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advice to a beginner translator ?
Thread poster: Valerie Meyer
Valerie Meyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:24
German to French
+ ...
Jun 20, 2005

I have just read about some of you being overwhelmed with work, and it seems to me like a dream that will never come true. I am a beginner translator, and I just have the feeling that it is never going to work. translating is for me a 15 year old dream, I have decided to try and make it come true, and I would like some advice.
thank you.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:24
English to German
+ ...
Tell us more about you Jun 21, 2005

Hi 'mey',
Why don't you start by telling us a bit more about your background and skills, and why you enjoy translating?

This will not only make it easier to give you some tips and hints, but it will also help you to reflect on your own business scenario.

Best regards,
Ralf


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xxxNathalieVVT  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:24
French to English
+ ...
You will succeed Jun 21, 2005

Hi Mey,

If you think you have what it takes to be a tranlator then I don't see why not. There are ways to succeed in finding new clients. I would first create a good CV/profile and post it on ProZ. Your CV is the most important thing you should do when you start because when agencies look for a translator who fits a particualr profile, they read CVs carefully. Do you specialise in any fields or are there/is there any area where you have good subject knowledge. Since you are a beginner, you might not be able to include in your profile any specialist subject.

However new you are to translations, you can make an attractive CV. Also, if you have some free time, why don't you translate documents to practise. Practise practise practise. I would strongly advise you to go for a paid membership like Platinum because all the jobs I've had so far have been through agencies contacting me direct. Also, answering Kudoz questions is a great way to practise and at the same time you're helping other colleagues.

If you need some help with your CV, I can give some help. Also, depending on my availability I don't mind doing a bit of mentoring for you. Another good thing to do (if you have time) is to build a good website.


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xxxtarpo
English to Dutch
Some ideas Jun 21, 2005

1) Are you registered as a self-employed person (URSSAF, etc.)? If not, you don't have the right to work as a free-lancer, and nobody will give you work ('travail au noir' is severely punished). If you are a salaried worker, you will have to register too, that is, you will pay 2 x your social security. In the long run this isn't feasible but it can be a solution for a while.
2) Ask for information at the SFT: www.SFT.fr
3) Double your hourly rate (you are working below minimum wages) and raise your rates per word
4) Sent letters to translation offices. Your letter will be at the bottom of some hundreds of letters, but sometimes, especially in summer, translation offices need persons with special profiles.
5) Print business cards.
Besides, how do you manage to certify your translations, as a beginner?

Good luck!

[Edited at 2005-06-22 07:09]


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Sarah Steiner  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:24
Spanish to German
+ ...
Why it is so hard to start... Jun 21, 2005

Hi,

well, it happens to me too that I read lots of postings writen by translators overloaded with work and I wonder why I have the time to read them all ;o)

I worked as freelance translator some years ago, then as inhouse translator, then as PM, and some time ago I decided to get "back to my roots" and work as translator again. After all, that is what I focussed all my "career" on, and it is the work I really enjoy. But of course, man shall not live by bread alone... without assignments that what is supposed to be your work and income gets the hobbyhorse of an unemployed...(

It is a bit hard, indeed, to start (again). The fact is there seem to be (or there are, I guess) millions of translators with your language pair(s) and all seem to be (or are, I suppose) overloaded with work. And there you stand with your illusions - and your knowledge and skills - and then what??? I can just recommend you not to give up easily. Keep on contacting translation agencies, make use of the time you don't get work assigned in order to prepare new terminological areas, be informed on Cat tolls and similar stuff, JUST KEEP ON BUSY!!! And you will notice that slowly things start to work out. Believe me they do.

I hope I coud somehow inspire you with courage!
Best regards,
Sarah


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Ian M-H
United States
Local time: 13:24
German to English
+ ...
Ralf's right, tell us more! Jun 21, 2005

But one small thing you have told us about yourself should work in your favour: If you've been dreaming about working as a translator for 15 years then I guess that you're aged 30+ and have spent at least some of those years doing things that can help you in your new career.

What have you studied, where have you travelled and lived, what kinds of work (paid and unpaid) have you done? If you reflect on your answers to these questions, and on the kinds of text you enjoy working with, you may be one step closer to a marketing plan.

Whatever the details, your life experience is likely to give you some advantages over someone starting out straight from college.

PS: I've just seen your CV and would join those who have encouraged you to add to your profile here on ProZ - you've certainly got skills and experience that you could be more specific about. And yes, if you've got half an hour on your hands occasionally, give some good and helpful answers to relevant KudoZ questions.



[Edited at 2005-06-21 11:43]


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Valerie Meyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:24
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Before I was a beginner translator Jun 21, 2005

Ralf Lemster wrote:

Hi 'mey',
Why don't you start by telling us a bit more about your background and skills, and why you enjoy translating?

This will not only make it easier to give you some tips and hints, but it will also help you to reflect on your own business scenario.

