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Requesting advice on becoming a 'member' of the ProZ 'community'
Thread poster: Jackie Bowman

Jackie Bowman

Local time: 01:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Dec 15, 2006

Folks … ‘members’ of the community … ‘users’ of the community … and all others,

I don’t know if this post will ever see the light of day, but I want to say at the outset that it is wholly sincere.

Subjected now for several days to the ProZ marketing campaign, I’ve been giving serious thought to becoming a ‘member’ of the ‘community’, and I’d appreciate your advice. I have few hours left, so this is somewhat urgent. I thank you in advance for whatever counsel you can offer.

I’ve been a ‘user’ of ProZ since some point in 2003. In more than three years, I’ve asked six questions. I’ve answered 207 questions. Obviously, the latter is not a huge number for those of you who do this regularly. And plainly, it’s a miniscule number for those of you who partake on a (let’s say) ‘more-than-regular’ basis. Myself, I like to take a beer from time to time, but frankly there are limits. All things in moderation.

Anyway, I have only a few hours left before I can take advantage of ProZ’s offer to become a ‘member’ of the ‘community’, possibly win a laptop, and perhaps get a chance to go to one of my favourite cities on the planet—Budapest.

The cost to me, as an active user, is one hundred US dollars (which I believe is now equivalent to about seven euro, possibly eight.). Cost is not an issue. Translating, I can earn $100 in about an hour and ten minutes.

I have a question about joining the community. It is for members and users of the community. Stuff about me …

I only translate from Spanish into English. I only translate stuff on human development (economic, political, social, commercial and financial matters in the developing world). I only ever work for the end client. The end client is always a very, very serious organization. I will only ever use my own TM. I won’t work for any number of cents that is in single digits. I won’t bid and I don’t do auditions.

Given that … would my $100 be a good investment?

Thanks a mill for all comments, even if they’re off-list and abusive (not you, of course, but believe me, it happens).


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:10
French to English
+ ...
Depends on what ROI you are looking for :) Dec 15, 2006

Jackie Bowman wrote:

I only translate from Spanish into English. I only translate stuff on human development (economic, political, social, commercial and financial matters in the developing world). I only ever work for the end client. The end client is always a very, very serious organization. I will only ever use my own TM. I won’t work for any number of cents that is in single digits. I won’t bid and I don’t do auditions.

Given that … would my $100 be a good investment?

Thanks a mill for all comments, even if they’re off-list and abusive (not you, of course, but believe me, it happens).



Hi Jackie,

From a purely financial ROI analysis, I think you've answered your own question! Unless greater access to BB and some of the other features are of interest or use to you, which does not sound like it is the case.

Then there is the other question of supporting a site you participate in, contribute to and sometimes use for other reasons.

Like you, I don't work for single digits, don't bid and don't do fashion shows. So being a member, for me, would not make a huge difference in terms of my client base or marketing strategy.

I had considered joining from a purely supportive point of view but several things really turned me off:

- the USD v Euro payment policy (which given the current exchange rate means Europeans pay 35 percent more - but that is a side issue) that is imposed with arguments that do not really hold water. For example, I can choose to purchase from Amazon.com or Amazon.fr and pay in the currency of my choice. There is no legal impediment to that. Proz "rules" do not respect those free consumer choices. On principle, I have a problem with that. I have been told for several months that a New Policy was going to come out to address this issue, but have no clue what this new policy is or when it will be issued.
- When I walk into a store and the sales clerk hounds me to make a purchase, it irritates me to no end and I usually turn around and leave. The marketing campaign has been in my eyes terribly pushy. I have received emails in both proz and personal mailbox, we all suffer the ads, recently I have had a pop-up that impedes my navigation of the site. I have already said no several time to "special offers" and yet the hard sell continues. This is a real turn-off.

I think enough said. My point is made. But it is mine and your decision making criteria can be very different!

Kind regards,

Patricia


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 01:10
SITE FOUNDER
Statistically speaking... Dec 15, 2006

Jackie Bowman wrote:

I have a question about joining the community. It is for members and users of the community. Stuff about me …

I only translate from Spanish into English. I only translate stuff on human development (economic, political, social, commercial and financial matters in the developing world). I only ever work for the end client. The end client is always a very, very serious organization. I will only ever use my own TM. I won’t work for any number of cents that is in single digits. I won’t bid and I don’t do auditions.

Given that … would my $100 be a good investment?

Thanks for considering membership, Jackie.

I know you ask for input from members and 'users', not staff, but I'll answer on the basis of the data at my disposal related to membership and return on investment.

Your pair, field and non-single-digit rates are not impediments (regardless of what you may have heard from critics). Neither is the fact that you don't plan on quoting; most members never do, and it doesn't matter much because the inquiries tend to come from via the directory for the type of opportunity that would interests them.

As for the KudoZ, having a few points is about as good as having a lot - provided they are associated with your fields of expertise. Demanding clients almost always search by specific field, and having a few points in your niche(s) puts you close enough to the top of the directory results that you get noticed.

