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Obtaining Jobs
Thread poster: Robert Manipole

Robert Manipole  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:12
Spanish to English
Jan 2, 2008

Hello all! After reading a few post in the forum I have decided that it might be worth my time and effort in becoming a freelance translator. I also purchase the premium membership. After a couple of weeks as a member, I am finding out that it takes a lot more than just a membership to proz to get a job. I feel that the pickings out there are slim. Have I misled myself in thinking that I could supplement my current income by becoming a freelance translator? I feel that I have a lot to offer the present, but I just can't seem to gain the experience necessary to know if I'm cut out for this type of work for sure. Any ideas out there about what I should do next. Thank you very much for your time and ideas.

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Dinny  Identity Verified
Greece
Local time: 05:12
Italian to Danish
+ ...
While waiting for jobs... Jan 2, 2008

... create a convincing ProZ.com profile, a nice C.V. with all necessary details, contact agencies all over the world offering your service, volunteer for free translation jobs for various grassroot organisations, bid on upcoming jobs with a decent rate offered on ProZ.com.

It takes a little time, a little effort... but I am sure your membership will prove to have been worth while.

Good luck!
Dinny

P.S. And if you have time to spare, answer some Kudoz questions, you will be surprised to learn how long time it can take to make the necessary research to find an answer to a question, exactly as if you were the one with the same linguistic problem. And you will be - once you get started on the jobs!

[Edited at 2008-01-02 18:08]


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Salima Post
United States
Local time: 22:12
English to French
You are not alone :) Jan 2, 2008

I have worked as a PM for a few years and as a freelancer for a few months. I used proz.com for years but I recently became a member.

As Dinny said, it takes time, more than a little effort I am afraid but it is worth it.

Here is a link that will be worthy to check:
http://www.proz.com/translation-articles/articles/596/

and do surf in this website, it is a mine full of information, advice... that can only help you in your desire to become a freelancer... Do not give up after only 2 weeks... Rome was not built in 1 day so is your business... Give it a try

Good Luck!


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Oleg Rudavin  Identity Verified
Ukraine
Local time: 05:12
Member (2003)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
It may take a while Jan 2, 2008

Robert Manipole wrote:Have I misled myself in thinking that I could supplement my current income by becoming a freelance translator?

Absolutely not! There's a lot of financial potential in freelancing.
Robert Manipole wrote: After a couple of weeks as a member...

That's the point. You might have been wrong in assuming it will only take a couple of weeks or so.

In fact, it can take anytime - form a few days if you are lucky to a few months - before you get your first job; and building up a more or less reliable freelancing career would take years.

Practice-wise (here, Danny is quite right!), polish your profile & CV, and try to show & prove you not just another of the hundreds or thousands of translators. What is it that will make you attractive for potential clients? Your current experience? Or that dating back to the Army years? Try to emphasize it. Meanwhile, look for opportunities to gain experience now - probably with a few local translation agencies? Join the KudoZ game to demonstrate your skills and expertise. Browse the Blue Board and email a few clients that you think might be interested in your services or register at their websites.

And getting your first job will only be a matter of time.

Cheers,
Oleg


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Robert Manipole  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:12
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you all for your continued support! Jan 2, 2008

All of your comments were exactly what I needed to stay on track. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that anything worth doing needs time to flourish. I will certainly take all of your advice and continue learning,refining,helping, and staying focused.

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Laura Tridico  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:12
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
It will take more than a couple of weeks... Jan 2, 2008

I did exactly what you are doing this time last year. I was teaching high school French (but in my case I knew I'd be leaving my teaching position in the spring). A few tips:

1) Create a separate translation resume, with an emphasis on the experience which makes you an attractive freelance translator. That means dedicate much less space to your current job, and more on your translation background. Be specific.

2) Same thing with your profile - it reads like someone who wants to moonlight once in a while, but whose heart lies elsewhere. Even if that's true, a potential client will be more likely to select someone who is committed to translation. This doesn't mean that you hide the fact you're a teacher - not at all, I was never anything but honest when I was working two jobs - but you highlight what matters to your customers.

3) Get some Kudoz points. They really do help. I actually gained an excellent client who simply liked answers I provided.

Make sure you have plenty of keywords on your profile that relate to your area of expertise. Outsearchers can search for translators so the more comprehensive your keywords, the more likely you'll be found.

Remember, the job postings are a very small part of what happens here. A lot of work flows below the surface, with potential clients directly contacting freelancers who are likely to meet their needs. I found that this began once I'd accumulated some points (esp. in my specialty, law). I probably receive 2-3 inquiries a month this way, but they often lead to new clients.

Keep up the good work...

Laura


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Suzette Martin-Johnson
Canada
Member (2007)
French to English
+ ...
Ditto Jan 2, 2008

Hi Robert!

Don't give up - one day it will happen. Keep bidding and sending out your improved resume and something good will happen soon. Also keep those translation skills honed and join the ATA as an Associate member if you haven't already. Great magazines and good networking there and on proz should help you see results soon. Also, try to start saving for a rainy day if you want to become a freelancer, given that you're (apparently) in a predictable job now. It will be less secure than a full-time job but once you build up a client base it will work out. Having a good financial base will help you feel less panicky!!


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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:12
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Every start into a new business is difficult Jan 3, 2008

Hi Robert,

you are not alone. I started one year ago and applied and applied - with little success.
Then I started to read the threads (getting established etc.), I polished my profile, trying to provide as much information as I could.
And then - the first job came!

Don't give up and keep on the track.
If you do a first job for a customer / agency and they are pleased with your work, they probably will come again.

