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Yellow Pages: good or bad investment?
Thread poster: Céline Graciet

Céline Graciet
Local time: 05:29
English to French
Oct 24, 2002

Hi, I\'ve been thinking of advertising my services in the local yellow pages, which would cost me around £200 (317 €) for a year. Does anyone use this form of advertising, and could you tell me whether it\'s worth it or not? Thanks!


Mats Wiman  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:29
Member (2000)
German to Swedish
+ ...

Normally bad! Oct 24, 2002

To advertize locally is often less profitable and useful if you are a serious translator and live in your native tonge country.

I have not spent a cent in Sweden because Swedish customers are mainly interested in translations from Swedish into foreign languages.

My metier is translation INTO Swedish and my customers are in Germany, UK,US, France and Spain - so why spend money chasing the Swedes?


Dorothee Racette (X)  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:29
German to English
+ ...
not a great return for your money Oct 24, 2002

I have found that the business that comes from people searching the yellow pages (i.e. local customers) tends to be quite small, for example the occasional birth certificate or someone doing family research. In addition, these folks tend to be \"one-timers\" without repeat business. Overall, you don\'t get much back on your investment.



Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Oct 24, 2002

The people who look into the yellow pages are those who need translators once or twice in a lifetime. In terms of repeat business (which is 90% of the revenues in this game) it yeilds very little.

Hope it helps. icon_smile.gif


GoodWords  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Bargain Hunters Oct 24, 2002

Customers looking for a service generally get the most benefit out of the Yellow Pages by calling several businesses that offer what they want, and then choosing the one offering the lowest price. You probably do the same yourself when you\'re on the buying end. It seems unlikely that you could underbid everyone else; you would probably not want the kind of jobs that tend to come to you through the yellow pages.

The Yellow Pages translator listings do serve as a resource to free-lancers, however; they also list agencies. What better way to get a contact list of agencies in your city? If you do not already have agency clients in your city, or if you want to increase the number, you can go down the list and call each one of them to introduce yourself and offer to send a copy of your CV.

[ This Message was edited by: on 2002-10-24 23:58 ]


Local time: 00:29
English to German
+ ...
Yellow Pages not worth the paper it's printed on! Oct 24, 2002

Totally agree with all speakers before me. Yellow Pages is garbage in terms of return on investment (ROI).

I\'ve tried it myself here in New York and had to pay for it dearly. Frustrated about Internet advertising\'s low ROI, I thought I\'d turn to traditional media. Wrong move!

The Verizon salesperson told me things like \"I have to twist your arm\", etc. in order to get enough calls, but her misleading words were not included in the contract I had signed for the 1-year package deal consisting of 3 books/directories.

I would be just one notch below the already measurable (hence more expensive) size of display ad, which usually get about 40-50 calls a month, she said. So I was hoping for at least 10 calls a month at the worst, but maybe 30, if I\'m lucky, right? No way! I had 3 calls in half a year, none of which resulted in any business (just like someone before me said that you don\'t want those kinds of \"customers\", anyway), not a penny!

So out of the approx. $4000 I paid off about $1000 (paying monthly almost $400), then I switched to $10/month. Well, they started calling me, then writing me and when I wrote them back refusing to pay the rest because of the misrepresentation, they turned me over to a collection agency, which stuck an outrageous $800 more in fees and interest to my bill.

After thinking about it carefully, I took their offer of a 20% discount off the principal (forgetting about the fees & interest) and paid it in one lump sum.

Why? Because the amount was too small to ruin my credit for 7 years and because I couldn\'t prove what the salesperson said, since I didn\'t record the phone conversation, so at that point in court it\'s just hearsay and then I wouldn\'t have gotten this 20% settlement offer any more.

Then I also asked somebody I knew who is advertising in the same column and he said he\'s also stuck with a deal he had signed for several years and will absolutely not renew it. He said it was worth it 18 years ago, when he started his translation agency, but back then the phone company was still New York Telephone (not Verizon) and totally other times.

Hence my advice: stay away from all Yellow Pages and newspaper ads (against the latter I have other stories), because the ROI is just not there, if you don\'t want to get hurt by them and pay for nothing! Because all you\'d be paying for is so THEY survive, so THEY wouldn\'t have to look for other jobs, that\'s it!

As far as a good ROI, I honestly couldn\'t tell you where to look. If somebody knows a surefire one, drop me a line!

Good luck to you, Celine! Be careful!!!


Alison Schwitzgebel
Local time: 06:29
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
In Germany at least... Oct 24, 2002

If you tell Deutsche Telekom that you are a translator (provided the phone number is registered in your name), then you automatically appear under translators in the yellow pages (for free). Okay, so you don\'t get a big advert, but my Scottish blood tells me never to look a gift horse in the mouth....



Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:29
English to Spanish
+ ...
In the USA... Oct 25, 2002

My experience has been similar to what has already expressed by others above. I have never advertised at all; I have been in business for over 30 years so I get it all through the grapevine.

