How to Get Work?
Thread poster: Paul Dixon

Paul Dixon  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:29
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Jun 20, 2004

I would like advice on how to get translation work, as in spite of my 15 years experience in the field, work seems to be very rare. In my view, the advent of machine translation has dealt a body blow to the translator's job in general. I do have one big client but outside that work is very rare indeed. I don't think it's the price as my rates are very competitive.

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Dinny  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:29
Italian to Danish
+ ...
15 years? Jun 20, 2004

Hi Paul,
Surely, 15 years of experience in the field should have left you with more than just one client?

Anyway, I think the issue of machine translation cannot be the explanation of lack of work... at least it will, in my opinion, be a question of time. Nobody, NOBODY, can be happy with a machine translation, and sooner or later clients will come back when they discover they can't get quality at discount rates.

Just do like the Chinese... sit down at the river bench and WAIT a while...

There's this company producing a machine which they want to export. The selling includes delivery of a manual in the buyer's language. This producing guy thinks he can have it translated for two pennies by a machine. The buyer will come back and argue that he can't make the machine work following the instructions in the manual. Let's hope for the producing guy to find out, before he goes bankrupt, that if he wants to export his machinery he needs to supply a comprehensible manual. And this is where we come in! (having meanwhile rested our bones and brains at the river bench)

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Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:29
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
A few things I did when I started Jun 20, 2004

Hi Paul,

First of all, welcome to!

To answer your question, here are a few things that I did when I started working as a translator:

- Brush up your resume. Write out all your experience and bring it into a nice format. Have it ready to send whenever an interesting job comes up.

- Keep an eye on the jobs posted here on and apply for them.

- Send your resume, together with a short intro letter to agencies (you can find lists of translation agencies in your Yellow Pages or online). It might well take a while till agencies get back to you. Most won't reply at all. But some will for sure.

- Join a professional translators' association. I don't know about associations in Brazil, but one of the most renowned ones is ATA in the US. There you will find lists of agencies, tips on the translation business, contacts to colleagues and a lot more.

- Be active in your community (for example here on People will remember your name if they see it more often.

These are the first recommendations I can think of. I'll get back to you if I have more ideas.

Good luck,

[Edited at 2004-06-20 17:23]

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Ivan Eikås Skjøstad  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:29
Member (2002)
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Rates Jun 20, 2004

I have had a look at your rates, and if I were you I would hide them, or raise them!

If I were a client, or an agency I would be a bit sceptical to very low rates.

I would also try to reduce the listing of speciality fields in the text. Henry (site founder) wrote an article on this, and you can read it here:

I would also set up an website (if you haven't done so already), and try to get some Kudoz point to show your expertise (and willingness to help others).

Good luck!

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United Kingdom
Local time: 14:29
English to Italian
+ ...
Search the archives Jun 21, 2004

of this forum. This question comes up regularly.

Good luck

See this one:

[Edited at 2004-06-21 12:43]

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Nina Snoj
Spanish to Slovenian
+ ...
Low rates... Jun 21, 2004

...are definetly THE problem.Good luck!


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Sol  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:29
Spanish to English
+ ...
Be an editor. Jun 21, 2004

Oh, my, you need to go much much higher!

Also, add your translation certifications to your profile, or get some type of certification, then add it to your profile.

You say you are completely bilingual, but you only put English as Native language. That caught my attention. If I had something to be translated into Portuguese, I would look for someone who either mentions Portuguese, or doesn't mention any language as Native (i.e. Main). If you feel more confortable with English than Portuguese, maybe you should offer your services as proof-reader/editor to freelancers and agencies that translate into English, for which I believe you should have much less competition in Brazil that working the other way around. (The rates you mentioned should be OK for proof-reading).

Best of luck!

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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:29
French to English
Specialise and maintain professional rates Jun 22, 2004

Assuming that you know what sort of work you can and cannot do and therefore should and should not take on, seek clients directly involved in your chosen areas of specialisation. Each time you contact a client, you are effectively applying for a job. If you target your clients well, you will get results sooner or later. It may take time, but the more time you spend preparing your plan of action, the more profitable the results will be.

A word on rates : it's easier to justify a high rate for a good job than a low rate, be it to yourself or to clients !

[Edited at 2004-06-22 07:55]

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Armorel Young  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:29
Member (2004)
German to English
Present yourself well Jun 23, 2004

As Sundari says, Paul, brush up your resume. I had a look at your profile and just noticed that you say that you have "fifteen years of experience" instead of the more usual "fifteen years' experience". It's a tiny detail, but it's the details that matter - it's from your use of language that people will form an immediate impression of whether they think you're going to be any good.

Set your standards high. Don't take on any job unless you know that you can do it well - it's a job well done that will bring the customer back for more, and create recommendations. And good luck.

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