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Optimizing your proz.com bids
Thread poster: jmleger

jmleger  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:31
English to French
+ ...
Jan 12, 2010

I have started a blog (optimumbid.com) to help people figure out the ins and out, do's and don'ts of bidding for jobs on Proz.com. Too many people never hear from outsourcers and they never know why. I dispensing advice on how to optimize your bids. It's free, so you've got nothing to lose.

The blog will be progressively peopled with the chapters of an ebook I wrote on the subject. If you visit, and wish to comment, please do so. Tell me what you would like to see discussed and I'll try to respond if it is something I am actually knowledgeable about. If not, other people might be able to help.

Remember, optimumbid.com

See you soon!


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:31
French to German
+ ...
A point I disagree upon... Jan 12, 2010

in your viewpoint is that it is assumed that the outsourcer sets contractual (or whatever) conditions. It barely applies in the real world (I mean: outside of the Internet realm) and nobody should think that this is a global, general and accepted way of doing business.

Furthermore, and if I were an outsourcer, I would try to restrict my translators' database as much as possible and not to post a job offer for every project (whenever possible, of course).

My X cents.

[Edited at 2010-01-12 18:18 GMT]


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jmleger  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:31
English to French
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TOPIC STARTER
I am not sure I understand your point... Jan 12, 2010

What I am writing about is the people who respond to calls for bids on Proz.com and don't know basically why they do not hear back from outsourcers. I try to address the problem based on my outsourcing experience. I am not sure what real world you refer to, but the fact remains that when we post a job, 50 people respond and 49 get rejected. Something needs to be done to explain to people why their bids may get disqualified for a reason about which they have no idea.

I am not selling anything so people are free to take my advice or not. If I can help, great. If I don't, no harm done. In the best case, it's win-win. In the worst, it's zero-sum.


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Transitwrite  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:31
French to English
+ ...
Very interesting theme... Jan 12, 2010

Thanks for bringing up this matter. I think it would be great if agencies could contribute and let us have more insight into why some bids are accepted and some not.

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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:31
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Just some nitpicking Jan 12, 2010

1. ProZ, from the very beginning did not use, and discouraged the use of the word "bid" and "bidding", simply because it has some negative connotations, precisely with "downbidding", and also because - as Laurent mentioned - it assumes the setting of conditions by one side (the one that is asking for a service). Freelancers - at least those of us that consciously run a business - view the situation a bit differently. Their preferred term is "quote".

2. "The blog will be progressively peopled" - could you enlighten me what would "people" mean as a verb?

3. "It's free, so you've got nothing to lose." and "In the best case, it's win-win. In the worst, it's zero-sum." seem to be contradicting statements. By definition, a zero-sum game is where one's wins are only possible due to other's losses. See:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zero-sum

Just some nitpicking, really.
Katalin


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Sabine Braun  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:31
Member (2006)
English to German
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I agree with Sharon Jan 12, 2010

Sharon Benmussa wrote:

Thanks for bringing up this matter. I think it would be great if agencies could contribute and let us have more insight into why some bids are accepted and some not.


This could be an interesting blog. And I am actually looking forward to reading what you have to say about this topic....


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jmleger  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:31
English to French
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TOPIC STARTER
Good points, Katalin Jan 12, 2010

1) Whatever you may want to call it. People are still offering their services for a service fee. and that puts them in competition with other people equally qualified. So we can veil our faces and call it "quoting", instead in "bidding, It will nevertheless remain a bidding process. Not that there is anything shameful about bidding for a job. When i hire a snow remover for the winter season, I ask for and get bids for the job on behalf of my condo association. I don't always pick the lowest bidder either. I check if they have the proper equipment, if their employees are insured per state law, if they have a good track record, if i can count on then to spread enough salt so that my older neighbors won't break a hip. Bidding is not a dirty word I assure you.

2) I slipped by saying "peopled" instead of "populated". I will accept fustigation on this one.

3) I was under the impression that a zero-sum situation was one when you lost as much as you gained, hence the zero sum business. I may be wrong (I have been known to be). In any case, please accept the explanation I give of my understanding of the term.

In any case, if you think there should be topics which might need to be addressed please feel free to input with abandon.

Cheers!


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:31
Italian to English
Laurent has a point Jan 12, 2010

jmleger wrote:

What I am writing about is the people who respond to calls for bids on Proz.com and don't know basically why they do not hear back from outsourcers. I try to address the problem based on my outsourcing experience. I am not sure what real world you refer to, but the fact remains that when we post a job, 50 people respond and 49 get rejected. Something needs to be done to explain to people why their bids may get disqualified for a reason about which they have no idea.



