How can I make myself noticed
Thread poster: Madalina Galie

Madalina Galie  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 15:14
Member (May 2017)
Arabic to Romanian
+ ...
Jun 7

Hello,

I know this is far from being a new topic, but I would like a piece of "customized" advice, if you will. So, here it goes:

Can you share a couple of tips and tricks in order to get jobs on Proz.com? I've only paid my membership a couple of weeks ago and I slowly want to work my way up and to become a full-time freelance translator.

I know that my Proz profile is very important from that point of view and I want to ask my fellow peers (who have more experience than I do) what can I do to improve my profile, which I consider it to be a sort of "business card" for potential clients.

Another question that I've got on my mind is how can I convince clients that I can translate in a language that is not my native one. I work with Arabic and English, Romanian is my native language but the number of projects that demand Arabic to Romanian translations are far less than Arabic to English projects. I am convinced I have what it takes to deliver an accurate, high quality translation despite of the fact that I do not use my native language.

Please excuse me if this topic comes across as a never ending nuisance, but this is something I am passionate about and I really want to do things the right way.


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Kathryn Jacoby  Identity Verified
Colombia
Local time: 08:14
Member (2015)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Off the top of my head... Jun 7

Hi Madalina, I don't claim to be an expert by any means, but here are some thoughts.

-Hopefully you realize that people who get jobs through Proz (and not everyone does) are usually found through a search and contacted directly through their profile, either an agency or direct client looking to place a specific job or needing a certain profile to add to their database for ongoing work. Few people get jobs by bidding on the jobs posted, or at least jobs that would be considered to have attractive rates. Many translators don't even waste their time bidding on these kinds of jobs.

-I can see that you have a great love for Arabic, and I don't doubt that Arabic to Romanian work is not exactly abundant. However, I don't wish to be unkind, but your English is not flawless. I saw many small but noticeable mistakes in your post and the CV and sample shared in your profile. Maybe you should consider working with an editor. I have no way of knowing if your ability to translate into your other non-native language, Arabic, is any better. Maybe Eng-Rom and Ara-Rom are what you should focus on, instead of spreading yourself thin claiming to be able to work with so many combinations. Sometimes less is more, unless you can back up your claims. Your profile doesn't currently do that.

-Fill out the About Me section, introducing yourself to potential clients. Talk about your experience, how you learned and how you maintain English and Arabic, what your educational and professional background is, what makes you different.

-Other sections to add more to: Expertise (Only those 5 areas? You'll only appear in searches for the fields you include.), Memberships, Software (What CAT tools do you work with? Consider teaching yourself to use a free one if you don't have one.), Website, WWA, What I'm working on (You mentioned the transliteration of a book but didn't give any details.).

-Personally, I'd recommend that your Proz profile be a secondary focus of your marketing, not a primary one. Use the BlueBoard or Payment Practices to find agencies to write to, and then do so. Be prepared to write hundreds. Have the best Proz profile possible in the background so that when PMs and agency owners inevitably Google you to learn more and make sure you're not a scammer, they are impressed and convinced by what they see. Work with a native-English translator/editor to make sure your cover letter (email), CV, etc. are perfect and also well adapted to help you stand out and get your message and key info across quickly and effectively.

-There are lots of very popular and immensely useful (and encouraging) websites and Facebook groups for translators that give marketing and business advice. Read and take notes.

All the best.

[Edited at 2017-06-07 11:58 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-06-07 14:19 GMT]


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Madalina Galie  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 15:14
Member (May 2017)
Arabic to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jun 7

Thank you for your advice. I must say I am a little afraid of this whole process since I am merely a beginner. But I appreciate every single constructive remark!

