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Experienced translator, NEW to active Proz bidding: 'orienting' my bids?
Thread poster: Andrew Lynch

Andrew Lynch
United States
Local time: 03:22
Italian to English
Nov 30, 2016

Please note that I am NOT asking for anyone else's 'rates', and I do not intend to share my own, necessarily. I am simply trying to understand whether this platform offers any responsible, transparent ways/means to help me fine-tune the bids I'm making for the first time ever here. I am well aware of my own comfort zone, but as a newbie I also have to be a bit more flexible for the time being, in this context.

I have almost always worked through agencies, for years now, so this tells me that MAYBE I'm underbidding (presuming I'll be accepting full liability directly to the client, without the 'buffer' of a traditional agency)? Unlikely, but who knows, how can I tell? Until I've done a few dozen jobs here, at least.

Or PERHAPS I'm overbidding, given the 'flattening of the world' these days and the incessant tide of low-ball bidders with questionable backgrounds, with that downward pressure on actual professionals like us?

Can we view any of the 'winning' bids for old jobs? Can we view any of the 'budgets' behind job postings, new or old? Forgive me if there is an obvious button or menu somewhere, if it's out there I haven't found it yet.

Otherwise, my strategy for now is simply to keep making lots of bids while gradually, gradually discounting my usual rates, at least until I can start getting some successful hits. (But then again, if I am already 'underbidding', which is admittedly unlikely, then my strategy would simply be making things worse!)

Thanks for any feedback from others out there!


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Ricki Farn
Germany
Local time: 12:22
Member (2005)
English to German
It doesn't matter all that much ... Nov 30, 2016

... because most clients/jobs aren't gained through the bidding system, but through your profile. Just make it as attractive as you can, go for the rates you're already comfortable with, and leisurely wait for prey.

Most jobs on the bidding system are underpaid and fought over by far too many people.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:22
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Several populations co-exist here, more or less amicably Nov 30, 2016

awol wrote:
I have almost always worked through agencies, for years now, so this tells me that MAYBE I'm underbidding (presuming I'll be accepting full liability directly to the client, without the 'buffer' of a traditional agency)? Unlikely, but who knows, how can I tell? Until I've done a few dozen jobs here, at least.

The majority of the jobs here are posted by agencies, traditional ones or the latest technology-rich ones. There's also a smattering of direct clients coming here to post, plus jobs outsourced by fellow translators for one reason or another.

Can we view any of the 'winning' bids for old jobs? Can we view any of the 'budgets' behind job postings, new or old? Forgive me if there is an obvious button or menu somewhere, if it's out there I haven't found it yet.

For the first, the answer is no; bidding is secret. I dare say staff know about jobs that use the site's own quoting interface, but I don't think they'll share . But there is an area on job posts for the client's "proposed budget". It isn't always completed, and I believe you have to be a paying member to view it (to prevent stupidly low rates being made public and hence thought of as "normal"). There's no obligation to quote within it and I have in fact landed a job or two in the past when quoting a good bit more.

There's definitely more than one type of client here on ProZ.com. The majority of public posts are clearly looking for fast turnaround, concentrating on volume rather than quality, and paying as little as possible. But not all. Some of my own good clients have come from there and I never lower my rates (published on my profile) without a good, business reason. In addition, many of the private job posts and private messages received through our profiles are from clients who are far more conscious of quality and prepared to pay reasonable rates. That's why you'll find constant stress on a completed profile, KudoZ points, etc here because good clients need to be able to find us on the first page or two of the directory. But that doesn't mean there aren't a few "bottom feeders" using those channels as well.

Bear in mind that there's more than one type of translator registered on this site too. A great many - particularly among those who haven't paid for membership - will be "hobby" translators, supplementing a full-time salary, giving interest to a life as a carer or in retirement, earning a few cents while studying or unemployed, etc. They're the ones going after the peanut jobs. Please don't try to compete with them . There are plenty of jobs appropriate to each community.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:22
Member (2008)
French to English
Rates Nov 30, 2016

awol wrote:

Please note that I am NOT asking for anyone else's 'rates', and I do not intend to share my own, necessarily. I am simply trying to understand whether this platform offers any responsible, transparent ways/means to help me fine-tune the bids I'm making for the first time ever here. I am well aware of my own comfort zone, but as a newbie I also have to be a bit more flexible for the time being, in this context.

I have almost always worked through agencies, for years now, so this tells me that MAYBE I'm underbidding (presuming I'll be accepting full liability directly to the client, without the 'buffer' of a traditional agency)? Unlikely, but who knows, how can I tell? Until I've done a few dozen jobs here, at least.

Or PERHAPS I'm overbidding, given the 'flattening of the world' these days and the incessant tide of low-ball bidders with questionable backgrounds, with that downward pressure on actual professionals like us?

Can we view any of the 'winning' bids for old jobs? Can we view any of the 'budgets' behind job postings, new or old? Forgive me if there is an obvious button or menu somewhere, if it's out there I haven't found it yet.

