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Lots of jobs (what kinds of jobs) being awarded through the translator directory
Thread poster: Bernhard Sulzer

Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:58
English to German
+ ...
May 15, 2014

It has been said before by staff that "most of the client contact that happens on the site does not happen via posted jobs, but rather through directory searches and direct profile contact.."
http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom_job_systems/236888-how_to_land_that_first_job_on_proz.html

My question is to whom are these many jobs going and what kinds of jobs are they?
Not to me. And I am not sure I want them these days. Not all of them.

Don't get me wrong. I am thankful for every contact through the directory or my profile that then translates into a fair job, but I can't say that in all of these years of my membership I had many good contacts.

I believe that these days, it is very important to keep the contacts you have and hopefully get a few new ones, but you can't rely on a steady stream of acceptably paid work hoping to get contacted through here. I am sorry to say this and maybe that's not everyone's experience.

Now, I am not looking for help marketing myself - thanks, I'm fine.
What this posting is about is the question to whom - if there are so many contacts through the directory and the profiles - are these communications going and why am I not contacted?

I venture to say that increasingly the contacts must be going to members who advertise their prices and fall into the lower price category. This probably happens because it's mostly agencies who are looking for translators and they are looking for "inexpensive" solutions.

That leaves me with two solutions: advertise cheap rates or not depend on the directory.
But this trend leaves its mark, for translators and on the industry in general. If more and more jobs are accepted for less and less money, you can draw your own conclusion about what that means for those translators who work for higher rates.

So the opinion that there's lots of jobs being awarded through the translator directory and through direct contacts might be a bit problematic in the sense that it implies everything is alright in the translation business.

What's your recent experience with being contacted through the directory or directly through your profile? And what do you do about the trend I implied above with regard to the jobs that you need to receive not to just make a living but to remain a successful translator with an acceptable income?

B

[Edited at 2014-05-15 13:52 GMT]


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564354352  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 18:58
Danish to English
+ ...
Jobs from the directory only a drop in the ocean May 15, 2014

On the positive side, I have earnt back the money I pay for membership of ProZ.com so far, and then some, but not much. Having said that, it has been a very tiny trickle of jobs that have materialised this way. I hardly ever bid on jobs any more, as the response from outsourcers is inevitably that my rates are too high, if they even bother to respond at all.

On the negative side, I have had a fair amount of enquiries from outsourcers, almost always claiming that they have read my profile and would like to start collaboration. Strangely, the moment I repeat my rates (which are stated clearly on my profile), I am suddenly too expensive for them, and they want to negotiate prices, which I hardly ever do. My rates are low for my language combination, and I have no intention of dropping them further. On the contrary, I am thinking of raising them soon.

My view of ProZ is more that it is a bit of unwinding during the workday, and from time to time, I enjoy participating in a forum discussion or just reading what others have to say. I do not see ProZ.com in any way as a serious source of income at all. Nor do I consider it a job exchange for serious professional offers, but rather a place where outsourcers who are mainly interested in getting the cheapest deals possible will post their jobs, not a place for outsourcers who are interested in establishing serious working relationships with professionals.

I don't worry where 'all the jobs' go, I must admit. I just feel sad when I see translators in my language combinations bidding on jobs with suggested budgets way below anything reasonable.


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Domenico Trimboli  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:58
English to Italian
Good experience so far May 15, 2014

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:

It has been said before by staff that "most of the client contact that happens on the site does not happen via posted jobs, but rather through directory searches and direct profile contact.."
http://www.proz.com/forum/prozcom_job_systems/236888-how_to_land_that_first_job_on_proz.html

My question is to whom are these many jobs gong and what kinds of jobs are they?
Not to me. And I am not sure I want them these days.

Don't get me wrong. I am thankful for every contact through the directory or my profile that then translates into a fair job, but I can't say that in all of these years of my membership I had many good contacts.

I believe that these days, it is very important to keep the contacts you have and hopefully get a few new ones, but you can't rely on a steady stream of work hoping to get contacted through here. I am sorry to say this and maybe that's not everyone's experience.

Now, I am not looking for help marketing myself - thanks, I'm fine.
What this posting is about is the question to whom - if there are so many contacts through the directory and the profiles - are these communications going and why am I not contacted?