Of course not everyone has a 30 year old grapevine but my \"socio\" did have a yellow pages ad and would forward his phone to me. Most my calls were good ones; some very good. Practically all of his were junk. Yes, a few things came out of it but not enough to really justify the expense.

Personal relationships are very critical, especially in our business. It\'s never too late to plant the grapevine, and the sooner you do it, the sooner it starts bearing fruit.


United States
Local time: 21:29
English to Hebrew
+ ...
There's advertising and there's advertising Oct 25, 2002

The question you ask reminds me of the expectation my students have from their newly founded company and website. Since I teach advertising and design in college, many of my students wish to be freelancers. They have a dream that they\'ll open their doors and people will flock in for their services. They don\'t realize that it takes time to build a reputation and it takes time to get people to know about you. Time as in \"years.\"

This is why the Yellow Pages ad is a bad idea. First, times have changed. People who can, go to the web in search of their service providers (unless it\'s a local plumber you\'re looking for which we aren\'t. We are translators and borderless at that) The people who don\'t go to the web in search of your service - you don\'t want as clients. They are bargain hunters, behind the times and looking for the cheapest deal they can get (see above.)

My advice for ROI - Get, hire or learn web design. Get a spiffy website. Follow up with cards, promotional material and literature (no one will just \"come over\" to your website)

Invest in SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

Send targeted letters. Specialize in law? Target lawyers. Specialize in health? Target health providers. Make sure your web address is on EVERY piece you send out.

Call people. Introduce yourself. Be pleasant and ask for their business. Write something. Anything that\'s related to the biz. Get your name out. Pound the pavement. Send a brochure.

Invest the money you saved on your Yellow Pages ad in a good designer.

Hope this helps.

Ashi Fachler

Owner/Chief Designer

TaDa! Web graphics & Graphic design


Centers for Education and Technology,

San Diego Community College District.



US Courts

Phone 619.466.9999

Fax 702.543.2118


ADSTRAD  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:29
English to French
+ ...
depends on the location Oct 25, 2002


I have myself just paid quite a lump of money for the yellow pages, but I live in a place where there are not so many translators, and I have already gained three local customers, through my website or the yellow pages, who wanted to priviledge local industry. I have to admit that it is Brittany, and probably most regions don\'t have such a nationalistic attitude...!!


ADSTRAD  Identity Verified
Local time: 06:29
English to French
+ ...
I forgot to add that I started 6 months ago Oct 25, 2002

ie, three local customers in 6 months, which is not so bad I guess, since they are all companies, and not individuals looking for the occasional birth certificate icon_wink.gif


Libin PhD  Identity Verified
Chinese to English
+ ...
My experience also attests to the truthfulness of what is said above. Oct 25, 2002

My experience also attests to the truthfulness of what is said above.

I am a Chinese translator living in Phoenix, Arizona, US. Arizona is probably more famous with the Grand Canyon to the North of the state. In 2000 and 2001, I listed my business in the yellow pages but never got any jobs from local companies. Occasionally, some company called you, for interpreting work. However, even I quoted rate 25% lower than I would when traveled to other cities, they still thought I was price gorging and the assignment never materialized. Since Phoenix is a rather large city, they have several yellow pages. I was talked into putting a list in each of them by the telephone company, which cost $200 something per month. Early this year, I got rid of them all as it is not worth it. As I can see, it has zero influence on my revenue.


Nathalie M. Girard, ALHC (X)  Identity Verified
English to French
+ ...
I agree with the others Oct 25, 2002

Good morning,

I tried advertising in the Yellow Pages several years ago (in Canada). My experience is the same as the rest of the crew here... It is not worth it.

On the other hand, the yellow pages can be an interesting source for you to make contact with possible direct clients.

I wish you all the best!



John Moran  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:29
Member (2004)
German to English
+ ...
Just buy the minimum size Oct 25, 2002


From a small agency point of view the Yellow Pages in Dublin (the localisation capital of Europe) was not a great investment. We paid around EUR 2k and it just about broke even last year due to one client who contacted us. This year has been a straight loss.

Most of the calls we get are for personal legal documents which we don\'t take on as they are too small for us to earn a commission which justifies the effort involved in handling them. The rest of the calls are from translators looking for work, which is fine. We are happy to hear from people but in general a CV sent by e-mail is more likely to get serious attention.

That said, I think it is silly not to take out a minimum sized entry for a few bucks. John Moran - German to English IT translations or something like that.

The main thing to make sure you have work is to really try to make a good impression with any agency that offers anything like a reasonable word price and cruise the conferences in your area with a pile of business cards.

Good luck!



Céline Graciet
Local time: 05:29
English to French
Un grand merci ! Nov 4, 2002

Thanks to you all for your precious advice; I\'ve decided to not bother with the Yellow Pages and have bought web space for my brand new website instead.

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