How best to get translation work?
Thread poster: paul farmer (X)

paul farmer (X)
Local time: 14:59
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Apr 17, 2008


I'd be very grateful if someone could give me some advice about the best way(s) to get translation work (mainly Norwegian>English). I have an academic background, am a native English speaker but bilingual Norwegian/English after living for many years in Norway. I recently wrote off to about 20 Norwegian hotels which didn't have English webpages, or where the English translation was poor, offering my services, and got two assignments of quite a few pages each, so I was quite satisfied with that. But I then wrote to another 20 or so hotels and got no replies. Am I wasting too much time - should I be looking for translation work in other ways? Contacting companies or tourist offices? Or registering with translation bureaus?

I live in Kenya - that shouldn't be a disadvantage in the age of the Internet, but maybe it is?

I mention when I write that the money I earn goes to the education of disadvantaged children here in Kenya (which is true, of course). I thought that might attract some people, but maybe it puts some people off - should I leave it out?

Thanks very much for any advice!



Deborah do Carmo  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:59
Dutch to English
+ ...
I'd leave it out Apr 17, 2008

What you do with the money you earn - however noble the cause - is of no concern to and, in my opinion, really shouldn't be discussed with a client. Cynics may think you're mentioning it as a ploy to get work and not following through - so best to keep things strictly business.

Other potential clients may be inclined to think that you won't give their assignments due attention if you're involved in other activities.

As far as your location is concerned, it shouldn't make a difference as you're in a good time zone to work with Norwegian clients, however given the recent spate of unrest in the region - which may be hundreds of kilometers from where you are - clients may be nervous about entrusting work to you.

Think of it another way (time zones aside) would you feel comfortable giving your work to someone based in Zimbabwe, Tibet or the Gaza Strip at the moment?

You have to find a way to counter the ignorance that often prevails. Emphasise the positive aspects, like the time zone you're in, the type of Internet connection you have, etc.

Try contacting Norwegian agencies. A mix of direct and agency clients is normally an ideal way to go.

And work on your profile here, as others have mentioned. I'd say go for membership too, as John has said, there aren't that many translators in your language pair.

Best of luck

[Edited at 2008-04-17 13:18]


Natalia Elo  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:59
Member (2004)
English to Russian
+ ... Apr 17, 2008

Hi Noreng,

Fill in your profile at, put your CV there. Tell a bit more about yourself. Earn some KudoZ points. Search archives, similar questions have been asked zillion times. There should be enough jobs in your rather rare pair.

Good luck.
Natalia Elo


John Cutler  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
Get involved Apr 17, 2008

I agree with Natalia. Get involved at Proz:

1. Become a member. (The fee isn’t that much and for me personally has paid
for itself many times over.)
2. Make sure to put a picture of yourself or a good logo in your profile.
3. Participate in Kudoz, forums, quick polls etc. It’s like free international advertising every time your profile and picture show up in a post. I don’t think that only other translators read pages. I’m sure lots of agencies and outsourcers read different pages of too and if you fill out your profile, it’s like having your own webpage you can refer potential clients to.

Stepping off the bandwagon… You may want to do some research into which Norwegian companies sell their products in Kenya or vice versa.


Alexandra Goldburt
Local time: 04:59
English to Russian
+ ...
2 assignments out of 40 offers is not bad Apr 17, 2008

Let's see here. You are a beginner in the profession. You sent out your offer to 40 hotels altogether (20 the first round and 20 the second round) and already get two assignments.

Noreng, these are great results! The fact that the second round of offers did not pay off should not discourage you at all.

Ask two hotels for whom I did the translations for a permission to use them as your references, and, if possible, to write short (one paragraph long) testimonials about your work. Then use those references/testimonials when you start your next round of marketing.

Let me quote my dear friend who has many years of sales and marketing experience: "If you don't get the whole bunch of "No's", you are not trying hard enough!"

Keep doing what you are doing - you are on the right track.

Best luck,



Joan Berglund  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:59
Member (2008)
French to English
agree with all of the above Apr 17, 2008

I agree, you are doing pretty well so far, and I especially agree that the ProZ membership is well worth it. I have done pretty well, and I work in a very competitive language pair. You might find even more work with less competition.


Agnieszka Hayward
Local time: 13:59
German to Polish
+ ...
Books? Apr 17, 2008

Hi noreng,

With the Scandinavian (and, yes, Norwegian includedicon_smile.gif ) literature yet again winning a lot of fans worldwide, maybe you could consider this line of business? If it's your kettle of fish, that is.

Regards and good luck!


paul farmer (X)
Local time: 14:59
Norwegian to English
+ ...
translating literature? Apr 18, 2008

Hi everybody

Thanks very much for your helpful replies! I had thought of translating literature - I did translate the works of some Norwegian poets many years ago. Although there are not many Norwegian books translated into English each year, there are some, and of course a novel gives a steady income for a long time. Can anyone tell me how to go about this? - Find out which have been the best-selling novels in Norway recently and contact a British or American publisher? Or contact the author? Or the Norwegian publisher? Or just contact publishers without having any particular book in mind?

Thanks again

PS: By the way, anyone who is having difficulty making ends meet as a translator might consider moving to a cheap country in Africa, Asia or Latin America, where your money will go MUCH further (even though you may possibly lose a few clients because of your location).


Liangjun Gu
Local time: 19:59
Chinese to English
+ ...
Challenging environment Apr 26, 2008

In cheap countries like China, there are many many highly qualified translators and the market demands towards "small language" are limited. So, still not so easy.


GeorginaW  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:59
German to English
Norwegian companies in Africa Apr 29, 2008

Hi Noreng
You could also research Norwegian companies, banks, internatioinal organisations that are active anywhere in Africa - the fact that you are "on the ground" gives you an extra edge in the expertise stakes!


Alexandre Chetrite
Local time: 13:59
English to French
How best to make direct approach ? May 29, 2008


Could someone tell me how best to approach and market myself (Eng>French translator) to companies in France to translate?
I'd like to sharpen my self-marketing skills also by approching potential customers on Internet.
Any advice?



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