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New guy on the block fishing for some clients, how do I start?
Thread poster: Dark Ariel7

Dark Ariel7
United States
Local time: 00:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
Jul 1, 2013

Hey guys I am new to translation as a whole. I am in need of money and realized that I have enough knowledge to try my hand at translations. I am trying to start this off as my part time work. I am in high school now so I have no degrees. I have no idea whatsoever on how to actually find work. I googled with little luck. It all seems basically to say that you should market yourself in to friends and use social media. Unfortunately, I dont really have those as options. I know Spanish and I know English. Nothing impressive there. I really just want to start off; I really don't mind a nearly non-existent pay, at first.
I have the internet, The full Adobe suit and microsoft office pro.
Do you have any suggestions for a new guy?
P.S. I tried the tool here to find some work but I am having some trouble with it as well.

[Edited at 2013-07-01 19:49 GMT]


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:04
English to Polish
+ ...
It's possible to do that, but it will be difficult Jul 2, 2013

You'll need to prepare for a lot of, well, not really rejection, but unwillingness to work with someone your age and in the same place regarding his education as you now are.

To succeed, you need to be good and fight for the opportunity to do a sample. Once you've done a sample translation well, you're in a totally different position, regardless of your age, degrees and other credentials or lack thereof. So it's basically up to you to convince the agency or client to allow you to do the sample, that's where you need to focus your efforts. Perhaps tell them why you want to translate, how you intend to do it, and what exactly it is that you do.

Also, be prepared for a lot of junior status and associated misery. Your writing will be judged not by school standards but by the standards of professional writers. Also the timeliness and technical aptitude of your jobs may be judged in a stricter way than most of your teachers would have done. Basically, it's gonna be a bit of a boot camp. But, IMHO, the sooner your start the better. If you intend to be a translator when you're, say, 30 years old, trying to be a very junior translator right now will still be better for you in the long run than working at a fast-food restaurant, even for comparable pay.

Speaking of pay, you're likely to be offered less than even very junior translators who are, say, 25-years-old university graduates, at least in the beginning, as those people who actually give you work are likely still to put you under constant supervision, which means proofreader/editor time. You might want to pair up with a proofreader or editor or senior translator, by the way. In fact, being some kind of part-time apprentice under an established translator would be the most sensible solution in your case. I suppose there'd be some gophering but not nearly as much as in other professions.

Edit: P.S. You don't need to give your age anywhere. Not giving any education or listing your high school as pending would be tricky, but you could find an ethical way of making it stand out less if you're creative. Or, well, you could just be tough and gallant and tell things exactly like they are. Sooner or later you'll find people who don't mind as long as you're good. But, it all does come down to being good.

[Edited at 2013-07-02 14:39 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
There are a certain number of prerequisites Jul 2, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:
Your writing will be judged not by school standards but by the standards of professional writers. Also the timeliness and technical aptitude of your jobs may be judged in a stricter way than most of your teachers would have done.

There are a few prerequisites there. You have to be capable of providing perfectly natural and grammatical copy in a different language; you normally have to do it to extremely tight deadlines, accompanied by professional client relations; and you need to know all about the techniques of translating: CAT tools and TMs, translation-specific file formats, how to handle jargon terminology, untranslatables and acronyms, register, style...

Of course, the most basic prerequisite is a high level of comprehension in the source language, and a near-perfect all-round knowledge of the target language, at native or native-equivalent level - fluent just will not do. Your own claim, saying
I know Spanish and I know English.
sounds rather immature to me, and I wonder if you fully appreciate the linguistic skills required for this intellectual service.

You say
I really don't mind a nearly non-existent pay, at first.
but I'm afraid we do. Every totally untrained and inexperienced wannabe translator who accepts jobs for peanuts helps give clients the message that translating is a sweatshop process that can be bought for way below our rates. I'm sure you'll understand if we don't all rush to help you in perpetuating that particular myth.

