finding direct clients
Thread poster: Tegan Raleigh

Tegan Raleigh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:08
Member (2004)
French to English
+ ...
Sep 14, 2006

...so, I think I've decided that I'd like to be more pro-active and approach direct clients instead of working through agencies. I've done some art history translations and liked the work a lot. My degree is in literary translation, and I have some experience writing about visual arts. But I have no idea how to approach direct clients in this arena... any other info about how specialized translators have stalked direct clients would be really useful to me...

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biankonera  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 23:08
Italian to Latvian
+ ...
different ways Sep 14, 2006

there are different ways for approaching direct clients. you can send them letters/emails offering your services, you can go to specialized fairs, you can attend events organized by the companies working in the field etc. whichever way and approach suits you better. just one thing all those ways have in common - time. it takes a lot of time however it does pay off and in the end you will end up with them looking for you. good luck!

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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:08
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
What keeps you from approaching direct clients? Sep 14, 2006

Tegan Raleigh wrote:
But I have no idea how to approach direct clients in this arena.


Are you being honest with yourself? Do you really not know *how* to approach direct clients, or are you just afraid to do so? Do you perhaps feel unsure about yourself, unsure about how the potential client might react to your proposal that he should pay you for something he has never paid anyone before?

If you feel uncertain about your right to demand a client's custom, why not start out by doing free translations for charities, and let them know what your usual rate is, and hope that they will give your name to some of their contacts?


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globeword
China
Local time: 04:08
English to Chinese
+ ...
Direct clients tend to outsource translation to agencies Sep 14, 2006

So trying to find more reliable, powerful and professional agencies is more important than find direct clients, I think.

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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 14:08
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
A start Sep 14, 2006

Hi Tegan,

I would start by searching the web and approaching university professors in art and art history in Germany and France to offer your services to translate or edit their articles for publication in English-language journals. Some universities even employ translators for that purpose on a part-time or retainer basis.

Book publishers is another possibility but maybe more difficult to gain access to.

Good luck!


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peiling  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:08
Chinese to English
+ ...
Regarding academia Sep 14, 2006

I do Chinese>English translations. When I first started I sent Numerous emails to the professors in China offering my service. I got a few replies but no job. I would also like to hear of other possibilities or an elaboration on this one. Thanks!

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Gert Hirschfeld  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:08
English to German
+ ...
Good for you! Dec 7, 2006

Tegan Raleigh wrote:
...so, I think I've decided that I'd like to be more pro-active and approach direct clients instead of working through agencies.


So you've decided to cut out the middlemen. Good for you, Tegan. Yes, it can be time-consuming but at the end of the day you can double your rate and get paid for your efforts.

Personally, I found word of mouth the best way. Colleagues who translate into a different language put me in touch with a client. Or someone has met me and suddenly thought I'd be the right person for the job. That's the best, as it creates a good starting point.

As you have chosen your field, try to be around so that people get a chance to talk to you. If you have worked for publishers and have a passion for art and literature, you could ask them to recommend you or to give you a testimonial you could send to other clients in the same industry.

Or another translator has huge workloads and cannot handle them in time and needs support by a fellow pro with the same specialisation. That happens more than you would've thought. And who does want to stay up all night to be able to meet the deadline?


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Veronica Coquard
France
Local time: 22:08
French to English
rub shoulders with 'em Dec 13, 2006

... any other info about how specialized translators have stalked direct clients would be really useful to me...


Begin with who you know and work the public relations. If you have a few contacts, get into their world and spread your business cards around. Don't just send letters "cold"; try to affiliate yourself with associations or other social circles in the field. Learn about them and let them get to know you a bit before you make them an offer they can't refuse.

For one thing, the specialists will have the chance to see that you understand the jargon of the field... And, chances are, they don't know many other translators, so if ever the need arises...

My experience: before declaring myself officially as a translator, I worked for a few years in local tourism (and I still work full time at a Tourist Board). I regularly come into contact with heads of associations, business owners, and public service providers, with whom I maintain friendly relations. It's as simple as hanging out with the right crowd. These people know other people who know other people... And the ball gets rolling.

Someone once told me "the best deals are made after midnight" - get 'em when they've let their hair down. If they like you and see that you do good work, they will find a reason to hire you sooner or later.


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Anne Wosnitza  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 22:08
English to German
+ ...
same thing Dec 18, 2006

Hello Tegan,

I just finished Uni (Technical Translation) and as one can imagine I have hardly any references, yet. Since July 2006, I work as a self-employed English/Spanish to German translator and am also planning to get direct clients.
I think the best idea is to prepare a little campaign and first choose local enterprises. Then step forward and try regional potential clients etc. The whole process will certainly take months but as said before in this thread the result should be quite satisfying if the effort was well.
I guess what you need is quite a lot of patience and will to keep on trying in spite of failures (which will certainly arise, as well).

Best wishes!

Anne


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