Otherwise, my strategy for now is simply to keep making lots of bids while gradually, gradually discounting my usual rates, at least until I can start getting some successful hits. (But then again, if I am already 'underbidding', which is admittedly unlikely, then my strategy would simply be making things worse!)

Thanks for any feedback from others out there!



I would suggest you develop a clientele, rather than bidding on posted jobs. There is a 'Rates' section of the site, which collates data from user profiles - http://search.proz.com/?sp=pfe/rates - but these are only a very general guide. You can probably do better than the standard rate shown with a good profile and a developed clientele, while you will probably need to go low when bidding on posted jobs. But if you are going directly to end clients, without an agency intermediary, you can probably double the rates shown.


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 04:22
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Away without leave Nov 30, 2016

I don't bid on jobs on ProZ, so I can't help you with that, but I would suggest that you use your real name. Or at least choose something different than awol.

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Lingua 5B  Identity Verified
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Local time: 12:22
English to Croatian
+ ...
Underbidding not possible. Nov 30, 2016

awol wrote:

Or PERHAPS I'm overbidding, given the 'flattening of the world' these days and the incessant tide of low-ball bidders with questionable backgrounds, with that downward pressure on actual professionals like us?

Can we view any of the 'winning' bids for old jobs? Can we view any of the 'budgets' behind job postings, new or old? Forgive me if there is an obvious button or menu somewhere, if it's out there I haven't found it yet.

Otherwise, my strategy for now is simply to keep making lots of bids while gradually, gradually discounting my usual rates, at least until I can start getting some successful hits. (But then again, if I am already 'underbidding', which is admittedly unlikely, then my strategy would simply be making things worse!)

Thanks for any feedback from others out there!



I don't think it's possible to "underbid" on here, when dealing with agencies. However it is very easy to overbid.

As far as I'm aware, there's no button to see any winning bids, etc. And honestly I don't think you would see anything spectacular. In my language pair you would see a qualified translator offering work at 0.03 and then they win the bid. It's because they bid first out of 20 other translators who bid 0.03. I know this because a client once told me how many bids they received lower than mine and how many times x they were lower. So for me this kind of bidding system is a waste of time and energy.

The only time I have ever seen anyone being concerned about someone underbidding were very serious direct clients. Not all of course, many direct clients want work done for peanuts.

As regards with what some colleagues state here re. directory contacts, that was not my experience at all. The same cheap rates are offered through directory contacts, in 98% cases they are mass emails, so how are they any different from the bidding system? Or at least they are sent to 5-10 different people and then the PMs just sit and wait for the cheapest out of cheapest.

A long time ago some clients who paid well could be found through ProZ, but unfortunately I haven't seen them on here in years. Bear in mind the situation obviously varies across different language pairs (the evidence for this is my completely opposite experience to some other colleagues re. the directory).


[Edited at 2016-11-30 20:18 GMT]


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Christel Zipfel  Identity Verified
Member (2004)
Italian to German
+ ...
This would not be a good strategy Nov 30, 2016

awol wrote:

Otherwise, my strategy for now is simply to keep making lots of bids while gradually, gradually discounting my usual rates, at least until I can start getting some successful hits. (But then again, if I am already 'underbidding', which is admittedly unlikely, then my strategy would simply be making things worse!)




In this way, you risk to get near to zero $$ before seeing any "success" (let's call it like this, but you won't be able to work at such rates anyway).

Like Ricki and Sheila have already said, it's difficult to get interesting jobs by bidding; most of them, if ever, come through the directory. But for that, you need to have a good ranking, normally, unless you are really very very specialised (language/field).

Good luck!


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Andrew Lynch
United States
Local time: 03:22
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
thank you! Nov 30, 2016

Thank you for the many helpful replies, they have definitely taken me a few steps forward in understanding the setup here. I'll keep cultivating my profile, stick to my comfort zone and try to learn more about 'developing a clientele' through this system.
Never expected the comment questioning 'awol'! Simply haven't thought about it for a long time. I chose the name somewhat haphazardly, as an 'artistic' tip-of-the-hat to the whole notion of 'freelancing', when I first registered with Proz, years ago, before starting to use it seriously very recently. It's a 'fun'-'eyecatcher' name, but now I can see how it might evoke, unnecessarily, a reflexive negative impact for some clients, giving a bad gut-level first impression. Thank you for pointing it out, Michele.


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John Fossey  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 06:22
Member (2008)
French to English
Usefulness of directory Nov 30, 2016

Lingua 5B wrote:

As regards with what some colleagues state here re. directory contacts, that was not my experience at all. The same cheap rates are offered through directory contacts, in 98% cases they are mass emails, so how are they any different from the bidding system? Or at least they are sent to 5-10 different people and then the PMs just sit and wait for the cheapest out of cheapest.


This has not been my experience. I have got quite a few good clients from the directory profile and in general found they were looking for my particular specialties and pay reasonably well. If an outsourcer is looking for cheap prices they will post a job, but if they need quality - and believe it or not, quite a few do - they will search through profiles.