On the other hand, perhaps I've misread your post. I get the impression that you just see translation as a quick and easy way to get your hands on some money, irrespective of a future career path. That clearly isn't the way Łukasz read it. However, even if he's right, I believe that industry experience, in an employed position, will be better for your future life than trying to become a freelancer so early on. You risk destroying your all-important reputation before you start. Freelancing basically means running a one-person business. Not only do you have to market yourself to your potential clients, you have to invoice them, chase payments, manage business risk, perform the necessary book-keeping procedures to comply with your country's tax laws... That aspect of the job alone calls for a certain life experience, if not specific training.

One more problem is that almost every new freelancer (whether setting up as a translator, web designer, graphic artist, programmer or whatever) finds that it takes months if not years to become at all established. You may not get any jobs at all for the first month or so, then jobs may trickle in at a few per month. If each job is under $100 (which I imagine would be the case as clients would be even more leery of offering you bigger jobs), then I think you would be a lot better off working in a shop or parking cars.

I'm sorry if I sound brutal, but it seems to me that you're planning an extremely unwise move.


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:04
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Competitive advantage Jul 2, 2013

Dark Ariel7 wrote:

I know Spanish and I know English.


So do millions of other people. What else have you got?


 

Djschinx
German to English
work experience Jul 2, 2013

Im not sure what kind of a size the place you live in is but it could be worth trying to get work experience with a local agency first of all - you would get a taste of what its all about & find out if your language skills are up to scratch, what kind of areas you are capable of working in etc. - there's a lot out there - software localisation, technical manuals, business, art! If things went well you could start applying to places online, you'd have a better idea of how to advertise yourself and even have some experience to put on your resume. Agencies pay less, and for an internship etc. you might not get anything at all, but you have more support and less hassle with clients so can be good for starting off. There are tons of agencies online, look for ones that seem to offer translations in areas that you have some knowledge of - and don't accept a translation that you can't do - especially anything legal or highly technical! Dictionaries and the internet etc. aren't going to have all the answers and can be very misleading/risky if you don't know the subject! (Doesn't matter how good your language skills are, you can't know everything, there will be subjects that you just don't know in your native language not to mind another!)

 

Djschinx
German to English
jobs for peanuts Jul 2, 2013

You say
I really don't mind a nearly non-existent pay, at first.
but I'm afraid we do. Every totally untrained and inexperienced wannabe translator who accepts jobs for peanuts helps give clients the message that translating is a sweatshop process that can be bought for way below our rates. I'm sure you'll understand if we don't all rush to help you in perpetuating that particular myth.


This is a bit unfair - I think - as in I don't think its what the poster meant - the guy is starting off and saying he'd be prepared to work for less as a beginner to gain experience - completely different from someone offering and accepting rock bottom prices as a long-term strategy!
Openly admitting to agencies/prospective clients that you're beginner and are prepared to work for less until you've proven yourself is an option - but make sure there's an agreed time limit to that!
Or pretend you have experience, charge more and hope you get away with it...

[Edited at 2013-07-02 22:29 GMT]


 

Fiona Grace Peterson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 09:04
Member
Italian to English
I'm really not sure Jul 2, 2013

if your posting is serious or not, but I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

People come to translation by lots of different routes, but whichever the road, it is a tough one. Make no mistake about it. It's not really a job you can just come to, pick up, and start making money. It takes time, effort, dedication, passion and skill - language and business skills.

If you really are serious, take a look around ProZ. Have a look at the profiles of the people who post on the forums and who answer KudoZ. Take a look at their CVs/resumes - that will give you some idea of the translation profession, the kind of training you need, how to market yourself, the kind of software in use and tons of other stuff.

And if you decide that translation really is for you... best of luck. And welcome to our worldicon_smile.gif


 

José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 04:04
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Am bilingual, have Internet, will translate for a few bucks Jul 2, 2013

Be welcome to my definition of what it takes. It dawned upon me after I had been translating professionally for almost 40 years. (Now I'm past that milestone.)

It says:
A bilingual individual is someone capable of expressing their own ideas in two languages. A translator is a professional trained an skilled in faithfully and accurately expressing someone else's ideas in a language different from the one in which they were originally issued.


