How a newbie translator gains more translation experience
Thread poster: Unchalind

Unchalind  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 00:10
Member (2014)
English to Thai
+ ...
Sep 26, 2014

Hi all,

I'm a newbie freelance translator. Before register at proz.com, I had worked for 3 years as an in-house translator for a foreign company doing high speed train system business in Thailand.

I took proz.com training relevant to getting established freelancer.

My first translation as a freelancer is a Patent translation, which went well.

However, I have just been turned down from an agency because I have less experience as a freelancer.

So, my question, which I need your suggestion, is how do I gain experience if no one give me opportunity.

However, I do understand that it would take many years to gain reputation and to be a well-established freelance translator. But I just want to make sure that I'm walking on the right direction.

I'd love to hear from you all.

Thank you.

Unchalind


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Jacques DP  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 18:10
Member (2003)
English to French
In short Sep 26, 2014

  1. Make sure you provide quality translation (training, external validation, etc.)
  2. Make sure you project a professional image (work on your profile, use your real name, gain KudoZ points to be ranked well in directory searches, etc.)
  3. At first offer lower rates since you have little experience, then slowly raise your rates


By the way $0.11 per word for Thailand seems a lot, since the cost of living there is much less than, say, in Europe. Of course you are free to set your rates as you wish, but if experienced Thai translators work at $0.05, agencies will select them rather than you.


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Unchalind  Identity Verified
Thailand
Local time: 00:10
Member (2014)
English to Thai
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jacques Sep 26, 2014

I have adjusted my standard rate as per your advice.


Regards,

Unchalind


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 18:10
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@JDP Sep 26, 2014

Jacques DP wrote:
By the way $0.11 per word for Thailand seems a lot, since the cost of living there is much less than, say, in Europe.


What makes you say that?



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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:10
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Produce quality and charge for quality Sep 26, 2014

Jacques DP wrote:
  1. Make sure you provide quality translation (training, external validation, etc.)
  2. Make sure you project a professional image (work on your profile, use your real name, gain KudoZ points to be ranked well in directory searches, etc.)

I second both of those.

In your shoes I would certainly emphasise your translations into Thai rather than out of it. I'm sure that there is also work for you in the reverse pair - after all, there can't be that many native English speakers who are fluent in Thai - but it should be a secondary service offer, and/or you should include the cost of proofreading by a native speaker in your rate. I'm sure that as an in-house translator you translated both ways; it's perfectly normal for an employer to maximise the investment in you in that way. But our clients expect us to produce perfect texts that read naturally.

I advise you to make full use of the site content, including attending the very useful, and free, webinar on "Meeting Clients at ProZ.com". Visit the Site Guidance Centre, where there's a mine of information and tips: http://www.proz.com/guidance-center. You'd also benefit by adding various things to your profile:
- paid membership here and/or of a translators' organisation
- CAT tools and other tools
- convincing sample(s): I have to say that your English source reads as though written by a fellow Thai
- certification in English (e.g. a Cambridge exam pass, perhaps)
Any/all of these would help you stand out from the crowd of those who know two languages and think translation is an easy way to a fast buck in their spare time. Of course, investment may have to wait until you've earned something, but my advice is to make it a high priority. I would also advise you to make your "about me" text more personal by writing it in the first person.

  • At first offer lower rates since you have little experience, then slowly raise your rates

  • I don't agree with that, though. Your rate shouldn't be high at the moment, but there's no reason for it to be lower than the lower end of average. According to ProZ.com statistics (there are others available on the internet), that would be around $0.08 per word, no lower. The assumption is that you're going to spend longer on each word, researching more than an experienced translator. You'll also do well to steer away from highly technical work, and concentrate on easier texts to start with. If you only produce 150 words per hour then you'll be earning quite a low hourly rate (which is OK as you're just starting out), and the client will receive the best possible text. Both of you should be happy. If you ask for too little you'll find you lose motivation to do anything than churn out the words quickly, just so you can earn enough to feed yourself. That's a downward spiral that you'll have trouble ever getting out of.


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    Unchalind  Identity Verified
    Thailand
    Local time: 00:10
    Member (2014)
    English to Thai
    + ...
    TOPIC STARTER
    Thank you Sheila Sep 28, 2014

    Your suggestion is very useful and in full details as exactly that I need.

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    Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
    Poland
    Local time: 18:10
    English to Polish
    + ...
    ... Sep 28, 2014

    You aren't that much of a newbie, after all. You may be new to freelancing, of course, and any translator is ever new to translation right until he or she dies of old age, but... oh... where was I...

    Reading these books can make sense:
    The Prosperous Translator — Advice from Fire Ant & Worker Bee by Chris Durban;
    How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator and Thoughts on Translation by Corinne McKay (also an interesting blog on the site);
    The Entrepreneurial Linguist by Judy and Dagmar Jenner (check out the blog too).

    Cheaper in Kindle versions on Amazon than otherwise, and there's a free Kindle reader for the PC there too. Reading all three to see where they differ and why could also be useful.

    Marta Stelmaszak runs a boot camp too.

    [Edited at 2014-09-28 15:15 GMT]


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