Large database of translation agencies... useful?
Thread poster: xxxLaurent 1973
xxxLaurent 1973  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 08:12
English to French
+ ...
Apr 22, 2009

Hello there,

I've come across a website that advertises a database with over 5,000 translation agencies. According to the website, it contains everything needed to contact the agencies. My question: has any of you used such a database to attempt increasing their client base? Is it worth the cost?

Thanks for your input.

Laurent


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:12
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Not very useful Apr 22, 2009

No, never used that. I don't think it is a good idea either, and in fact it could be illegal to use it in some countries, like Spain.

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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 08:12
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Look at the free excerpt first Apr 22, 2009

Hi Laurent,

There are a couple of web sites that advertise a database of that kind. At least one of them lets you download a free sample first. In fact, it is in small writing, as you are only supposed to see the layout and not study the entries.

I did study the entries and this is what I found:

Most of them were not relevant to my language pairs, possible countries or fields in which I work.

One of them had a list of 1's on the Blue Board
One had a 2 point something on the Blue Board
One had a 3 on the Blue Board

This was out of the short list that comprised the excerpt.

It is much more successful to build up your business gradually by writing to the agencies of relevance to you when you have time between jobs. You should target those, as mentioned above, relevant to the language pairs in which you work, as well as your specialisations. The countries should be carefully chosen, due to the risk of collecting the money otherwise, i.e. usually stick to the countries in your own part of the globe.

The best database of agencies is the Blue Board. You can study it by country and consider those agencies with whom other translators are pleased.

Good luck!

Astrid


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xxxLaurent 1973  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 08:12
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Apr 22, 2009

Thank you very much for answering in such a detailed manner. Indeed, we are talking about the same website (the one that lets you download a small sample). In terms of trying to increase my client base, I usually select agencies with a good rating on the Blue Board and contact them directly.

Of course, the website in question sounds very "tempting" when you look at it and you read the testimonials (Are they really true?). It seems to offer a quick-fix solution, but... Good to read about your in-depth analysis of the sample.

Laurent


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
Hook, line and sinker! Apr 23, 2009

Bonjour Laurent mil neuf cent soixante treize (tu as trente six ans, oui?):

Don't fall for that old chestnut!!

As Astrid points out, why pay for something that could be irrelevant, out-of-date and full of not-very-impressive agencies, whose payment history you know little about?

Better to build your own database of (relevant and reliable) agencies, companies and people you're interested in working with. And a good idea might be to build your own 'black list' too. Ones that fall below your expectations for whatever reason(s), or the 'barge-pole brigade' as I call them. You will thank yourself somewhere down the line.

Of course, the website in question sounds very "tempting" when you look at it and you read the testimonials (Are they really true?)


This is how they get you, hook, line and sinker.

I am curious as to how it could be construed as illegal to use in some countries, like Spain. It's just another substandard list.

More likely, someone thought it would be a good money spinner to compile a 'comprehensive' list of agencies full of misinformation and sell it on. And the only way to get you to part with your money is to trick you into thinking, "This is indispensable, I must buy it!". But nobody is taking the bait. They don't care if the database is useful or not, they just want the money.

Just say 'non!!'


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xxxLaurent 1973  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 08:12
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Merci Apr 23, 2009

Merci John Paul. Here is what I've been doing so far: Whenever business is slow and I have some time, I go to the BlueBoard, select a country where I want to market my services and go through the list of agencies. I select the ones with a 4+ rating, send my application and write down the name of the agencies contacted on an Excel list.

Bonne journée,

Laurent


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
That's the 'weigh' to do it. Apr 23, 2009

That's pretty much all there is to it. And it ain't exactly rocket science either. Your own lists will be much more relevant than anything else you'll come across. I'd love ramble on, especially in broken French, but now, I must go and rescue a boat's anchor from the sea (at Ballintoy). Please note, this is not a service I normally offer, and it's not exactly pirate treasure or Spanish armada, but by god, it doesn't get any more exciting than this. Ships ahoy!

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Nguyen Dieu  Identity Verified
Vietnam
Local time: 13:12
Member (2008)
English to Vietnamese
+ ...
Sometimes Apr 24, 2009

I used to look for customers through database of translation agencies and it surprised me when I had new customers in a moment. Anyway, I have to say that it is not always like that.

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
If you were to do it yourself... Apr 24, 2009

Laurent 1973 wrote:
I've come across a website that advertises a database with over 5,000 translation agencies.


Is it the one selling 5270 agencies for EUR 743? It works out to EUR 0.15 per agency. If you were to do research about agencies yourself, using your web browser and your own time, would you consider paying someone EUR 0.15 for every listing cheap or expensive?

Personally I'd go for one of their per-country offerings first. The cheapest countries per agency are Argentina (16c per agency), India (19c), Egypt (23c), Canada (26c), Romania (29c) and Poland (29c). Or, you could reason that the most expensive agency lists are likely more valuable, and then you'd go for UK (62c per agency), Estonia (53c), Sweden (53c), Australia (52c), and Greece (50c).

