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The membership campaign and the success stories
Thread poster: Ruxi

Ruxi
German to Romanian
+ ...
Nov 22, 2006

I really did not know where to put this posting, because actually I was looking for the place where those stories are being written and did not find it.
First of all I would like to say that I do not want to offend Proz.com staff or members, but only to write my thoughts about such things.
I can understand the need of money/membership and i must admit it is not a bad marketing campaign for that, but it seems rather untrue.
Actually yes, any marketing action is more or less real, because it aims to only show a positive image of the product/company.
Often, seeing the spots on TV I think: do people really believe that publicity helps?
I mean anybody would by products if they had money or reasons for it.
Market is difficult nowadays and people tend to live more economically, except the very rich ones.
Now coming back to Proz.com.
I read those stories and testimonials.
First thing that hit me from the first look were the language pairs of the members: almost everybody on the most common languages in the world.
Only one colleague with a more rare language pair was there.
What I want to say: I sure Proz.com has its good parts and its utility, it may help people a lot, depending on their situation and need.
Apart from such campaigns I would like Proz.com to do more for rare languages, to help people from poor countries too, to bring more serious outsourcers and editors too.
We got to the moment where translators pay to get jobs when it should be the other way arround (outsourcers should pay to get workers)
Such people usually rarely come to say their suggestions and needs, as it happened during that action "Let's improve Proz.com".
I don't deny that many people have some advantages from using Proz.com and as a result have money to pay for membership.
Such people have such advanges though in the real world/market too anyway.
The problem is when newbies come in and read these stories they might think:" wow, it is so easy and nice to become freelance translator and you can get so much money with it. Let's do it all" which is in reality not true.
Many people could tell you about the years of fight and disappointments and waiting for a job and the low prices.
I asked a lot of questions here and people gave me advice, criticising me a lot, but I really tried everything and with not so good results for the time being.
I will try to tell here a few lines of my hard fight, to balance a little the success stories.
First of all I had a good job and also a lot of translations jobs on the local market in my native country.
I had to leave it for familial reasons and I lost a lot.
I am fighting to get a job here, with no success. so I decided to start looking for the other side of my person, the love and talent for languages.
I registered on sites, I wrote to institutions in my residence country, aso.
I suddenly found some translations sites and among them Proz.com.
I liked this site a lot and quit the other sites, which I don't know if it was so wise.
First of all I was happy to find as well a job market and a discussion forum and Kudoz.
I tried to bid on more offers without result. At least in the real world you get an answer of "thank you, but we got anybody better", so that you know at least that your offer got there.
I tried to look on the teams on Proz.: a lot of the, but none on my language pair.
I never could find out how they work and if they really have success in getting jobs.
I also made my profile pretty complete.
I searched for outsourcers and wrote a lot of mails. Even contacted editors as I love literar translations.
The one thing I can and will not do yet is to pay for membership because: I did not have the success yet and I do not have the money.
My family is very poor at this moment, I can not afford any investment.
Still I got 2-3 translations jobs, 1 of them through Proz.com (a potential job still).
My language pair is not needed abroad, and even the local market in my native country is already overcrowded with translators.
Here I am at a certain age and seeing my self betrayed by my life passion.
I can only hope for the 1-st of January 2007, when EU could bring something better for my language and country too, they way it happen to other East-European countries.
Is there anything I did not do in order to get a translation job?
Yes, I still come on Proz to meet you, to find out information, so the forum side is very important for me.
I can feel even here the hard competition, I will not enter in details.
What I only what to say finally:
(Freelance) translation is not easy, especially for some certain groups of people. It is a hard and severe field.
It is needs more and more investment and technical device and knowledge in order to get jobs.
Newbies: just don't jump into wrong conclusions. Marketing is seldom reality.