If an outsourcer is calling for "bids", "quotes" or whatever from the entire Proz user base when the directory offers a convenient way of selecting minimally qualified translators, then that outsourcer is probably looking for the lowest offer.

The best way of obtaining jobs through Proz is to attract the attention of more discriminating outsourcers who are interested in factors other than the rate you are willing to work for.

And you don't need to apologise for using "people" as a verb. According to the OED, it has been used in the sense of "populate" since 1475, by David Hume and John Milton among others, so you're in excellent company


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 02:31
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
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Rewriting history, Katalin? Jan 12, 2010

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:
1. ProZ, from the very beginning did not use, and discouraged the use of the word "bid" and "bidding", simply because it has some negative connotations...


If you repeat a lie enough times, it becomes the truth, right? Unless...

2000: "Post or bid on translation projects."
http://web.archive.org/web/20000302121604/http://www.proz.com/

2001: "bids", not "quotes" used in TOS
http://web.archive.org/web/20010203181200/www.proz.com/regform.php3

2002: "Post job (take bids)"
http://web.archive.org/web/20020123122848/http://proz.com/

2003: "bids" used, not "quotes"
http://web.archive.org/web/20030207102133/www.proz.com/?sp=js

2004: The menu item is called "My Bids", not "My Quotes"
http://web.archive.org/web/20040317090153/http://www.proz.com/

2005: The word "quotes" finally appears...
http://web.archive.org/web/20050109090452/http://www.proz.com/


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jmleger  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:31
English to French
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TOPIC STARTER
Giles I thank you for placing me in the company of luminaries Jan 12, 2010

I had no such ambition, but I'll take it.

I have to disagree with you about the perception of the bidding process. I realize that some people are interested only in the lowest possible quote they can get out of people. I am sure that if they asked for "quotes" rather than "bids" these people would be interested in the same thing too. Choosing a bid on the sole basis of the rate or fee offered may be practiced to a certain degree (I have no statistics on that), but that is definitely the wrong way to go about getting a good service for the outsourcer's client. As I was saying in my analogy about hiring a snow removing contractor on behalf of my condo association, you need to look at all relevant factor. Price is only one consideration, and not the most important one. as a translation agency a low translation price can prove to be a very costly experience. The work may have to be redone (at at least twice the cost), you may lose a client (think of how much you have spent in advertising to attract this client. Think of all the future jobs from the client you'll never see). Going cheap can be way too costly and awfully near-sighted.

Anyway, my purpose is not to get into money matters, but into what helps a bid (or quote, if you prefer) avoid certain traps which can seal its fate. As you read the future posts, you'll see that is mostly all good horse sense. (That's my secret ingredient).


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:31
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Specific responses to the blog Jan 12, 2010

I read whatever was there in the blog, including the latest post with the subtitle: Read the Call for Bids With Utmost Care.

I agree with what you wrote there, Jean-Marie, but I think whole thing could be summarized similar to a four-letter abbreviation one of my professors used when handing out the exam test sheets. The advice, he "dispensed", was: RTFQ!!! Read The Freakin' Question!
Read what the job is about, and respond accordingly. It is pretty much common sense, isn't it? Yes, there are people without common sense, and they will disqualify themselves, either directly, or indirectly but hey, what is wrong with Darwin and natural selection? Aren't you too optimistic thinking that "dispensing advice" to such people would really change them? And would you really want to work with people who once were in this "clueless" group, and perhaps following your advice, they "improved"? When you outsource, wouldn't you opt for those that are from the other group that naturally, originally have that common sense, without anyone specifically educating them about these points? If someone needs to be educated about these fundamentals, wouldn't they need way too much hand-holding when working on an actual job?

Obviously, you do not target the "other" group, I mean the sensible "bidders", as you shouldn't, it would be like preaching to the choir, and it could insult people.

Just to prevent my further nitpicking, you also may want to re-read the post with the utmost care - there are a few typos/errors.

I also do not understand why you single out ProZ for the topic, jobs are posted on other sites as well, and I do not see anything specific to ProZ in the text, I mean anything that would be only valid at ProZ.

There is one sentence, though, which I found worth to discuss further:
If he is worth his salt, the outsourcer will craft a careful description of the project, making sure he details all the salient points of the job.


