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With whom I identify as a Pro on Proz.com and why there is a general problem
Thread poster: Bernhard Sulzer

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:26
English to German
+ ...
Mar 4, 2016

There are those translators and translation agencies that can be found communicating on the job board platform.
There are those who cannot and probably increasingly do not want to do that.

I can only identify with colleagues and work with translation agencies active here that expect/pay reasonable, professional rates, which is clearly not the case with regard to job board users.

The general problem with this is that a professional translator's presence here is becoming increasingly superfluous but also seems to be more and more illogical. Yes, there are, once in a great while, serious clients who contact translators directly and are willing to do professional business. But this is clearly the minority. It is so much the minority that it's most often not worth the hassle even communicating with prospective clients. Many clients come here and check the job board for sure and get a completely wrong impression of what professional translation services entail and what constitutes reasonable remuneration. Reasonable, not unreasonably high fees!

You might say that this has been going on for more than a decade. Yes. sure. But it is going to reach a point where the good will certainly no longer remain under one roof/one descriptive name with the bad and the ugly.

Of course, there are many other similar portals, but as we know, this one started out and continues as "Proz".com


Your thoughts.




[Edited at 2016-03-04 18:35 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 01:26
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
There's room for all, I'd say Mar 4, 2016

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
I can only identify with colleagues and work with translation agencies active here that expect/pay reasonable, professional rates, which is clearly not the case with regard to job board users.

That's a generalisation that's true in very many cases, I agree. But there are important exceptions that crop up all the time. It only takes an occasional exception for a translator to do very nicely from the job board if they aren't depending on it as their major source of income.
The general problem with this is that a professional translator's presence here is becoming increasingly superfluous but also seems to be more and more illogical. Yes, there are, once in a great while, clients who contact translators directly and are willing to do professional business. But this is clearly the minority. It is so much the minority that it's most often not worth the hassle even communicating with prospective clients.

However, that really isn't my experience at all. I find very many clients that way. I don't compromise on rates or payment terms, and they don't compromise on quality.
Many clients come here and check the job board for sure and get a completely wrong impression of what professional translation services entail and what constitutes reasonable remuneration.

But there's no specific mention made of remuneration in job posts so how can they get any impression? If you do find rates quoted, report the job to staff using the specific button at the bottom of the post. Paying members can choose to display the client's proposed budget, but only they can see it (if they choose to), and they don't have to be bound by it. Some casual company owner looking to enter a new market abroad isn't likely to be a paying member.

It's certainly obvious that there are bottom-feeders here, and there are both hobby translators and those who have such low self-respect and are so needy that they'll let themselves be abused. I wish they'd all disappear; but they won't. However, you don't have to join them! The site's big enough to have several tiers of user on both sides of the job fence.


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:26
Member (2008)
French to English
Pareto principle Mar 4, 2016

I think the Pareto principle applies. 80% of the best jobs and best-paying jobs come from 20% of the outsourcers on the site. That's just business, so you have to find out how to focus on the 20% and forget about the 80%.

Understanding the Pareto Principle (The 80/20 Rule)

[Edited at 2016-03-04 19:06 GMT]


 

Álvaro Espantaleón Moreno  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:26
Member (2015)
English to Spanish
Basically Mar 4, 2016

that's it, yes.

 

Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:26
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Hidden activity Mar 4, 2016

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
Yes, there are, once in a great while, serious clients who contact translators directly and are willing to do professional business. But this is clearly the minority.

It's hard to say. Some of my best clients have come from people contacting me via ProZ - more than "once in a great while" but not every month - so I think it makes sense to keep a profile here.

Conversely, I have also bid on, and won, projects posted on ProZ jobs board. Some are more and some less professiona, but I choose my battles and my clients carefully and I have never had a payment problem.

Most of these jobs were one-offs from clients who clearly were neither familiar with nor comfortable in my language pair, but they paid me and the money was at my standard rate. A few have come back since to offer me more business.

So I would say that there's a decent amount of activity beneath the surface, but that the budgets of the projects posted publicly is generally pretty low.

All I can do is suggest that you and others continue to trumpet the basics so that freelancers understand that (for example) 5 cents a word is not an acceptable rate.

Regards
Dan


 

Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 02:26
Member (2005)
English to German
With Dan Mar 5, 2016

I think there's a lot of trawling going on under the surface. Virtually all contacts that turn out to be the good ones are made invisibly via private messages.

I agree that newbies or outsiders who only see the surface will get the wrong impression. But is there any way this can be avoided? Thoughts?


 

Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:26
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Suggestion: Mar 5, 2016

Ricki Farn wrote: But is there any way this can be avoided? Thoughts?


Yes: Proz.com should take measures to attract more (better paying) end clients. Most end clients do not know how to approach freelancers directly (most of them would be abroad anyway), don´t know much about all the different aspects of translation processes and preferably contact local agencies or will be contacted by major global outsourcers we all know from this site.
See my post in the suggestions area (button "Ideas" on upper right side of proz main screen) or click on

https://proz.uservoice.com/forums/37172-proz-com-ideas/suggestions/9351501-to-adress-more-end-clients-by-advertising-proz-com

Matthias

[Edited at 2016-03-05 07:06 GMT]


 

Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 05:56
English to Hindi
+ ...
The job board becomes less important over time Mar 5, 2016

As you establish yourself in your translation profession, the job board becomes less and less important to you. I, for example, rarely if ever bid for jobs on the job board. All the clients I have recently won have directly approached me through my profile.