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Siegfried Armbruster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:12
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
I have been a newbie once Nov 22, 2006

When I joined Proz 2 years ago, I had 2 large direct customers giving me relatively large assignements several times a year.
Now I have my own office, my own proofreader, and several regular customers.
I have a good income and

I owe these improvements mainly to my Proz membership.

I can only advice everybody to go for it and with Romania joining the European Community there should be enough work availble for you to do the same. Just do it:

Improve your profile, contribute more in Kudoz, etc. it will pay back.


PROZ.com did it for me, it will do it for others too if they use the tools that are available.

Kind regards
Siegfried


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:12
English to German
+ ...
You are right Nov 22, 2006

Ruxi wrote:
(Freelance) translation is not easy, especially for some certain groups of people. It is a hard and severe field.


I think you are completely right with this, Ruxi.

My husband is a freelancer, too. He's working in IT, and it took him quite some time to get where he is now. One of his friends started out as a freelancer at the same time. This friend is very talented and competent. When it comes to writing a few lines of code, it usually turns out to be a work of art. He has all what it takes to be a really good programmer, and yet, he is struggling to survive.
Having said that, my husband did not do anything special, just the usual marketing and learning-by-doing to hone his skills and find more jobs. Success didn't happen overnight.

And yet, when we meet his friend from time to time, I do realize that some people are more successful as freelancers than others. I wouldn't say that my husband has been luckier than his friend, especially if you look at how talented that friend is.

Anyway, I hope you are going to find something that works for you. Freelancing may just not be the right thing. Hope you can make a living with something else.

Good luck,

Sonja


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Henk Peelen  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 23:12
Member (2002)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Please be careful with the word "worker" Nov 22, 2006

Ruxi wrote:

...
Apart from such campaigns I would like Proz.com to do more for rare languages, to help people from poor countries too, to bring more serious outsourcers and editors too.
We got to the moment where translators pay to get jobs when it should be the other way arround (outsourcers should pay to get workers)
Such people usually rarely come to say their suggestions and needs, as it happened during that action "Let's improve Proz.com".
...


I'd prefer paraphrases like translator, freelancer or freelance translator to omit any posibiliy of a dependency between outsourcer and freelance translator. Both are fully independently acting entrepreneurs and both of them do their best to find and establish the most wanted forms of contacts.
I feel sorry for you not having success in finding enough work, and although I don't know everything about the social security system in the coutry you're living in or your native country, I do know that outsourcers are very keen on stressing the mutual independence, since generally a slight form of dependency could force them to pay your social security contributions.
And they are right! I, for instance, don't want to pay the social security contributions of my baker. Both of us are fully independent.



[Edited at 2006-11-22 14:32]


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 17:12
SITE FOUNDER
Right. No one should conclude it is easy... and no one should think ProZ.com is all you need... Nov 22, 2006

Thanks for this topic, Ruxi. You are quite right, no one should conclude from the success stories we are now featuring that becoming a ProZ.com member is enough to fill your schedule. Becoming a member is just a way to increase client flow.

The average member meets four new clients a year who s/he deems acceptable to work with. (An active non-member meets zero to one.) For those who already have full schedules, the additional client flow is useful because it increases your stability, gives you a stronger negotiating position and allows you to raise your income (by accepting new work that is more profitable than you current average work).

But if you are at a point in your career where you are trying to fill your schedule, and you need to do it fast, you have to do other things, too. For example, you might go earn a tested credential, make a website of your own, join a local association (maybe in another industry), send your CV and cover letters out, take out an ad in the telephone directory or elsewhere, etc.

Freelancing is tough, there is no doubt about it. What you are doing is running a business. Your case may be particularly difficult, Ruxi, because it sounds like you have no money at all to invest in your business. This puts you in a chicken-and-egg scenario where you don't have enough clients, but you can not invest in finding them using any of the above means.

