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Thread poster: Alan Wang
Can I have more luck with finding the right clients?

Alan Wang  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 19:43
Member
English to Chinese
+ ...
Sep 4, 2010

Hello, my fellow translators
Since I became a paid user of this site, I have had some luck with finding the right clients, but not enough not to ask for more. However, the problem with clients trusting my skills in my particular case is that I am diploma free. I am a high school dropout and clients by nature always want you to be a PhD or something slightly less, but definitely not a dropout, not from a high school. The last time I heard someone went somewhere big was by dropping out of a university.

So, without the option of impressing potential clients with any academic degrees, what could I do? Well, I had my personal website erected and tried to sound comfortable, professional and experienced. I hope they can appreciate my understanding of the English language from which I claim to skillfully translate into Chinese, my mother tongue. Also, how much translation work in both directions I have done so far. But I have to say it is over-rated of the importance of a domain website at least in my case.

The root issue is that I have some opinions or delusions about myself even with my dropout background. Namely, I am not satisfied with drowning in the stream of domestic business, like some of my fellow Chinese translators do who have quite impressive degrees. I think I want a reasonable piece of the pie of foreign business, more or less direct clients. Why? You guessed right. The price pays, hence the work done is more appreciated.

What do you suggest? Am I delusional? Perhaps just a little bit?


[Edited at 2010-09-04 10:35 GMT]


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Alex Eames
Local time: 12:43
Member (2004)
English to Polish
+ ...
Qualifications help, but experience counts more Sep 4, 2010

I'm afraid qualifications are important in getting a foot in the door.

What makes you unique? Why should I choose you instead of Jonny Chan who proved he can complete something he starts with his high school and university qualifications?

Unless you can provide outstanding evidence that you are better, most people will pick the qualified person every time. (What else have they got to go on?)

So. What experience do you have that makes you stand out? If you can come up with something, there may be a chance.

If nothing, I wouldn't be too optimistic for your chances of becoming an international superstar in the translation field. Sorry not to be more encouraging - I'm trying to be realistic. I know Bill Gates dropped out of University, but he worked for himself.
You're in a slightly different boat because you are asking people to give you work.


Alex Eames
http://www.translatortips.com/
helping translators do better business

[Edited at 2010-09-04 11:20 GMT]

[Edited at 2010-09-04 11:21 GMT]


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:43
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Experience Sep 4, 2010

According to your profile you have 9 years' experience so you should clearly be pushing this to your advantage rather than your lack of qualifications.

It could be worth applying to become a Certified Pro on Proz as this provides some proof that your peers have reviewed your work and that you are reliable.

Answering Kudoz questions is another way of showing your knowledge in your language pairs and fields. Having Kudoz points will improve your position in the translators' directory when outsourcers search for new translators for a particular job.

You mention that you have found some clients through Proz since becoming a member. Why don't you ask them to make a WWA entry for you. I see you already have 1, but more would be good.


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Halil Ibrahim Tutuncuoglu "Бёcäטsع Լîfe's cômplicåtعd eñøugh"
Turkey
Local time: 14:43
Turkish to English
+ ...
Yes I agree Sep 4, 2010


Emma Goldsmith wrote:

According to your profile you have 9 years' experience so you should clearly be pushing this to your advantage rather than your lack of qualifications.

It could be worth applying to become a Certified Pro on Proz as this provides some proof that your peers have reviewed your work and that you are reliable.

Answering Kudoz questions is another way of showing your knowledge in your language pairs and fields. Having Kudoz points will improve your position in the translators' directory when outsourcers search for new translators for a particular job.

You mention that you have found some clients through Proz since becoming a member. Why don't you ask them to make a WWA entry for you. I see you already have 1, but more would be good.


Yes I agree with Emma


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Alan Wang  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 19:43
Member
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It's tough Sep 4, 2010

Thanks for your advice. I am good. I am a little frustrated with marketing myself internationally, but at the same time, I am far from desperate. I have a good domestic client base. If I so much as lower my price to top average level (still above the average and low level), I would be overwhelmed by business. Of course, these are all price standards here in China.

I guess I have to be patient.


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:43
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Take action Sep 4, 2010

Being patient is exactly what you should not do. You should follow the excellent advice already given, and generally improve your ProZ profile. You have very sensibly provided some sample translations. A very good idea, though I would suggest making them shorter, and edited to illustrate your particular translation skills.

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Lucia Colombino  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 08:43
Member (2007)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Your local clients Sep 4, 2010

can provide WWA entries too, it doesn't matter that you didn't meet them via Proz.

