Getting replies from agencies
Thread poster: Kelly Brosens
Kelly Brosens  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 17:16
German to Dutch
+ ...
Aug 18, 2015

Dear colleagues,

After having sent about 200 e-mails to translation agencies, I wonder when to expect some replies. I do get some replies saying I have been registered in their database, but this doesn't seem to mean all that much.
I also try to find direct clients, but this seems to be even harder than the agencies.

How long did it take for you to get your first client or job from an agency? Did you do other jobs while starting your business?

Thank you in advance!

[Edited at 2015-08-18 09:29 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It is almost always a slow process Aug 18, 2015

The best advice for a new freelancer is to find a part-time job to bring in a small but steady income. Preferably one that isn't intellectually challenging and doesn't take too much of your time. And allows you to constantly check your emails and send quotes. If it can be flexible enough to be put off while there's a translation to be done, that's the perfect job. Anyone know if that job exists? Maybe ironing at home?

Some people come across a good client in urgent need of their services, and they're away. For most, it's a worrying time. I remember getting jobs from agencies I'd contacted a year before, so there's still hope. But if you haven't had a single positive response out of 200, maybe you should be reviewing your CV, your letter, your terms, your choice of agencies...

Perhaps there's an organisation close by that helps with new business start ups? The Chambers of Commerce and government training organisations can sometimes provide free or cheap courses in how to promote your business and source clients.

But if you're sure you're doing the right things then maybe you just need patience and persistance. Bags of them!


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Jacqueline White
Austria
Local time: 17:16
Hungarian to English
+ ...
It can take months (or even years) Aug 18, 2015

One agency I contacted only gave me my first job two years after adding to me to its database (and now contacts me regularly).

You might try varying e.g. the rates you propose to see what effect it has (e.g. if your rates are too low potential customers might not take you seriously, or if they are too high the response rate might be low).

Also, August might be a slow time anyway.

Please don't take offence, but I would suggest removing the typo in the 3rd sentence of your profile description.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 16:16
Member (2008)
Italian to English
You won't get any Aug 18, 2015

Kelly Brosens wrote:

Dear colleagues,

After having sent about 200 e-mails to translation agencies, I wonder when to expect some replies. I do get some replies saying I have been registered in their database, but this doesn't seem to mean all that much.
I also try to find direct clients, but this seems to be even harder than the agencies.

How long did it take for you to get your first client or job from an gency? Did you other jobs while starting your business?

Thank you in advance!


There's nothing that annoys agencies more than receiving unsolicited CVs from translators.

The best way to get jobs is:

1. Become highly specialised in a narrow field
2. Provide evidence of your expertise in that field by posting a range of your sample translations in the "portfolio" section of your Proz page
3. Answering lots of Kudoz questions pertaining to your specialist field.
4. Waiting patiently for agencies to find you. It can take a long time.


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Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 16:16
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It's a very slow process Aug 18, 2015

Before contacting translation agencies or direct clients why not try to get some professional experience through traineeships? As you are in Belgium, you could try the European Parliament or any other EU institution: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/atyourservice/en/20150201PVL00047/Estágios

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 16:16
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Good advice for using the site to your advantage Aug 18, 2015

Tom in London wrote:
The best way to get jobs is:
1. Become highly specialised in a narrow field

I agree Tom, but this is a beginner translator asking the question. I'm sure she'd love to be highly specialised but that implies experience. Mind you, perhaps elevating Portuguese might be a good idea? Many clients prefer to select someone's top pair and that would make Kelly a larger fish in a smaller pond.
2. Provide evidence of your expertise in that field by posting a range of your sample translations in the "portfolio" section of your Proz page
3. Answering lots of Kudoz questions pertaining to your specialist field.

Both are good pieces of advice for those wanting to land clients here on ProZ.com. In fact, the KudoZ points are invaluable because of the way the site works. Good advice for Kelly as she's invested in membership so presumably IS hoping to find clients here.
4. Waiting patiently for agencies to find you. It can take a long time

Certainly many of the better jobs come that way, and for ProZ.com that means having a high position in the directory when the client searches there. But I think monitoring the job board (studiously ignoring all the bottom-feeders) and applying to agencies are also valid for beginners.

Maybe you've already 'been there, done that', Kelly, but in case you haven't, here's the link to the Site Guidance Centre: http://www.proz.com/guidance-center. Loads of help there for those new to freelance translating and/or to the site.


