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How do you actually get direct clients?
Thread poster: Emily Scott

Jazmin Guzman
Mexico
Local time: 14:21
English to Spanish
+ ...
Getting found Feb 2

I believe that the majority of inexperienced translators (those who start promoting their general or specialized services) begin by creating profiles in social media, forums or/and pages like this one. It's a beginning to establish who you are, what you can offer and what makes you so qualified to be contacted.
You can contact translators from your same field, besides the help that they could give you with your personal doubts, sometimes they could help you find clients or even yield translations that they can't accomplish due time or organization problems.
Also, the classic but always helpful way to attract clients, translation agencies, etc., it's by sending a good and attractive cover letter and cv.

But I agree with the comments and you: sometimes what we really need is luck.


TTMEM TRANSLATION PORTAL
Slobodan Kozarčić
 

Josephine Cassar  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:21
Member (2012)
Italian to English
+ ...
Out and about Feb 2

Sometimes, apart from the suggestions you've been given, you really have to leave that desk and go out and attend events such as group meetings, talks, exhibitions and reunions which are open to the public or even against payment when you have enough cash to spare. Take your business cards with you and leave them lying about or give them out. See what events you can attend in your area first. For example, I translate a lot of business, finance and I am interested in branching out in new areas such as Bitcoin etc. and there is always an annual meeting and exhibition which many foreign companies attend so I make sure to attend that. It is a start. Specialise in areas that are not so common and in which there is a demand, that is how you stand out. If you specialise in medicine, try and find a branch of medicine in which there are not so many such as cosmetic medicine, tourism medicine, sports medicine. New fields are emerging in many spheres, don't discard immediately. It is definitely worth it. My 2 cents.

[Edited at 2019-02-02 09:42 GMT]


Nikki Scott-Despaigne
 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:21
French to English
In addition... Feb 3

Agencies will be your allies for getting regular work in your specialized fields. It can be disheartening as rates are not always that high, but once you get onto good terms with a number of reliable agencies, that can give you a regular amount of money coming in.

Direct clients. Well, the medical and pharmaceutical fields, things have changed a lot over the years. Smaller companies do exist in these fields, so you can target those companies. You need to keep up to date with what is happening in the industries and areas of business you specialize in. That way you will see when A and B start a new company, for example. Also, although big companies centralize a number of services, branches local to where you live might actually be in the habit of using local linguists.

CV suggestions. It may be me, but I read the part in the red column on the left first. If I'm looking for a medical translator, I need to see the relevant medical experience first. In the red column, the biggest chunk is about your personal interests. When looking for an employee, this is more important than when looking for someone providing freelance language services. There is little chance that drawing, gardening and baking will be of any interest to potential clients looking for medical and pharmaceutical translations and yet those skills and experience are there. It might be a good idea to relegate these elements to the second page.




[Edited at 2019-02-03 17:30 GMT]


Kevin Fulton
Teresa Borges
 

IrinaN
United States
Local time: 14:21
English to Russian
+ ...
Working for direct clients triples the responsibilities Feb 3

Emily, you need to account for the time required for admin/logistics, be prepared to be available "round-the-clock" as there will be no one, like a PM, to respond to the client's changing schedules, requirements and demands, obtain good DTP skills and make sure that your rates truly pay for all your efforts on top of the translation proper, get a second pair of professional eyes (does not come free) or possess an absolute assurance in your abilities to ensure impeccable, error-free final quality, which comes with many years of experience only. It is a heavy load that must be weighed against the bottom line, which may seem very attractive before you'll left all alone with a big, complicated job. Surely, it would be nice to get a direct rate for 15000 words of plain text delivered and to be returned in MW but this is highly unlikely nowadays, especially in the medical field. It could be very disappointing to discover that a fat rate and even a fat total, when divided by the actual hours spent, result in 20 dollars/hour and not much life in between. Sometimes good agencies with good editors help to sleep tight and have more personal and social life.

In any case, good luck with all kinds of clients as long as they are good.


Stanislaw Czech, MCIL
Teresa Borges
Katrin Braams
Dan Lucas
JPAlex
Adam Jarczyk
 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
not a typical success story Feb 5

As mentioned before, I was lucky to start my translation career in a group of 5+ experienced colleagues and diversified my income, so I could sidestep the messing with agencies.

