Advice on how to expand client base needed
Thread poster: Isely Mills

Isely Mills  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:09
Member (2015)
Japanese to English
Mar 11, 2017

Hello, this is my first time posting here.

I have worked as a freelance translator for about 3 years now in the Japanese to English language category. It has been my primary source of income for about a year and a half now. However, it has been far from glamorous. It took a long time to get the clients that I currently have, but work is still fairly inconsistent. I cannot guarantee that I will have more than 1 job a month at the moment. So, that tells me that I need to expand my client base. However, I am currently not sure what I should be doing that I am not doing currently. My current activities for finding work include inquiring to any job I see on ProZ which I am qualified for, as well as on translatorscafe, and emailing my prior clients every month or so to see if they have any new jobs.

I am almost certain that I am missing something here though because most of the clients I meet only net me one or two jobs and then I have to find a new client.

I specialize in patent translation, if that is relevant to answering this question. In any case, I would appreciate any help that you can give me, as I feel like I'm at the end of my knowledge here. I don't have a background in business so this is a bit of a learning process for me.

Thank you in advance!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:09
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some ideas Mar 12, 2017

Isely Mills wrote:
I am almost certain that I am missing something here though because most of the clients I meet only net me one or two jobs and then I have to find a new client.

Well, I'd have said you might be onto something if you'd said you never get more than one job. But if you sometimes get a second then it probably means they haven't got anything else for you at the moment. You're probably still on their "reserve list", only being called on if their regulars aren't available.

My current activities for finding work include inquiring to any job I see on ProZ which I am qualified for, as well as on translatorscafe, and emailing my prior clients every month or so to see if they have any new jobs.

Maybe you're being a bit pushy, emailing so often? I'm not sure really - it's something I've never done, but that doesn't make it bad practice icon_smile.gif. But what about all the agencies you haven't worked with so far? There are literally thousands out there. At least target the specialists in your pair/specialisation. As a relative beginner, you should be contacting dozens of agencies in a tailored, personal fashion every single week. You may only get one job from a hundred agencies! But make sure you only target those who want to be contacted, and by their preferred method. Never spam them.

It does seem that you're leaving a lot of avenues unexplored. As a young person (I imagine), you should be making maximum use of all the possibilities the web gives you for networking and making yourself known as the (or at least "a") go-to person for Japanese to English patent translation. At the very least that should include a website of your own, a presence on LinkedIn with membership of relevant interest groups there, and maybe writing a blog, or at least responding to others'. Maybe Twitter and Facebook could help too? I'm too old to be up to speed with it all.

Do you belong to the ATA? It doesn't say so on your profile. Talking about your profile, it's certainly better than many, but perhaps it can be improved on. Have you attended the free webinar on "Meeting Clients"? Visit the Site Guidance Centre for loads of information.

I don't have a background in business so this is a bit of a learning process for me.

I'm wondering if the clue is in there. You may not have a background in business, but you're currently running a business! So, how much active training for that have you done? Maybe your client contacts aren't great? Maybe your lack of knowledge/interest in business makes you a "difficult" supplier to deal with? I have no idea, of course. But maybe you would profit from the type of training that organisations like Chambers of Commerce often provide in entrepreneurial activities. Another avenue would be to find a mentor who would check your translations over and help sort out any kinks in your communications processes, and maybe even provide some client contacts. There's a mentoring programme for paying members here on ProZ.com.


 

David GAY  Identity Verified
Member (2014)
English to French
+ ...
Why don't you try to find Japanese clients? Mar 12, 2017

It seems you have worked only for western agencies, which probably don't have a lot of work in this pair.

 

Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:09
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Blue Board Mar 13, 2017

How about trying to find all companies listed on the Blue Board here at ProZ? You can see their profiles here, incl. the fields they're working in. Send them an email and see if that leads to any jobs and/or long-term collaborations.

 


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