I venture to say that increasingly the contacts must be going to members who advertise their prices and fall into the lower price category. This probably happens because it's mostly agencies who are looking for translators and they are looking for "inexpensive" solutions.

That leaves me with two solutions: advertise cheap rates or not depend on the directory.
But this trend leaves its mark, for translators and on the industry in general. If more and more jobs are accepted for less and less money, you can draw your own conclusion about what that means for those translators who work for higher rates.

So the opinion that there's lots of jobs being awarded through the translator directory and through direct contacts might be a bit problematic in the sense that it implies everything is alright in the translation business.

What's your recent experience with being contacted through the directory or directly through your profile? And what do you do about the trend I implied above with regard to the jobs that you need to receive not to just make a living but to remain a successful translator with an acceptable income?

B

[Edited at 2014-05-15 13:31 GMT]


I've been a Proz member for almost one year, and I'm more than happy to share my experience with fellow Proz members.

Over the last 9 months I think I've been contacted by no less than 10 translation agencies through the directory only. Most of the times, they got in touch because they had specific projects to assign in my pair and areas of expertise. Of course, not all of them ended up sending me jobs, and some of them never replied when I mentioned my rates. But I got 4 clients this way, and I think it's a good result.

One of the agencies which contacted me through the directory now sends me between 5 and 10K words per month, and is one of my best clients. The others only send me little projects (1-2K words a month), but they're nice and I honestly value our cooperation.

As for money, my rate is usually €0,07/0,08 per word, and all of these clients accepted it. I'll leave it up to you to decide whether this is high or low, but I consider it an average price in my language pair, given my areas of expertise.


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EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:58
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
depends on the language pair May 15, 2014

Yours is very common, so that the probability that a client will pick you out of the directory must be low. I have had quite a few queries - most often in rather "exotic" language pairs.

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dianaft  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:58
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Overall, your evaluation might be accurate May 15, 2014

I had a couple of genuine enquiries, two resulted in an assignment and in both cases this was followed with further assignments at some later point.

However, when I first signed up here, I was practically bombarded with USD 0.03 - 0.05 offers for highly technical mega-rush-jobs (some even with a deadline in the past!!!). You're talking several offers a day for a couple of weeks. Many of them were very rude or even abusive when refused. I think there are a quite few agencies here, who monitor the directory for any new members and pounce on them immediately. This may well account for a large number of assignments awarded through the translator directory.


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Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:58
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
The rates' factor May 15, 2014

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
I venture to say that increasingly the contacts must be going to members who advertise their prices and fall into the lower price category

I agree. Rates play a very big part in all this. But I don't agree with your two solutions:

advertise cheap rates or not depend on the directory.


I used to get lots of enquiries through my profile. Sometimes several a day, almost all for specific projects, and, to be fair, usually in my field. When I replied with my rates, nearly all of them used to say they could only pay about half or a third of that.

However, of the ones that did work out, many have become regular clients over the years.

I spent so much time exchanging futile emails that about 6 months ago I decided to publish my rates on my profile, in an attempt to cut out the bottom rate jobs. Since then I've had very few enquiries - maybe a couple a month - but the majority now end up in a job.

From my experience, I'd recommend advertising your rates up front. It cuts out unnecessary email exchanges, and has the added benefit of "educating" translators and outsourcers about the real value of high quality translations.


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Tim Friese  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:58
Member (2013)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Agree May 15, 2014

Emma Goldsmith wrote:

Bernhard Sulzer wrote:
I venture to say that increasingly the contacts must be going to members who advertise their prices and fall into the lower price category

I agree. Rates play a very big part in all this. But I don't agree with your two solutions:

advertise cheap rates or not depend on the directory.


I used to get lots of enquiries through my profile. Sometimes several a day, almost all for specific projects, and, to be fair, usually in my field. When I replied with my rates, nearly all of them used to say they could only pay about half or a third of that.

However, of the ones that did work out, many have become regular clients over the years.

I spent so much time exchanging futile emails that about 6 months ago I decided to publish my rates on my profile, in an attempt to cut out the bottom rate jobs. Since then I've had very few enquiries - maybe a couple a month - but the majority now end up in a job.

