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Is this struggle normal?
Thread poster: Anne Seerup

Anne Seerup
Ireland
Local time: 13:09
English to Danish
+ ...
Apr 26, 2003

I would just like to share my thoughts and frustations.



I have been working on becoming a freelance translator since August 2001 when I became unemployed after working in the most horrible place ever. It did, however, made me realise what I wanted to work with - translation. First I tried freelancing as I could not get a job. Registered with a few agencies while still applying for permanent jobs.

It was not really until 6 months later (around christmas) that I felt certain that I wanted become a freelancer for real. And then I started working really hard on it.



Since then I have sent out my presentation letter + CV to around 1700 agencies (I made the list myself) and to companies through Kompass. But I have not really experienced getting any major jobs - only small editing assignments and minor (500-2000 words) translation jobs.

I have been tested for major jobs but although the test was really positive - I lost it due to lack of experience on my CV.

I just keep getting contacted and getting job offers but I always loose them as they find someone more experienced - and it is rather frustrating. Maybe I am too honest -I hope it is not necessary to lie to get jobs although at this stage it is rather tempting.



I really feel it is frustrating working for agencies as most of them seem completely disorganised. I mean - they contact you regarding a project - and then they just never get back to you or they get back and tell me the project is cancelled like it happened the other day.



I have built up a good deal of contacts and it does seem that something has started to happen during the last two months of so - but VERY slowly.



Like I mentioned - I have tried getting direct clients through Kompass but you have to send messages through the site which is akward. (It is only possible to send one at a time and takes ages).

Is there anywhere to get a free list of different trades and businesses?



And it this struggle normal the first 6 months? I wish I would have some luck and just get a big assigment that would enhance my CV.

























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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:09
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Did you try to get a membership in Translation Institute? Apr 26, 2003

Hello Anne,



First of all, please don\'t get frustrated. To be a freelancer is not an easy job and getting reliable clients (either agencies or direct companies) takes time and really needs to be positive.



I just wonder if you have tried to get a membership in a Translation Institute. Since you don\'t have a lot of experience you might need to start as a an Associate but really helps to get work. Clients see that as reliable sources and trust you if a specific institute has done the same. For associateship you might need some referees but that might not be difficult if any of your clients (even if minor) agree to be one.



Hope this helps. Please don\'t forget that to have work all year round and work with realiable agencies you really have to be positive and don\'t give up. You should\'t want to get major clients and major jobs. Start slowly and you will get known in the trade.



Also, most of the agencies I know are quite good, reliable and organized. In this respect, maybe you were just a bit unlucky.



Don\'t give up, listen to all advices and follow the ones you think are the best.



Best regards,

Mónica


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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:09
English to French
+ ...
It is normal Apr 26, 2003




and you will meet better agencies as you go along.



I recommend you study law and medical stuff when you have time.







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Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 14:09
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

MODERATOR
Analyse your strengths and search for contacts Apr 26, 2003

Dear Anne,



1. I\'m sure you possess knowledge in some field. Follow that trail by approaching companies or organisations where your knowledge is of value. If you can get a direct customer it\'s very valuable (at least 150% of what an agency pays).



2. Start proving effort and competence by answering KudoZ. It always pays and you learn a lot.



3. Surf Google for translation related websites like TranslatorsCafe.com, tr_jobs@yahoogroups.com and others



4. http://translatortips.net/sell-your-services.html

you might already know.



Goof luck



Feel free to ask me



Mats J C Wiman

Übersetzer/Translator/Traducteur/Traductor > swe

http://www.MatsWiman.com

http://www.Deutsch-Schwedisch.com

http://www.proz.com/translator/1749 Deu>swe Proz.com moderator

eMail: MatsWiman@swipnet.se

Träsk 201

SE-872 97 Skog

Tel : +46-612-54112

Fax : +46-612-54181

Mobile: +46-70-5769797





[ This Message was edited by: MatsWiman on 2003-04-26 14:57]


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Anne Seerup
Ireland
Local time: 13:09
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Apr 26, 2003

Thank you very much for the advice.

It seems I am on the right track - but I do need to specialise more.

I have just been extremely unsuccesful this week, losing a 5 months project + another 2-week-assignment. While the first one was due to lack of experience on the CV the second one was due to the agency losing their client (not really my fault). Could not help feeling frustrated - but I guess I may as well learn from it - sink or swim! So sat down and worked on my profile for my web site and that really helped.



I have one problem with Kudoz - I am always too late with my answer - simply because I still have a dial-up connection. Here in Ireland ADSL is extremely expensive - but hopefully I will get it soon.


