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Became a paying member 3 months ago to meet clients - so far, I'm a little bit disappointed
Thread poster: Alan Corbo, CT

Alan Corbo, CT  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:48
English to Spanish
+ ...
Aug 28, 2007


I'm new here, and probably that's why I'm asking this. Or probably I'm just a little impatient and should've expected things to be like this.

The question is: I was a basic member of the site for a couple of years and always thought it was one of the best translation sites in the web. So some three months ago I decided to go Platinum for a year, hoping the investment would pay off soon. After all, I kept receiving job offers everyday before becoming a full member, and although I couldn't bid on them, I kind of thought that once I went Platinum and was able to place bids, things would soon develop and I would be able to get, at least, one job that paid off the investment. I read a lot of testimonials about the essential role had played in improving the career prospects of the writers.

Well, so far, I could only say I'm a little bit disappointed.

I hold a college degree in translation and some postgraduate courses on Literary translation. I've been doing sworn translation in my country for 2 years now; I've translated websites and some literary stuff as well. None of my translations has ever been rejected and all my clients are satisfied with my work. I even have one of those WWA entries in the site, and it's highly positive. My profile is up-to-date, all sections complete, my identity certified, a photograph, my CV... I've even tried lowering my rates, which make me feel rather bad. And I have been placing bids for 3 months, everyday, and nothing seems to come up.

So I guess the question is: what am I doing wrong? I really enjoy translating and I know I am a responsible and hardworking person. I know I'm new in the field and have tons of things to learn, but how are you supposed to get experience if you're not given the chance to work? Sometimes I even doubt whether the 4 years it took me to get my degree were a complete waste of time.

Well, I guess that was a little cathartic and sounded quite depressing, but I have no one else to ask. Any piece of advice? Should I keep waiting? Or probably choose another profession?



[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2007-08-28 09:16]


Marijke Singer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:48
Dutch to English
+ ...
You are not doing anything wrong Aug 28, 2007

It takes about a year to establish yourself. Your best option is not to rely on this website for jobs but to be more proactive. Send your details to potential customers (agencies or direct customers).

There also seems to be a discrepancy with your rates. Your per word rate seems to be very low while your hourly rate very high. This is just my personal opinion.

Good luck!


Tomasz Poplawski  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:48
Member (2007)
English to Polish
+ ...
Choices, choices Aug 28, 2007

Alan Corbo wrote:
Should I keep waiting? Or probably choose another profession?

And what are your choices for other professions? If something really exciting, maybe...

More seriously, it took me about 5 years to establish myself, and many more to find a lot of excellent clients. Many good agencies would not talk to you before you have 8-10 years of experience.
I don't want to get into lowering the rates you mentioned because this is such a touchy subject. But believe me, there is always someone cheaper so this is really a dead-end full of bottom-feeders who - surprise, surprise! - often do not pay at all.
Instead, get really good at something and TRIPLE your rates! Go to the ATA conference. Get certified.
Good luck!


Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:48
English to Norwegian
+ ...
I don't think you are doing anything wrong, either Aug 28, 2007

I joined proZ about the same time as you, and have been getting plenty of work.
Not in the first month, but now I am getting more offers than I can accept.
This could be due to different language pair- seems to be a lot of Spanish-English translators here - or different specialization - I do mostly medical translations. But I am sure there must be a lot of legal stuff that needs translating too.
I think once you get some clients and do a good job for them, they will come back with more projects when they know you do a good job delivered on time.
Specifically about proZ: I have been a lot more active than you (I think?) on the kudoZ and Forum front. I don't know if that matters at all, I do it for fun, but perhaps it makes you more visible?
Marijke is probably right, be patienticon_smile.gif
(Marijke, is that you in the avatar? You must be very fiticon_lol.gif)


Vadim Poguliaev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:48
English to Russian
it's ok Aug 28, 2007

Low amount of work in the beginning is quite ok, but I think you should be more aggressive in marketing yourself.

