specialist and you take care of your profile. You come off as a serious candidate - and this means that clients who will be interested in working with you are probably the ones that don't post jobs, the ones that contact translators directly. However, if your rate doesn't match the quality of your profile and of your offering, this can damage your credibility.

It does take quite some time to switch rate brackets, but you could target this in the long term. I suggest to stop displaying your rates altogether as that will give you more power to negotiate once you are in touch with a client. If clients still contact you without having seen your rates, that is a good sign - and it will probably happen. If you want to raise your rates, I think it is best that you quote higher rates to new clients who have no idea how much you charge your regular clients. Once you get some fresh clients who pay higher rates than your established clients, you will have a new pool of clients who pay better, and it will then become less risky to raise your rates with old clients, as the difference will cover the occasional client lost because of your rate increase (be prepared to see this happen - it has not yet happened to me, but it does come up frequently).

Take care of your profile. Earn KudoZ points in your field and avoid answering too many KudoZ in fields you don't work in. After a while, your expertise will shine through in your profile and clients who find your profile appealing will expect to have to pay higher rates than the average on this site. You will then start slowly moving toward a different market, where quality has its value. You will find it not only more rewarding, but much more pleasant (PMs tend to be more professional, helpful and caring, files better prepared, less PDFs to battle with and more comfortable deadlines). Try to post a few projects in the legal field in your profile and have your clients confirm and comment on them. When you come up in the directory, this will show right away and will be a witness of your competences.

Remember that ProZ is not THE market, it is merely a tier in the market. Take a few steps back and examine the market as a whole. Don't be afraid to take risks - I did and although they didn't all work out as expected, I wouldn't be in as good a position now if I hadn't taken those risks.

Finally, you may want to read a book I have read that outlines in a very simple and pleasant way how you can set goals and work towards achieving them. You may have heard about it: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I am sure it is available in Chinese - it was translated into 60 languages.

All the best!

[Edited at 2007-06-06 15:08]


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