Workflow from translation agencies
Thread poster: Laura Brugnaro

Laura Brugnaro  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
English to Italian
+ ...
Jul 14, 2014

Dear colleagues,

I hope my question will not sound naive, but I am unable to find an answer by myself so I hope someone will be patient enough to enlighten me... or to share his/her experience.

And .. I know that this is THE question, but still ...icon_smile.gif

After a BA in Translation and 10 years in-house experience, I have been working as a freelance for 2 years now (this meaning I'm not an improptu translatoricon_wink.gif ). After a whole year spent sending my Cv everywhere but Mars, I started working with a few translation agencies. Interesting jobs, on-time deliveries but most of all no issues whatsoever from PMs or customers about my work.
And then, after a year or so of fruitful cooperation, the workflow stopped faster than saying "Trados".

Now, I have have been told not to solicit, not to contact PMs seeking jobs since they have enough to cope with without my "Hey-I'm-here" emails.

But... is maybe my being a too much "silent" presence the reason for them "forgetting" to send me jobs?
Or this is the "normal" workflow with Translation agencies, one year heaps to do, the next one not even a postcard?

I kept sending off my Cvs during this time, even if not as much as at the beginning (where could I find the time when I was translating 12 hours/day with a household including 2 kids???!!), and I keep a constant eye on the job offers here on Proz, and I also have WWAs and direct customers...

but... I still do not understand the logic behind the system!
I thought that once you started to work with an LSP, there would have been a somewhat constant workflow (of course, depending on the ongoing projects).
Did I do something wrong, and I've been kept aside as a bad girl (even if nobody was kind enough to let me know)? Should I just keep sending off tons of CVs hoping to catch some Pm's attention? Or my customers will be back some day with more exciting projects to keep me awake at night?

Thank you for your attention, and happy translating everybody!



PaulinhoFonseca  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:46
Member (2011)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Lack of feedback, replies... Jul 14, 2014

Hi Laura,

Sorry to hear that from you.

I am actually experiencing the same thing. I emailed the agencies and the reply was: 'We have another translator doing your job'.


I thought I had a deal! But in the end I learned that the market is full of price ups and downs, if you know what I mean, and most agencies hire other translators paying less that they did to us, so, of course, that is one reason among many.

I would say there is even the 'ethics' issue. During the work flow we experience a great communication pace, but then it stops and that is it.

No replies, no feedback, etc.

I have some direct clients and keep studying and learning, using the free time I have now and sending CVS, quoting, etc.

More will come.

Good luck.


Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:46
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
It happens sometimes Jul 14, 2014

Hi Laura,

There could be a number of reasons for this - maybe the market is just slow at the moment, maybe a couple of the PMs who were sending you work moved on, maybe some of THEIR big clients have gone inexplicably quiet, etc.

It's not unusual for specific customers to send loads of work one year, then go quiet for a while, and maybe pop up again later with loads more work. That's why you need to work for a good spread of customers and put aside time for marketing (and doing CPD to build your CV) even when you are busy.

In my experience the quiet patches never last long and can be used to good effect for marketing, CPD, long-term planning, etc. It's just something that goes with being a freelancer sometimes so don't worry too much and make the most of all the free time (because you'll probably be flooded with work again before you know it and complaining that you need a break).



Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:46
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Consider update e-mails Jul 14, 2014

Hi Laura, I think your experience is very common, and sometimes it can be a few days and sometimes a few weeks between jobs if you're unlucky.

Have you considered sending an update e-mail to former clients? In it, you can mention recent experience of yours, professional development, translation news, or any other work-related news from your end. Be sure to mention all of your language pairs (I have frequently found that an agency I work with in Arabic for example doesn't know that I also work out of Spanish) and any recent interesting subjects you've worked in.