Good luck!


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Saidabbos Mahmudov  Identity Verified
Uzbekistan
Local time: 16:43
English to Russian
+ ...
Reference Letters in plus to Certifications of Completion Sep 5, 2010

Greetings to you, dear Alan,

I'm Saidabbos, a native Russian speaker currently residing in Uzbekistan. I'm not boasting, but my native town has never seen an enthusiast like me, who's so much into foreign languages and translation. Though I'm just 23 years old (it's considered to be a very young age, even for a translator, to be called professional, - that's according to some translators who commenced working long before I was born), I can say that I've more than 6 years of translation experience - it means I commenced working as a translator since my second year of high school. In that time, I have had the same problem - people always asked for a diploma, especially, those who are accustomed to think that a native Russian residing in Russia is a better specialist than a native Russian residing in Uzbekistan. The hadn't a faintest idea that Uzbekistan was a part of now inexisten Soviet Union, where Russian was the primary language. Such clients hadn't a faintest idea that my mother was Russian and the language I spoke at home was, and still is, Russian. You know, these are basic stereotypes that people are used to.

The same thing is with diplomas and stuff like that. I've personally known translators who, speaking roughly, didn't cost a dime, in terms of professionalism, but they were people who could present you a vast collection of diplomas and so on. I would better agree with those translators who stated that practical experience counts more. Imagine, a high school graduate, who was a self-studying person, learned basic skills of working in the automobile production industry. He has got a position in a local factory, and has worked there for 5 years. And then, comes a gentleman who has never smelled the smell of the automobile's steel, but who has smelled the dust from the university desks. He has just come to the same automobile factory. Who do you think will be more productive - a young high school graduate with 5 years of valuable practical experience, or a con with a degree but who has never been on a particular worksite. Theory is one thing, but practice is another.

But enough about cautionary tales. I mentioned certificates of completion and reference letters. I suggest you do this: Upon the completion of a project, even if it is a small one, you may request from your clients the aforementioned certificates of completion, where he/she could simply confirm your professionalism. Thus, in the period of even some time of prolific work, you may have a pretty good collection of certificates and ref letters that would simply outbalance the lack of diploma. But by no means do I mean here that you mustn't get a degree! Of course you should try to have one, and expand on theoretical knowledge, which can subsequently be widely used by you in your successfuly begun translation practice.

Best of luck and keep your thumbs up!

Cordially yours,

Saidabbos Mahmuduv.

----------------------------
Saidabbos S. Mahmudov
"My Quality & Speed - is all that you need!"
Karshi State University Translators' Society
180118, Uzbekistan, Kashkadarya Region
Karshi city, Kuchabog Street, 17
Tel: +998906393557
E-mail: saidabbos.mahmudov@gmail.com


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:43
Member
English to German
+ ...
Diplomas and stuff Sep 5, 2010

I have received translations by colleagues with full degrees in translation. After reading three beautifully written paragraphs - perfect style, flawless grammar - it was apparent that they had no glue what they were actually writing about.

I prefer specialist translators with a diploma in any technical or otherwise scientific field over any translator with a degree in translation. Unfortunately, you have none of them.

Diplomas (of any kind, except the ones that you can buy on the internet) are a proof that you have acquired sufficient knowledge in a specific field, which is why outsourcers will entrust you with sophisticated and well-paid projects.

What hinders you to take up some classes in any desired field?


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Soonthon LUPKITARO(Ph.D.)  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 18:43
Partial member (2004)
English to Thai
+ ...
Job samples Sep 6, 2010

One way to convince your new clients is providing many translation samples. I successfully agreed with new clients in this way [although I have no educational achievement handicapped].

Soonthon Lupkitaro


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philgoddard
Local time: 06:43
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
One thing I'd change, Alan: Sep 6, 2010

Your website. " Most of my clients give reticent testimony to the quality of my work by never objecting to what I deliver" is not exactly a ringing testimony to your skills, and the whole bit about how you've parted company with some clients because of your rates simply isn't appropriate.

But don't get too downhearted - the great thing about this job is that there are few barriers to entry compared to other professions, and if your work is good enough it doesn't matter what letters you have after your name.


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Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 13:43
English to German
+ ...
Long story short Sep 7, 2010

One thing I'd definitely add here is that you need to cut the amount of texts on your Website in half and make it more attractive to potential clients.
When I land at your page, I do get it that you're a translator but then all I see is text, text, text. That's a turn-off.

At first sight, this looks more like a blog, not like you trying to sell your services.

