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Help me reboot my translator activity...
Thread poster: Alexandre Chetrite

Alexandre Chetrite
France
Local time: 11:28
English to French
Dec 29, 2014

Hello,

After several months without translations or very little, I plan on "rebooting" my freelance activity.I need to make more money.

Any advice welcome about my Proz.com profile, my CV, my rates, etc.

I used to have a translator professional webpage hosted on SiteGround but my membership expired and I seldom attracted any customer through it (during the 1 year hosting period).

I don't understand why I didn't get customers though I applied to many jobs through Proz.com, odesk, elance, etc.

I have Trados 2011 Freelance Edition and Meta Texis Pro.

Regards,


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Since you're tech savvy Dec 29, 2014

You can spruce up your profile a little with some extra HTML. I made an easy guide for it here: http://www.opl10nt9n.com/blog/hacking-your-proz-profile (or you can watch the YouTube video).

As for a website, I don't really receive a lot of projects from it directly, but it works amazingly well as a place to highlight skills and information. I use it more like my portfolio and business card.

I guess it comes down to a question of asking what it is exactly that you want to change. I mean, do you want better paying clients? Do you want more clients like the ones you have now? Do you want more clients that pay better in a field that you really like? Once you have chosen a direction and a goal, it's a lot easier to see how to get there.


For me, the biggest change came from when I decided to look for more direct clients instead of working through agencies. I had to change how I marketed myself. It's been an interesting change, and I am enjoying it. I'm charging more, too.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 10:28
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Are you being sufficiently pro-active? Dec 29, 2014

Alexandre Chetrite wrote:
I don't understand why I didn't get customers though I applied to many jobs through Proz.com, odesk, elance, etc.

I wouldn't class two of those as professional sites, really - more as places to get pocket money. In fact, ProZ.com can boil down to much the same if you don't make an effort. The majority of jobs posted on the public job board here (though not all) are posted by bottom-feeding outsourcers who want lots of work, yesterday, but who aren't prepared to pay market rates.

Basically, there are two ways to make a living as a translator:
1) Offer ridiculously low rates and work all hours of the day and night to earn enough to pay your essential bills
2) Offer market rates (or higher), and market yourself as a professional, providing quality work.
I guess you've probably fallen below the two. If you just want to make a bit of money, forget translating, in fact forget freelancing and get a job. Route one is really not a good choice when you can flip burgers for more per hour.

If you want a career as a translator (i.e. route two), go all out for it! It isn't just going to happen - you're going to have to put a lot of effort into developing your client base. Think about what you can best offer your clients (your USP) and then structure every word of your marketing copy along those lines. Then find every way you can to tell each and every potential client that you're out there. That means networking, connecting with outsourcers, leaving your CV and/or business card with potential clients... To make this site work for you, you have to get the clients to notice you and to want you to do their translations. Note that the job board is only a very minor way to get to meet clients; much better is to get them to contact you. And you also need to look for clients outside this site, by bringing yourself to the attention of agencies that fit your service offer, and maybe direct clients too.

Any advice welcome about my Proz.com profile, my CV, my rates, etc.

Well, if you intend making ProZ.com your principal showcase then you must develop your presence here. There are many ways to do that, and they're all explained in a free webinar. Visit the Site Guidance Centre for lots and lots of information. One thing that really stood out for me when looking briefly at your profile and CV is that your CV doesn't list any translation experience at all, even though your profile says you have seven years. A few jobs mention customer relations responsibilities in various languages, but where are those seven years as a translator?


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Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 07:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
Ha! - If I had written that ... Dec 29, 2014

... I very much doubt that my post would have got past the mod

Sheila Wilson wrote:

... forget freelancing and get a job.



So I'll just agree - wholeheartedly.

[Edited at 2014-12-29 23:39 GMT]


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Alexandre Chetrite
France
Local time: 11:28
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
To Robin Levey Dec 30, 2014

Hi Robin,

Do you imply that I should stop freelancing and get another job? I hope that is not what you meant...

Regards,

[Edited at 2014-12-30 08:27 GMT]


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Robin Levey
Chile
Local time: 07:28
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's all about options Dec 30, 2014

Alexandre Chetrite wrote:
...
Do you imply that I should stop freelancing and get another job? I hope that is not what you meant...
...


Doing something else to earn your daily bread besides (or in addition to) free-lance translating is always an option to keep in mind. Thinking about alternatives will help you maintain a proper, business-like perspective on what you're trying to do today.


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Carmen Swanwick-Roa  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:28
Member (2014)
Spanish to English
+ ...
January Business Boot Camp Dec 30, 2014

Hi Alexandre, have a look at this: http://wantwords.co.uk/school/free-january-business-camp/

Marta Stelmaszak is running a free business boot camp for translators via email throughout January. I've been to one of her workshops and she really knows her stuff and is very motivating. It might help you "reboot" your freelance business!

Also, I find that a lot of online job boards where you bid for work are a waste of time if you're looking for work which pays a feasible rate. You will always be undercut by someone more desperate than you! Instead, try marketing yourself to agencies which are looking to recruit translators in your language combination, and go from there.

Good luck!


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Alexandre Chetrite
France
Local time: 11:28
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Carmen Dec 30, 2014

Thank you Carmen! This is exactly the type of help I was hoping to get from this thread!

I will definitely check it out.

Triston Goodwin too is very helpful.

