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How to have a job everyday? Any advice?
Thread poster: Cristiano Lima

Cristiano Lima
Brazil
Local time: 17:17
Member (2014)
Russian to Portuguese
+ ...
Jun 24, 2014

Greetings!

My name is Cristiano and I'm new at Proz. I realize that some translators have translations every day, something that I'd like to have. I already sent a considerable number of quotes, most o' them offering prices between USD 0,04 and 0,08 per word, a value that seems to be fair for a beginner, but still, considering that I sent more than 10 quotes, I got less than 10 jobs. Are my prices too high?

My biggest frustration was a book on WWII planes, despite of my USD 0,04 price, I did not get the job, despite that I love fighters, I'm a retired army officer.

So, any advice? Every day I use the menu "Jobs & directories" and "Browse jobs".


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Nicole Coesel  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:17
Member (2012)
Dutch to English
+ ...
It takes years ... Jun 24, 2014

Hi Cristiano,

Those translators with a steady workflow have worked very long and hard for that, and continuously maintain their client database, manage their assignments and keep up with their administration. These translators are 'not just lucky'. They are extremely dedicated people and hard workers. They are so much more than addicted to translating.

I understand this is something you would like to have ... you are not alone.

I think you should not entirely depend on ProZ.com to establish a client database, yet a good profile will surely help.

As to why you do not get jobs, that is hard to tell. Are you being critical enough? Are you presenting yourself in the right manner? Are you responding to an assignment adapting your cover letter? Do you ask questions?

I can imagine your frustration on the book, but bear in mind that publishers, in general, opt for extremely experienced translators. Your offer to them seems underpriced, which is why it does not get taken serious. On the other hand, do you really think you can translate a book? Have you done a book translation before? Do you know what it involves?

You need to find the right balance between what you want and what your own preferences and capabilities are.

Good luck, hope this helps!
Nicole.


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Rebecca Hendry  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
Member (2005)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Rates and perseverance Jun 24, 2014

Hi Cristiano,

If anything I think your rates are too low, although I'm not familiar with the going rates in your language pair. Perhaps colleagues who work with your languages could advise on that.

Bear in mind that experienced translators who are working full-time miss out on jobs too - perhaps because they're simply not the right person for the job, or they can't meet a deadline, or their rates are too high/low, or because the client has a preferred translator already. If you've just started out then you must persevere. It takes time to build up a steady client base and even then you might not have jobs every day. You need a day off occasionally, remember!

Keep at it and maybe work on your Proz.com profile too. It doesn't tell us much about your experience, although you claim to have been translating for 10 years. What have you translated? For whom?

Plenty of tips available in other posts in this forum, too, so have a read and get promoting yourself.

Good luck,

Becky.


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Cristiano Lima
Brazil
Local time: 17:17
Member (2014)
Russian to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
On rates Jun 24, 2014

My rates are always higher, except for that book because I really wished to be in the project, I love aircrafts.

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Texte Style
Local time: 22:17
French to English
even the most experienced of translators do not get ten jobs for ten quotes Jun 24, 2014

Christiano, even the most experienced of translators do not get ten jobs for ten quotes. When I used to work as a PM I would typically get at least 20 offers for any job I posted (we used a different website but which works more or less the same). I could only choose one, and when you get five outstanding CVs from translators offering rates that inspire confidence without being too pricey, well you have to make arbitrary choices. Once I eliminated a guy because when I looked at his website photo his ears looked creepy!!! (Before anyone starts ranting, the person I chose instead proved to be excellent by the way so there was method in my madness.)

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FarkasAndras
Local time: 22:17
English to Hungarian
+ ...
Multiple fronts Jun 24, 2014

You can't expect non-stop work from one source alone. You need to put yourself out there in real life, and perhaps improve your CV. Have you contacted translation agencies in your country, especially ones that advertise that they are looking for new freelancers? Have you done translator training and acquired a diploma of some sort (apart from learning more about translation itself and about how the business of translation works, this improves your CV and may land you some vital contacts that later become sources of work)? Have you taken tests to acquire translator qualifications or entered professional organisations?

Also, nobody has work every day. Well, some people claim to, but if that is true, they are in a tiny minority. Perhaps they work very slowly. Either way, I certainly don't want to work every day. Not even 5 days a week. That's why I'm a freelancer and not a full-time employee in some office: I can get a lot of work done in intense bursts of a couple of days and then have a few days off, making no less money than I would in a full-time job.


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IrimiConsulting  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 22:17
Member (2006)
English to Swedish
+ ...
What made me attractive to clients Jun 24, 2014

The two single most important factors for getting clients my way were one of my language combinations (De->Sv) and my ability to work with Across. There are a lot of negative reviews on Across and it's definitely not a perfect tool – but it costs nothing and has landed me several clients. To me, it's just a another tool in the box. My medical specialisation also landed a few clients.

Trying to compete with rates only is probably futile. I looked at your profile and your expert subject areas. There are a LOT of translators working in those subject areas, and for most of them quality is not paramount. Rates will always be important when selecting a supplier, opening up the field for amateurs (as opposed to full-time workers).

My advice for you would be to invest time in learning a subject area which is more in demand. I cannot say anything much about your language pairs since I don't know which clients or industries demand them.


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The Misha
Local time: 16:17
Russian to English
+ ...
Rates seem to be the least of your problems Jun 24, 2014

To what others here have said or will say, I'd like to add that it definitely helps to have a little humility and avoid making any exaggerated or false claims. Doing so destroys your credibility as a serious professional in more ways than you could imagine. Case in point: the first working pair you list in your profile is Russian to English, neither of which seems to be your native language. While being a native isn't strictly speaking a requirement, at least in my book it isn't, being able to demonstrate solid performance to substantiate your claims certainly is. Judging by the writing in your original post, your English is non-native and full of those little things that indicate you are nowhere near ready to translate INTO it professionally. From what I have seen earlier today in the Kudoz answer you proposed in the Russian-English pair, your Russian isn't any better. The confidence level of 5 you posted on that unfortunate answer suggests you may not be sufficiently critical when assessing the skill you are trying to market. Were I outsourcing (I am not), this alone would have excluded you from any further consideration once and for all.

