How can I find clients outside Proz?
Thread poster: Nuri Razi

Nuri Razi
Local time: 14:02
Member (2008)
English to Turkish
+ ...
Mar 15, 2014

Dear Colleagues,

I need your professional advice on this question: How can I find clients outside Proz or Translatorscafe? I want to diversify my client base so what are you suggestions? Maybe I should be a member of a professional association like CIOL or ATA? Or should I network through for example Yahoogroups? I would really appreciate your suggestions and explanations. Thank you.


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 12:02
Member (2007)
+ ...
Any and all of the above Mar 18, 2014

Just remember that nobody's going to be beating a path to your door if they don't know you exist. It pays to market your services in any way you can think of, providing that the message is always clear and professional.

- Memberships of translating and other organisations are always worthwhile, some more than others of course.
- Sending your CV and a letter to agencies and possible direct clients may brings returns if you make the approach carefully (no spamming).
- Visiting likely agency and direct clients can certainly work, but of course there may not be that many within a visiting distance.
- Attending trade fairs in your areas of specialisation can work wonders - maybe they've never thought about translations.
- Chambers of Commerce have good contacts.
- Just leaving your business card around can have surprising results. Remember that your friends have families and other friends, and they all mostly have jobs. Helpfully passing over your card when they ask for your email address or phone number may result in a job one day.

There are probably more things you can do within, too. Meeting fellow translators at Powwows and conferences has certainly brought me a lot of work.

Cast your net wide. Oh, and don't complain if/when you get too much work - just raise your ratesicon_smile.gif.


Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:02
English to Polish
+ ...
Google what lawyers do (e.g. Mar 18, 2014

... And do the same. It's really almost all transferable, except we don't normally do proper advising (more like everything but). Basically, you want to be the only translator in a room full of lawyers, medical doctors, coal traders, cookbook publishers, shipowners, whatever floats your boat.

Once there you want to be smart, presentable, approachable but dignified, understanding and all-in-all a solid brand and somewhat like one of them (though you aren't fully, and don't need to be). Never even leave your house without a pocketful of business cards.

Get a website. If you can't afford a proper designer's bill for a hand-made site, buy a template made by a proper designer, who cares if 30 other companies also use a customised version of the same template? You aren't a debutante looking for a ballroom dress. Don't have to be that unique.

Be professional, serious, collected, competent.

You can take exams if you want (DipTrans, sworn translator etc.) and join associations (IoL, ITI etc.), but that's optional. It's a credibility enhancer for sure, but it's not like one gets a lot of clients directly from that route. I'm not a member anywhere myself (though as a sworn translator I'm subject to a disciplinary regime nonetheless, at least as far as certified stuff goes).

[Edited at 2014-03-18 20:07 GMT]


Michael Marcoux  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:02
Russian to English
+ ...
Show up with a business card and a hand shake Apr 16, 2014

I'm dead serious. Not sure what customs would govern this behavior where you're from, but I've met with marginal success by just walking into various institutions, talking to someone, and handing them a business card. This doesn't work well with large firms who have more pressing concerns, but mid-sized firms, or smaller satellite offices of larger firms, are much more receptive. Also, like Sheila said, just talk to people about what you do- the odds of finding work that way are astronomically small, but treat it like a numbers game- the more you play, the greater your chances are of winning. I actually found my first and most reliable client by talking about what I do to a stranger on a commuter train who introduced me to a direct client. Such luck has befallen me once in 3 years, but it was very well worth it. As Łukasz said, never leave your house without a handful of business cards.

For one of my language pairs (RU > EN) there are tons of organizations dedicated to promoting cultural and business ties between the U.S. and Russia- which naturally have business members that need translation. I found, they even list prominent member-companies (see members list.) You could always try contacting both the companies and the ATC itself, offering your services.

I agree that making a website is very useful, but it is worth bearing in mind that a website will not "draw" clients in. Major LSPs have deep pockets, and they spend astronomical sums of money on SEO and advertisement- very few people will discover your site on their own (and then, some that do will request extraneous services- "hey, can you tutor my kid in Turkish?" "Here is my resume, let me translate for you." etc.)

However, as Łukasz said, it is important to be professional, competent, collected, and serious (in no particular ordericon_wink.gif, and having a website helps establish that you have all four of those traits. Any old schmuck can have a proz account and use a free e-mail service to operate his or her translation business (ouch! Serious zinger to myself right there!), but making a professional website helps show that you are sticking around and in it for the long haul- not just translating a few documents on the side to have some pocket change while you're touring Rome or between jobs. I know if I ran a business and anyone showed up offering me professional services, and, by the way, you can contact me at, I would not take them as seriously as if they had a professionally done website.

Basically, listen to Łukasz and Sheila- they've been around the block!


Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 12:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
You mean you find any clients at Proz? May 11, 2014

I have to be grateful to Proz's Blueboard because thanks to it I contacted an agency that turned out to be very nice and quite important to me.

However, it's been more than five years since I registered, having been a paying member at times. I have only been directly contacted for work through Proz a couple of times. Once, ironically, because I started a thread here that got so nasty I had to plead the admins for its proper deletion. In that thread, my profile was ripped to pieces by other translators but, strangely enough, someone read it and gave me translation work the next day!

You could try Freelance sites too. They are not perfect though as the rates are usually low and you have dozens of people bidding. I don't rely on Proz for work and no longer dare seek advice here but info can sometimes be very useful.

[Edited at 2014-05-11 19:07 GMT]


Andrea Diaz
Local time: 06:02
English to Spanish
+ ...
Linkedin. May 13, 2014

This one is too obvious but it bears repetition: Linkedin. I have been contacted at least three times thanks to my linkedin profile. You could also increase your internet visibility through social media. There are translation communities in facebook with job opportunities.

Sheila, thank you so much for the business card suggestion. This is something I've been considering for a while, and your comment has given me a few ideas.


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