Eileen Cartoon  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
Italian to English
The economy may also be to blame Jul 14, 2014

I work for a lot of agencies and I must say I am probably one of the lucky ones because I am practically never without work but... I have noted that with each job I receive from a given agency, the progressive numbering they assign to translations is much lower than it once was. Once if an agency gave me translation number 100 and anoter, 2 weeks later may have had number 150 today that might be 125. Seems there is less and less work (companies are trying to cut ends where they can).

So I guess the real question is to extend your base. It's the old story of not keeping all your eggs in one basket.



Thayenga  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
A little friendly reminder Jul 14, 2014

Hi Laura,

as our colleagues have already stated, there can be a number of reasons for these "quiet" periods.

One reason is that there is always someone somewhere who is willing to do the work for less money. Like you, these agencies are businesses that need to make a profit. And the competition on the LSP agency market is tough.

Sometimes the PM has left the agency, and the new or the other PMs don't know about you. Or, as in my case, the other PM's don't speak any of your languages (my contact there was the only one who spoke English and my Russian is limited to a few words).

During slow periods I usually try to explore no markets, looking for direct clients or agencies. And take a well deserved break.icon_smile.gif I also send an email, of course very personalized, to those clients I haved received any jobs for a while. This is not an imposing type of email but rather one to say, hey, I'm still around, and I did enjoy working with you on our last project. Something of that nature.icon_wink.gif

Usually these quiet periods come to an end sooner or later, and then you will find yourself drowining in work, perhaps even having to decline job offer because you are "only" a one-woman-business.

Keep sending your business brochure (or CV) to agencies, or perhaps to direct/end clients. Those who appreciate quality work will call on you...eventually. Just don't give up or let these slow or "dry" periods get you down.

Much success!



Marcos Cardenas  Identity Verified
Local time: 09:46
English to Spanish
+ ...
We've all been there... Jul 14, 2014

Hi Laura,

I totally understand how you feel about this slow progress or stagnation as a freelancer. If there is something we have to learn when it comes to freelance translations is the fact that we MUST diversify our income streams, say, we don´t have to depend completely on "the middle man" to get a client. I mean we are entrepreneurs who have a serious business and as such we should at least make sure we can cope with this "slow" periods. There may be some potential local clients in your town or city waiting for someone like you offering translating services. You can create a portfolio with up-to-date assignments you have done and show them the quality and reliability of your product. Sitting in front of the computer waiting for clients or translation PMs to contact us and mass-emailing can work at a certain extent but, out of experience, that makes us a bit lazy.

That's my advice and I am pretty sure your workflow will increase. It's worked for me so far.




Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:46
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Blog post Jul 14, 2014

I just noticed this blog post that might interest you too:


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:46
Member (2007)
+ ...
Do they see it as spamming from a desperate freelancer? Jul 14, 2014

Laura Brugnaro wrote:
a whole year spent sending my Cv everywhere but Mars

Now, I have have been told not to solicit, not to contact PMs seeking jobs since they have enough to cope with without my "Hey-I'm-here" emails.

I kept sending off my Cvs during this time

Should I just keep sending off tons of CVs hoping to catch some Pm's attention?

I may be wrong, but from the above extracts from your posting I suspect two things here:
1) you're perhaps going for quantity over quality: maybe fewer, more targeted applications would be a better idea; maybe your CV and/or letter need reviewing; maybe restrict your mailing to those agencies who have expressed a desire to receive CVs (here, on their websites or elsewhere);
2) you may only be offering what they can get from a thousand (often cheaper) other translators, when you could be specialising in areas that you excel in, into your native language: your profile certainly shows you as a generalist (with specialisations in tourism and marketing as well as in engineering etc). I really think that the best (maybe the only) way to succeed in the FIGS pairs is by specialising, only doing what you do best, and not confusing the marketing message with anything else. Of course, this doesn't prevent you doing a translation in other areas for clients who ask.


Little Woods  Identity Verified
English to Vietnamese
Hi Laura, Jul 15, 2014

I am in the same situation even though there was no complaints. My work flow kind of trickle down for months now but I am still have a class and tests to attend at the moment so I think that it is better for me now to focus on the tests and getting more knowledge. I think if you dont have anything to do now then get a book to read, maybe it would benefit you later.

