Obtaining direct clients
Thread poster: Jessie Nelson

Jessie Nelson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:41
French to English
Jan 10, 2011

Hello everyone,
I have heard people say repeatedly that they have direct clients.

I know it is probably as a result of networking, but I am a solo practitioner, and don't
have relationships with businesses. Believe me I would try to use the connection if I could.

Does one just send off letters and resumes to companies, and if so how do you find out what companies use translators.

I am a medical translator and have been working with agencies, but I find them increasingly demanding as to turn around.

thanks in advance.



Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:41
English to Russian
+ ...
visit trade fairs Jan 10, 2011

give ads in newspapers and magazines
participate in conventions

[Edited at 2011-01-11 08:36 GMT]


Eid Ibrahim  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:41
English to Arabic
+ ...
Achieve thes competencies and you'll never want Jan 11, 2011

By the way; it is a very good question.
How to attract direct clients? It's our dream all.
first of all be assured to have five competences:
Search competence
translation competence
linguistic competence
technical competence
cultural competence

when you get these; try to adopt a very good marketting policy,
by which you'll have the chance to get closer to the clients.
participate in translation bodies, be professionally developed comntinuously,
have a very good internet site, hire some people to market you.

I think these will work.
Eid Ibrahim
EN15038 certified translator


Local time: 15:41
French to Dutch
+ ...
Big companies Jan 11, 2011

Be aware that the purchasing departments of lots of big companies cannot subcontract to agencies/individual translators who don't have an established business for more than 3 years and who cannot show balance sheets and financial proof that they have sufficient cashflow to pay the people they hire, either inhouse or external. If you don't have that (already), in my opinion it is not useful to prospect these companies, even if you have competences and certifications. For instance, some years ago I worked as an independent translator (in 2 language pairs only) for a big multinational, and then the purchasing department decided to rationalize everything and threw out all independents and small service providers, just keeping four or five specialized agencies, and they let them compete about the jobs.

In the same way, lots of State organizations are under the obligation to call for tenders (and tenders always mean competition and rather low prices).

Therefore, concentrate on middle-sized and small companies, have a set of business cards, visit trade fairs and do some networking.


nicoletta jamin  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:41
Member (2010)
German to Spanish
+ ...
book of clients Jan 11, 2011

Probably this will be different in different countries. In Spain, in smaller towns, most people will contact you becouse someone who knows you has recomended you.
The biger part of my clients come from my internet ads and from reccomendations of friends and people for whom I have worked before.
My reccomendation for you is to get a good web page and to put ads in those places wher people needing a translator would search for one. Even in places where foreigners speaking the langue you translate live, put ads in shops and so. Leave your bussiness card at international schools, hospitals and places like that.
If there is a Consulate, leave your business cards.
May be that no big proyects will come from this, but there will always be something to do.
Good luck!!


John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:41
Spanish to English
+ ...
Go see them Jan 11, 2011

If you can identify some local firms that may be potential clients then I recommend that you simply visit. Go into reception and ask who is responsible for translating services. If you look the part, the receptionist will probably make a couple of calls to identify the manager responsible. When that person is identified - ask to have a quick word on the phone there and then. When you are speaking to the manager try and get an immediate meeting, or organise a meeting for later in the week. If the person you need to speak to is out or busy - call later in the week and ask for them by name.

Just remember that most people like doing business with local people - despite the internet and international free trade.


Jessie Nelson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:41
French to English
Thank you Jan 12, 2011

I wanted to thank everyone who was kind enough to reply.
The answer about big businesses makes total sense to me, and I think I will in general avoid applying to them.
The idea of placing an ad was new to me, and of course does make sense.
I am going to try that.
I am weary of agencies who usually have such short deadlines.


Mami Yamaguchi  Identity Verified
Member (2008)
Japanese to English
+ ...
I don't think every direct client is an attractive presence.... Jan 13, 2011

Hi! Jessie.

I have a few direct clients.
I worked at some public institutions.
Now some ex-coworkers and colleagues provide me with several projects per a year.
So I am deeply appreciative of their kindness.
I understand what you feel and think.
As John provides advice on it, you can identify some local firms that maybe potential clients.
I've seen freelance translation job advertised by several pharmaceutical companies based in Japan in the newspaper, job information website and their own homepages. But I have no idea whether the firms in other countries do so.
And several firms recruite freelance linguists on the online discussion board of several LinkedIN groups. In conclusions, there are many chances all over the world.
However in my narrow experience,considering non-payment issue and other potential problems, I dare say it's better to choose agencies who enroll in ProZ.com.(because you can put a comment on blueboard if you encountered non-payment problem) and the firms who are based in your own country( few geographical hurdle if for any reason you must visit them)

BTW, I think every organization forces short deadlines on you:(

[Edited at 2011-01-14 03:23 GMT]


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