Browse company folder and send some applications, spend some time in kudoz, focusing on your primary subjects (it will highly improve your exposure), make a short, yet appealing cover letter for your bids and paste it in every bid you send, optimize your profile for search engines, etc.

+ Mine forums and articles for more info — there's plenty of it.

And it's not about lowering the rate, in fact some outsourcers may find the low rate suspicios and decline your quote just because of it.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2007-08-28 06:00]


Jessica M  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:48
Spanish to English
Marketing, marketing, marketing... Aug 28, 2007

I agree with Vadim... There's never anything wrong with slightly aggressive self-marketing.

I'm REALLY new to translating. I just graduated and I have little experience. But last week I sat down in front of the computer and sent out 165 CVs. I have gotten quite a few replies and even got an offer from an agency that is willing to help me fine-tune my translating skills because I am so new to the field. Granted, I have TONS of time right now since I am not officially employed anywhere, but it really is just about marketing yourself.

Good luck!


Local time: 11:48
English to Russian
+ ...
stop global whining Aug 28, 2007

I doubt it's all about "to pay or not to pay". After all, Alan, you did your promotional move. Mind you neither agencies nor outsourcers/whoever tend to like complainers. How about launching another thread to brag about your success and tell them how much busy you are. Bring up some positive references from the X, Y, Z making accent on how ultimately the Son&B**ch are delighted with your work. And you bet the rest will buy it, copy and paste your name on their list and will surely contact you in no time


Katrin Lueke  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:48
Member (2006)
English to German
KudoZ and keywords Aug 28, 2007

Hi Alan,

I became a member 8 months ago. My experience is, that it is not worth to try to get jobs through the bidding system. It takes a lot of time, and you hardly ever get a reply.

Instead, let the good clients find you. Spend your time on answering KudoZ questions, because the points you earn decide about your ranking in the directory. The more points you have the better is your ranking and the clients find you. If a client is looking for a English to Spanish legal translator through the directory, they probably will not scroll through 10 pages of translators. So, if you are on page 2 or even page 1, your chances to get a job offer are much higher. Also, by answering KudoZ questions, you show your skills.

Also, try to find more and specific keywords, in case clients are searching for a translator using keywords. I am no specialist in legal matters, but there must be legal terms you have experience with and which are suitable as keywords. Try to find as many as possible and put them in your profile.

After that, I would use the Blue Board to look for agencies that have a good reputation and send my CV to them. This can be a bit frustrating if you do not get an immediate reply, but sometimes agencies just put your details on their records and come back to you later.

And I think, you should raise your rates. Good clients may think you are too cheap and will not deliver high quality. With low rates, you only attract bad clients, that is my opinion. After all, you have loads of qualifications, so you should not work for peanuts. What good would it be to receive a job offer that is paid badly? Would you like to establish a long term working relationship with such a client and go on working for low rates for the next years? It is better to invest your time in finding good clients that pay well.

Good luck!


Jan Sundström  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:48
English to Swedish
+ ...
Some advice from an agency Aug 28, 2007

Hi Alan,

First of all: EN>ES is a very competitive language combination. As you're surely aware of, Latin America is full of excellent translators with these skills, which keeps the prices low.

Do you have any potential to learn a third language to broaden your market? Italian, Portuguese, or something more exotic?!

Try to make a search for EN>ES translators within a certain niche (a subject that you specialize in), and see how high you rank in a real-life situation.

If you find that you rank low, the first thing to do is to start answering Kudoz! This is a key element of Proz.

The main advantage of paid membership is that you'll be on the first page among the search results, instead of the second. Many agencies are too blind (or lazy) to find the tiny link for the second page with non-paying members.

Apart from that, market yourself ferociously: send e-mails to agencies (and potential direct corporate clients!), and do follow-up with phone calls. Make this a routine, and call them again after 3 months. Project managers come and go, the next time you call, there will be a different manager answering your call, so you'll get a second chance.