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 14:09
English to German
+ ...
Non-profit organizations Apr 26, 2003

Hi Anne,



I know exactly what you are experiencing right at the moment and I do understand how frustrated you feel.



I have been through this myself... I think that most translators who start a freelance career from 0 have been through this.



Since Mats already made some good suggestions, I can only add that doing free translations for non-profit organizations can enhance your CV.



I have done some of these myself at the beginning, since my CV looked rather empty at that time.



I wouldn\'t say that translations for non-profit organizations will be the solution for all your problems, but your CV will look much better and no-one will accuse you of not having any experience at all.



Regards,



Sonja



P.S.

I almost forgot... you should read this HowTo, which has been written by Henry. I think it is rather helpful.

http://www.proz.com/howto/1

[ This Message was edited by: sonjav on 2003-04-26 15:31]


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Arnaud HERVE  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 14:09
English to French
+ ...
As for software Apr 26, 2003

It is very good to mention MS Office XP in you CV and website, but you should never mention MS Frontpage.



Frontpage is known to modify the HTML code without your consent, and that is precisely what the clients don\'t want you to do. The clients want the webpage back translated, but with the same code.


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Anne Seerup
Ireland
Local time: 13:09
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
FrontPage Apr 26, 2003

I didn\'t actually know that FrontPage modifies the HTML code - can you recommend some other applications.



Does the same go for Dreamweaver MX?


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anglista
Local time: 14:09
English to Polish
+ ...
let us see how good and reliable you are Apr 26, 2003

Quote:


On 2003-04-26 15:12, Anne Seerup wrote:

I have one problem with Kudoz - I am always too late with my answer - simply because I still have a dial-up connection.




1. Answering KudoZ Questions is not the only way to win fame here. Some of the answers are really good, some could be improved and some are just incorrect. What you can do is comment on the answers of others (agree/neutral/disagree), provide sources - URL or other ones (use good paper dctries to reduce yr Internet costs). Let everybody see how good and reliable you are. That\'s how I started and, after a while, I got a few clients among other Proz who contacted me directly. So the method works.



2. What I did after moving to another place and becoming a full-time freelancer was I kept trying to win clients by contacting companies directly. It did take me a lot of time before proving successful, but then I had plenty of it!



Good luck

KZH


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Laura Gentili  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:09
Partial member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
More comments Apr 26, 2003

Anne,

As others said, building a relationship with a few reliable translation agencies requires years, not months.

A few more comments:

I read in your ProZ page that you specialize in translations from English into Danish. This is too general. You should indicate some specific fields of specialization (legal, medicine, software, finance, marketing, etc.), as you cannot possibly be able to translate all subjects.

There is also an inconsistency between your per word rate and per hour rate. If your minimum rate per word is 0.10, considering that the average productivity is 300-500 words per hour, your hourly rate cannot possibly be 9-15 Euro, but should be in the range of 30-50 Euro.

HTH,

Laura

[ This Message was edited by: Laura G. on 2003-04-26 17:26]


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Albert Golub  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:09
English to French
Don't give up !!!!!!!! Apr 26, 2003

You can find an excellent free html editor called catsandcradle at the following address : www.stormdance.freeserve.co.uk/

Good Luck

It will happen!!!!!!!!!!



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Mónica Machado
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:09
English to Portuguese
+ ...
don't try getting large companies as clients - at least at first Apr 27, 2003

Hello,



I just would like to add that for a start you shouldn\'t want to get large companies as clients (not large companies as direct clients at least).



Large companies usually work with large agencies and translators work for those agencies. It is difficult to go againt this trend. You can however see what areas are you more familiar with and then try getting direct clients in those areas - but go for the smaller ones for a start. With a bit of luck your direct clients will recommend you to others. And remember, for a freelance translator all clients should deserve the same respect. For me all clients are just at the same level if they are good, reliable nice to work with and good payers, no matter their size in the market.



Also, getting known in the community is good as sometimes people do contact you to help them out. However, don\'t forget that help once you start to have your own business.



And if your work happens to be proofread by other more experienced traslators (say through agencies) do follow their advices and just try not to do the same mistakes all over again. We all do things wrong at least once but repeat errors is really against us all.



All the best

Mónica


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Anne Seerup
Ireland
Local time: 13:09
English to Danish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks to all of you! Apr 27, 2003

I have really received a lot of very useful advice and feedback - I should really have used this forum a lot earlier instead of struggling to figure it all out myself.

But I guess starting a business is never easy and there is always a lot more to learn that first assumed. I feel it will come together - and looking at it now there certainly has been some development. Before christmas I only got forms to fill out - now I occasionally do get jobs offered either from people having seen my profile at translatorscafe or here at Proz. It is not much but something is happening just need to improve my technique when marketing myself.





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