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[Advice]Hi, I am a new freelancer and i would like to ask for some advice.
Thread poster: Richard Mendes Ribeiro

Richard Mendes Ribeiro
Brazil
Local time: 17:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Jun 13

Hi there,

My name is Richard and since January I have been working as a freelance translator. Things are slow but moving forward.

When I started I had absolutely no idea od what I was doing, Basically, all I did was create a profile on Upwork and send proposals. That lasted until April 13 when an anxiety attack led me to aggressively expand my business.

I got into Fiverr, Five squid, PPH, and others. I also made profiles on Proz, the open mic, and so on...

A lot of things happened in the past months, I was lucky enough to get a few jobs, i have learned new skills
(subtitling and transcription), I have started a small personal blog and i got translation experience.

Upwork was not very kind to me and I fell that their community is not very "friendly", at least judging by the answers in their community forum.

PPH was a fling, I got 1 job there after a week, it was great and I got a 5-star review, but it didn't count as a "sale" because it was a custom proposal.

Fiverr has been great to me, I got most of my jobs there, I found a client that was willing to teach me how to subtitle videos and pay me for it and I even got my biggest and best paying project yet there, first time I broke 3 digits. I also got a few jobs in a national platform that works just like Fiverr.

I have some experience now, I have translated Business plans, presentations, birth certificates, diplomas, medical reports, articles, blog posts, SQL databases, descriptions and even fairy tales! I have also subtitled a lot of videos. All with great reviews and feedback.

My anxiety doesn't help much, but I can manage. Its just a bit annoying that I always feel that every job I get is the last that I will ever get and that I worry about not getting more jobs WHILE I am working on 2 projects.

Now that I got something to show and a bit more confidence I am trying to "Grow Up" in my career and be less dependent on the job boards. But I honestly have no idea of what I am doing.

I would like to ask for some advice, mostly on how to polish my profile here on Proz and how to proceed with my career, recently I got an answer from a translation company that I found through proz and I may or may not start working with them soon.

I know that my profile is quite subpar right now, but I plan to give it a lot of polish. I will greatly appreciate any tips on how to improve my profile and how to proceed with my freelancing. I plan to create a new resume and CV and get more active in the community.

I'm also planning to give my blog some more love and to create a "translators blog" for my services.

Any advice is very welcome and I will be very grateful for any help I can get.

Thank you all in advance,

Richard F. Mendes.


Yolanda-Song
 

Jeran Richardson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:40
Member (2014)
French to English
+ ...
Keep it up! Jun 14

Hi Richard,

Welcome to the world of freelancing! Honestly, it sounds like you're doing a fine job, and covering all the essential bases to keep you successful in the business. You say you've been going since January, so that's pretty good progress for 6 months! It's not easy getting the first translation gigs, so I'd say you've already done the hardest part.

My best advice would be to keep doing what you're doing - sending endless proposals can be a bit disheartening, but they do pay off (as you've already seen). I'm sure people will have different opinions here, but I really like working with agencies - the good ones can handle big contracts with their clients, and are more likely to keep you going with regular work. Try to contact a couple per day for a while (particularly those actively looking for jobs/new translators) so you're included in more directories.

You mentioned you have good reviews and feedback. Great - you can share this with new potential clients. One thing you could consider is asking those you've worked with to leave you WWA feedback here on ProZ - so you have it all in one place and clients using this platform can easily see it.

Don't worry about whether or not your profile is 'subpar' - it's not. Like any industry, making and maintaining good relationships with your clients is key. Let your work speak for itself - generally clients don't actually care how long you've been doing this, they just want you to do a good job, on time. Do that once, and they'll likely come back to you.

I think most freelancers have an underlying fear of 'oh no, is this my last job?', but it's never true until you choose it to be. It took me a year or so to stop really worrying about that, and now I tend to work with the same handful of clients on a recurring basis, very rarely using job boards or the platforms I started with (the same ones you mentioned).

So, to sum up, keep it up mate. You're doing the right things, and the more time you invest in introducing yourself to new companies and keeping your clients happy, the better the rewards.

Best of luck!!

Jeran


Yolanda-Song
 

Richard Mendes Ribeiro
Brazil
Local time: 17:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jeran. Jun 14

Thank you, man.

It's these times where nothing is happening that kill me you know.

Most of my jobs came in the last 2 months, to be honest. I think it was when the ball started rolling as they say.

The great majority came from Fiverr, mostly in subtitling, and it was there that I found a client that was willing to teach me how to subtitle videos.

Fiverr has been really good to me, I even got my biggest and highest paying job there. $300 for 100000 words if you are wondering. And I have 90 days to deliver, I could do it in 30, but we decided to divide the job into 3 parts; I was told that more sales are better on Fiverr.