That said, not even the best and the most experienced in this occupation "have a job everyday". What they have is a business, and no business comes with a guarantee. It also takes time and effort to build. If immediate full-time employment is what you want, then maybe you should be looking for just that - full-time employment in the area that fits your particular set of skills and competencies best.

Good luck to you.


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Cristiano Lima
Brazil
Local time: 17:17
Member (2014)
Russian to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Great! Jun 24, 2014

IrimiConsulting wrote:

Trying to compete with rates only is probably futile. I looked at your profile and your expert subject areas. There are a LOT of translators working in those subject areas, and for most of them quality is not paramount. Rates will always be important when selecting a supplier, opening up the field for amateurs (as opposed to full-time workers).

My advice for you would be to invest time in learning a subject area which is more in demand. I cannot say anything much about your language pairs since I don't know which clients or industries demand them.


That's what I supposed. What would you recommend?


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 21:17
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Choose your offer carefully and then be proactive Jun 24, 2014

Cristiano Lima wrote:
Every day I use the menu "Jobs & directories" and "Browse jobs".

Welcome to ProZ.com, Cristiano! You're obviously not doing too badly as I see you already have one WWA entry, which is a very good start. I think it's simply twofold:
- you aren't yet in a sufficiently visible position on this site, or in the industry as a whole, to attract much attention
- you are trying to do too many things rather than concentrating on what you do best.

As someone else has said, you shouldn't rely on ProZ.com to keep you in full-time work - you need to be more proactive. However, within ProZ.com, there are certain practices that will help you to gain more jobs. Paying membership is a great start, but it isn't enough, I'm afraid. The Site Guidance Centre: http://www.proz.com/guidance-center will explain what you need to do and how to use ProZ.com to grow your business.

Now, I know very little about you, so you may have a lot of knowledge and/or experience than I'm unaware of. However, taking what I can see on your profile and CV, it would seem to me that you are not a native speaker of Russian, English or Spanish - in fact you may not even have spent time in countries where these languages are spoken, nor had official studies in some of them. You may well have sufficient knowledge to translate FROM them, but I really doubt that you should be offering translations INTO them (although things are different in interpreting). Of course, you may be in a position to take on some jobs, particularly if you have specialist subject skills, but you should make it clear that your work will be revised by a native speaker of the target language. There are so many unqualified people out there who speak more than one language - do you want to be yet another of those, or do you want to be a professional freelance translator?

When you have tailored your service offer to cover only what you can do superbly well, I'm sure you'll agree that your rates could double. If you're going to be providing an excellent service, you should be paid adequately for your skills. I would have thought that there can't be too many translators qualified to work directly from Russian to Portuguese, so clients should be prepared to pay more (although I doubt there will be too many jobs on offer).

BTW: maybe you should have Military/Defence as your main specialisation and highlight the fact that you're a retired military officer, then charge higher rates. And maybe lose a few other specialisations. Tourism, for a start, seems an unlikely bedfellow with your other subject areas.

I think you just need to rethink how the clients see you, and keep working at attracting the right clients.

Good luck!


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Ian Mansbridge  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:17
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
I agree with Sheila Jun 24, 2014

In the nicest possible way, your sample translation into English is unlikely to inspire confidence in potential clients.

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Pieter Beens  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Member (2011)
English to Dutch
Disappointment is part of a translator's life Jun 24, 2014

Hi Cristiano,

I understand your position.
Being a translator is not a matter of luck (yet a little bit). Everything should be in balance: your competitiveness in terms of pricing, quality and experience.
You would have won the book translation, but probably a colleague was more attractive for the client. I have dealt with similar situations often. It's quite frustrating but that's how it works. Live as a translator has its good and bad days. Perhaps you'll get a new chance, perhaps not. Live with it, deal with it. The most important in this respect is self confidence and self respect. If you're worth it you'll once win it...

Succes!

Pieter


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philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
Some more suggestions Jun 24, 2014

1. That's a very formal photograph! Do you have anything that looks a bit more friendly and approachable?

2. You should either substantially increase the rates on your profile (you may even get MORE job offers as a result, as people associate low rates with low quality), or not advertise them.

3. As Ian suggested, you should remove the Portuguese to English sample translation from your profile. Don't try to be all things to all people: concentrate on what you know about and are good at.

4. Also, your sample translations are way too long. They should not be more than a few paragraphs each.

Good luck!


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Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:17
English to Russian
+ ...
it may be Jun 24, 2014

Are my prices too high?

My biggest frustration was a book on WWII planes, despite of my USD 0,04 price, I did not get the job, despite that I love fighters, I'm a retired army officer.

So, any advice? Every day I use the menu "Jobs & directories" and "Browse jobs".


that
your prices are too low

and the statement may sound like 'due to my USD 0.04 price'

==

I would recommend you to read some manuals, something about starting a business.. They usually contain some good advice on setting prices on your product, entering markets, etc...
Not a translation business but a general business... something like starting your own grocery shop

[Edited at 2014-06-24 19:03 GMT]


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Cristiano Lima
Brazil
Local time: 17:17
Member (2014)
Russian to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agreed Jun 24, 2014

Ian Mansbridge wrote:

In the nicest possible way, your sample translation into English is unlikely to inspire confidence in potential clients.


I agree, I just noticed and replaced it with another translation done.


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