First (or perhaps next) steps!
Thread poster: Joshua Lee

Joshua Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:27
French to English
Feb 20, 2014

Hello all,

I was wondering if I could ask your advice, as the advice I've seen given to others on this site is always so well-prepared and thoughtful!

I graduated with a masters degree in French last year after 5 long years of university (including a year in France), during which I was constantly doing translation tasks for my studies and getting detailed critiques from tutors of different types of translations I would do. However, it should be noted I do not have a DipTrans or any translation-specific degrees/diplomas. But my one true passion is translation (and language in general I suppose.)

I decided recently to go part time at work and drop loads of hours to put time into refining my language skills again with a view to become a freelance translator. I created a website ( http://www.joshuajlee.co.uk ) and updated my profile here. I am in the process of opening a bank account for translation use and have been sorting out all the money matters that are associated with being self-employed!

I am doing some French translation pro bono when I can find it on the volunteering websites I use and I am a francophone volunteer on a charity forum website.

However, I'm at a loss. What next? I've started quoting on some jobs here, and I'm going to start barraging agencies with CVs. But without actual experience and recommendations, I feel a bit like nobody's going to take me.

Before your lovely advice, there is one main problem - money. At the moment there's not a lot of expendable income and I can't afford to do a DipTrans right now (although I plan to do it as soon as possible) or a ProZ.com membership (also on the shopping list).

Thanks in advance for any help you provide!

[Edited at 2014-02-20 02:27 GMT]


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ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 07:27
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Good Job Overall Feb 20, 2014

I just looked at your own website, and it looks pretty good. The website looks like it has been done professionally. However, everything can be improved, and so can your website. This is something that can be done while you are doing translations and other stuff.

I also looked at your ProZ profile. That one looks good, too. Except for one item. I saw your CV/resume in French but you did not provide any CV/resume in English. I definitely think that you should have CV/resume in English in your ProZ profile. I am sure this is something you can do easily.

Everything takes time in life. You may not get jobs right away but you eventually will. It takes some persistence. Just keep working at it. Best of luck.


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Woodstock  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 06:27
German to English
+ ...
@Atil Feb 20, 2014

Sorry, Atil, but it's not a good idea to put your CV in your profile as a downloadable file these days - too many scammers and identity thieves are catching too many translators in their webs of deceit. Better to state that your CV is available on request. There are many threads on this in the Proz "Scams" forum.

Also see this well-researched and informative website for more information:
http://www.translator-scammers.com/translator-scammers-info.htm#counter

@Joshua

Don't be discouraged, and tout your experience in the fields you have already become proficient in, even if it has been pro bono so far. Specialize in a few subjects because no one can translate everything well, and it is more efficient. For example, I no longer do technical translations because there are a couple of other subjects I know better and am faster at. Whatever you do, don't sell yourself short in your rates. Know what you can charge and don't accept peanuts. There are many, many threads on the subject right here on Proz that you can learn a lot from.

Good luck!


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Romain Boisnault  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 06:27
Member (2012)
English to French
+ ...
French version of your Website Feb 20, 2014

Hi

I had a look at the French version of your Website and... there are a lot of mystakes (grammar, especially).

As a French native speaker, I can tell that your potential French clients won't trust you because of this negative aspect.

Asking a French native speaker to review/proofread your Website and your resume seems to be the very next step.

Feel free to contact me in case of any question

Have a good day,
Romain


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Joshua Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:27
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks all! Feb 20, 2014

Atil, thanks for the encouragement, I appreciate it!

Woodstock - thanks for the advice, I do plan to specialise shortly and start building up my own glossary whilst studying my chosen area so hopefully that will come together slowly.

Romain Boisnault wrote:

I had a look at the French version of your Website and... there are a lot of mystakes (grammar, especially).


Thanks for the feedback - I must admit my English into French is a bit rusty and I did prepare my website rather quickly. I have already made some corrections and will get a native speaker to take a look!


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Peter Linton  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:27
Member (2002)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Valuable experience Feb 20, 2014

Joshua Lee wrote:
I graduated with a masters degree in French last year after 5 long years of university (including a year in France), during which I was constantly doing translation tasks for my studies and getting detailed critiques from tutors of different types of translations I would do.