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 17:16
Danish to English
+ ...
Create a positive image Aug 18, 2015

I'm putting on my ex-agency-staff hat now, and will have to agree to some extent with Tom, that unsolicited CVs are not particularly popular. Whenever we wanted to add new translators to our team of co-workers, we would search for them, asking them if they were interested in collaboration and whether they would be willing to send us sample translations of their own choice. Whatever they sent us would most likely be their best work and that gave us an immediate idea of what they were capable of.

Reading through numerous unsolicited CVs can be very time-consuming, and hopeful translators risk being ignored unless they happen to write at the exact time when an agency is looking for someone with ther specific language combination.

In my view, you would do yourself a favour by working on your Proz profile. As it stands now, I doubt that many agencies would contact you, simply because you make yourself sound like an inexperienced beginner. That may be what you are, and there's nothing wrong with that, we were all inexperience beginners at some stage, but agencies (and other clients) look for confident and skilled translators, so you need to highlight what you are good at, not what you know you cannot do. Stating that you would not be able to ensure the quality of a translation in particular fields immediately creates an image in the reader's mind that you may not be able to ensure the quality of anything else either.

Clients will be looking for someone with particular knowledge of particular fields, so it is not helpful to indicate that you are willing to have a go at translating within a wide range of subjects that appear quite unrelated. The difference between medieval poems and technical manuals is so huge that it is difficult to imagine that anyone, let alone a beginner, can master both. This makes you stand out as a Jack of all trades, master of none, and besides, there will be experts in most subjects here on Proz, and competition is fierce.


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Kelly Brosens  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 17:16
German to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all Aug 18, 2015

Thank you for all the advice.

I do indeed struggle with my profile and specializing in a certain field. I will work on that first and then look into my CV.


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ACBLanguages  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:16
Member (2015)
English to Dutch
+ ...
Same experience Aug 18, 2015

Hey Kelly,

I was in the same boat last month. I do have 5 years of experience at a translation agency, so when I became a freelancer last month, they gave me my first jobs. I also emailed 150 agencies and only received a few replies. I landed a few jobs with one of them so far. A few other jobs I got through quoting on the Proz job board, so make sure you keep doing that for any jobs that fit your profile. I am planning on contacting more agencies soon as my work load is still not enough at the moment, but I have faith that I'll get there, it just takes some time. If you act professionally and deliver good translations, you should get there too. One tip, search for the Vertalerskoffiehoek group on Facebook, you can discuss your questions with Dutch/Belgian translators there. They helped me out with so much in the past two months. Good luck with everything!


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Kelly Brosens  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 17:16
German to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Facebook is a great help Aug 18, 2015

Hye, thank you for your message.

It is nice to hear that I am not the only one struggling right now.
I have adapted my profile and CV, and might adapt my strategy in approaching agencies as well.

I am indeed a member of the Facebook group, all the members are really helpful! (As they are here of course.)


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Peter Zhuang  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 17:16
Member (2014)
German to English
+ ...
Don't despair. Aug 18, 2015

Hello Kelly,

Don't despair. Sending unsolicited applications to agencies is like sowing seeds: not all will grow into a plant, and not all that grow do so at the same time. Agencies can take weeks or even months to response (or not at all).

I still know it very well because I only started working as a freelancer last year.

Three practical things that you could do (if you haven't):

1. Browse the company directory to see if there may still be potential agencies to which you haven't yet apply.

2. The job board is an indicator of agencies/companies that may (still) need translators in your pairs. You can use this information to prioritise the sequence in which you send your applications, a strategy which worked quite well for me.

3. Offer to do short test translations. I know some people oppose to doing this. But it is the most direct way to showcase your abilities to the client, at least in my opinion. Most test translations are legit. Of course, if someone requests for a 1200-word unpaid translation, then run. I wouldn't touch any tests above 300 words with a bargepole.

Best wishes!


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Kelly Brosens  Identity Verified
Belgium
Local time: 17:16
German to Dutch
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Jobs & directories Aug 18, 2015

Dear Peter,

Thank you for the information. Indeed, I always offer to deliver some test translations. I have done a couple of them and have received nice responses. It's good to know that an assignment could take a little longer.

In conlusion: I need to work on establishing a stronger profile and have some patience. I was just wondering if this was the case for other beginning translators as well.

It is still very interesting to get some advice from both established, experienced translators and beginning ones! Especially on the use of ProZ itself.


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