Of course, you should be doing everything you can for free to develop your client base. You should also evaluate your marketing approach periodically, if you are getting some client flow, but are still not developing new relationships. I would advise you to make your profile more complete, to enter some keywords (perhaps in Romanian), to consider using your real name, and not to market yourself as working into three languages. You may think that by casting a broad net you increase your chances of meeting a new client, but you risk putting people off by claiming to be able to do too much.

I would object to one thing you said, though, ie. that the success stories are "untrue". If you don't believe the stories, just ask the authors. (And if you don't believe their answers, I don't know what to tell you!)


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Anne Patteet  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:12
English to French
+ ...
Catch 22 Nov 22, 2006

I agree to some extent with Ruxi, in the sense that you need experience in order to get some work, but you need to work in order to get experience! There is the partial solution of giving your time and abilities for free (to NGO's or the like) to gain experience, but that hasn't fed any translator yet!
Cheer up Ruxi, it does go slowly. But as others have said here, with the EU you should see some changes. Why don't you check on the EU site and try to see what they may need from someone like you?


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 16:12
English to Russian
+ ...
People skills Nov 22, 2006

Dear Ruxi, even for a translator who never goes on site and only works with distant end clients whom h/h had never met in person, the people skill component is an absolume must for success.

Guess what - when I listen to the clients praising my colleagues' work, they start with "extremely intelligent, so outgoing, wonderful team player, fun, reliable, troubleshooters". Sometimes they don't even mention the quality of their translation/interpretation skills, this goes without saying. Moreover, sometimes outsourcers and end clients prefer the person with all these qualities over a superiour translator/interpreter who is a real pain in the neck in all other aspects. "OK. We had enough of geniuses, let us try mere mortals":-)

You must be capable of maintaining an up-to-date conversation on many aspects of everyday life of the country you work with. Even your emails containing (when appropriate) popular local jokes or sayings, remarks showing that you are a modern curious person aware of the latest news - all this adds another 2 cents to your piggy-bank. When you talk on the phone, be cheerful, your voice must sound like that of a self-assured professional, talk business and chat a little bit. Leave an impression of a person who is fun and pleasant to deal with and live up to that impression. A colleage who builds up tension on site or even manages to do so from h/h distant office is a no-no when it comes to the word-of-mouth world. Make sure your colleagues trust you and want to work with you!!!!!! Can't underestimate this part!

I can't imagine starting freelancing from scratch without having some kind of a name, portfolio and/or clients already in place. Or an established reputation in other profession - for example, a bilingual engineer already known as a technical writer and/or a proofreader. Or, as a minimum, a spouse with a stable income and willinness to pay the bills and feed the significant other for a while:-). I started from the in-house project as a typist!!! for the 1st 3 months before another translator position was open for 1 year, learned a world of experience reading masters' translations in the field utterly unknown to me then and mastering computer skills, got a taste of translation business and made myself known a little bit first.

As far as success stories are concerned, I'm sure they are true and wonderful; however, until I see the annual work load and the resulting annual income figure, I can't really measure the level of that success. I'm not asking anyone to submit the data:-)


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xxxreebecca
Local time: 23:12
English to Dutch
+ ...
Proz.com isn't all about finding work... Nov 22, 2006

Hi Ruxi,

in a way to some content with what you say, but I would like to add and agree with Henry that you shouldn't become a member of Proz.com and other similar sites ONLY in order to find more work.

I'm not a full member of Proz.com, in fact I'm only a "user", but I used the site first of all to find outsourcers (and I really had NO idea at all that there were so many translation agencies in the world!) and I did, not much from the very beginning of course, but little by little. So keep trying, I'd say! Some "bonding" with other translators (that you might find here on the site) really could help a lot!

Proz.com is much more valuable to me for other reasons: the contact with other translators: I really believe that it creates a sense of "community".
Being a freelance translator is not a very "social" business.
But visiting Proz.com, answering Kudoz questions,... to me it really became some sort of bonding and although I'm not sure whether becoming a full member of Proz would get me more jobs, I am definetely going to become a member next year, if only as some way of saying "thanks" to Proz for making me feel really happy when I get an email or comment from a colleague on a Kudoz posting I did.
To me, that's really worthwile!