If you can do that, dive in!

Otherwise you might be competing with free online machine translation, such as Google Translate. Nobody will pay you anything, if what they can get for free is about as good as what you deliver, despite the nature of the respective flaws being different.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
There are far better options Jul 2, 2013

Djschinx wrote:

You say
I really don't mind a nearly non-existent pay, at first.
but I'm afraid we do. Every totally untrained and inexperienced wannabe translator who accepts jobs for peanuts helps give clients the message that translating is a sweatshop process that can be bought for way below our rates. I'm sure you'll understand if we don't all rush to help you in perpetuating that particular myth.


This is a bit unfair I think, and don't think its what the poster meant - the guy is starting off and saying he'd be prepared to work for less as a beginner to gain experience - completely different from someone offering and accepting rock bottom prices as a long-term strategy!
Openly admitting to agencies/prospective clients that you're beginner and are prepared to work for less until you've proven yourself is an option - but make sure there's an agreed time limit to that!
Or pretend you have experience, charge more and hope you get away with it...

1) quoting a normal rate (on the low side but still within the realms of normality), and working for a long time to ensure that every word is researched - the rate per hour will be low, even though the client paid the correct price for the correct quality
2) quoting a normal rate (on the low side but still within the realms of normality), and paying an experienced proofreader (or mentor) to check your work. Again, the client pays a fair price, you receive less but learn more.


 

Dark Ariel7
United States
Local time: 00:04
English to Spanish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks so far. Jul 2, 2013

@Lucasz Thanks you that is indeed helpful. I am interested in this as a part time. Not as the career that I will live off of but certainly as serious work. I can see my lack of experience and my age being troublesome.

@Sheila I don't mind harsh so long as it does not turn into rude. I feel like you did very well to stay in that boundary. i thank you for your honest response. When I said I knew English and Spanish I was shooting for simplicity. A more detailed account would say that I was born in a Spanish speaking country and lived there until I was 10. I speak Spanish like a native, because I am. I lived in a Spanish speaking country but I attended a private bilingual school. I have known English since I was about 7. I have lived in the US since I was 10. I speak English as well as any native.
Djschinx has it right. When I wrote that I was willing to work for bread crumbs I meant as a beginner with no experience and or degree. I certainly don't plan to keep earning nothing. All beginners get payed little when they first start.

I won't lie I had slightly different expectations of what translating was about. I thought it was an easy job. I was wrong there is much more work that I first thought. I thought that setup would be a cinch. I am not, however, discouraged. I still want to make this my part time job. I am more than willing to learn and put in the effort.

Do you guys now of a simple way to get some way to test my skills? I mean to get something like a very simple first job. Am i better off just taking up a random page of something then translating and posting that as a sample. I mean what kind of text would work best as a sample?


 

Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:04
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Sample translations Jul 3, 2013

Dark Ariel7 wrote:

Do you guys now of a simple way to get some way to test my skills? I mean to get something like a very simple first job. Am i better off just taking up a random page of something then translating and posting that as a sample. I mean what kind of text would work best as a sample?


One idea is to try translating some of the "translation samples" that translators here on ProZ have uploaded to their profiles. This has the advantage that you could then check your translations against the work of professional translators.


 

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 09:04
English to Polish
+ ...
And... Jul 3, 2013

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Djschinx wrote:

You say
I really don't mind a nearly non-existent pay, at first.
but I'm afraid we do. Every totally untrained and inexperienced wannabe translator who accepts jobs for peanuts helps give clients the message that translating is a sweatshop process that can be bought for way below our rates. I'm sure you'll understand if we don't all rush to help you in perpetuating that particular myth.


This is a bit unfair I think, and don't think its what the poster meant - the guy is starting off and saying he'd be prepared to work for less as a beginner to gain experience - completely different from someone offering and accepting rock bottom prices as a long-term strategy!
Openly admitting to agencies/prospective clients that you're beginner and are prepared to work for less until you've proven yourself is an option - but make sure there's an agreed time limit to that!
Or pretend you have experience, charge more and hope you get away with it...