From my experience, I'd recommend advertising your rates up front. It cuts out unnecessary email exchanges, and has the added benefit of "educating" translators and outsourcers about the real value of high quality translations.



I think my rates are reasonable, and I have also found that I get plenty of views and messages from the directory, some of which have turned into good clients and some of which haven't. I'm generally content with having my rates public.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:58
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
We don't have to be cheap to be successful May 15, 2014

Dear Bernhard

I think you’re not personally being contacted via ProZ because you haven’t published your rates there. Your profile looks arty and expensive. Maybe the Brits don’t like it that you accept dollars and euros but not their currency. Maybe other visitors are puzzled by your policy to charge more to returning clients than to new clients. Your ProZ profile also contains a JavaScript warning that might scare some prospects. Some people don’t like translators who translate both ways. I’m just telling you because you asked.

You might at times be an affordable solution for e.g. European clients, exchange rates change over time, but I can’t tell from your profile. New direct clients and agencies contact me several times a month. I prefer those who’ll pick up the phone to check whether I’m there and who really want to find out if I “speak” their languages. When they tell me they’ve found me on ProZ, I compliment them straight away for not having contacted the cheapest translator available. After all, what ProZ can do for us is that customers contact us, so we're in the best position to bargain. Many prospects I’ve spoken over the phone will become my customer because I was able to skip all of the bargaining and just apply my published rate.

The job conversion for people who’ve found me on ProZ and try to contact me by e-mail - hey, it’s free - is less favourable:
- Most of them think that offering less than half my published rate is doing business too. Here at home we refer to them as lunatics but I’m not sure if I'm allowed to repeat that on this website.
- Some people really waste our time. They have huge slash urgent projects that never materialise. We call them megalomaniacs. Sometimes they’ll become so desperate that they'll hire us once.
- Some people use e-mail to bargain with me without having any project, margin or authority. We call them middlemen.
- A minority browses my ProZ profile and maybe my website and uses e-mail to contact me. They’re just shy and would have used a letter twenty years ago. I would take it personally if I could not land those customers.

Cheers,
Gerard


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Texte Style
Local time: 18:58
French to English
What I don't understand is... May 15, 2014

how do they know?
If you get a contact and then you start corresponding by e-mail rather than going through the Proz website?
Not that I ever have, since I don't rely on Proz for work, like Gitte, this place is where I hang out with other translators.


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Trisha F  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:58
English to Spanish
+ ...
Rates? Random events? May 15, 2014

I have not fully worked on my profile. I think I set my rates pretty low when I signed up, due to the fact that I was finishing my MA in Translation Studies and I did not know anything about the business (I cannot claim I know a whole damn lot now but back then I was a blank slate). I have not bothered modifying my rates now simply because I am not bidding for jobs on Proz. I have understood that it is pretty much a waste of time. When I first signed up, I was often bidding because I was naïve and then again, I did not know much.

Very few potential clients have contacted me on this site so I have got very few jobs directly through Proz. The funny bit is that my Proz jobs came up after a truly disastrous thread I had to have deleted because it turned out to be very nasty in the end, with people throwing abuse at me. I was asking clumsily for advice, my profile was too tongue-in-cheek and some folks do not have a sense of humour and cannot spot humorous attempts in a written piece either (I wonder why they work with language if they fail at this). Sure, it was not a very professional profile but it was not meant to be, I was joking and did not ever dream that people would check it out and tear it to pieces when the question I was asking was not about my profile. My first post on Proz also caused a similar reaction. To make the long story short, this anti-profile got me my first real income through Proz a couple of days later.

Around January this year someone else approached me through Proz but it was one of those offers that sounded too good to be true and I could not really check if this was legitimate so I stopped replying. I just had a hunch that something was not right, especially if the person who wrote to me had a gmail account, instead of an e-mail domain from the big company he was supposed to represent. It did not involve translation either but more of a multilingual personal assistant role, which, again, sounded a bit off.

I used Proz's translation directory to approach agencies though and one of these agencies has been quite good to work with so perhaps, indirectly, I have got some income from Proz. Had I not checked the Blueboard for agencies, this would not have happened.