There are MANY job postings, many email inquiries that do not meet these (also common sense) criteria. So, perhaps one can open a blog and "dispense advice" to outsourcers, as to how they should post their jobs... ?
I bet the topics would be repetitive - so, all in all:
What goes around, comes around...

Katalin

[Edited at 2010-01-13 18:25 GMT]


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 02:31
Italian to English
No disagreement Jan 12, 2010

jmleger wrote:

I have to disagree with you about the perception of the bidding process.



To be frank, I have a sufficiently well-established business to be able to ignore the Proz public bidding/quoting process, in which the relationship of outsourcer and supplier is heavily skewed in favour of the former. I prefer to get clients to come to me if at all possible.

All the best with your blog


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Laurent KRAULAND  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:31
French to German
+ ...
Reversed question Jan 12, 2010

Katalin Horvath McClure wrote:


Read what the job is about, and respond accordingly. It is pretty much common sense, isn't it? Yes, there are people without common sense, and they will disqualify themselves, either directly, or indirectly but hey, what is wrong with Darwin and natural selection?



Ahem - I would be interested in knowing why on Earth some people reply to offers against all common sense... really!

[Edited at 2010-01-12 20:51 GMT]


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jmleger  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:31
English to French
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TOPIC STARTER
"It is not necessary to hope in order to undertake, nor to succeed in order to persevere." Jan 12, 2010

It is highly possible, Katlin, that a certain darwinism is at work when people place themselves in a failing situation by, for instance, to read a quote request carefully. So be it. I choose to believe that educating people can help. As I said in my prologue, my job is to put the hay where the goats can get it. The rest is up to them. I am not out to hire a bunch on nitwits who can't tie the own shoes up. On the contrary, I am trying to avoid exercises in futility. So many people are so obviously unqualified for the jobs we post, that frankly it gums up the works. I don't particularly enjoy reading through 50 proposals in order to find the one that i am going to retain finally. Life is way too short!

I direct my blog to Proz.com, because it is the only site I use and know particularly well. I seldom advertise jobs anywhere else. Additionally other sites do not work like Proz and my further remarks would be irrelevant elsewhere. I hope this is ok with you.

I carefully explained that an outsourcers "worth his salt" would carefully craft his posts. I am aware that this is an ideal that is not necessarily reached by all outsourcers. But you know what? Outsourcers don't commit anything when they post something. It does not cost them anything. The worst that can happen to them is to get unqualified responders. Translators, however, have to commit resources to their postings, and it's very important that they should not do so willy-nilly. I could give a rat's behind about it, but i don't. Because most translators are hard working people who are trying to make a living in very hard circumstances. What's wrong with trying to help them put more chances on their side?

If you feel none of what I have to say is of any interest to you, don't tax your eyesight reading my exertions or looking for whatever mistakes I may have left in my copy. Remember, the wise man points at the moon and fool looks at the finger. And I really don't mean to be harsh.


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Katalin Horváth McClure  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:31
Member (2002)
English to Hungarian
+ ...
There are more productive ways to solve the problem Jan 12, 2010

Jean-Marie, I understand you always have specific criteria in your job postings and you (quite rightfully) expect people to respond accordingly. I just don't understand if you have your list of requirements, why do you post your jobs publicly? ProZ.com offers at least two other methods by which you can at least narrow down the pool of people to select from.
One is going through the directory and selecting qualified people yourself, the other is to use the private job posting option, where the job posting is only visible to a selected group of people, based on your criteria. By using the open, public posting, you naturally open yourself up to all kinds of responses, qualified and not, and trying to fight it is like going against the windmills.
The same thing is true from the other side, when I posted my profile, I naturally opened myself up to all kinds of inquiries, qualified and not (such as getting requests through my profile for work in specialties I do not work in, or at rates a third of my published rates). I wish there was a good way for me to filter out inquiries that are obviously out of question from the beginning... Unfortunately it seems to be the nature of the beast.

As Giles wrote it, nowadays most outsourcers using the open job posting system seem to be focused only on price. So, using other methods offered by ProZ is in itself a differentiation, and may contribute to getting better qualified responses to your job offers. In other words, if you are using the public job posting option, you may miss out on good, qualified translators that stopped looking at the job board long ago, for this reason.
So, that is another way of looking at the whole situation, another possible reason why so few of the responses you get are qualified.

I apologize if my comments were harsh, I admit the phrase "dispensing advice" in your initial posting sounded a bit condescending to me.
Katalin


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