Finding agencies that work in my area of specialisation
Thread poster: Cécile Sellier

Cécile Sellier  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:21
English to French
+ ...
Apr 30, 2013

Hi all!

I've been a freelance translator (EN>FR) for almost 3 years, and I work with several agencies on a regular basis, but now I'd like to get new clients and expand my business.

However, there are so many translation agencies out there that it's hard to know where to apply. I specialise in mountain sports (snow sports, climbing, mountaineering...) and I already translate for several major ski brands (through a couple of agencies), but I don't know how to find out which other agencies work in this particular field.

Ideally, I'd love to translate for companies like Petzl, Black Diamond, Patagonia, The North Face... I'm also interested in translating books or films - pretty much anything related to the mountains!

I'd be extremely grateful for any advice
Thank you!!


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Shelagh Wilson  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:21
Member (2007)
+ ...
Target direct clients? Apr 30, 2013

Cécile Sellier wrote:
Ideally, I'd love to translate for companies like Petzl, Black Diamond, Patagonia, The North Face...

You've had a few years' experience to get to know the ropes, which is important. Have you considered contacting potential end-clients and offering your services to them directly? You would interest them, I'm sure. If they say they already use an agency and need their flexibility (it's a valid argument), perhaps you could ask, in a tactful way, if they'd be prepared to tell you which agency, so that you can apply to them.

You could certainly undercut agency rates, though be careful to increase your rates as there's extra risk, less support etc and you may want to pay a proofreader to cast an eye over some of your work for publication, just to make sure it's perfect. Direct clients can be very good to work with - no agency proofreaders who have no clue about the specialist terminology; no impossible deadlines (unless you set them for yourself!); no 3-way Q&A sessions involving a clueless PM... On the other hand, make sure you set your limits clearly and firmly. If they've worked for an agency before they make think it's perfectly OK to ask for 10,000 words on Friday for Monday delivery.

The only thing to beware of is contacting end clients who you've worked for through an agency: you are at least ethically bound not to do that, even if you haven't accepted the agency's terms (implicitly or explicitly) that forbid such contact.

As for choosing agencies, I don't really have any advice apart from web searches. Perhaps agencies in mountain sports areas might be the first ones to target? Maybe in America, Canada or New Zealand, where they'll be wanting to attract francophone custom? Does the same apply to Australia? Do they have mountains and/or snow there? Sorry, geography is not my strongest point!

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Cécile Sellier  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:21
English to French
+ ...
Thanks for the advice! Apr 30, 2013

Hi Sheila,

Thanks for your reply.

I think it's a good idea to contact the potential end-client directly, and if necessary, to ask what agency they're working with. Of course I would not approach the companies I'm already working for through agencies (one agency in particular is doing a great job anyway - efficient PM, good quality standards, no impossible deadlines, good rates etc - so it's much easier for me to keep working through them!).

As regards skiing in Australia, yes they do have a few ski resorts there!

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