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 13:14
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I second Kathryn's comments Jun 7

I think many clients would be put off when they see your profile, Madalina, because you claim to translate between two foreign languages and in all sorts of directions. It's something that in-house translators often have to do, but that's because their employer has invested in them and is paying for their time, and wants the maximum possible ROI. For freelancers, the client has the choice of the worldwide supply (or at least, the ones who come to his/her notice). So it stands to reason they'll want the best they can buy. Although the normal practice is for us only to translate into our native language, it isn't a hard-and-fast rule. There are exceptions, but they have to be justifiable and justified clearly to the potential client.

In your case, there are plenty of competitors who speak English and Romanian or English and Arabic. However, you have clear justification for translating both ways between Romanian and Arabic - as there can't be many others who do that. But you may need to have a native speaker check the Arabic target text, depending on your expertise. In the same vein, you could be expected to accept anything at all between Romanian and Arabic - again because there are few others to do the work. But you might well need the help of a subject specialist in either or both languages to help with jargon and/or comprehension. This involvement of third party specialists is one reason why clients have to be prepared to pay more for work in a rare pair.

For more common pairs, it's normally best to specialise in just a few fields, maybe even just one niche subject area. That doesn't stop you having a far larger number of subject areas that you accept work in; it just means you're marketing yourself to clients as a specialist, giving a very clear message of excellence.

Have you attended the Meeting Clients free webinar? It's very useful. Information on that and lots more is to be found in the Site Guidance Centre.


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Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:14
Member (2012)
French to English
Hi Madalina Jun 7

It might be worth considering the ProZ.com Mentoring Program - I've just had a look and there are a couple of mentors in the Arabic to English language pair. Mentors should be able to give you advice on where to find work, introduce you to clients, etc.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:14
Member (2008)
Italian to English
YOu can't. Jun 7

Madalina Galie wrote:

...how can I convince clients that I can translate in a language that is not my native one. ...



You can't. Your post contains a significant number of basic mistakes in English (including in the very short extract I have quoted above).


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Kathryn Jacoby  Identity Verified
Colombia
Local time: 08:14
Member (2015)
Spanish to English
+ ...
And I second Sheila's... Jun 7

Don't be overwhelmed. Rome wasn't built in a day, and getting your translation business off the ground and then growing it is a gradual process.

Here's a great post on working with less common languages/combinations. I recommend reading the comments as well.
http://www.thoughtsontranslation.com/2016/02/25/tips-for-translators-in-small-languages/

That website is probably the best one out there is for budding translators. Read all the posts in the Start Here tab at the top.

My impression is that English to Romanian translators are a dime a dozen, so while there's surely a need for translators with that combination, you have a lot of competition and people willing to work for pennies. Naturally, you already know this. Like I mentioned before, it's also clear that you have a love, and, I imagine, skill, for Arabic, which is very impressive. So, accept Eng-Rom work while starting out (if you need to pay bills, etc.), but focus on how you can get as much Ara-Rom work as you can! All of it, ideally.

Corinne covers the right questions to ask: What kinds of clients need an Ara-Rom/Rom-Ara translator? How can you position yourself to be THE go-to Ara-Rom/Rom-Ara translator? Have you looked at the Proz or LinkedIn profiles or websites of other translators in those combinations? Who are they working with? If many of them are also including these combinations alongside many others, can you take advantage of the fact that, unlike most translators out there, you specialize in this uncommon combination and are an expert in understanding the very particular needs that clients have when it comes to these languages (as well as common pitfalls that other generalist translators tend to run into--of course, you need to be familiar with the quality of work that can be found in these combinations)? In addition to working with companies, is there a market for translating personal documents (immigration, etc.) for individuals? Of course, I am not talking about doing it for the cheap prices that are probably the norm in Romania, but rather for high prices for a level of quality or professional service not offered by competitors. In any case, I think you need a website.