Best regards,
Ralf


Hi everybody who answered me, and thank you for your encouragements.
A bit more about my background and skills: I am French, I am (almost)37, and I am an English teacher. My native language is French but the first language I ever heard and spoke (until I went to school)was "alsatian", which is a dialect spoken near the German border (I was born in Strasburg). I discovered translation at university, when I started studying English, and I immediately loved it. I wanted to be a translator, but the school over there was too expensive; so I became (and I am still)a teacher, but I am not satisfied with this job. Speaking with my colleagues and reading surveys about translators, I realised that quite a number of people had no real translator diploma but were freelance translators. So I decided to become a freelance translator and to keep (for the moment) my part-time job as a teacher (which helps me to pay my social contributions). But I have the feeling that I have only had the name of translator, but not the activity that normally goes with it.....

As for my skills...that's the whole problem. I suppose some translators acquire skills as they work, and I am certainly among them because I have no real speciality: I know things about medicine (I worked as a medical secretary during a few years), about education and pedagogy, and I start learning about law courts and justice (I sometimes work with the border police. But I don't have much experience.
Anyway, I am taking note of all your advice, and I'll just try to improve my strategy.

Best regards to all, thank you again,
Mey.


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xxxLia Fail  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:24
Spanish to English
+ ...
patience:-) Jun 21, 2005

Hi mey

All your work experience is potentially useful, also your age, as by 37 you will have acquired 'world knowledge' or 'encyclopaedic knowledge', from having lived, read, travelled etc.

You also must be patient. At the beginning contacts with you may be few, but try to ensure that each one is satisfied with the work you do. That way you gradually add 1,2,3...clients to your portfolio. Some may fall by the wayside (maybe they only had a one-off project), but some will repeat, more or less frequently, if they are happy with you. Then you will discover how once in a blue moon you get another client becuase you were recommended by an existing client....

I started translation through a university lecturer I met on a walk, and then his wife, one colleague after another, then nearby universities, contacted me, totalling some 6 contacts. My second major contact was also coincidental - I was giving private classes to a university lecturer, who one day needed a review of his translation, and from that start I have made about 4 or 5 contacts. Note that this whole process took about 5-8 years, during which I had to continue as a part-time teacher before I felt I had enough work to go it full time. Not all of them give me work all the time, it can be very up and down.

Best of luck:-)


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Valerie Meyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:24
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for sharing your experience Jun 21, 2005

Ailish Maher wrote:

Hi mey

All your work experience is potentially useful, also your age, as by 37 you will have acquired 'world knowledge' or 'encyclopaedic knowledge', from having lived, read, travelled etc.

You also must be patient. At the beginning contacts with you may be few, but try to ensure that each one is satisfied with the work you do. That way you gradually add 1,2,3...clients to your portfolio. Some may fall by the wayside (maybe they only had a one-off project), but some will repeat, more or less frequently, if they are happy with you. Then you will discover how once in a blue moon you get another client becuase you were recommended by an existing client....

I started translation through a university lecturer I met on a walk, and then his wife, one colleague after another, then nearby universities, contacted me, totalling some 6 contacts. My second major contact was also coincidental - I was giving private classes to a university lecturer, who one day needed a review of his translation, and from that start I have made about 4 or 5 contacts. Note that this whole process took about 5-8 years, during which I had to continue as a part-time teacher before I felt I had enough work to go it full time. Not all of them give me work all the time, it can be very up and down.

Best of luck:-)


Hi Ailish,

it' s interesting to find someone who was in the same situation as me (part-time teacher + beginner translator), and to see that it took quite a few years to become a real translator (it is true that I am impatient, although I have already progressed a lot with the years...)

Thank you
Mey


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Valerie Meyer  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:24
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
help for cv is welcome Jun 21, 2005

Nathalie Vu-Van-Toan wrote:

Hi Mey,

If you think you have what it takes to be a tranlator then I don't see why not. There are ways to succeed in finding new clients. I would first create a good CV/profile and post it on ProZ. Your CV is the most important thing you should do when you start because when agencies look for a translator who fits a particualr profile, they read CVs carefully. Do you specialise in any fields or are there/is there any area where you have good subject knowledge. Since you are a beginner, you might not be able to include in your profile any specialist subject.

However new you are to translations, you can make an attractive CV. Also, if you have some free time, why don't you translate documents to practise. Practise practise practise. I would strongly advise you to go for a paid membership like Platinum because all the jobs I've had so far have been through agencies contacting me direct. Also, answering Kudoz questions is a great way to practise and at the same time you're helping other colleagues.

If you need some help with your CV, I can give some help. Also, depending on my availability I don't mind doing a bit of mentoring for you. Another good thing to do (if you have time) is to build a good website.



Hi Nathalie,

your name is familiar to me because I tried to answer some of your Kudoz questions those days.
It is very kind of you to propose to help me for my cv. I understand that it is possible for you to consult it, so if you have a little time and a few suggestions, do feel free to tell me everything that's missing or inappropriate.
As far as platinum membership is concerned, I have already thought aboutit, but I was wondering if it was worth/"useful" to be platinum when you have little experience.

Mey


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