I don't have a blog, a social page, or a professional web-site; no need to.
As a youngster, I happen to hit local offices (not agencies!), leaving my CVs, and in two-six months I got several short- and midterm contracts, making good contacts with many people. Once I helped a friend's friend to translate a CV and got a proposal to work with her business partner as a translator. I did some volunteer translation for our district hospital, and they often recommended me to their sponsors as a reliable translator-interpreter. I tutored a few schoolchildren, and someone of their parents timely mentioned my name in a favorable light, landing a big international project. Another friend asked me for a favor--to meet his guests at the airport, and they asked me to attend a lecture as an elbow interpreter. Once I offered a lift to a stranger and later he put in a good word for me too... Now we have productive relationship with foreign partners on our terms (flexible time, high rates, advance payment), no middlemen.

So far, I have never needed an agency, nor I would ever consider any.

The responsibility before one direct client for $.35+/word is not the liability to every "manager" in an agency--and their clients for $.0015, of course. It's just not worth it for me.


- Go for agencies and welcome to the serf bottom-feeders club!
- No, thank you.


 

Mirko Mainardi  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 21:21
Member
English to Italian
End clients with PMs Feb 5

IrinaN wrote:

Emily, you need to account for the time required for admin/logistics, be prepared to be available "round-the-clock" as there will be no one, like a PM, to respond to the client's changing schedules, requirements and demands, obtain good DTP skills and make sure that your rates truly pay for all your efforts on top of the translation proper, get a second pair of professional eyes


Some end-clients, having ongoing translation/localization needs in multiple languages, hire someone internally to handle external vendors, and in my experience they often take care of most, if not all, of the things you mention above as well. In such instances it becomes a bit like interacting with agencies (usually at better rates), although they might rely a bit more on the vendor's own opinion, experience, skills, advice, etc., which is not such a bad thing (as long as it doesn't become an unpaid consultancy).

On the other hand, there also seem to be big multinational corps (some of them extremely well known) who handle translation through external vendors, operate like (big) agencies, and "offer" bad rates, terms and conditions...


 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:21
German to English
+ ...
the triple responsibility idea (Irina) Feb 10

IrinaN wrote:

Emily, you need to account for the time required for admin/logistics, be prepared to be available "round-the-clock" as there will be no one, like a PM, to respond to the client's changing schedules, requirements and demands, obtain good DPT skills and make sure that your rates truly pay for all your efforts on top of the translation proper, get a second pair of professional eyes (does not come free) ...... Surely, it would be nice to get a direct rate for 15000 words of plain text delivered and to be returned in MW but this is highly unlikely nowadays....

On each of these points, since I work both with end clients and agencies.
be prepared to be available "round-the-clock"

- While I do have a habit to check messages when I'm near a computer, once every 2 hours during local regular hours, if I happen to be up and around otherwise, this has nothing to do with end clients. In fact, it's agencies who tend to contact at odd hours and are also in a hurry since they are rushed by the industry themselves. One of my agency clients is in the Far East with an 11 hour difference between us.

My end clients tend to be more patient, to be surprised at fast service and fast responses. Here too I have end clients in the same city, the same country, but also overseas. You do need to plan out your time, what work you can take on, feasible delivery, etc., but that is so regardless of whether your client is an agency or an end client.

to respond to the client's changing schedules, requirements and demands...
I have had this happen most often with agencies, who, after I finish a job, will say "By the way, can you print and certify three copies?" or other by the way's. I discuss and plan carefully with a client before starting so surprises rarely happen.

obtain good DPT skills
I didn't get that one.icon_smile.gifmake sure that your rates truly pay for all your efforts on top of the translation proper
But that is true for all translation work. The amount of work involved translating a given document for an agency, and doing the same document for an end client, is the same. That is, some agencies have complicated procedures, which can add substantially to one's workload.
Surely, it would be nice to get a direct rate for 15000 words of plain text delivered and to be returned in MW but this is highly unlikely nowadays....
The form of source document is the same for me, whether issued by an agency or an end client: most of the time as PDF scan. However, I tell end clients in advance that the scan must be a quality readable scan. With some agencies I have to tell them that the smeary, crumbled, perspective-study photo-take-at-an-angle smartphone picture cannot be used - please get your client to resubmit. Delivery in Word file is not rare: that is how I deliver.

get a second pair of professional eyes (does not come free)
Not a single agency that I work for offers this 2nd pair of professional eyes. For me there is no difference. For complex translations I sometimes hire a colleague, at cost. I always ask my clients to look through the translation, and I ask agencies to get their clients to look through it.

I think we have some different experiences - probably a different type of clientele and work.


DZiW
 
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