Like Sheila said, you can (and sometimes have to, realistically speaking) accept work in more fields when working with less common languages. You can identify the fields you can accept work in in the "Also works in" field and keep your true specialties and preferences in the "Specializes in" section up top. I think you should also address this below. Something along the lines of "I specialize in Arabic to Romanian translation and also am happy to provide Romanian to Arabic translation services. Please note that my rate for this second combination includes the fee I pay to have a native-Arabic editor carefully proofread all work to ensure the highest quality. While I specialize in X and Y, I am able and willing to work in other fields when I am confident of being able to deliver excellent work."

You just have to do some thinking. I could be wrong, but I can't imagine that Arabic to English work would be a sensible path for you to pursue. There are countless native-Arabic speakers working in that combination. At least they are native speakers of the source language and can also offer the benefit of translations in both directions, with at least one of them being at a native level. Both are foreign languages for you. I'd focus on how you can find as much as you can in your niche and stand out, not going about it by identifying where the most work is (because that's also where there's an overabundance of supply/competition, and they will always have a leg up on you).

[Edited at 2017-06-07 15:08 GMT]


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Mario Chavez  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:14
English to Spanish
+ ...
Advice for the young Madalina Jun 7

Hi, Madalina,

You've received some sound advice from my colleagues here (Kathryn and Sheila), even from Tom (with whom we maintain different opinions on what is a native language). Tom has a point: you can't convince anybody that you can translate from one language to a non-native language. Let me explain.

A person can have more than one native language. My Terminology professor (Dr. Costa, Nova University of Lisbon) grew up with German, English and Portuguese. She will tell you she's no translator, however, and she doesn't translate. Now, if you have some experience translating from Arabic into English, Kathryn's suggestion to use an English editor is a very good one.

The only way a customer may be persuaded to hire a translator in a given language is by writing competently in that language. Keep working at it.

I don't agree with Kathryn on the last piece of advice: contacting Blueboard agencies and write hundreds of messages. A marketing specialist once gave me this advice: focus on a few and contact them. I have done that and I keep doing it because it yields results. No one wants to receive CVs or letters from a stranger. Customize your CV, use your strengths, maybe write up your LinkedIn profile in your strong languages. It is a process, not just a step.

Another thing I've done to make myself noticed is to join a group or association of translators. Start inexpensively, like attending weekly or monthly meetings, get to know more experienced colleagues, offer help, experience, anecdotes, participate. That's what I did. It took me a whole year to land a more or less stable gig in translation —a few hours a week— but that was the big door that helped me gain clients. That happened 25 years ago.


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Madalina Galie  Identity Verified
Romania
Local time: 15:14
Member (May 2017)
Arabic to Romanian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you! Jun 7

Well, at least this is a good starting point. Thank you all for your feedback, I highly appreciate it!

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DarwinE
United States
Local time: 07:14
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
+ ...
I'd like to emphasize Jun 8

-Hopefully you realize that people who get jobs through Proz (and not everyone does) are usually found through a search and contacted directly through their profile, either an agency or direct client looking to place a specific job or needing a certain profile to add to their database for ongoing work. Few people get jobs by bidding on the jobs posted, or at least jobs that would be considered to have attractive rates. Many translators don't even waste their time bidding on these kinds of jobs.


I joined ProZ in December and after 6 months of being a member I can tell you that this statement from Kathryn is very very true.

There's a lot of competition in the English-Spanish pair. I've bid on what feels like hundreds of jobs, but the few jobs I've ended up getting paid for so far came from people that found me first on the directory. In fact, it wasn't until last week that I managed to score my first job through submitting a quote, and even then I think I scored the job because I submitted a quote almost immediately after the job was posted. A good profile that can be found by clients through the search engine is definitely very important. Just be patient, they will come but it also requires a little bit more effort on your part.

One piece of advice I've been following is to be active daily in any aspect of freelance translation. Whether it means dedicating a short time every day towards: improving your profile, building a website, tweaking your CV, looking for clients, learning a new specialty and the terminology involved, reading translation blogs, researching what is the best CAT tool for your situation (if you choose to use one), etc. Just stay active!


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