You want to convince your potential clients that you're the right translator for their needs. Then give them some proof. For example, don't say:

"Hello, I am Alan Wang, possibly (and preferably on my part the ultimate translator for your English to Chinese or Chinese to English translation needs. Apart from having eight years of technical translation experience, mainly in the direction of English to Chinese, gained working in-house for a giant appliance maker, I have a certain linguistic flair for translating from Chinese to English as several books of literature and history released by China Intercontinental Press (under the State Council Information Office) have been translated by me."

What's wrong with it is:
a) you show doubt right when introducing yourself (leave out "possibly"),
b) the second sentence is an endless sentence and at the end of it, I've forgotten what it said in the beginning, and
c) redundancies (don't repeat in the text what you have already successfully expressed in your bullet point list at the top).

And make it shorter. Much shorter.
For example, if you translate into both directions, say "...I'm your skillful translator for the language pair English - Chinese." No need to repeat the language names.

Then you explain your qualifications but you don't give any names of companies or booktitles. Why don't you use the bullet point list you have at the top and add to that. Say things like:
- experienced in-house translator at XYZ
- translator of the book "ABC"
- helped local company YYY sell its loudspeakers to clients in Australia

And so on. Give us the facts. Toot your own horn, but make the tooting short and loud, not endless and dull.

Just my two cents...
Good luck!

Simone





[Edited at 2010-09-07 00:12 GMT]


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:43
Member
English to German
+ ...
"Contact me now!" Sep 7, 2010

I would drop this pseudo-advertising speak. Why? Because you only find it in really bad advertising (noisy, obnoxious TV commercials or infomercials for cheap and tacky products). Nobody wants to be yelled at. How about "I look forward to our first project", or similar.

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Alan Wang  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 19:43
Member
English to Chinese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
field or specialization Sep 7, 2010

Thanks to all, I am touched by your comments.
Anyway, if I am harboring any delusions, some of your comments probably have confirmed why. I have come across similar things that gave me the idea that I could be doing a better job than some of those who do have the passport of the trade.

Nicole suggests that I take up some classes in a desired field. I think it is a good advice, but I am afraid the most I could do by following it is to read wikepedia pages of a particular field such as law, which I already did for some time and then broke off for a large project. I am just too used to learning by myself, I wouldn't think of registering in an institution yet that’s the only chance to get a certificate, I guess I just could not stand the collateral trouble.

To be more frankly, I have been a jack of all trade for too long to really appreciate the essence of Nicole’s advice. I take whatever comes my way; rarely dismiss a client for the difficulty of a job, in fact, only once for a Chinese to English job, though too many times for price issue. I have had only one complaint about a contract translation not terminologically correct and it was one single phrase and the client did not make a fuss about it and was a repeat client. I mention this is because since this somewhat shocking event (though the client did not make a fuss, I was a little bit shocked because I had been too confident with the client), whenever I suspect a translation job is in a “mine of a field”, I take special care of my tread on terms. So far, I have found it is not too difficult to accomplish. It’s a digital world, in some cases, even a translation engine can do most of it for you.

I know my point may sound unorthodox or anything you name it, but I am telling the story from my own experience. I also read somewhere that a guy went into the field of law and made a small fortune, but it is mainly an opportunity issue. He wasn't exactly an expert in law translation before he got into the law firm to be a translator.

I am aware that specialization is very much valued and that is probably the reason why some clients pay handsomely for it. On the other hand, I would observe that as a freelance translator, hardly a single field is enough to feed on. That’s probably why a geophysicist would talk about diversifying into astrophysics, and a dentist would talk about diversifying into, well, perhaps, pediatrics. But, how do they do that? They start by accepting a job in a new field and when they have done that job, they claim that they have diversified. If it is that simple as I observe it, then I have not been doing a different thing all the time. So perhaps it is after all an experience issue rather than or as much as an issue of “field” or specialization.

If we come to the bottom of things, how does a “field” comes from? Between two languages, one language might have a specific field of words whereas the other might not have an inkling of it, especially if we are talking about things that were (and still are in many aspects) as apart as China and the developed west. Even in todays world of globalization, sometimes during my translation, I would come across an idea so stunningly novel or a term so unsearchably difficult that I feel I might very well be the first person introducing them into the Chinese language.


[Edited at 2010-09-07 05:22 GMT]


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Jade Liu  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 19:43
English to Chinese
+ ...
Foreign business Apr 13, 2011

Same as Alan, I want to develpe foreign translation business.

During the spare time of the past years, I have been working as a part-time translator, mainly offering English/Chinese translation in mechanical and financial fields.


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