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Stagnation, Doubts, Trados? Virtual hugs needed!
Thread poster: Luna Jungblut

Luna Jungblut  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
Mar 4, 2015

Dear community,

My name is Luna Jungblut, young and determined EN-FR (and soon ES!) translator.
I have been determined for nearly two years now and I can say that I'm finding it hard to get into the industry.

Indeed, apart from 2 regular clients, and despite the energy I put into branding myself, registering on numerous freelancing websites, sending millions of CVs and being ever more creative, I am still a beginner.

What is more, the two clients I have I got through contacts, and the work that they give me is not enough to live on.
I have been on the Proz website for 2 years, looking at jobs very regularly, but maybe naively thinking that applying for jobs was enough?

I am considering at the moment getting a 800 Euros loan in order to purchase more tools that I think would help me get jobs:

- Proz membership
- Trados Studio
- Multiterm Desktop

However, I keep thinking that the situation could well be exactly the same... Is it actually going to help me? Is it worth being in debt?
I see that most jobs on the jobs directory are 'members only' and for Trados users, but it does not mean they will choose me in the list of applicants.

I am turning to you for enlightment on this one
Any advice would be immensely appreciated!

Thank you,
A little lost Luna


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Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 12:53
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Hello and welcome! Mar 4, 2015

Dear Luna

Welcome, and I hope things get moving for you soon! And here is a virtual hug - I know the feeling!

I found that paying for Proz.com landed me a job and paid for the subscription in a month. A good client found me and provided regular work for several years, and others followed.

I can't promise that will happen to you - but good clients very often find translators by searching the directories and approaching translators through their profiles. Paying members do have better chances, because they are shown first in the directories.

You can also increase your chances of good clients finding you by fleshing out your profile and adding search terms they will find when they google and filter for someone to fit specific jobs.

Trados Studio is one of those terms, and I found that a good investment too. (Multiterm comes with it automatically.) You will need to spend time learning to use it, but in the long run it will be time well spent. Try demo versions of some of the other CATs if you can - different CATS suit different people. Mention, of course, on your profile whichever one you finally choose. The CAT will probably take a little longer to pay for itself, but it will.

Enter some subject areas and keywords on your profile.
Fill in as many subjects as you honestly can in the 'Services offered' section and add keywords in the SEO / Search Engine Optimisation tab.

Give some more specific details about your work:
What were the conferences about when you interpreted?
Are there any subject areas you can expand on - think of as many 'green' and environmental keywords as you can, for instance, if that is an area you could work in.
Or a cluster about developing countries (which areas of development?)

Add some keywords for music, and give some details about those sciences.

What did you write your thesis about? Could you find some terminology and keywords there?

I can let my imagination run when I see your profile, but it seems a little vague. Search bots will simply not see you - they don't have any imagination!

When you send out CVs, flesh them out too, and select carefully who you send them to. Translation is not an easy business to break into, but oddly enough there are not too many good translators about.

If you can go to a powwow or other activities and make yourself visible to colleagues, they may be able to recommend you to clients or vice versa. I found that was another source of good jobs.

Keep trying, and best of luck!


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:53
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 4, 2015



[Edited at 2015-03-04 20:21 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:53
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Hold on the spending Mar 4, 2015

- Proz membership DEFINITELY
- Trados Studio PUT THIS ON HOLD
- Multiterm Desktop PUT THIS ON HOLD

Dont start spending money on costly things you may not need (yet).

Spend plenty of time working on your Proz profile. Make sure it is 100% complete. Include your calendar on your profile page. Make sure you complete all the sections. Make it a work of art!

I don't quite understand how the Proz algorhythms work, but having a 100% complete profile is apparently a great way to get noticed. It seems to work for me.

Also spend time in these forums. If an agency is interested in you they will track you here. Agencies hang out here, so make sure your contributions put you in a good light.

The way to get jobs is not to bore yourself (and annoy the agencies) by sending off hundreds of CVs, but strange as it may seem, constantly being an active presence on Proz. It's particularly important to contribute as much as you can to the Kudoz terminology section.

The algorthyms will track your prowess with Kudoz and the more questions you answer successfully, the more likely your name will be to come up, when an agency comes looking for a translator in your language pair, but MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL, in your areas of specialisation.