I have been kinda stressed lately and I technically reached my "quota" for this month, so I'm thinking of taking the weekend off to relax for a bit.

Then on Monday I will start a reform, make a new resume and CV, create a logo, build a simple site, be more active in the community, polish my profiles, etc...

One step forward every day, even if small, you know...


 

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:40
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Keywords Jun 14

Richard Fernando Mendes Ribeiro wrote:

I know that my profile is quite subpar right now, but I plan to give it a lot of polish



Yes - that's the most important thing. And the most important thing of the most important thing is....

KEYWORDS

Those words are what Google will search for whenever a prospective client is looking for a translator who offers your particular skills.

The second most important thing of the most important thing is....

SPECIALISE

At the moment you just appear as a general translator. You should choose a specific field in which you can offer expert translation knowledge. For example open-heart surgery (and all related fields). Or theatrical costumes (and all related fields). Or aircraft maintenance. Etc., etc.

You can't claim you can translate anything. By specialising and including the relevant terms in your keywords, you'll attract clients who are looking for something very specific.


Yolanda-Song
Alfredo Lo Bello
 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:40
Member (2008)
French to English
Building your clientele Jun 14

You profile is in good shape. Now you need to focus on building a clientele.

I would suggest you say more in your profile and CV about the types of jobs you have already completed. While you can't identify the exact clients and documents, you can say in general terms what kind of documents you have done. For instance, you list quite a few in your post here, but not in your profile.

I have some experience now, I have translated Business plans, presentations, birth certificates, diplomas, medical reports, articles, blog posts, SQL databases, descriptions and even fairy tales! I have also subtitled a lot of videos.


The job boards are good to get started, get some experience and some history. But you need to start contacting agencies directly - you will find competitive bidding on job boards is very low priced. You can find agencies listed in the directories of this and other sites. Some will accept an application by email, while for others you will need to register on their database portal.

Do a perfect job, on time, every time, and no job will be your "last job". In time your clientele will come to depend on you and you will have steady work. This might take another 6 months, but it will come.

A little further down the road you can begin to look for work for end clients, at a much higher rate. The best way to do this I have found is to connect with translators who are already employees of large firms and organisations. They work in language departments where their overflow is outsourced to freelancers.

[Edited at 2018-06-14 15:38 GMT]


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:40
German to English
Perform due diligence, avoid scams Jun 14

Many beginning translators, in their eagerness to accept work, neglect to check whether job offers are legitimate or are provided by individuals/organizations with poor payment practices. The Blue Board here as well as other online sources can guide you in this.

Also check the "Scams" section on Proz. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it's likely to be a scam.


John Fossey
 

Richard Mendes Ribeiro
Brazil
Local time: 17:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Tom and John Jun 14

Thank you for caring.icon_smile.gif

As I said before, its been a stressful week so i"m taking the weekend off to relax. On Monday I will start to polish all my profiles, not only here but also on TMtown, the open mic and everywhere else. A full reform and improvement. I will try to keep this post updated.

How should I go about specializing? I do have a degree in business after all; marketing was one of my best subjects and i know a bit of SEO; Or should I choose something I truly enjoy and also know a lot about; like my hobbies?

I always wanted to work localizing games and recently I offered to work on small indie projects for free just to get my foot in on the market.

Is it ok to just contact the agencies and offer to work? I don't need to wait for them to post a job here on proz? If so, I think I should work on a nice presentation letter and an Updated CV and Resume right? Should I get a business card as well? Is there a digital equivalent of a business card?

Also, my national association for translators says that it is a good idea to offer my services in universities because the alumni always need to some translate the articles and the "Abstracts" of their thesis and things like that.

And in places that offer English courses, because sometimes people that are looking for a translator go to them.

What do you guys think?


 

Richard Mendes Ribeiro
Brazil
Local time: 17:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Kevin. Jun 14

Thank you.

I am pretty sure that I was scammed only one time, it was on Upwork, a client asked me to take a test for free, I translated a diploma and he disappeared. But that was my mistake, I should have asked at least a couple dollars for it so everything was ok in escrow.

My second official client on upwork actually disappeared on me after I delivered the first benchmark. I still got paid the agreed amount but it hit my beginner heart pretty hard. : (

I don't think I did a bad job, she didn't leave a bad review, she just disappeared and even the site of the company she worked in is dead so...

While we are speaking about scams; I recently subtitled a couple of videos for a client that I am pretty sure where for a pyramid scheme, or at least looked a lot like one. It ticked all the boxes, subscribing other people, income comes down from you to others and percentages for the people under you, prizes like cars for ranking up...