Rebecca x


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Kirill Semenov  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 00:12
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ...
I believe the stories are true Nov 22, 2006

And probably I will write my own story of success when I have a spare time.

Due to ProZ, my rates are now 10-12 times higher than 3 years ago, I have a huge workload through the site, and I'm going to raise my rates even more. The site has worked for me, although it was not an easy or quick process. I've never regretted about joining it and paying for it, even for a second.


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Chowdhury
Bangladesh
Local time: 03:12
English to Bengali
+ ...
I feel sorry for Ruxi but no one should blame others for one's own failure Nov 22, 2006

I feel sorry for Ruxi but I think s/he is very pessimistic and that is why I do not want to encourage Ruxi-like people to write 'failure' stories the way s/he puts it.

In every business there is success as well failure, and some people shine in one areas while others struggle to survive in the same business, and so we cannot blame the business or the market rather the person should consider it his/her own failure and do something that is more suitable for him/her.

Over some period of time, I found proz very helpful and 'generous' too for the services it provides for free, that no other sites offer. So the attack on proz for one's own failure is unjustified and unwanted.

I also work for some 'rare' language pairs (Arabic/Urdu to Bengali) and admittedly I did not get a single job in these pairs from proz, but for this, I cannot blame proz that why there is no job in my pair!

Yes, you proposed to proz to do something for rare language pairs and I support you but I do not know how the proz can do for this. I think you also suggest it.


[Edited at 2006-11-23 09:52]


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 00:12
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Do not seek salvation from one site, Ruxi? Nov 22, 2006

Why did you "quit" other sites? Keep free memberships an all available sites, especially those that offer rarer languages. If you live in Germany, its no secret that German customers rarely even know Proz.com.
I can tell you more privately, because here they're afraid of competition. I wonder why. I believe competition is good for business.

Cheers
Heinrich


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 17:12
SITE FOUNDER
Right, Heinrich Nov 22, 2006

Heinrich Pesch wrote:

Why did you "quit" other sites? Keep free memberships an all available sites, especially those that offer rarer languages. If you live in Germany, its no secret that German customers rarely even know Proz.com.
I can tell you more privately, because here they're afraid of competition. I wonder why. I believe competition is good for business.

I would go further and say that one should invest in any site the produces a return on one's investment and efforts.

As for your prior post, as was probably explained to you by a moderator, it would have been removed because it advertised a specific site (and a specific price.) No one is afraid of competition, but we have had to adopt a fairly strict no advertising policy due to past abuse. I know you meant no harm and must not be affiliated with the site you were recommending, of course.

Thanks for your ongoing support, Heinrich.


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Lucinda  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:12
Member (2002)
Dutch to English
+ ...
For me Proz was a plus! Nov 22, 2006

Hi Ruxi,

I have read your post with interest. You bring up many good points. Yes, you are so right, it is not easy at first. And it does not get good overnight. I believe that it can take anywhere from two years to even four years to feel comfortable about it, I mean getting work, having repeat customers, making decent money, and such.

You said that you had good customers in your home country. Why don't you contact them? They obviously liked your work, otherwise they would not have given you business. All of them or at least most of them will have Internet access and they can send you work through that medium.

For the other clients, keep marketing, polishing your CV, honing your skills. It is a process that never stops.

And most importantly, don't stress. If you do, this will somehow be reflected in your dealings with customers. Clients don't like that because they may think "What if this stress is filtered down to her work? How will my translation look then?. Be confident, pleasant and upbeat. Remember, the customer doesn't have to select to you. So make them want to give you work.

Thus, deliver high-quality work, reply promptly to emails, have a certain degree of flexibility and be their most favourite translator.

It is a learning process and to learn takes time. And then you too will be part of the success story.

Good luck!

Lucinda


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