I am thinking about buying a membership in the future, not at the time being as I have not felt it has really paid off. I agree with a previous comment about Proz being more of a place to unwind but in all honesty, I can unwind at many interesting sites without spending a penny or enduring bitchiness. The day I have more money to spare, I might think about it though.

[Edited at 2014-05-15 16:03 GMT]


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:58
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
We need to take a closer look at the ramifications May 15, 2014

Gerard de Noord wrote:

Dear Bernhard

I think you’re not personally being contacted via ProZ because you haven’t published your rates there. Your profile looks arty and expensive. Maybe the Brits don’t like it that you accept dollars and euros but not their currency. Maybe other visitors are puzzled by your policy to charge more to returning clients than to new clients. Your ProZ profile also contains a JavaScript warning that might scare some prospects. Some people don’t like translators who translate both ways. I’m just telling you because you asked.


Hi Gerard.

Thanks for your entry. Just a few thoughts. Never thought my profile looks "expensive" - and I do work for fair and not "pricey" rates. I have thought of changing my profile but not because I thought it was too "expensive"-looking - I just like to change things up once in a while and try new stuff. I do have European clients and I usually don't have trouble with Euro as a currency for British clients.
Also, to clarify: my profile doesn't say that returning clients pay more than new clients - prices will be depending on various factors but I do find it a good incentive for new clients to give a small discount and for quick-payer clients, new or old.
As far as the Java script is concerned, I didn't think this would scare anyone but rather impress them. And as far as translating in both directions is concerned, I do mention how I ensure quality in each language direction.

I'd accept it if you say well, he's probably not the cheapest translator, experience and fancy profile and all. ... I don't really want to make it unclear anyway who I am.


But - this isn't so much about my need to get these contacts but about what it means for me and other comparable translators that more and more jobs might be placed through the use of the directory search but end up going to the lower-priced market.


The sheer number and most probably increasing number of jobs placed this way and decreasing number of contacts certain translators receive that way is most likely an indication of how little these jobs pay and that this plays a part in the decreasing number of better-paying jobs available.

So, although a statement about the great number of jobs available or placed through the directory search may sound like a great thing and encouraging, we need to take a closer look at the process in order to understand all its ramifications for translators like me and the translation business. At least I suggest taking a closer look.

B

[Edited at 2014-05-15 18:20 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:58
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It's about 50/50 for me personally May 15, 2014

I joined ProZ.com in 2007 and did a few translations as a sideline to teaching each year, with more from 2010. I've just looked through the list of jobs I've done and this site is overwhelmingly the main source of my jobs. Of course, most are labelled "repeat", but I've gained 25 new clients as a result of quoting for selected publicly-posted jobs, and 20 have contacted me through my profile.

I'm actually quite surprised as I expected direct contacts to be the higher figure. But they're both good figures when you think how much income has come from those 45 clients over the years. And it shows that it IS worth keeping an eye on the job board, as well as trying to ensure that you come as high as possible in the directory. By the way, even back in 2007 I was quoting, and being paid, 0.10€ per word as my normal tariff, with occasional jobs done for 0.09€, and others for 0.15€.

Of course, you can waste a lot of time on those contacts who are never going to pay you what you ask. I did a fair bit of that in the early days, but now I'm quick to hit "X" when I get job post notifications or direct contacts that obviously aren't going to yield fruit. I don't monitor how many publicly-posted jobs I quote for in total, nor the percentage of quotes that are successful, but I do know that the former is reducing all the time, and the latter is increasing. Being selective is a good idea, but I've never agreed with those who won't have anything at all to do with the jobs board and dismiss every job there as bottom-feeding clients paying peanuts. It just isn't true, even if they are in the majority.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:58
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Ramifications May 15, 2014

Dear Bernhard,

I wanted to point out that your line of reasoning could be flawed. You might be receiving less feedback than others because of your marketing decisions. I think you're right in presuming that members who advertise their prizes get more enquiries, but please do not conclude that translators in the lower price category get contacted directly more often.

Cheers,
Gerard


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:58
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Need to look at the big picture May 15, 2014

Gerard de Noord wrote:

Dear Bernhard,

I wanted to point out that your line of reasoning could be flawed. You might be receiving less feedback than others because of your marketing decisions. I think you're right in presuming that members who advertise their prizes get more enquiries, but please do not conclude that translators in the lower price category get contacted directly more often.