I would have no objection to buying such a list. What is your marketing budget?


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Yes, look at the sample Apr 24, 2009

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
I did study the entries and this is what I found: Most of them were not relevant to my language pairs, possible countries or fields in which I work.

One of them had a list of 1's on the Blue Board
One had a 2 point something on the Blue Board
One had a 3 on the Blue Board


I agree. The sample given by the site I wrote about in my previous post gives a sample of 20 agencies. 10 of them have BB entries. Their points are 5 (9 entries), 4.8 (16 entries), 4 (1 entry), 4.6 (16 entries), 5 (3 entries), 4 (1 entry), 4 (6 entries), 5 (2 entries), 5 (6 entries) and 1 (1 entry). So it aint that bad.


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xxxLaurent 1973  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 08:12
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Large database Apr 25, 2009

Hi Samuel,

Yes, we are talking about the same website. True, the overall price of EUR 743 is a bit high... Of course, you can buy country-focused databases. So far I've been using the BlueBoard to contact different agencies. True, it is very time-consuming. That's why it sounds tempting to have a large ready-made list of e-mail addresses and then do a mass-mailing campaign, to see what the return is.

Laurent


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 03:12
English to Portuguese
+ ...
I think that's the way to go Apr 25, 2009

Laurent 1973 wrote:
Merci John Paul. Here is what I've been doing so far: Whenever business is slow and I have some time, I go to the BlueBoard, select a country where I want to market my services and go through the list of agencies. I select the ones with a 4+ rating, send my application and write down the name of the agencies contacted on an Excel list.


... however I don't go spamming them with my application via e-mail.

First, I check the Blue Board record itself. If they have an LWA=5 from less than, say, 5 translators, they are not so popular, large, or versatile enough to have a demand for my not so often requested pair (EN-PT). If I see that all inputs there are from Proz free users, it might (or not) be a sign of lower-that-average rates. On the other hand, now wth the new Proz Pro-tag, if I see several of these on their BB record, it might be a sign of adequate rates. If their LWA is lower than 5, still in the 4-5 range, I check what the translators who did not give them a 5 had to say, and if that's at all relevant to me.

If they pass in this phase, I go to their web site. First I take a general look at their main introduction, if they work with my subject areas, or all of them. If they specialize exclusively in medical translation - which I've declared off-limits for me - I drop out at once. Otherwise I look for their recruitment page (usually "careers", "opportunities", "work with us", etc.). If there is none, it should be a safe guess that they are happy with their present team, so let's not waste each other's time. If they have an online application, I fill it in and send, hoping that it will automatically feed a database, where they'll be able to find me whenever they need.

If their invitation simply asks translators to send CVs by e-mail, I know they will land on what's called a slush pile. It will be very unlikely that anyone will ever bother to read mine... if at least they could find it If their invitation includes a list of requirements/questions, I copy&paste them to my e-mail, and answer one by one, attaching the CV.

Efficiency of this process is obviously low. First, the agency must have a job in your language pair and specialities. Then, they must either be devoid of such a translator, or unhappy with the one they have. And finally, their budget must be compatible with your rates. But that's the way to go.

I think that buying lists or directories with translation agencies is first a waste of money, and afterwards a waste of time (in writing them all). If they need you, they will be on the lookout for someone with your skills, and not simply in existence. A web search engine will do just as much to help you find them The truth is that until they have a request for your skills, they won't need you.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 08:12
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
It's all about effort versus outcome Apr 25, 2009

José Henrique Lamensdorf wrote:
I check the Blue Board record itself. If they have an LWA=5 from less than, say, 5 translators, they are not so popular, large, or versatile enough to have a demand for my not so often requested pair (EN-PT). If I see that all inputs there are from Proz free users, it might (or not) be a sign of lower-that-average rates. On the other hand, now wth the new Proz Pro-tag, if I see several of these on their BB record, it might be a sign of adequate rates. If their LWA is lower than 5, still in the 4-5 range, I check what the translators who did not give them a 5 had to say, and if that's at all relevant to me.


I think this is all very interesting, but I think the effort required to get this information means that it should not be an exercise to take lightly. In my opinion, it would save a lot of time if one could filter out (or filter in) bad or good agencies before doing this little examination.

A cost-efficient way to filter is retroactively. What I mean is that you judge an agency only after they've contacted you. Let's suppose as many as 10% of agencies you approach will yield a positive or tentatively positive response. This means that you've done the exercise on 90% of agencies for nothing. In essense, you just wasted 90% of your time.

So, my advice would be to spend very little time compiling a list, and then send a generic e-mail to all of them (slightly customised or not). Those that want to use you, will contact you. And when they do, you can run the little exercise described above to determine if they are good sole or bad salmon.

I think that buying lists or directories with translation agencies is first a waste of money, and afterwards a waste of time (in writing them all).


I addressed the issue of money wasting in my previous posts, but as for time wasted in writing to them all -- all I can say is google for "mail merge".


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xxxLaurent 1973  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 08:12
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Apr 27, 2009

Thanks again to all of you for your interesting comments. Laurent

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