How long does it take for a translating service to get business?
Thread poster: xxxDavidj
xxxDavidj  Identity Verified

Local time: 09:05
English to Irish
+ ...
Oct 23, 2012

Hello Everyone,

I have heard for any business, it takes awhile to get customers. This is especially true for translating services?

kind regards,

David


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Trevor Chichester  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 09:05
Member (2012)
German to English
+ ...
It really depends Oct 23, 2012

Hey mate,

It really depends upon a variety of factors. What languages and services will you offer? What particular INDUSTRY will you translate for? What is your experience in this industry?

A lot of translators and interpreters will usually work in-house as a translator and then build up their clients on the sides over the weekend and after work. This may take some time.

I had worked in-house for a pharmaceutical company as a translator for 6 years before deciding to go freelance. I started building a freelance client list after about 5 years of in-house translating. So it took me approximately a year to make enough money to actually freelance to support myself.

Cheers,

Trevor


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xxxDavidj  Identity Verified

Local time: 09:05
English to Irish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Makes Sense! Oct 23, 2012

Thanks for responding! It's from English-Irish but I really don't have an industry, it's geared toward the niche of the Irish-American Community? I may have to change that. I didn't realize that the industry one chooses is important.

What do MOST translators translate in?

David


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Sarai Pahla (MD) MBChB
Germany
Local time: 15:05
Member (2012)
Japanese to English
+ ...
It depends on you Oct 23, 2012

I agree with the previous response. If you're going to start out as a business, you need to investigate your target market, their requirements, spending habits, etc. You also need to be specific about what need you are addressing in the market. You also need to work on your self-promotion and marketing skills. It helps if you can network and find direct clients.

Most translators translate into their personal fields of specialty - in my case medicine (which is what I studied). You can be a complete generalist, but you should probably draw on your personal interests. There are so many fields - I doubt there is one that most translators are affiliated to, e.g. Tech/engineering, medical and pharma, legal, entertainment, certificates, biology, theology... I mean the list is really endless. It depends on you.

I have struggled more from the perspective that I don't have language credentials - my background as a doctor is what has won me several jobs, but I miss out with a few companies because I don't have a language related degree or not enough years of experience. Having said that, when I started out, I worked for one agency to gain experience for a year, and after that started branching out and looking for more agencies - it took a few months to get a constant cash flow, so it doesn't have to take very long.


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xxxDavidj  Identity Verified

Local time: 09:05
English to Irish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I've decided! Oct 23, 2012

Thanks for the advice folks :}. I think I"m gonna just teach for right now, and maybe add translating later on.

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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
My experience... Oct 23, 2012

That's been my experience as well. I started out in a call center, was moved to interpreting, then to translation, after that I was lured away by another company with their piles of money and my own office to translate in. My entire department ended up getting laid off last September and that's when I starting working as a freelancer. It took about six months to develop a good client base and Proz helped me a lot in reaching more clients. I still have a lot of room to grow and improve, but I have food on the table and a roof over my head.

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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:05
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
What does the community do? Oct 23, 2012

Davidj wrote:
I really don't have an industry, it's geared toward the niche of the Irish-American Community?

OK - you've chosen your market, you know who you're selling to. Now, second question is "What do they want to buy?"

It's unlikely that these Irish-Americans are going to ask you to translate their holiday postcards or whatever - or if they do, they'll only pay peanuts. If you want to earn even half-serious money, you'll need to target their businesses. If they're going to earn money, indirectly, from your translation, then they'll be prepared to pay more for it, and they won't be satisfied with Google quality. So, what businesses do these people run? Or perhaps you should target those American companies who target the Irish-Americans specifically as clients (if there are any). They'll probably be interested in having texts translated for this client sector.

It's actually the same with teaching. You can't just say "I speak a language; I'll teach it." Not only do you have to have teaching skills, but as a freelance teacher you need to be able to target your students and their needs. You'll need different methods and materials to teach kids versus adults, general versus specific-purpose language. And, of course, once you get into teaching languages for business/scientific/academic purposes, then there's all the jargon that goes with the sector, which you'll probably have to learn before you can teach it.

Really, these things need to be tied down before you open the doors. Have you done a detailed business plan?

Edited to say that looking back at the title of the thread, my post has gone a bit off topic. I'm really basing my post on the various questions you've asked on ProZ.com, Davidj. I suppose I'm saying that until know what you should be offering to whom, you aren't likely to get any business of the ground.

[Edited at 2012-10-23 09:19 GMT]


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Ahmet Yalcinkaya
Turkey
Local time: 17:05
English to Turkish
+ ...
It may vary Oct 23, 2012

There are a lot of parameters affecting this time. Some of them are
- languages to translate
- expertises
- prices
- How broad your relevant environment is etc.
The most important factor would be your experience anyway.


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Carolyn Yohn  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:05
French to English
+ ...
Don't forget time for marketing Oct 23, 2012

Hi, David!

I noticed you decided to stick to teaching, but for that moment when you decide to take up translating as well: don't forget marketing. It makes a huge impact on what you perceive the demand to be.