I know only 8 ways to market oneself to translation agencies (and end clients)

1/ by e-mail

2/ by postal letter

3/ by phone

4/ in person

5/ indirectly through translator meetings or seminars or translation organizations

6/ by fax?

7/ by creating a nice professional website and indexing in Google. (indirect method)

And might I add:

8/ word-to-mouth through Powwows, informal meetings (more tricky).

Do you know any other ways?


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Patricia Fierro, M. Sc.  Identity Verified
Ecuador
Local time: 05:28
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Sheila's Option 2 Dec 30, 2014

Hello Alexandre,

I agree with Sheila and her second option:

2) Offer market rates (or higher), and market yourself as a professional, providing quality work.

Robin and Sheila gave advice on how to access the best jobs and how to find good clients. This takes a lot of effort, but it is worthwhile.

Good luck!
Patricia


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polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
Make sure your CV is spotless Dec 30, 2014

Alexandre,
Point one: I had a quick look at your CV in English. It contains quite a few mistakes. I suppose you are basically offering translation into French but an imperfect English CV is sending out the wrong signals.

Point two: are you translating as a sideline or is it your main activity? By the sound of what you say, in other words zero translations of late, I suspect you may be "moonlighting" and therefore not as available as some clients might like.

Point three: Given that you are based in France, I would suggest you join the French Translators' Association SFT (www.sft.fr). You would make contacts and build up a network. It seems you are in Paris and every month SFT organises a "Matinale" there where you could meet fellow translators, talk and pick up ideas. As a member you can also enter your profile and be found by potential clients.

Point four: never rely on a crowdsourcing site for your business. The clients that go to such sites are looking for cheap, cheaper and cheapest. This is not where you should be.

Point five: if you want to do part-time translation, you may find it tough because clients want suppliers who are constantly available.

Point six: you seem to be working for or to have worked for a government agency. That could be a source of business. Ask around. Find out what is going on and stake your claim.

HTH


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Alexandre Chetrite
France
Local time: 11:28
English to French
TOPIC STARTER
I found only one mistake on my CV... Dec 31, 2014

polyglot45

Regarding my CV I found only one mistake. "leasure" instead of "leisure". Please MP me the other mistakes you found.

I had many people reading my CV ,including family, and nobody gave me feedback about mistakes. I ran the CV through Word spell checker and results are fine in English.






[Edited at 2014-12-31 09:19 GMT]


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Gabriele Demuth  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:28
Member (2014)
English to German
Cheap, cheaper, cheapest ... and beyond Jan 1, 2015

polyglot45 wrote:

Point four: never rely on a crowdsourcing site for your business. The clients that go to such sites are looking for cheap, cheaper and cheapest. This is not where you should be.

HTH



I must agree, although the sites Alexandre mentioned are not crowdsourcing sites, I did find them useful to gain some experience, until I noticed that I couldn't even pay my bills with what I earned. I have kept my profile there and apply to the odd interesting sounding job, but with my normal rates. Only today a job translating 7000 words went to someone for $150 - and her profile did sound very good I must admit! I wonder weather I am barking up the wrong tree there, but I did see an agency with a very good Blue Board record advertising on one of these sites, who then advertised the same job here and hired me via Proz.

This makes me wonder, but the industry can't sink that low, because, as Sheila said, it would be a lot more profitable to flip burgers.


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Sandra& Kenneth  Identity Verified
Israel
Local time: 12:28
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Nothing to reboot, upgrade Jan 2, 2015

"Do you imply that I should stop freelancing and get another job? I hope that is not what you meant..."

Several people have tried to tell you that your don't seem to be a professional translator. Your CV is empty. Your translating experience consists in teaching and working in the hotel business and your writing skills don't seem to be that great either.
You have nothing to offer to a serious, high-paying customer.

If you want to make a living in this profession, you have to practice it first at a professional level.

There is nothing to reboot.

Upgrade to the professional level first. You can start by taking a part-time job in what you are qualified to do and translating on the side.

Marketing is not the magic formula that will make you into a professional translator. A passion for translation is. This passion would have shown some results over the past seven years. It doesn't.

If you think you have it, go for it. It will take a while, though.

Good luck,
Sandra
















[Edited at 2015-01-02 12:06 GMT]


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polyglot45
English to French
+ ...
Not a home at the moment Jan 2, 2015

I'll PM you next week when I can find time

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Sorana_M.
Romania
Local time: 12:28
English to Romanian
+ ...
E-mails. Lots of them Jan 4, 2015

Alexandre Chetrite wrote:

Thank you Carmen! This is exactly the type of help I was hoping to get from this thread!

I will definitely check it out.

Triston Goodwin too is very helpful.

I know only 8 ways to market oneself to translation agencies (and end clients)

1/ by e-mail

2/ by postal letter

3/ by phone

4/ in person

5/ indirectly through translator meetings or seminars or translation organizations

6/ by fax?

7/ by creating a nice professional website and indexing in Google. (indirect method)

And might I add:

8/ word-to-mouth through Powwows, informal meetings (more tricky).

Do you know any other ways?





Dear Alexandre,

Here's what I did: I found proz's database of registered companies seeking translators (there must be a link somewhere here), I sorted out all those who had "Romanian" among their languages, and I sent them all an e-mail. It took me around 7-10 days, and that's all I did those days. I sent around... 3,000 e-mails. I got maybe 20 answers. Out of those 20 answers, maybe 5 turned into real customers.


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