Three years part time, now looking for more work. How?
Thread poster: Quentin N.

Quentin N.
English to French
Mar 15, 2011

Hello all,

I am humbly seeking your enlighted wisdom: I have been working as a freelance translator for three years now, part time, and am now looking to enlarge my customer base. However, I could greatly use your advice on how to proceed.

First of all, I am an English to French translator, which I understand, is not the least common language pair, therefore exposing me to a difficult market to enter. This being said, what is the best strategy to "get to" agencies? My strategy pretty much consists of spending a whole day drawing up a list of around 50+ recrutement email adresses and sending an email to all these agencies summarising my experience, rates, fields and translation software, to which I joined a CV that included the details and references, however this hasn't been potently successful so far and have not received many positive responses.

Which agencies/type of agencies should I target (size, country, etc...)? Moreover, are my rates acceptable? I offer general rates of €0.07/words and €0.08/words for financial/technical translations, although I avoid to go lower than this as I do not want to be seen as a discount translator and for solidarity and fair competition for other translators.

Im not expecting to receive a positive reply from every single agency I get in touch with, I am just wondering which methods you would recommend to have, I dunno, 5 positive replies per 100 emails sent?

Thanks as lot, any advice would be greatly appreciated!


PS: I have seen that some translation agencies offer freelance translators to send their resume/cover letter to their list of something-thousand "partner" agencies by paying a €50-100 fee. Is it worth it? Does this kind of approach actually work?

[Edited at 2011-03-16 09:37 GMT]


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 20:07
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
My opinion Mar 16, 2011

Kershen wrote:
My strategy pretty much consists of spending a whole day drawing up a list of around 50+ recrutement email adresses and sending an email to all these agencies summarising my experience, rates, fields and translation software, to which I joined a CV that included the details and references, however this hasn't been potently successful so far and have not received many positive responses.

Unfortunately agencies never pay much attention to unwanted email. Your best chances are to become attractive to them, since they are the ones who look for people actively, using portals like Proz.com and other places.

Four quick suggestions:
- Use your full name in Proz.com's profile. Using a nickname looks "amateurish".
- Create a website with your own domain name and use email under that domain. You will look more professional.
- Become a member of relevant translator organisations (like the IOL, ITI, and maybe French any well-known French translator association).
- Try to be certified by some official/respected certification scheme, like IOL'd DipTrans, the ITI membership examination or an equivalent scheme in France (I can't help you in this since I am completely unaware of what goes in France in this area).

Kershen wrote:
I offer general rates of €0.07/words and €0.08/words for financial/technical translations, although I avoid to go lower than this as I do not want to be seen as a discount translator and for solidarity and fair competition for other translators.

Hm... in my opinion, with these rates you already look like a discount translator. Even 10 years ago, many French translators I knew did not go out of bed for less than 10 cents.

Kershen wrote:
Im not expecting to receive a positive reply from every single agency I get in touch with, I am just wondering which methods you would recommend to have, I dunno, 5 positive replies per 100 emails sent?

As I said, you would be lucky if you received 1 reply in 500 emails, since agencies generally don't pay attention to unwanted email. They are too busy for that!

Kershen wrote:
PS: I have seen that some translation agencies offer freelance translators to send their resume/cover letter to their list of something-thousand "partner" agencies by paying a €50-100 fee. Is it worth it?

Completely useless in my opinion, for the reasons explained above. Well, it is VERY useful for them, since they receive 50 euros for no effort at all!icon_smile.gif

In the long run, your best bet is to become more attractive to potential customers looking for professionals, and in order to do that you must advance in your career, with effort and monetary investment: join associations, improve your web presence, get certified on top of Bachelor's degree, learn more tools, do additional courses you have access to in your area...

Good luck!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:07
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Some comments, FWIW Mar 16, 2011

Kershen wrote:
First of all, I am an English to French translator, which I understand, is not the least common language pair, therefore exposing me to a difficult market to enter.


A lot of translators, but I believe there's a lot of work out there, too.

My strategy pretty much consists of spending a whole day drawing up a list of around 50+ recrutement email adresses and sending an email to all these agencies summarising my experience, rates, fields and translation software, to which I joined a CV that included the details and references


Difficult to say without seeing exactly what you do, but it sounds as though you may be bombarding them with a lot of detail that may not be tailored to their needs. A long email that's clearly aimed at any-old agency probably wouldn't be read.

Which agencies/type of agencies should I target (size, country, etc...)?


I'm not sure that country or size are really relevant, although there may be countries you want to avoid for reasons of high business risk. You can get a lot of feeling about an agency from its website, the Blue Board here at ProZ and doing research elsewhere on the internet. Don't bother contacting agencies that seem to "process" translators as though we're just commodities or who promise the moon at cut-price rates to their clients - they'll blame the translator when they can't deliver. For the ones that pass all your tests and who offer work in your pair and fields, send a very short, personalised email and attach your CV.

Moreover, are my rates acceptable? I offer general rates of €0.07/words and €0.08/words for financial/technical translations.


I agree with Tomás - they should be regarded as minimum rates.

I have seen that some translation agencies offer freelance translators to send their resume/cover letter to their list of something-thousand "partner" agencies by paying a €50-100 fee. Is it worth it? Does this kind of approach actually work?


I have no idea if it works as I would never dream of paying to work.


You don't say when you started sending these emails. Unless you have actually received refusals, many of the agencies will probably be holding your CV on file. You could get a call at any moment! One day, all their regular translators will be unavailable and you'll get the job. Of course, by this time it'll be very urgent and probably over the weekend or public holiday - that's why nobody else wanted to do it. Once you've got your foot in the door, you've got a chance of being a "regular".

You might find it pays to market yourself more from here by uploading your CV, completing your profile and making yourself stand out from the crowd a little.

Then, of course, there are direct clients to target - it isn't only agencies that employ the services of translators.


 


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