Cheers,
Gerard


Hi Gerard,

There are certainly other translators who agree with me. I don't think my marketing decisions make me the one and only person who has these experiences.
I asked at the outset not to give me any marketing advice, it's not about that. I am looking for opinions on this issue, and everyone has their own. Just don't make this a "Bernhard" issue. Thx.

If you want to advertise your prices, that's fine.
I did not presume that members who advertise their prices per se get more inquiries. They may or they may not, and the price level may also make a difference.
Prices have been dropping or have remained pretty stagnant in this industry in general. Awareness of this issue and talking about it is important IMO because it will eventually
affect everyone. That's the big picture.

And as far as my line of reasoning is concerned, I am pretty sure it's not "flawed." I am not just starting out.
I do receive contacts through Proz.com, did receive two today actually, but they weren't too promising. When I said at the outset that I don't receive these contacts, it wasn't meant as in "no contacts" at all. But there aren't many at all, that's for sure.

B


[Edited at 2014-05-15 22:06 GMT]


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Vladimir Pochinov  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 19:58
Member (2002)
English to Russian
No pains, no gains May 15, 2014

Hi Bernhard,

Have a look at these two links:

1. English-German

http://www.proz.com/translator-directory/?sp=directory&mode=filter&from=eng&to=deu&type=na&field=&distance=50&location=&latitude=&longitude=&country=&pair_emphasis=8&native=&cred=na&software=na&sdl_trados_cert_level=na&sdlx_cert_level=na&avail=na&expertise=working&keyword=&wwa=na&complete_profile=na&profile_last_updated=any&search_form_action=y

Do you see your name on the first page of the search results?

2. English-Russian.

http://www.proz.com/translator-directory/?sp=directory&to=deu&from=eng&pair_emphasis=8&sdl_trados_cert_level=na&sdlx_cert_level=na&field=&latitude=&longitude=&distance=50&mode=view&from=eng&to=rus&pair_emphasis=8&field=&type=na&distance=50&location=&latitude=&longitude=&country=&cred=na&software=na&sdl_trados_cert_level=na&sdlx_cert_level=na&avail=na&keyword=&wwa=na&profile_last_updated=any&orderby=

Long time ago (between 2003 and 2006) I spent three years answering as many KudoZ questions as possible, aiming to come up in the Top Three search results. And I did reach that goal by late 2006.

I still come up as No. 10 in the search results, despite the fact that I ceased any efforts to maintain my rating about 7 years ago. And if you search for a legal translator, you would find me in the No. 6 slot.

In practical terms, this translates into the fact that I haven't had to seek new clients since early 2007. I receive various communications from interested parties (both ProZ members and non-ProZ visitors) on a regular basis, generally 2-4 of them each month. Besides ProZ, some potential clients find me through the directory of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), UK.

In most cases the initial contacts would not lead to any collaboration, because I charge a hefty rate as compared to many colleagues in my language pair, or because I have my doubts about their payment practices, etc. On the other hand, some of my clients date back to 2004-2005, and they still come back to me time and again, despite the fact that I increased my regular rate at least 3 times since that time.

In a nutshell, about 95% of my existing clients have approached me through ProZ between 2002, when I became a ProZ member, and 2014. In total I worked for 70+ clients over this period. Of course, some projects turned out to be a one-off job, but several of my core clients generate enough translation requests to keep me alive and kicking

I believe that fellow translators showing in the Top Ten search results in each language pair have similar experiences to share.

The bottom line is that by merely joining ProZ you are highly unlikely to join the jet set within a week or so... No pains, no gains is the name of the game.

P.S.1. I am very grateful to the ProZ staff and community for the dramatic changes in my professional and personal life they made possible. I expressed my gratitude by paying my membership fee for 10 years ahead last year, so I hope to be available here at least until 19 June 2023 ... touching wood at this point

[Edited at 2014-05-15 23:10 GMT]

P.S.2. As for the rates, I have never indicated them on my profile page, and I have never lowered them since May 2001 when I landed my first foreign client through ProZ (at US$0.06/word at that half-forgotten time).

[Edited at 2014-05-15 23:14 GMT]


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