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

Emily Scott  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:58
Member (2018)
French to English
+ ...
Feb 1

I've only been working full time as a translator for a few months now and have already seen a lot of talk about (when it comes to rates) your best option being to look for direct clients rather than agencies. But my question is, how do you actually go about getting direct clients? Is it networking? Happening to know business people who need your services? I realise that this may seem like a naïve question but being a medical translator I don't really know how to go about this (my only idea is contacting hospitals, etc. but I'm pretty sure they already have agencies working with them!) so any advice would be greaticon_smile.gif

Josephine Cassar
 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:58
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Profile Feb 1

Emily Scott wrote:

.....how do you actually go about getting direct clients? Is it networking? Happening to know business people who need your services? .....


By having a very good profile. I get regular contacts from direct clients who have seen my profile and who seek me out personally. People in my field.

So if your specialism is medical, make the most of that in your profile.



[Edited at 2019-02-01 10:24 GMT]


Melanie Meyer
 

Emily Scott  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:58
Member (2018)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I see Feb 1

So would you say that direct clients are more attainable after having worked as a translator for a few years as you'll have a more interesting profile/portfolio?

 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:58
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Yes Feb 1

Emily Scott wrote:

So would you say that direct clients are more attainable after having worked as a translator for a few years as you'll have a more interesting profile/portfolio?


Yes but since you already have a lot of experience in your field, you should big it up in your profile. No need to wait for years icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2019-02-01 10:26 GMT]


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Good question Feb 1

With very great difficulty. I've never had any success approaching them directly. The issue with drug companies (banks in my case) is that they have far more work than one person can handle, often into multiple languages, and they generally have framework agreements with the big agencies. The only way around this is to find a specific person in a specialist department with special needs. How you identify them I don't really know. And if you target little companies instead, they may never have much work for you.

With time, you will get referrals from friends, colleagues and clients, and people move around from one company to another and take you with them. That's the best and easiest way, but it takes time.

I'm not convinced this website is a good place to find serious buyers. Even when I was a paying member I was only once contacted by a direct client (and they chose a cheaper option). But I guess you have nothing to lose. Some people here claim to get a lot of work off here, but those same people also seem to work for dozens of different clients so it must be mainly scraps and one-offs, not regular work.

My preferred model, which took me 15 years to achieve, is to work for 4-5 regulars and that's it. But I must admit that luck has played a huge role in getting to this.


Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Stanislaw Czech, MCIL
 

Emily Scott  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:58
Member (2018)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks guys Feb 1

Thanks for your advice. I guess the magic formula seems to be having a great profile, networking when possible and most of all, luck. I'll keep doing what I'm doing ans see what happensicon_smile.gif

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 19:58
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Proz and direct clients Feb 1

Though I’d say that most of the clients who use this platform are looking for the cheapest solution, “miracles” happen and two years ago I was contacted through my profile here by a direct client (a human rights organization) and got two very well-paid large projects. So, we never know what’s coming our way…

Chris S
Morano El-Kholy
Melanie Meyer
Daniela Slankamenac
 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:58
Member (2008)
French to English
Network with employee translators Feb 1

The best, albeit rather slow, way that I have found is to network with translators who are employees of large organizations. They can often be identified on LinkedIn. This means, for one thing, that their employer is an organization large enough to have employed full-time translators. Their workload inevitably ebbs and flows and sometimes when they are overloaded with too much in-house work they will outsource their overflow. Also, sometimes in-house translators only work in one direction and outsource the other direction. That can sometimes turn into a long-term collaboration.

[Edited at 2019-02-01 12:13 GMT]


Colleen Roach, PhD
 

Lincoln Hui  Identity Verified
Hong Kong
Local time: 03:58
Member
Chinese to English
+ ...
Make it easy Feb 1

If you want to direct clients to find you on ProZ, you have to make it easy for them to find you, know you and reach you.

Remember that many direct clients are individuals who are not in the habit of finding and dealing with translators, and put yourself in their shoes. Ever had to look for a lawyer or search for an academic program? Have as much information on your profile page as possible for them to make an instant decision, because they are usually not looking for long-term cooperation and are not interested in extended back-and-forth inquiries. Make the people who see your page decide that they don't need to go back to the search page, and that they know enough about you for communication to be quick and direct.

Direct clients are usually not large corporations. They tend to be SMBs or individuals looking for an ad hoc, one-off work. Your bread and butter are still likely to be translation agencies. Working with small agencies can often be very much like working with a direct client, but without the hassle.

And use your real life to your advantage. I freely admit that I have had more direct clients through my parents than I have had through ProZ.


Chris S
Dan Lucas
Jazmin Guzman
TTMEM TRANSLATION PORTAL
Melanie Meyer
 

Gloria Teixeira
Brazil
Local time: 16:58
English to Portuguese
+ ...
integrated Feb 1

To achieve our goals, the network is fundamental today, and we also have to invest in specialties that are essential

 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:58
German to English
+ ...
different scenarios Feb 1

I'm a certified translator in Canada, and a lot of places require that a translation is done by a certified translator (I think notarization might be another option but that is more complicated, and the notary charges a fee as well). So I get a lot of end clients. There are not corporations as a rule, but individuals. Sometimes I hear from legal firms representing such clients. It is hard for the "little person" to be taken seriously, so when these individuals get good service and guidance when needed, they tend to spread the word. Individuals are usually also employed, and they might remember you otherwise too.

Tina Vonhof
 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:58
German to English
Contact French pharmaceutical/medical journals Feb 1

Many medical journals are eager to expand their international audience. You might want to contact the publishers of French pharmaceutical / medical journals offering your services. If my experience with German journals is any indication, journals pay reasonably well and generally have sensible deadlines.

Tina Vonhof
 

Kay-Viktor Stegemann
Germany
Local time: 20:58
Member (2016)
English to German
Is this really the best option? Feb 1

Emily, is working with direct clients really your best option? Your specializations suggest that your end clients mostly will be bigger companies and organisations. These kind of clients often do not only require translation of their content into one target language, but into several languages. I might be wrong, but I believe that organising the translation of bigger amounts of text into a multitude of target languages (and doing this regularly) is a typical domain of translation agencies.

Of course it's great when you have direct clients, but keep the effort reasonable you put into marketing for direct clients. I believe this is more about "getting found" by clients, than finding them actively. What Lincoln said, make sure that those who stumble upon you look no further. And make sure that this stumbling happens.


Gareth Callagy
Kaspars Melkis
Teresa Borges
Nikki Scott-Despaigne
IrinaN
Adam Jarczyk
 

Morano El-Kholy  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 21:58
Member (2011)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Of course, it's all about "getting found"! Feb 1

Kay-Viktor Stegemann wrote:

I believe this is more about "getting found" by clients, than finding them actively. What Lincoln said, make sure that those who stumble upon you look no further. And make sure that this stumbling happens.


I completely agree.


 

Tina Vonhof
Canada
Local time: 12:58
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Starting out Feb 1

I started out the same way as Maxi by translating personal documents, diplomas, etc. Translation agencies and direct clients came to me after I had been on proz.com for a while. As Kevin suggests, targeting pharmaceutical/medical journals is a good idea. What you may get from those is not so much translation work but editing submissions from non-English speaking authors. If you like editing, that would be an option.

Kevin Fulton
Jazmin Guzman
 
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