That said, there is one statistical snag in your "about me" paragraph: the end-client condition. Today, end clients make up only 3-5% of outsourcers using ProZ.com. (We hope to attract more end clients through Project Connect, but for the sake of an ROI analysis, let's leave that aside.)

Given that the average member meets four new clients per year, and that only one in twenty outsourcers using ProZ.com is an end client, a simple view of the statistics suggests that it might take several years for you to meet an end client via the site.

My conclusion would be that if you become a member, expect inquiries to come only occasionally--but given enough time, it is reasonable to expect that you will meet a client that meets your standards. When that happens, it would stand to reason, given your conditions, that the subsequent income--not just from an initial project but from follow-on work--would exceed several years worth of membership fees.

My two cents. Hopefully members who identify with your situation will post, too.

If you do join, Jackie, is a new profile in store for us? If not, cancel the part above about eventually meeting a client! I'll be interested to see both text and photo...


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Lorenia de la Vega  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
Limitations Dec 15, 2006

Hey, Jackie. I don't think your limitations are really limitations...

I have been contacted DIRECTLY by agencies through my proz.com profile, acencies who do have a BB record (and it was so good it encouraged me to work for them, it showed me they really did pay people, which is always a concern when "meeting" a client online, or, a new client in general!). They emailed me directly to talk about the job they needed completed, asking me for my rates in USD in one case (they are in euros on my profile) etc. It was a rush job, it was double digits, and they paid 7 days later.

My point by this is that if your profile is complete enough for someone to be able to look you up in the directory, sometimes you begin receiving direct offers.

Personally, I love proz.com. With the first job I got after I became a member, I made three times what I paid, and have continued to receive work through the job postings and through clients contacting me directly.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 01:10
SITE FOUNDER
In response to Patricia... Dec 15, 2006

Patricia Lane wrote:

... several things really turned me off:

- the USD v Euro payment policy...

Thanks for bringing this up, Patricia. The perception of the euro/dollar pricing has been a problem for us, especially given that the majority of our members live in the euro zone.

As has been announced in some campaign-related texts, a new pricing policy--with higher USD and renewal fees--will go into affect some time between the end of the campaign and the start of next year.

(Just to limit expectations, though: Fees will continue to be set independently for each market. Pricing across currencies is not as simple as it may seem - not for us, anyway, with costs and income tied to currencies that fluctuate dramatically. We don't have the resources of a large company to absorb fluctuations like those happening recently.)

...recently I have had a pop-up that impedes my navigation of the site...

Sorry for the annoyance! I hope you can put up with that popup for the few periods during the year when we run campaigns. We do track popups so that each would appear to you only once (you could have seen up to three in the current campaign). If this feels intrusive, please bear in mind that the site you are navigating exists only with income from memberships.

Of course, we welcome your continued use of the site as a non-member contributor.


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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 07:10
French to English
+ ...
Hear ! Hear ! Patricia Dec 15, 2006

Although my relationship with ProZ is even more remote than yours, I would like to subscribe 100% to your comments about the present marketing campaign.
It is over agressive, totally intrusive and absolutely alienating.

Like you, Patricia, when I go into a shop, if I am immediately jumped upon by a pushy salesperson, I turn on my heels and walk out AT ONCE. The hard-sell is not for me. I suspect it is not for most people, if any.

I am sick and fed up of turning on my computer to see red notices everywhere, sick and tired of finding messages in my mailbox EVEN THOUGH I HAVE SPECIFICALLY REQUESTED - twice - THAT THIS SHOULD STOP. I feel like wringing someone's neck.....

If ProZ could devote more time and energy into making this site a better, higher quality translators' workplace instead of trying to beat "users" into submission, it would rise in my estimation and would stand more chance of winning my loyalty and my cash (even though I have no need for its services).

So Jackie, are you a victim or a hero? Only you can decide. But don't be talked into anything by door-to-door salesmen/women.... you will not have 7 days to retract.


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:10
French to English
+ ...
choice Dec 15, 2006

henry wrote:

(Just to limit expectations, though: Fees will continue to be set independently for each market. Pricing across currencies is not as simple as it may seem - not for us, anyway, with costs and income tied to currencies that fluctuate dramatically. We don't have the resources of a large company to absorb fluctuations like those happening recently.)



Thanks for your note, Henry.

On the fees/market bit, I just wish to clarify something because your response suggests I may have been misunderstood. I am not expecting Proz to handle forex issues. And as independent professionals, we are all well aware of how painful it can be to absorb these fluctuations.

What I find odd is the requirement that if we live in Europe we have to pay the European rate in Euros -- even if we have other options available to us. I do not think it is a legal issue for Proz. Other US companies with European offices or affiliates (I used the amazon example) leave it up to the consumer/buyer whether he/she wishes to purchase from Amazon US, or France (or UK or whatever).

I fail to understand why Proz mandates a payment policy based on residence.