Five years learning French, and a year in France recently will appeal to many potential customers, possibly more than a DipTrans or any translation-specific degrees/diplomas. I suggest emphasising this experience, give some brief examples of your work (rendered anonymous) and in particular describe your year in France - what you did, what you learned, how that improved your French.

You also mention commercial experience in the UK - again well worth emhasising because you will be more business-minded, unlike many young translators who have no commercial experience at all.

As for pro bono - are you familiar with the TED website? They need translators
http://www.ted.com/pages/298
and they have a French section.

To sum up - you are better qualified than you think.

Now you need to market yourself. First, and perhaps a bit harsh, I think your ProZ CV is too warm and fluffy and tells a customer very little about your skills. Where's the beef? Cut the fluf. Give some examples of your work, explain why you chose certain words and phrases. Make sure you are not breaching confidentiality, omit the fact that this may be pro bono work, or done at university - it is your translation skills matter. Contribute to KudoZ.
Look at it from a customer's point of view - what would persuade a customer to contact you?

To sum up - marketing yourself is now your priority.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 05:27
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Your MA is a good basis Feb 20, 2014

Joshua Lee wrote:
I graduated with a masters degree in French last year after 5 long years of university (including a year in France), during which I was constantly doing translation tasks for my studies and getting detailed critiques from tutors of different types of translations I would do. However, it should be noted I do not have a DipTrans or any translation-specific degrees/diplomas. But my one true passion is translation (and language in general I suppose.)

That degree is a very good basis for your career, Joshua. The DipTrans should wait for a couple of years - it isn't an exam meant for beginners.

What next? I've started quoting on some jobs here, and I'm going to start barraging agencies with CVs.

Well, you've taken an important initial step by paying for membership, meaning that you'll be able to apply straight away for all suitable jobs here. But most of the better jobs are never posted; clients often select likely translators from the directory and contact them. To have a chance of getting those jobs, you need to follow all the advice given at http://www.proz.com/guidance-center. There's a lot there, so make sure you find it all - the free webinars, the possibility of mentoring, the importance of KudoZ to visibility here...

Before you contact agencies, there are also some important things for you in the knowledgebase under the Education tab: the scam alert centre, and the Wiki (start with the ones on marketing and risk management) and other articles are all worth reading. I have to say that, although your CV is neat and tidy, it doesn't really give the client much information to help him/her decide if you're the translator for their job. Forget everything you've ever learnt about the standard CV - you're proposing a B2B service now, not applying for a salaried job.

But without actual experience and recommendations, I feel a bit like nobody's going to take me.

However, I have to say that's a killer. Unless you believe in yourself, clients aren't going to get the best impression. You need to be 100% positive and self-confident, and leverage the qualifications and experience that you do have.


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Louisa Berry
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:27
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Some things about your website Feb 21, 2014

Hi and welcome

There are pros and cons of stating your prices on your website. I feel (when I get around to finishing my website!) that giving a flat rate only allows you room to negotiate downwards.

Have you thought about your rate in Euros? My source language is German and I get a lot of my work from Germany and I invoice them in Euros. You also say PayPal is your preferred method of receiving money. This is fine outside Europe, but BACS transfers in the UK are free, whereas PayPal will charge you 4% to receive money. If you are receiving money from the eurozone and the payment is sent in Euros and via the SEPA system (you give the payer your BIC and IBAN numbers), the payment should only cost what an internal transfer in that country would cost, in most cases nothing and in theory your UK bank shouldn't charge you either.

Hope this is clear!


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Joshua Lee  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 05:27
French to English
TOPIC STARTER
Excellent advice by all! Feb 21, 2014

Thanks to all for you comments. I definitely will take on board the feedback on the CV - I've never written a B2B CV before so I'll definitely redo it and tailor it more for translation.

Louisa - thanks for the advice re: displaying rates. As for payments, I will be taking BACS payments in the UK and then either paypal or international transfers for outside UK. I actually work for a major UK bank in their business banking department part time so luckily I've got the inside track on banking!

Sheila - thanks for the advice on KudoZ, I will definitely work on that and follow the guidance in the link! As for lack of recommendations - I definitely believe in myself and don't shy away from promoting myself so hopefully I'll overcome that barrier!

Peter - thanks for the encouragine message, I will definitely start working on marketing myself more now and will make sure that I explain more clearly the reasons why clients should take me on!


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