What do I do when I get something like that? should I say something?


 

John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:40
Member (2008)
French to English
Some ideas Jun 15

Richard Fernando Mendes Ribeiro wrote:

Thank you for caring.icon_smile.gif


We were all in your position at one point.

How should I go about specializing?


Focus on what you are already good at. Then you will get jobs that match your skills, boosting your skills in those fields even more. Report on your CV and profile the types of jobs you get, and you are likely to get more of the same over time.

Is it ok to just contact the agencies and offer to work? I don't need to wait for them to post a job here on proz?


Absolutely, most agencies are always trying to build their list of resources and only post when no one on their existing list can do the job.

If so, I think I should work on a nice presentation letter and an Updated CV and Resume right?


It never hurts to keep them up to date.

Should I get a business card as well? Is there a digital equivalent of a business card?


You might rather consider a simple professional website, as well as your LinkedIn profile. While I doubt that either will bring in new clients on their own, I have found that traffic logs show that when a new client appears out of the blue, they have already visited my Proz.com profile, my website and my LinkedIn page.

Also, my national association for translators says that it is a good idea to offer my services in universities because the alumni always need to some translate the articles and the "Abstracts" of their thesis and things like that.

And in places that offer English courses, because sometimes people that are looking for a translator go to them.

What do you guys think?


Never stop marketing. As a rule of thumb, no one client should be more than 20% of your business, so you won't suffer if you lose them. Wherever prospective clients are is where you want to be.

And I certainly agree with Kevin - this field is full of scams, with its characteristics of working remotely from all corners of the globe.

[Edited at 2018-06-15 14:17 GMT]


 

Richard Mendes Ribeiro
Brazil
Local time: 17:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all again. Jun 15

Well, then I will definitely do it!

Next week I will polish all my profiles and be more active in the community.

On the topic of marketing, besides social media and a website, do you guys have any tips?

When I was researching about game localization I heard that sometimes there are translation contests, both in amateur, and veteran categories and winning a prize in one of these is o lot of good cred in the industry. Is there something similar in general translation?

Oh, and I forgot to mention but, I am a volunteer at translators without borders and my freelancing Is legalized, I am an official business and have all the documents to prove.

that counts for something right?


 

Dorothy Pouch  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 14:40
French to English
+ ...
This handbook will help your endeavors tremendously: https://ultimatesidehustle.net/ Best wishes! Jun 15

Richard Fernando Mendes Ribeiro wrote:

Well, then I will definitely do it!

Next week I will polish all my profiles and be more active in the community.

On the topic of marketing, besides social media and a website, do you guys have any tips?

When I was researching about game localization I heard that sometimes there are translation contests, both in amateur, and veteran categories and winning a prize in one of these is o lot of good cred in the industry. Is there something similar in general translation?

Oh, and I forgot to mention but, I am a volunteer at translators without borders and my freelancing Is legalized, I am an official business and have all the documents to prove.

that counts for something right?


 

Richard Mendes Ribeiro
Brazil
Local time: 17:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
On the topic of personal websites... Jun 16

On the topic of personal websites, would a free WordPress blog do for the start? I don't really have s lot of capital at the moment...

Patrice Struye
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 20:40
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Definitely do NOT wait for jobs to be posted openly Jun 16

The great majority of jobs, and the best ones, are offered directly to translators from the directory or via networking. Since I joined the site 15 years ago, I have successfully bid for one job, and the client did not come back for more.

On the other hand, the first agency to send me a job directly was a major client for several years. We parted as friends - they suddenly decided they would only work with translators who live where their target language is spoken, and I live with my source language… And I had become very tired of their online CAT tool!
Whether they became regular clients or not, enough agencies have found me to keep me busy most of the time.

That is why your profile is so important. Try other ways of standing out and making yourself visible. Kudoz, these forums, translator events and powwows… Get out and meet colleagues! If you can, meet potential clients at trade fairs or local events too.

Colleagues who work in different specialist areas or the opposite language pair have referred clients to me, and I refer clients to others in my network.

Best of luck!


Michele Fauble
 

Richard Mendes Ribeiro
Brazil
Local time: 17:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Christine Jun 16

Thank you, it looks like agencies are the way to go for now.

Any other tips?


 

Richard Mendes Ribeiro
Brazil
Local time: 17:40
English to Portuguese
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
It just occurred to me... Jun 17

It just occurred to me that there is a lot of subtitling agencies out there as well, and they can also be potential partners.

Do any of you guys have some experience in the subtitling market to share?

Also, about CAT tools, I just downloaded OmegaT, is it any good? tips?


 
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