ProZ Membership
Thread poster: Alexander Leibowitz

Alexander Leibowitz
United States
Local time: 16:49
French to English
+ ...
Nov 20, 2017

ProZ seems to make it almost impossible to find jobs if you aren't a paying members, and I haven't yet made enough money or established myself to the point where it seems like a reasonable investment. Anybody have any advice on finding jobs pre-membership?


Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:49
Member (2007)
+ ...
Investment Nov 21, 2017

Alexander Leibowitz wrote:
ProZ seems to make it almost impossible to find jobs if you aren't a paying members, and I haven't yet made enough money or established myself to the point where it seems like a reasonable investment. Anybody have any advice on finding jobs pre-membership?

What business do you know of that doesn't require some sort of investment up front? Shopkeepers have their entire stock to buy; hairdressers and chefs may only have to buy their tools; lawyers have to undergo years of expensive studies. In comparison, we have it pretty easy, particularly if we happen to be brought up bilingual. But every freelance translator will tell you that it isn't something to take up if you want to earn enough to keep yourself from day one; it's a career move that will bring in little or nothing in the first few months before business slowly starts building up as you establish a client base. So, I don't have a magic potion to find you jobs, I'm afraid.

I'm not sure how many jobs there are on this site that call for Ancient Greek or Latin - I suspect that the percentage is very low. certainly you'll have a far better chance of landing publicly posted jobs and being contacted privately by clients if you're a member, but I'd also advise you to get your name known to agencies and direct clients who might have need of your rather niche skills. If you haven't already done so, I advise you to scour the Site Guidance Centre, where you'll find heaps of useful information. One of the best aids for newcomers (to the profession and/or to that the site provides - for free - is the Meeting Clients webinar. Be sure to book a place on that.


Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Little to lose Nov 22, 2017

$100 is hardly a big investment. You'll get it back the first job you get.

On the other hand, if, like me, you're not willing to work for peanuts and are a bit niche, you might not get any jobs at all.

In fact, my year of membership just expired. During this time, I got lots of silly offers, a few sensible offers, and no jobs at all.

I have plenty of work and I'm not going to renew. But if you're short of work, it still seems worth a punt.


writeaway  Identity Verified
French to English
+ ...
Depends on your language pair(s) and what your lowest rate is Nov 22, 2017

After 14 years as paying member, I didn't renew when my membership expired in August. I initially intended to pay again but as things stand now, I don't think that will happen.
If you are counting on earning a reasonable living by translating Fr-En and think that relying on "members only" job offers will get you there, you risk being very disappointed. Fr-En is one of those 'anyone and his/her uncle can do it' language pairs. That means that there is nearly always a stampede of eager beavers who rush to bid on every single Fr-En job posted, no matter how ridiculous the rates ($0.03-0.06/word isn't uncommon). And if the magic words such as "legal", "contract","tourism" appear, you may find yourself competing with 50 or more other people. Most agencies that post jobs here seem to be looking for two things: fast and cheap/cheap and fast. For Fr-En at least, if you aren't willing to work for peanuts, there's little chance of landing any job through bidding, even it's a job marked members only.
I have no idea how much demand there is in Latin and ancient Greek. I do know one colleague who translates Latin-English and she also gets insultingly low job offers mailed to her.


Jean Dimitriadis  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:49
Member (2015)
English to French
+ ...
Finding jobs, letting jobs find you Nov 23, 2017

Fact: Only one job has been posted during the past month in the Latin to English pair. No jobs for Ancient Greek to English. On the other hand, Chinese to English has had many jobs posted.

Please note most jobs don’t go through the job board on ProZ.

You’ll want to understand how the search directory works, how clients (agencies, direct clients) can find you. This is where the bulk of jobs come from: agencies and clients who visit your ProZ Profile and contact you.

This does not only involve investing in a ProZ membership. A ProZ membership won’t help you much if you don’t also combine it with:
- KudoZ points to appear further up in the directory searches (important, but only for Chinese to English, rare pairs don’t need much, and I doubt many KudoZ questions refer to Latin or Ancient Greek)
- a good ProZ profile (one that further convinces the clients who visit your profile to contact you), this is an absolute must

At this point, I think you must decide which language pairs to prioritize:

- if you wish to stay with Latin and Ancient Greek to English, then you may not need a ProZ membership for starters (although BlueBoard access can help anytime), just improve your profile, CV and marketing documents, and use ProZ agencies directory to find those working in these language pairs. I would also widen my search to reach clients working in university/education sectors.

- If you wish to focus on the Chinese to English language pair, first, put that pair on top in your profile. Then, I would certainly advise you to consider a ProZ membership, but only if you intend to work on the other aspects as well: improve your ProZ profile and get KudoZ points. Understand the goal won’t be to land contracts from jobs posted on ProZ (you might get a few per year, but don't rely on it). The goal is to be easier to find in directory searches. And again, this generally complements an active approach, in which you reach out to agencies and/or direct clients.

Good luck!


[Edited at 2017-11-23 09:26 GMT]


Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:49
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Is it right for you? Nov 24, 2017

Alexander Leibowitz wrote:
Anybody have any advice on finding jobs pre-membership?

I am far from convinced that translation would make sense as an primary or even important secondary income source for somebody with your qualifications.

Poetry and literature translation seem to be poorly paid to the point of notoriety in all but a very few cases. I would imagine the market for translation of ancient languages is close to non-existent in commercial terms. Chinese is reportedly a competitive market, you only have four years behind you, and you don't appear to have in-country experience. Your profile doesn't suggest any other special skills or attributes that could spark the interest of clients.

It may be that despite all these apparent disadvantages you can still parlay what experience and skills you do have into a decent part-time income, but the odds do not look good. Whatever your day job is, keep doing it.

My assessment may seem brutal, but this a very competitive industry. Linguistic competence, which must be evident in spades, is only the starting point, and it is tough to make a comfortable living. Read the many posts by struggling freelancers in these forums for proof of that. For your own sake I would consider carefully and honestly whether this is the right profession (as opposed to hobby) for you.



Alexander Leibowitz
United States
Local time: 16:49
French to English
+ ...

Posted via Mobile

Thanks Nov 24, 2017

Thanks all for the feedback — I will continue to do more research and see what options are open to me!


Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:49
German to English
Classicial languages often translated by academicians Nov 27, 2017

I have enjoyed close ties to the academic community for over 40 years and am acquainted with people who translate literary works. Most of these individuals are university faculty members who receive subsidies, grants and paid sabbaticals to undertake a new translation of Aristophanes, Livy or Chrétien de Troyes. Translation of obscure classical authors is likewise generally undertaken by academics. Publishers of classical literature favor people with proven expertise, as evidenced by a dissertation and, more likely, an academic position.


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