Getting jobs from clients, not agencies
Thread poster: Markus Wahlgren

Markus Wahlgren  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 11:01
English to Swedish
Jun 12, 2009

Hi,
I get all my jobs from agencies and I was wondering how you guys land jobs directly with clients instead of the agency middleman? It is convenient to use agencies since they handle the client issues, prepare files, may have old TM's, and PM-ing takes valuable time and so on but certainly some or even half the revenue gets eaten along the way, so it would be nice to have a few "end users" directly. Who do you talk to, how do you present your business, and do you work with other translators to be able to offer a language package?


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Annett Hieber  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:01
English to German
Use all your contacts Jun 12, 2009

Hi Markus,

Despite all the advantages you mention I prefer to work for direct clients. It's much more rewarding in several aspects: through the direct contact you have more information with regard to the task on hand and over time, relationships develop. Besides, it is much better paid and you can do your own negotiations with regard to price and deadlines.

I know that it is not easy to win new direct clients. I did this mainly through private contacts, i.e. people I know and who know what I am doing for a job, recommend me to the company where they work. Perhaps you could talk to friends or people whom you know in general?

What I am trying right now is to create a small brochure together with a marketing cover letter. I will then search for corresponding smaller companies in my region and send it to them. Before sending the material I will phone the company and ask if there is any interest in or requirement for my services and to whom I may send it. And I will only do 3 companies at a time, no "mass attack" though.

Good luck!

Annett

[Edited at 2009-06-12 05:45 GMT]


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Markus Wahlgren  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 11:01
English to Swedish
TOPIC STARTER
Good idea Jun 12, 2009

Hi Annett!

Thanks for your insights, yes direct clients seems to be a very good idea and a rewarding one at that.
You mention that you conctact local businesses, but aren't companies looking for translations into your local language (German in your case) more often based in other countries? I suppose that depends on the subject area really, I do a lot of electronic device user manuals, and these companies are almost without exception based in Asia. And I hardly think the Electronic Giants want to deal with an individual freelancer, so your idea about smaller businesses is probably a good idea!


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KSL Berlin  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:01
Member (2003)
German to English
+ ...
Let them come to you if you can Jun 12, 2009

Direct marketing is very time-consuming; that's one of the reasons I prefer to let my trusted agencies handle that. And large direct clients can sometimes require a level of attention that would be overtaxing if encountered too often.

There are lovely exceptions to this, of course, but except for a few direct clients I inherited from my partner all of them have come to me by referral from former colleagues, referral from agencies who are occasionally too nervous to deal with a specific project (it has happened a few times), or the direct clients simply find me via one of my badly constructed internet presences, a blog, my ProZ profile, an article published somewhere or some other mysterious source. Oh yes - the German translators association online search engine has proven to be solid gold for my business, bringing me high-quality clients in manageable numbers, i.e. usually not every week, but enough to keep me happy.

If you can structure things so the clients come to you and you're too busy to go chasing them, on the whole you'll do a lot better and your negotiating position will be stronger.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:01
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Contacts, contacts, contacts.... Jun 12, 2009

...and good, agile, accurate, well-researched work when you get a chance to work for a direct customer. A good impression always lasts and can lead to more contacts and more work.

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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:01
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
A different specialisation? Jun 12, 2009

May I also encourage you to seek another specialisation? The HW/SW/electronics market is not only overcrowded and rather low-pay but also, as you say, generally managed by agencies with a global presence.

Drive around your region with a notepad, write down company names, check what they do in their websites, and see what kind of industry concentrates in your area. Then get as much documentation as you can from local sources: specialised dictionaries, EN/SIS standards, the prospect's websites in English and Swedish... If you have a friend who works in the industry visit his/her company and let them explain it all to you, show you the products and solutions, etc., do an introductory course on the matter at a regional industry association, go to to their trade fairs to see the products first-hand...

It could well be something you never thought of: leather, wood, paper, Dala horses, inks, foundries... Every industry can become quite interesting as soon as you get to know it a bit.

And of course you can plan all this the way you like!


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Roy OConnor
Local time: 11:01
Member (2009)
German to English
Look for small fish growing big Jun 12, 2009

I´ve been in the business for quite long time and practically all of my customers have been direct contacts. The best customers are small to medium-sized companies who are about to increase their international presence. Eventually they may outgrow the services or capacity that you can offer - then you just have to wish them luck!
I find with direct customers the business is even more "lumpy" than with agents. Before major exhibitions there is plenty of work, but not so much at other times. The direct relationship is very rewarding though, and not just in monetary terms!


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Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 12:01
Turkish to English
+ ...
One snag Jun 12, 2009

One snag I have found is that direct clients do not understand that translators work in specialised areas and only work into their native language (at least in theory). I find that once you have worked for a direct client they will send other assignments that are outside your area of specialisation, or are from your native language into your foreign language. They seem to imagine that, since you did a good job for them once, you can do the same with all texts.

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Carla Guerreiro  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:01
French to Portuguese
+ ...
SEO directories Jun 12, 2009

Hello Markus,

If you have a website, I suggest you to put it in SEO directories, because many of them are free.
Just check this:

http://www.directorymaximizer.com/seo-friendly-directories.php


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urbom
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:01
German to English
+ ...
Join an organisation / Do some networking Jun 12, 2009

You could join an organisation such as the British-Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Sweden or the American Chamber of Commerce in Sweden.

http://www.bscc.info/website1/1.0.1.0/72/1/index.php

http://www.amchamswe.se/

You can make personal contacts with international businesspeople at events hosted by organisations such as these.

Of course, the membership fee is a business expense which you can deduct from your annual income, and if you manage to get just one fairly small job as a result, it will cover your investment.


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Carla Guerreiro  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:01
French to Portuguese
+ ...
Other advice Jun 12, 2009

Try to search all relevant direct clients you need in yellowpages and/or other lists, visit their websites, check if they're translated in your target languages and send them a free correction of a part of it (not the whole website, of course, because you're not supposed to work for free...).

Pay attention to the Spam you receive: sometimes, you may receive messages from companies proposing you their services (obviously, you have all interest in NOT answering messages from "Bill Gates Foundation", "Coca-cola lottery" and country scams - like Nigerian scam and those from Côte d'Ivoire, Russia and several other countries... and it's also better to forget messages concerning meds and viagra online and penis enlargement - believe it or not, I receive this kind of message - like penis enlargement...). Check these companies' website and do the things I mentioned above, because they might be potential clients.

[Editado em 2009-06-12 12:54 GMT]


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Tomas Mosler, DipTrans IoLET MCIL MITI  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 11:01
Member (2008)
English to Czech
lucky you! Jun 12, 2009

Lucky you who live in countries where local direct clients pay more than agencies abroad! :/

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Sandrine Pouchain  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:01
Member (2008)
English to French
Does it really work? Jun 24, 2009

Carla Guerreiro wrote:

Hello Markus,

If you have a website, I suggest you to put it in SEO directories, because many of them are free.
Just check this:

http://www.directorymaximizer.com/seo-friendly-directories.php




Or is it just a way to be spammed?

Have you tried it?

Thanks.


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