Kind regards,

Patricia


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 01:10
SITE FOUNDER
Response to CMJ_Trans Dec 15, 2006

CMJ_Trans wrote:

But don't be talked into anything by door-to-door salesmen/women.... you will not have 7 days to retract.

I am not sure I understand this comment, but to be clear, our policy is that anyone can get a refund on their membership fee at any time. We offer a full refund for thirty days and a pro-rated refund for the whole year.

And by the way, CMJ_Trans, while I am proud of ProZ.com membership and the current campaign, and am encouraged by the great response we have seen, like you I will be happy to get back to the challenges of Project Connect, KudoZ and Wikiwords, and making the site a better workplace.


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TonyTK
German to English
+ ...
Bada Bing Dec 15, 2006

Jackie Bowman wrote:

The end client is always a very, very serious organization.


There's a Mafia in Spain?


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Gillian Searl  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 06:10
Member (2004)
German to English
Are you at all interested in expanding your range of customers? Dec 15, 2006

Hi Jackie,
If you want to expand your range of customers then as Henry said with a good profile you would eventually get some enquries from people who are willing to pay your price and that job would more than cover the membership fee.
On the other hand, if that is not of interest ...
It's up to you.
Gillian


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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 07:10
French to English
+ ...
... to Henry Dec 15, 2006

.. ignore - I was trying to be funny.
Seems I failed.....


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:10
English to German
+ ...
Conversion rate Dec 15, 2006

Jackie Bowman wrote:

The cost to me, as an active user, is one hundred US dollars (which I believe is now equivalent to about seven euro, possibly eight.)



Just wondering.


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 07:10
German to English
Horses and courses Dec 15, 2006

Jackie Bowman wrote: Subjected now for several days to the ProZ marketing campaign, I’ve been giving serious thought to becoming a ‘member’ of the ‘community’, and I’d appreciate your advice. I have few hours left, so this is somewhat urgent. I thank you in advance for whatever counsel you can offer.


It goes with the territory, doesn't it? I mean, we've been receiving mass mailings targeted at non-members, who are naturally the first "virtual territory" for a ProZ membership sales campaign. The fact that we don't work for agencies, that 95% of new client inquiries are referrals, and that we turn down almost all of them, means that we're pretty exotic in the ProZ universe. People like us are definitely the minority here, and you can't expect ProZ to address us selectively - there's no cost/benefit there to ProZ, I think. OTOH, I don't think there will be any hard feelings if we just ignore the membership sales drive.

I can appreciate the comments by Patricia and CMJ_Trans about the "Born Again" style marketing methods, but I think that's a cultural thing. Or age. Or whatever. Ultimately, it's not that different from the interminable e-mails from Amazon along the lines of "Buyers of The 2006 Guide to EU CFC Tax Regimes and Anti-Treaty-Shopping Rules have also bought Entrails on the Kitchen Table - A Beginner's Guide to Fortune-Telling using Cheap Supermarket Offal".

However, I think that the style of this particular ProZ campaign has been tailored towards a specific group of prospects, and (as a former sales and marketing professional myself), I'd say its conversion rate has probably been extremely successful (anything above 3% should be termed pretty spectacular).

Personally, I'm adopting a "wait and see" policy. If at some time in the future I see evidence that ProZ has been successful in attracting "our sort of client", then I'd certainly consider buying membership if there's a downturn in our own client acquisition efforts. But there's no way I'd ever consider making things like rates public. Our rates vary (quite widely, in fact) from client to client, from job type to job type, and from project to project, as is normal in an unregulated professional services industry (do McKinsey or BCG publish their rates?). So there's one aspect at least where we could never conform to the standard ProZ profile. But that doesn't mean I'm hostile to ProZ overall (in fact, I think it would make an excellent topic for a PhD thesis...).


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Mónica Algazi  Identity Verified
Uruguay
Local time: 02:10
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
It's worth giving it a try. Dec 15, 2006

I have just renewed my membership and would like to make a few comments.
1. To me, it is a pleasure to be a member of this community.
2. The contributions of all of you colleagues have been most valuable and enriching in more than one way.
3. I hope to have made my own contributions as well.
4. It is professional translators with passion, experience and verified qualifications that set the standards, and I feel it's my responsibility to help in this respect as well.
5. Proz has made a difference in my life.
Cheers,
Monica


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 07:10
French to English
+ ...
ouch Dec 15, 2006

RobinB wrote:

I can appreciate the comments by Patricia and CMJ_Trans about the "Born Again" style marketing methods, but I think that's a cultural thing. Or age. Or whatever.


ouch, Robin, that hurts!

Maybe it is cultural, but I don't think CMJ and I are from the same cultural origins either....even if we do live in the same country.

Patricia

PS. You get that stuff from Amazon because you've looked to or actually have purchased something or opted into their newsletter. It is easily stopped. Not the case hear apparently.

PPS. Henry, will you answer my question on the legal basis for dictating the purchase option based on residence? Thanks


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