I continue to be on proz.com not just for the jobs it offers me, though that too is important, but for the community feeling it gives, which is important to freelancers as we generally work alone and do not interact with anyone and can get staid and out of touch if we continue our hermetical lifestyle.

Kudoz also used to be an attraction here, but kudoz these days has gone to seed and is beyond revival.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 02:26
German to Serbian
+ ...
Idea. Mar 5, 2016

Matthias Brombach wrote:

Ricki Farn wrote: But is there any way this can be avoided? Thoughts?


Yes: Proz.com should take measures to attract more (better paying) end clients. Most end clients do not know how to approach freelancers directly (most of them would be abroad anyway), don´t know much about all the different aspects of translation processes and preferably contact local agencies or will be contacted by major global outsourcers we all know from this site.
See my post in the suggestions area (button "Ideas" on upper right side of proz main screen) or click on

https://proz.uservoice.com/forums/37172-proz-com-ideas/suggestions/9351501-to-adress-more-end-clients-by-advertising-proz-com

Matthias

[Edited at 2016-03-05 07:06 GMT]


1. ProZ charges higher memberships to freelancers so it can invest more in direct-client oriented marketing
2. Direct clients start coming in
3. Everybody profits
4. Agencies are out of business (at least bottom feeder ones)

As for the point No. 1, I guess the membership for us would be a 1k+ in that scenario, but if that would help bringing direct clients in, wouldn't it be worth it?

The issue here is that direct clients don't want and/or don't have capacity to deal with freelancers, especially not in terms of multilingual support.

My idea for a poll:

Would you be ready to pay 1k-2k for membership, if that would ensure strictly direct clients on the site?



[Edited at 2016-03-05 08:52 GMT]


 

Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:26
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Your question is tendencious, because... Mar 5, 2016

Lingua 5B wrote:

As for the point No. 1, I guess the membership for us would be a 1k+ in that scenario, but if that would help bringing direct clients in, wouldn't it be worth it?

My idea for a poll:

Would you be ready to pay 1k-2k for membership, if that would ensure strictly direct clients on the site?



[Edited at 2016-03-05 08:52 GMT]


...there would be many measures possible for proz to attract end clients, which would not be too expensive. Please feel free to think about one instead of condemning my idea right from the beginning.
My idea for example would be to place advertising material on trades worldwide in a costly reasonable manner, either electronically or by flyers etc. At least this should be considered. Many companies have documentation departments who would love to care directly for their freelance "ressources" instead of relying on dubios agencies.


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 02:26
German to Serbian
+ ...
I like your idea, perhaps I was misunderstood Mar 5, 2016

Your idea makes a lot of sense, I just added another one, I am not sure how mine would work though.

I also know that direct clients often times don't have somebody in their company who will act as multilingual support manager, that's why they head for agencies. Perhaps big corporations do, but medium-size businesses, I doubt it.

As for the cheaper options, good sales/marketing agents and consultants that will direct and drive your sales cost $500 per hour, those are the cheap options. If they cost less, they are probably not that good. And advertising is rarely "reasonable" in costs (I mean the good and effective advertising).

[Edited at 2016-03-05 09:41 GMT]


 

Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:26
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
You may be right with the costs, sure... Mar 5, 2016

...but resulting into a yearly fee of 1k seems a bit overexaggerated and perhaps proz staff could check this out, whether such (whatever exactly) campaigns would be covered by their budget they have.
And I do not doubt the useful function an (ideal) agency can have both for companies and for freelancers, but this system has come out of control with all that bottom feeding, subcontracting up to three, even four levels and with the surplus of freelancers and University degree courses, still producing more and more freelancers, most of them without any useful background.

[Edited at 2016-03-05 10:30 GMT]


 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 02:26
German to Serbian
+ ...
Business model Mar 5, 2016

ProZ has its own structure and business model, for their own reasons, we can take it or leave it.

I guess the model is based on quantity (wide number of members), and for some reason, not harboring direct clients (I have never been contacted by a direct client through ProZ).

ProZ is still a useful place in many other ways, while the jobs found here are not the best paying ones.


[Edited at 2016-03-05 10:07 GMT]


 

Matthias Brombach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:26
Member (2007)
Dutch to German
+ ...
Who else if not proz... Mar 5, 2016

... would be able to initiate proposed campaigns on international level? Facebook? LinkedIn? Xing? WhatsApp? Yellow Pages? All these platforms are not actively run by site staff which proz has. Inventing a new platform for freelancers? Would be a waste of time which I thankfully still not have.

 

Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 02:26
German to Serbian
+ ...
Powerful/more powerful/most powerful. Mar 5, 2016

... will probably depend on your marketing and sales machine.

Facebook and the other listed ones well that was very aggressive, and probably very expensive, marketing. Also you are comparing different types of businesses, Facebook has a very wide model.

I still think the issue will be that direct clients that have just "occasional" need for translations will NOT assign a salaried person to deal with their translation, within their own company. Next step? Hire a translation agent/agency. If they are a strictly international company having a steady need for translation, they may have such a person in their company.


 
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