I dont provide general specialization I believe because I do have experience in the subject matters I offer (and I dont provide translation in IT, games etc) and to tell the truth, I know many who are more of a generalist (all kind of translation possible) but get so many jobs, even in my strongest specialization and then have to outsource. They ask lots of kudos questions so I think the problem may stem from prices or that their agencies have job in those fields and they said they can handle it. One moment of sadness when I think about the quality I strive to keep.

I hope things would be up for you soon and for me after I finish my tests.icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2014-07-15 01:45 GMT]


Laura Brugnaro  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
English to Italian
+ ...
Thank you all ... Jul 15, 2014

... for sharing your experiences with me.

I have been in proz for over 2 years now and I am still amazed by the feeling of community that people scattered all over the world can create.

I re-read your answers many times and I will treasure your words.
You gave me some very good pieces of advice and I will do follow them, from sending up-date emails to my favourite PMs to keep studying and specialise.

But most of all it has been a relief to read that I did not do any particularly huge mistake if not putting marketing aside for too much a long time. There was this little voice inside my head saying - Don't neglect marketing- but the deadlines were always so close and time for work seemed so short - especially when translating until the dead of night - ....
Now I've learned my lesson.icon_wink.gif

Good luck to Little Woods for her tests, thanks Rachel for the interesting blog post - a smart insight on our profession ups and downs - and thank you Sheila for your challenging words. There is definitely something in my strategy to be changed, and now I see it quite clearly.

Marcos, Thayenga, Eileen, Tim, Paulinho and Rachel again, thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me. I'd love to offer each of you a cup of steaming Italian cappuccino and a freshly baked croissant - the Italian breakfast - so if you're planning to visit Italy, please give me a call!

Good day to everyone,


LilianNekipelov  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:46
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes, they may be just machine translating the stuff, and Jul 15, 2014

having it looked over by a cheap editor-I don't envy anyone the result, at an affordable price.

As to the resumes, I think you are always allowed to send one resume within a reasonable period of time (like six months, I would say) to ANY company. No one can report you for that, anywhere. It is not spam at all, unless you were sending five resumes a week to the same company.

I am really surprised that there will be many cheap translators, since there are not that many people in the world who know a few languages well, or even just two, plus translation is an exciting, but not an easy type of job.


John Fossey  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:46
Member (2008)
French to English
Changes in application procedures Jul 15, 2014

I believe I have observed a change in the way agencies accept applications in the last year or so.

Nearly all agencies now seem to have an online portal where applicants must register their details to be included in the database. This appears to mean that applications emailed in or sent in by other means tend to get ignored now more than they used to.

I don't think there is less work to be had - far from it - but the methods for screening applicants have changed.

This may mean a bit more work on the part of translators to visit the agency's site and take the time to register, but on the other hand once you are in an agency's database you're pretty much there forever, ready to pop up when the PM has something in your field.


Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
Member (2018)
French to English
Holiday time = reminder time Jul 15, 2014

Laura Brugnaro wrote:

Now, I have have been told not to solicit, not to contact PMs seeking jobs since they have enough to cope with without my "Hey-I'm-here" emails.

Except that right now is a great time for a "Hey-I'm-here" e-mail. Translators are going off on holiday yet clients still have work and hope to dump it on the translator while they go to the beach, expecting to take delivery of the job once they've tanned properly. A short friendly recap of when you will be available is a perfect opportunity to remind PMs of your existence.


Laura Brugnaro  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:46
English to Italian
+ ...
Exactly... Jul 15, 2014

.. what I have been doing this morningicon_wink.gif .

This is a great idea, first of all because I have already been on holiday, and secondly because I live on a seaside location, I could work from the beach if I'd dare to take my Pc there... wow, getting paid while I'm tanning ... I should seek a beach without sand...icon_smile.gif

Have a great summer, Texte Style!


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