I don't know much about space etc. but there must be a lot of translation work in that growing market. Cinema, Film, TV, Drama are of course very rich in potential jobs.

SPECIALISATION is the most important thing of all. This will be slow at first but as you become gradually known to a few agencies, and if you do a good professional job -not cheaply but well - they'll come back to you from time to time. (However N.B. I suggest the rates mentioned on your website are a little high for a person who has not yet established herself).

Keep going! Ignore the nay-sayers. If I had constant work, every day, 7 days a week, I would be earning about Euro 70K a year, which I think is satisfactory and dignified (except that of course the work isn't constant!)

[Edited at 2015-03-04 20:40 GMT]


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:53
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Valid points Mar 4, 2015

Jeff Whittaker wrote:
However, for what it's worth, if I knew what the translation industry was going to become, I would definitely have chosen another career path.

I applaud Jeff's honesty. While my experience is different, I have much less of it than him so you should think seriously about the points he raised. But while considering them you should also bear in mind that over the past two decades many, many other middle-class jobs have also seen changes that workers consider to be changes for the worse. Some translators may have had a difficult time but they're not unique in that.

Translation as a career is never going to make you rich, but that can be said of most jobs. However, it can offer you a certain freedom of thought and action that I think is impossible in regular office work - and that is a precious thing. If you are tired of the conventional rat race, translation and similar "work from home" jobs are worth considering. I see it as an interesting "second career".

As a "first career" it seems to me that translation might be a good fit for people who are juggling two jobs or interests. It's quite flexible and once you're established it can be done anywhere you have an internet connection. Three days a week, eight days a week, half a year, 365 days, in that Starbucks above the ticket gates at Shinagawa station, at the Trondheim house of that friend you met in Hugo Boss in Oslo, looking out over the beach at Claigan, in your home at Hoyo de Manzanares.

Whenever, wherever. It's easy to discount the value of such a lifestyle but it's a real advantage compared to a 9-to-6 with a big commute. And if you're going to enjoy the benefits of that lifestyle, it is perhaps best done before you have a family to tie you down.

I would not borrow money to buy CAT software. That seems to me to be risky and it would put you under a lot of psychological pressure to take work that you may not want or be able to do. What else do you do? Isn't there something you can use to make yourself stand out more?

Dan


[Edited at 2015-03-04 22:58 GMT]


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Georgie Scott  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:53
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
People are the best investment Mar 5, 2015

I'm starting to think I spend too much time on these forums, but for what it's worth:

Investing in the things that you've mentioned paid off for me very quickly - though I didn't take a loan, I just swapped a social life for working all hours of the day as a translator and in any role I could find that would help contribute to my areas of expertise until I could afford them (I never got the social life back by the way).

That said, I know so many successful translators that don't really use Proz and don't use Trados or any other CAT tool for that matter.

The thing they all have in common, and the thing that really changed things for me, was getting out and meeting people. Get out to trade fairs, conferences etc,. pop along to the SDL events (and pick up their great tips on Trados) and generally make sure everyone you meet knows that you're a qualified translator looking for work.

You got a first.

Help people see that. Give them a reason to read your cv instead of the hundreds of others flooding their inbox every day. I'm sure you'll soon forget me after this post, but you wouldn't if we'd met in person.

(And lay off the debt; solitude, a fluctuating work flow, tight deadlines, bizarre texts and sudden mind blanks are enough stress as it is)

Also, your existing clients can make a LWA entry that shows on your profile. It'll only take them a minute.

[Edited at 2015-03-05 00:08 GMT]

[Edited at 2015-03-05 00:09 GMT]


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Evgenia mussuri
United States
Member
English to Russian
+ ...
I would not take a loan just now Mar 5, 2015

Hello, I agree with some of the previous posters, I would not take a loan at this very moment.

1. I think Proz membership is a good investment, and you can get partial membership, with which you still have access to jobs, blueboard, forums, ets, it works very well for me.

2. Wait with the purchase of this expensive software. You can try to get a trial version of Memoq, some clients who use it can provide you with the their license and you will be able to do translations for them with no problems.

3. In addition to what was already said about marketing your skills, networking and meeting people face-to-face, I would suggest checking regular job sites as well (monster, indeed, simply hired), sometimes clients are looking for contractor translators there, just use relevant keywords, such as telecommute or home based, french translation etc.