I'd say, for the first few months at least, you should plan on most of your time being spent researching and applying to agencies, writing good cover letters and sending your resume to potential direct clients, building and maintaining an attractive professional website... In short, letting people know you are available to help them.

Work does trickle in eventually. Good luck!

Carolyn


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:05
English to German
+ ...
It depends on how you position yourself Oct 24, 2012

I noticed that you listed, of all options available, Advertising, Public Relations and Retail as your specialties, without having a university degree in Advertising, Marketing Communication, Journalism or Business Administration listed. Or at least some experience.

Successful self-advertising starts with credibility.

To stand out from the crowd, you ideally should be able to provide a skill that hardly anyone else has. This may be the knowledge of a particular (non-translation related) software, a hobby (recently I was desperately searching for a colleague who knows SOMETHING about mountain bikes, haha...), the fact that your spouse or other family member works in a highly specialized field and you can tap into their know-how and expertise and you have a priceless expert on hand (example: a colleague and I shared the translation of a large jewelry catalog. We wouldn't have accepted this project without his friend who happened to be a goldsmith.)


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James_xia  Identity Verified
China
Member
English to Chinese
+ ...
A good image Oct 24, 2012

Triston Goodwin wrote:

That's been my experience as well. I started out in a call center, was moved to interpreting, then to translation, after that I was lured away by another company with their piles of money and my own office to translate in. My entire department ended up getting laid off last September and that's when I starting working as a freelancer. It took about six months to develop a good client base and Proz helped me a lot in reaching more clients. I still have a lot of room to grow and improve, but I have food on the table and a roof over my head.


You're telling an encouraging story about why we are here in this industry and how we should move forward to survive. The funny part is that a similar thread is being discussed in the Chinese forum, where I used your words in my posting.

http://www.proz.com/forum/chinese/74624-一个新人开拓市场的困惑,请前辈指点-page3.html


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xxxDavidj  Identity Verified

Local time: 09:05
English to Irish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Good news! Thanks Everyone for your help :} Oct 24, 2012

I think I got my first client today! Funny thing is, it happened after I changed the site to a teaching format. Anyway, I'm gonna add translations later on down the road once I get a more solid base. It seems to be hard to find a market for translations in Irish versus teaching it. I"m gonna see where this roads leads me.

DavidJ

[Edited at 2012-10-24 02:28 GMT]


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
Well then I forgot a part! Oct 25, 2012

James_xia wrote:

Triston Goodwin wrote:

That's been my experience as well. I started out in a call center, was moved to interpreting, then to translation, after that I was lured away by another company with their piles of money and my own office to translate in. My entire department ended up getting laid off last September and that's when I starting working as a freelancer. It took about six months to develop a good client base and Proz helped me a lot in reaching more clients. I still have a lot of room to grow and improve, but I have food on the table and a roof over my head.


You're telling an encouraging story about why we are here in this industry and how we should move forward to survive. The funny part is that a similar thread is being discussed in the Chinese forum, where I used your words in my posting.

http://www.proz.com/forum/chinese/74624-一个新人开拓市场的困惑,请前辈指点-page3.html


I should have mentioned that I was able to marry my beautiful wife too! ^_^


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James_xia  Identity Verified
China
Member
English to Chinese
+ ...
Happy work, easy life Oct 27, 2012

Triston Goodwin wrote:

James_xia wrote:

Triston Goodwin wrote:

That's been my experience as well. I started out in a call center, was moved to interpreting, then to translation, after that I was lured away by another company with their piles of money and my own office to translate in. My entire department ended up getting laid off last September and that's when I starting working as a freelancer. It took about six months to develop a good client base and Proz helped me a lot in reaching more clients. I still have a lot of room to grow and improve, but I have food on the table and a roof over my head.


You're telling an encouraging story about why we are here in this industry and how we should move forward to survive. The funny part is that a similar thread is being discussed in the Chinese forum, where I used your words in my posting.

http://www.proz.com/forum/chinese/74624-一个新人开拓市场的困惑,请前辈指点-page3.html


I should have mentioned that I was able to marry my beautiful wife too! ^_^


You're a lucky man who enjoys happy work and easy life.


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Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:05
Spanish to English
+ ...
It's a choice Oct 27, 2012

James_xia wrote:

Triston Goodwin wrote:

James_xia wrote:

Triston Goodwin wrote:

That's been my experience as well. I started out in a call center, was moved to interpreting, then to translation, after that I was lured away by another company with their piles of money and my own office to translate in. My entire department ended up getting laid off last September and that's when I starting working as a freelancer. It took about six months to develop a good client base and Proz helped me a lot in reaching more clients. I still have a lot of room to grow and improve, but I have food on the table and a roof over my head.


You're telling an encouraging story about why we are here in this industry and how we should move forward to survive. The funny part is that a similar thread is being discussed in the Chinese forum, where I used your words in my posting.

http://www.proz.com/forum/chinese/74624-一个新人开拓市场的困惑,请前辈指点-page3.html


I should have mentioned that I was able to marry my beautiful wife too! ^_^


You're a lucky man who enjoys happy work and easy life.


I think we all have the right to choose to be happy, external factors only form a part of the equation.


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