1) quoting a normal rate (on the low side but still within the realms of normality), and working for a long time to ensure that every word is researched - the rate per hour will be low, even though the client paid the correct price for the correct quality
2) quoting a normal rate (on the low side but still within the realms of normality), and paying an experienced proofreader (or mentor) to check your work. Again, the client pays a fair price, you receive less but learn more.


And, if you need the experience and have time to burn, it's better to volunteer for non-profits than to semi-volunteer for for-profits. NGOs are a frequent destination for young translators looking for experience.


 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:04
Member
English to French
Be my guest Jul 3, 2013

Dark Ariel7 wrote:
...I thought it was an easy job. I was wrong there is much more work that I first thought....

Everybody thinks so. Until they try.

There's no easy way to earn money legally. Even when you "know" two languages.

Good luck,
Philippe


 

Marie-Helene Dubois  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
Just a note Jul 3, 2013

I think that you've had good advice from colleagues so far but I just wanted to add a note.

Plenty of people are mistaken about what being a translator entails, certainly if they have no previous knowledge of the industry.

There are two different parts to our industry:

1) Translating (the written word)
2) Interpreting (the spoken word)

For translating you have to be a very careful writer, mindful of grammar and spelling to the point of often being called a pedant (by your friends!), and a meticulous researcher.
I personally think that it would be almost (albeit not completely) impossible for someone with relatively little experience of life to do this job well. If you don't mind my saying so, I don't think from your posts that you are (yet) what I would call a careful writer in English, although it's often difficult to judge from a forum posticon_smile.gif. (OK I'll give you an example: 'payed' should be 'paid')
Often people who are translators don't necessarily speak several languages like a native but have excellent writing skills in their native language and have also acquired knowledge of the language/culture of another - or several other - languages. You will find that most translators therefore only translate into their one native language (or main language of proficiency).

However, for interpreting you really need to be able to speak (generally two) languages like a native and with the right accent for people to easily be able to understand you in both languages, even on the telephone. You also need to be fully bilingual to be able to switch back and forth between languages.
Interpreting therefore sounds more tailored to your skillset as it stands now.
I have no idea about interpreting or how to go about finding work as an interpreter because I'm a translator myself but I thought it would be useful for you to understand the distinction because if you have a talent for English and Spanish, perhaps that's an avenue to explore.
There are plenty of areas in which interpreters are needed: courts, hospitals, funeral homes, immigration, police stations, business meetings, conferences, market research etc. etc.
Sometimes interpreters work over the telephone.

This could be an idea...


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 08:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
This could indeed be an idea... Jul 3, 2013

Marie-Helene Dubois wrote:
2) Interpreting (the spoken word)

There are plenty of areas in which interpreters are needed: courts, hospitals, funeral homes, immigration, police stations, business meetings, conferences, market research etc. etc.
Sometimes interpreters work over the telephone.


Now we know the OP's language skills, I would say you might have something here. Interpreting calls for a very different skillset, which might be more suitable. You need to be able to switch languages instantly, and always have the correct words available to you at normal speaking speed. I failed abysmally when I tried interpreting for a business meeting - I got so stressed and muddled I actually started speaking to the French person in English at one point, simply relaying the other party's words. Most embarrassing.icon_redface.gif

Of course, interpreting isn't a job where you can just go in at the top with no training. Conference and court interpreting etc are highly skilled jobs with a lot of rules. But if you live in a mixed society there are often opportunities for lower-paid interpreters in more everyday situations. Here in Fuerteventura, for example, there are very many residents who don't speak Spanish (I'm one of them, but of course I'm learning furiouslyicon_wink.gif). They ask someone to accompany them to the doctor, the town hall, the police station etc. If the interpreter is paid for by the administration then all the necessary qualifications etc have to be in place, but if it's the service user who's paying then nobody asks any questions as long as the interpreter does a competent job.


 
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