Here are my virtual hugs to you! I think it is fair to say a lot of us felt stagnation and doubts at one point or another. But then there is a break and you are so busy, it is insane, good luck!


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Jitka Komarkova (Mgr.)  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:53
Member (2013)
English to Czech
+ ...
Get ready for current opportunities... Mar 5, 2015

Dear Luna,
you are a young person in the industry and it seems you want to spend some time working in it...
Therefore, I believe, you should be flexible (to a certain extent) and able to adapt to the current needs of the industry. To be more specific, I would certainly invest in CAT tools - in my opinion and considering my own experience, it is a MUST and it is worth it. Indeed, there are (a) few clients who do not want you to use CAT tools nowadays, but no doubt, there will be fewer and fewer in the upcoming years. And you must be ready for requirements of your prospects. For me (I have worked using different tools and platforms) Trados Studio is (so far) No. 1. (Multiterm goes without saying.)
For me, PROZ membership paid off within the first month.
Of course, as Christine says, "I can't promise that will happen to you", but you will definitely increase your chances. ¨
I believe that people should not think they will get much without investing in their career (not only software and professional memberships, generally, including education, etc.)... If you compare the 800 EUR to what you may want to earn in the future, maybe some 25-35 k EUR or more per year... is it worth it?
Don't give up! And good luck!
Jitka


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:53
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Time, more than money, will be the best investment, IMHO Mar 5, 2015

Certainly, if you want to make ProZ.com your principal showcase, then you will need to pay for membership. With this and similar sites, you have to make an investment, but not only a financial one. You need to be visible, and that means (a) paid membership, but also (b) KudoZ points, (c) concentration on your specialisations so you pass filters, (d) a good general visibility (KudoZ, forums, etc.). So choose just one site (this is the best, IMO) to invest in. There's an area of ProZ.com specifically designed to help you use this site to its best advantage: http://www.proz.com/guidance-center

But don't rely on ProZ to provide all your clients. You should be investing heavily (timewise) in other networking possibilities - LinkedIn is the obvious one but there's also Twitter and even Facebook, and no doubt loads of others I've never heard of. You need to make sure your clients know where to find you, and lure them to your website. Attend in-person events here, where you'll meet agency clients, and at trade fairs etc where you'll meet direct client. Give everyone your glossy card so they can contact you. Much better than cold-calling agencies with your CV.

Talking of CVs, and related things such as profile information, you could tighten yours up an awful lot. Between the expertise, samples and about me text on your profile and your CV uploaded here, you're giving an incredibly confusing message which must be putting off a lot of clients who get as far as reading about you. What do you specialise in? Where do you live? Are you a translator or an interpreter? All of these questions should be answered, not raised, by your marketing material. I really think you'd benefit enormously from the free (!) webinar to help you find clients here: http://www.proz.com/guidance-center/additional-resources/

In short, channel your time and your energy into getting yourself known as a professional translator, and put as much money as you can (without taking out loans) into getting yourself the necessary tools. Certainly you need a CAT tool, but some are free and not all jobs need Trados.


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Luna Jungblut  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
En route to success :) Mar 5, 2015

Hello everyone,

First of all, let me thank you immensely for all the great advice you have given me.
Many of you have taken the time to look at my profile and raise the issues that I needed pointed out, thanks!

It has been a very productive day, with a renewed motivation from all your constructive comments.

I updated my profile, completed it until 100% and I realised that you get a 15% discount on the ProZ membership with a fully completed profile, it is already working!!
I intend on purchasing the membership in the next couple of days.
I also registered for the free webinar on how to meet clients and am looking forward to it.
All the same, I will try to be more present on Kudoz, even though I think I lack confidence on that one...
My two clients gave me a WWA! (even though they won't be identified by Proz because they are festivals organisers... Does it look bad?)

I have a few more questions for you however:

Some of you said that Multiterm comes with Trados? This is what I originally thought but when I downloaded the free trial, it was not in there... Maybe I did something wrong? Because I could not use the termbase at all...

Also, Sheila Wilson, you mention that I should make clear whether I am a translator or an interpreter. I am both, however if it is confusing, I could stress on the translation here on Proz and market myself as an interpreter elsewhere... Would that a be better strategy?