If there are any agencies in the town you live, make a personal call and present yourself in the flesh, it makes a more long-lasting impression.

Honestly, spending $100 on phonecalls would probably render more faithful clients than a one-year Proz membership. But one thing doesn't exclude another.

Good luck,


[Edited at 2007-08-28 08:07]


Vadim Poguliaev  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 11:48
English to Russian
he-h Aug 28, 2007

Katrin have given my points in more comprehesive way.
Thanks, Katrin=)


Nizamettin Yigit  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:48
Dutch to Turkish
+ ...
Complete your profile and make different Aug 28, 2007

Hi Alan,

Complete your profile fields. If anything left behind you will be able to see during profile update.

Make yourself available.

The bottim field is for key-words of your profile check by search engines. Make your keywords different from other people. If you use the same keywords most probably you will be at the end of a current list.

And finally give time and dont give up. Remember we can eat a sandwhich in seconds but it takes more or less 4 hours to digest a small sandwich.

Good luck!


Local time: 10:48
English to Albanian
+ ...
Newcommers Aug 28, 2007

I am a kind of newcommer to Proz.

I registred as free user at proz since december 2006. Last week I got my first translation project. It is a small one but good for start.

I have translated faster than normally predicted time. And I handed over.

What I did up to now.

Since there were not a lot of translations tasks I moved to answer questions.

it is that I have completed my profile. I have added to sample translations, I have answered in 12 questions and no question asked up to now. I got only 4 KUDOZ points.


Marie-Hélène Hayles  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:48
Italian to English
+ ...
Katrin's advice is excellent Aug 28, 2007

I can second the fact that getting Kudoz in your specialist fields is the best way to get potential clients *coming to you*- without having to waste time sending your CV out to potentially uninterested agencies. I also agree that bidding for the jobs offered on the site is probably a waste of time, although it'll be interesting to see whether the newly introduced premium job system makes a difference to the quality of projects (and more importantly, the rates) advertised here.


Hilde Granlund  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:48
English to Norwegian
+ ...
Katrin's advice Aug 28, 2007

sounds indeed excellent, and I understand better how KudoZ works. I realize that is probably why a lot more potential clients have been contacting me lately.
However, I have also aquired several clients through bidding for jobs, one or two through the premium system.


Emanuela Galdelli  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:48
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Nothing is Wrong, Just Be Patient Aug 28, 2007

Hello, I think that nothing is wrong with your "strategy".

What I have been doing since the beginning of my career is to try and try and try.

When you look for a job, 90% of the time you do not receive answers to your applications. helps a lot, but what you need is experience and specialisation.

Sometimes agencies choose people who have been working for many years.

When I became a paying member, I immediately saw the difference, as I could apply to any job, and I received many answers.

Well, the question is: have you put all your specialisations in your profile? Have you attached your cv? Are you always available for any job, even very late in the night? (it's not compulsory, for me sometimes yes, if I work with a non-European agency)

My experience is probably different, I started working with an Embassy, and this is probably a business card, but consider that I had difficult periods in my career. Now I have so much work, but I had to do many sacrifices.

I love my work so much, and loved that job so much that I never gave up hoping to be paid better and to have new experiences.

In Italy most of the time translators are not well paid, believe me it's not so easy!

Now I am satisfied with my activity.

I decided to become a translator and interpreter when I was 5!

Sure helps, but you need to focalise on your experience, specialisations and skills. Agencies look for very specialised professionals.

Do you use cat tools? I did not like them so much at the beginning, but was obliged to use them, and now I have a great help in my everyday job.

Do you have credentials? This is another thing that often agencies ask for.

So: specialisations, customise your profile in a very specific way and proposals will arrive, believe me.

What I like here in is especially the Kudoz system. Who can hope to be helped when he cannot understand a word or translate it?

And the community? It's a wonderful place, and having the possibility to share your experiences with other colleagues is really a good opportunity.

So, never give up, and you will see good results soon.

Good luck!


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