How do you look for / find work?
Thread poster: Jasna Čakarun
I hope this message finds you well and elbow-deep in translation.
I'm writing you with a very basic question. I am a translator, but so far translation has been a side project and an extra source of income as I have worked in an entirely different field for several years now. Through the years I've had a slow but relatively steady influx of translation projects, which has always been a welcome addition, but never as great a workload as to become my main source of income (or at least a significant contribution).
Because I've been planning some life and work-related changes, I would like to revitalize and expand my translation work. Because I've never done this before, however, I am somewhat lacking in experience and inspiration.
This is why I'm turning to you for help, especially to those among you who have a more or less steady inflow of translation work. My questions are: how did you go about securing it? How did you 'promote yourself'? Did you start an agency, or did you decide to go freelance?
I will be sincerely grateful for any feedback - advice from someone with more experience in finding clients would be invaluable for me.
Important note: I am of course not asking you to give me the names of any clients you work with, unless there is a call for translators. My only aim is to learn some useful practices and manouvres, and ultimately find more work.
Should you be interested, you can find my CV on my ProZ profile. Here's a résumé of what I do, and the fields in which I'm trying to find translation work. My native languages are Slovenian and English, and because I grew up on the Slovenian-Italian border and part of my family is Croatian, I am fluent in Italian and Croatian as well. I am a university graduated Professor of Russian and English Language and Literature, so I've done a fair bit of Russian translation, too. Because I've lived in Spain for the past 2 years (and studied the language beforehand), I also speak and translate from Spanish.
I think this is a good basis for broadening my network and taking on more work - the problematic bit for me is figuring out how and where to start looking for it.
Thank you in advance for your time, and all the best from Barcelona!
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| No magic formula || Feb 27, 2017 |
Hello Jasna and welcome!
There is no magic formula to finding work, really.
Polish your profile, and make sure it accurately reflects your skills, experience, strengths and capabilities.
Use all the tools Proz has to offer. Upload some translation samples, answer questions in KudoZ, be active on the forums.
Create a strong CV, which again reflects the same things you showed in your profile. What's your unique selling point, what is it that helps you stand out from the crowd?
Begin researching agencies, and send them your CV. Keep searching for new agencies who might be interested in what you have to offer, but make sure they work in your language pair and areas of specialisation, and that you apply using their preferred method of contact, whether it be a contact form on their site, or directly by email.
Set up a website, and start blogging, if this is something that appeals to you. I don't think blogging is for everyone, but if you can do it, and share your posts on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, you will start to be known for your skills and knowledge, and clients will come to you rather than vice-versa.
I've written a blog post on this subject, and there's another instalment to come. Feel free to check it out if you feel so inclined.
Best of luck!
[Edited at 2017-02-27 11:53 GMT]
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| | Jasna Čakarun
Local time: 19:49
English to Slovenian
Thank you, Fiona, much appreciated!
| | Sheila Wilson
Local time: 18:49
| Make yourself visible || Feb 27, 2017 |
Jasna Čakarun wrote:
Did you start an agency, or did you decide to go freelance?
Those two are very different things. If you set up an agency it implies that you aren't going to do much translating at all. You may do a bit of proofreading but mainly you'll be busy sourcing clients and suppliers, negotiating with each party, and managing the process. If all goes well, you make money; if it doesn't then you're still obliged to pay your suppliers and staff.
There's an intermediate step between being a freelance translator and an agency owner, and that's to be an occasional outsourcer. Some freelancers take on more words than they can handle and outsource the excess. But many of us have chosen never to do that as it involves you in much of the admin of an agency, with just as much risk but fewer resources.
Here's a résumé of what I do, and the fields in which I'm trying to find translation work. My native languages are Slovenian and English, and because I grew up on the Slovenian-Italian border and part of my family is Croatian, I am fluent in Italian and Croatian as well. I am a university graduated Professor of Russian and English Language and Literature, so I've done a fair bit of Russian translation, too. Because I've lived in Spain for the past 2 years (and studied the language beforehand), I also speak and translate from Spanish.
You clearly have the right background to be a translator, as long as you write well. The first sentence clearly shows that you're looking to be a translator, not an agency owner, so I'd just like to point out that I think a fair number of clients will be put off contacting you (at least through ProZ.com), because you claim to translate into three target languages. You say you're fluent in Italian - I think that many clients who know what's involved will prefer not to entrust their into-Italian translations to you when there are so many native Italian translators. This is a major difference between agencies and freelancers: freelancers really need to restrict themselves to doing what they do better than almost all others, whereas an agency can employ (or collaborate with) a set of specialists.
I'm turning to you for help, especially to those among you who have a more or less steady inflow of translation work. My questions are: how did you go about securing it? How did you 'promote yourself'?
As already said, there is no magic formula. Networking is what it's all about, especially if you're to avoid being dragged into the nets of the bottom-feeding agencies. Once you're in their nets, earning tiny amounts of money per word and just as tiny amounts per hour, you'll be so busy trying to put bread on the table that you'll find it difficult to escape. The trick is to get potential clients to come to you, but for that you have to have visibility.
ProZ.com is one place where you can gain that visibility, and it's a good place to have it because everyone here is guaranteed to have an interest in translation. You just have to avoid those bottom-feeders as they are here in great numbers, along with some very good agencies and end clients and the professionals who cater for their needs. Of course, it isn't the only place you need to be visible, but it has certainly worked well for many of us. To find out what you need to do to gain visibility here, visit the Site Guidance Centre. I recommend the free webinar on meeting clients here, for a start.
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