Thanks again for your help,
A very hopeful Luna


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:53
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Just be clear about what you do Mar 5, 2015

LunaJungblut wrote:
Also, Sheila Wilson, you mention that I should make clear whether I am a translator or an interpreter. I am both, however if it is confusing, I could stress on the translation here on Proz and market myself as an interpreter elsewhere... Would that a be better strategy?

It was just one aspect of the confusing message I thought you were giving potential clients. You've improved your profile tremendously already - well done! There's little confusion there now - you're clearly specialising in music and you have experience and even two highly relevant testimonials to support that.

Maybe the translation/interpreting separation isn't necessary, although I do think you'd do well to put less emphasis on dates and more on what you did (i.e. what you can do for potential clients). That might provide the opportunity to split the different services. The "reverse chronological CV" is on its way out at last for job-seekers, and there's no earthly reason for freelancers to go that route. But it's just an idea for a minor tweak now that you've improved the main message.


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Jacques DP  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 12:53
Member (2003)
English to French
More advice Mar 5, 2015

Hi there

The problem in your profile, I guess, is that your specialty fields are not much in demand.
Learn something more in demand and add it to your list!
I would definitely get the paid membership here, it's a minimal mark of implication and also it gives you complete accesss to the BlueBoard which is very important.
I would get Studio as well but don't get a loan for this, no! You have to earn that money first.

As to the career, if you want/need the freelancing (for example if you plan to be a mother soon) it can be fantastic. CAN, because you need to be good, as it is highly competitive. A key factor is your work pace. Does writing come easily? If not, you should probably look elsewhere... I see you offer to translate poetry. Frankly, translating poetry is like writing poetry, it's not something you should expect to be paid real money to do! Real money will be paid by people making real money with what they ask you to translate, and so it will probably revolve more around marketing and manuals than poetry. But if you want to write poetry, then you will have plenty of time to do so by freelancing. You need to be fiercely practical in this business, distinguish what pays and what doesn't -- and it will offer you a lot of freedom. That's the deal, at least the way I see it.

Bonne chance.


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Frederik Bossee  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 12:53
Member (2013)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Proz: go for it! Mar 5, 2015

Hi Luna,

I read your post this morning and wanted to write something this evening. I am happy to see that you got so many encouraging reactions already

About Proz: definitely buy the Proz membership. It is more than worth it. You will have a huge advantage when outsourcers and translation agencies are looking for translators, as has been mentioned below already. Plus, it gets a bit cheaper the second year by using some of your Browniz

About Multiterm: it is normal, you didn't do anything wrong. Multiterm doesn't come with the trial version. I downloaded the trial as well before I bought it, and it didn't include it either. A bit strange, as you want to try that out as well off course, but I can assure you it does

Also, congratz with those 2 WWA's. They're not going to make a huge difference, nevertheless it makes you stand out a little from translators that don't have any (yet). And no, it doesn't look bad at all, in my opinion.

Cheers,
Frederik


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Luna Jungblut  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Specialization + Multiterm Mar 5, 2015

Jacques DP wrote:

Hi there

The problem in your profile, I guess, is that your specialty fields are not much in demand.
Learn something more in demand and add it to your list!


Hello Jacques, thank you for taking the time to have a look at my profile!
I am aware that my specialisations are uncommon... About poetry, of course I won't expect to be paid a lot of money. It is a dream of mine however, and I want it to stand out.
Basically, my specialisation is art and everything that revolves around it. I hope I can make it work
Thank you for your insight!


Frederik Bossee: Yes, I will get the Proz membership as soon as I can!
And thanks for your reply about Multiterm! That's another 250€ I can take off my bill!


Thanks to all of you I'm all ready to go, maybe I can meet some of you in the future, but if not I am sure we will cross paths on here

Luna xx


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Jabberwock  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 12:53
Member (2004)
English to Polish
Trados and art Mar 5, 2015

You should also note that CAT tools work best with texts with lots of repetitions in them, so in your specialization they should rarely be a requirement. Trados for poetry is worse than useless, as it will try to force-fit your creativity to its standards... Of course, I am aware that there are clients who want CATs for everything, but then such demands are not always reasonable.

I would also agree that having another down-to-earth specialty would not hurt, especially if you plan to make a living from translations.


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