It takes some time getting established, that's quite normal

[Bearbeitet am 2008-01-03 08:13]


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Robert Manipole  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:12
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Many thanks to all Jan 3, 2008

I am beginning to realize that this site is so much more than just bidding for jobs. It is interesting that I am taking the same path as all of you in realizing what needs to happen in order to become a full-fledged freelancer; Now I am confident in being patient....Thank you so much!

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Capesha  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:12
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Welcome to the club :-) Jan 3, 2008

Robert, just keep this thread and read it one year later, you will see that you probably smile about it

I for myself started with an Excel list, were I entered my invoices and prepared a diagram.
The red line in this diagram looks nice - there are ups and downs, but it continuously rose....


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xxxwonita
China
Local time: 23:12
Start with a low price Jan 3, 2008

Hi Robert,

Though uncool, you have to state your price to be approached by agencies. Since you haven't got any regular clients, and Spanich-English is a very crowded language pair, I would suggest you make your start price at 0.06 $ per word. Raise your price by 0,02 $ when you 've had enough work and are still approached by new clients. After two or three years, you will find a good market price for you.

It is not to undersell yourself, as some translators may cite. Instead, it is a marketing strategy, which enables new-comers to compete with the well-established service providers at all. Some airlines offer flight ticket under its cost for a certain route just in order to get into business, to the great pleasure of the passengers.

Besides, I would like to point out, most active posters on the Proz forums are well-established translators with enough jobs. You don't hear from those, who, for one reason or another, quit freelancing due to lack of jobs. How many percent do they make up?

Best wish,
Bin

[Edited at 2008-01-03 16:46]


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Andrea Jarmuschewski  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:12
Member (2007)
French to German
+ ...
Hang in there! Jan 6, 2008

I used to be a teacher too and really started freelancing (after a bit of moonlighting this summer) in October '07. Well, in October and November I could count my jobs on one hand but I started being very active with the Kudoz (amazing how much fun that is, how versatile and how much you can learn!), sending some applications, working on my profile and resume, doing test translations for agencies (potential jobs) and so on - and lo and behold, in December I was booked out an ended up earning more than what I used to earn as a full time teacher... January is promising too and I'm very optimistic for the future.

Like some others have said, you need to be patient and to polish your profile and visibility on Proz.com. Some agencies approved of my test translations and didn't send me any work yet - others sent me the first order two months after my test. Once the ball gets rolling, the quality of your work will make the difference.

You'll get there and Proz.com is a fantastic tool. Don't hesitate to look for other venues as well though.

Best of luck to you!

Andrea


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Robert Manipole  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 22:12
Spanish to English
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Andrea!! Jan 7, 2008

Your words are very inspiring. I have been trying to get on Kudoz a bit more, but as you know my primary responsibility as a teacher can be quite hectic. I have been learning to find time to do both though. When you said that you applied to agencies for work, did you use the Blue Board to do so? Thanks again for your help; I truly enjoy teaching, but I have such a love for translations, I know that I can make it work!!!

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Andrea Jarmuschewski  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 04:12
Member (2007)
French to German
+ ...
potential job offers Jan 7, 2008

Hi Robert,

Oh yes, I know that a teaching job can be very hectic. Frankly, I don't think I would have been able to combine a full time teaching job with freelance translating. I really got started with translation after quitting my teaching job. So, kudos to you for doing both!!

As for the test translations: yes, I looked up the blue board and sent some applications to agencies but I must say I didn't get much response by that. I responded to potential offers on Proz.com too (you know, when agencies look specifically for new freelancers in some language combinations) and most of these agencies made me do a short test which then has been accepted by them. But as I said, that doesn't necessarily mean that they'll send you the first job right away! If your test was ok, they'll have you fill in some forms, sign condidentiality agreements and so on. And finally some work will come in, small orders first, and then you can show your quality work.

Don't hesitate to quote on specific job offers as well which include a short sample translation and give it your best. That'll really make the difference. (And don't sell yourself cheap as that is not a sign of quality).

Hope some of this helps!
Best regards
Andrea


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xxxtazdog
Spain
Local time: 04:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
DON'T start with a low price Jan 7, 2008

Bin Tiede wrote:

Though uncool, you have to state your price to be approached by agencies. Since you haven't got any regular clients, and Spanich-English is a very crowded language pair, I would suggest you make your start price at 0.06 $ per word. Raise your price by 0,02 $ when you 've had enough work and are still approached by new clients. After two or three years, you will find a good market price for you.

It is not to undersell yourself, as some translators may cite. Instead, it is a marketing strategy, which enables new-comers to compete with the well-established service providers at all. Some airlines offer flight ticket under its cost for a certain route just in order to get into business, to the great pleasure of the passengers.



I agree that the Spanish>English pair is pretty crowded, but couldn't disagree more with the "strategy" expressed above. Prices are low enough as is, and $0.06/€0.04 is below what even the rock-bottom agencies in Spain (with a well-deserved reputation for being a country with low rates) are currently paying. (Robert, you're a member, so you can see what the average rates are by looking in the Jobs tab above, under "Rates".)

I think a better marketing strategy, apart from all the good advice you've already been given, is to make sure you clearly define what you can offer potential clients (e.g., specialty fields where your own, unique experience can be valuable). If you think that clients won't want to take a chance on you in the beginning because you lack translation experience, then offer them added value by including editing/reviewing by another professional in the price you quote—you can charge a decent rate, which will give you enough to cover your editor/reviewer’s fee; you will make less yourself but will get feedback on your work and the client will get a polished translation.

You can't just sit back and wait for things to happen--you have to actively market yourself and show clients why they should give their business to you in particular. However, I firmly believe that undercutting the market on price is NOT the way to do it.


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