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:22
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
Bidding on ProZ Dec 1, 2016

You can subscribe to job notifications in your language pair(s). This way you get (or should get) only jobs that match your skills.

One tip, though. When you read the job offers and come across "give us your best rate", bow out immediately as not to waste your time. This is the typical "I will only pay peanuts" phrase.

Underbidding is not really a good idea, either because you might get stuck with that/these lower rate/s.


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:22
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Never Dec 2, 2016

I have been a member of Proz for nearly nine years.

Over that time I have carefully chosen the bids to which I wished to respond, and worked hard in each case so that my bid was orientated to match the criteria specified.

I have never, ever, been awarded one of these jobs. In my opinion, putting in bids for these jobs is a waste of time and effort.

As others have said, it's more advisable to work on your Proz profile and presence. Seriously-intentioned clients who are genuinely looking for skilful, professional translators will make the effort to find the right person by exploring the website. It's time well spent. I often get contacts that way.

[Edited at 2016-12-02 11:57 GMT]


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Michael Wetzel  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:22
German to English
underbidding Dec 2, 2016

It is certainly possible to underbid, because I have personally not accepted an offer where the quoted rate was too low. Everything else in the offer looked better than the other quotes I received, but €0.06 per word for a highly qualified German > English translator made asolutely no sense and made everything else look suspicious.
I have also accepted the highest bid on more than one occasion and never accepted the lowest (although low bids and lack of relevance for the given project generally go hand in hand).

I only very occasionally outsource, and I have posted less than five projects on the job board over the last couple of years and maybe outsourced as many other projects through the directory here or on the basis of other resources. At this stage, it is more of an experiment or last-resort solution for crises, but I have some interest in changing that in the future, because I would like to have more control over my time. That means that I am an atypical outsourcer, but I seriously doubt that I am anywhere near alone.

When complaining about rates and the job board, people often forget that price pressure is not the only thing that generally makes an internet auction a very bad place to look for work. The selection of projects is random instead of focused on your particular set of qualifications and skills, and the large number of applicants means that you are not only unlikely to be the cheapest translator, you are also unlikely to be the most qualified or the one to make the best general impression.

Successively lowering your price seems like a bad strategy, because I think it is based on a faulty assumption and it will only really help you with clients that you probably don't want anyway.

PS (I think it's relevant to the topic, but feel free to ignore me): Regarding the "About Me" in your profile: It does nothing to explain to me why I would want to hire you for a translation project dealing with any of your listed fields of specialization. You sound friendly and have had an interesting life, but the only areas of specialization actually supported by your "About Me" text are not listed under your areas of specialization.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:22
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Keep it punchy Dec 2, 2016

Michael Wetzel wrote:
Regarding the "About Me" in your profile: It does nothing to explain to me why I would want to hire you for a translation project dealing with any of your listed fields of specialization.

I agree with Michael. A busy project manager trying to find a freelancer doesn't have time to read blocks of text that, while interesting, don't seem to have any direct bearing on your specific abilities in translation.

Unlike some others, I have had a little success in bidding for jobs on ProZ at decent rates, but I have had many more unsolicited approaches (that eventually led to work) from clients who have seen my profile.

Dan


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Thayenga  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 12:22
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
There are jobs Dec 2, 2016

Dan Lucas wrote:

Unlike some others, I have had a little success in bidding for jobs on ProZ at decent rates, but I have had many more unsolicited approaches (that eventually led to work) from clients who have seen my profile.

Dan



Like Dan, I have also found a few jobs here on ProZ' job board. In fact, actually my very first job when I came to ProZ.com back in 2009. It was a very interesting and well-paid job in my primary field of specialization. A couple of others followed, but then it turned out that most of them were/are low-rate or "expanding data base" type of jobs.

Furthermore, most job offers I receive through Proz.com clearly show that the potential client hasn't even bothered to take at least a single peek at my profile. Why else would they send me e. g. legal or medical jobs, fields I, frankly, know nothing about, let alone work in?

The best bet to get jobs, interesting and well-paid projects, is through word of mouth or, as has happened quite often lately, through my Translator's Association.

[Edited at 2016-12-02 13:00 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:22
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You certainly need to sort the wheat from the chaff Dec 2, 2016

Thayenga wrote:
Like Dan, I have also found a few jobs here on ProZ' job board. In fact, actually my very first job when I came to ProZ.com back in 2009. It was a very interesting and well-paid job in my primary field of specialization. A couple of others followed, but then it turned out that most of them were/are low-rate or "expanding data base" type of jobs.

I quite like some of the "potential" jobs because some of the best small agencies will put feelers out as soon as a client contacts them, before they've actually sealed the deal. If it doesn't work out, you've still got a valuable contact that may bear fruit in the future. But when I see an "expanding database" email or one that wants multiple language pairs etc, I just delete it. There are lots of other markers that call for a notification email to be deleted, including:
- "give us your best rates"
- "limited budget"
- "attach copies of diplomas, references, passport etc"
- "register at www......."

Furthermore, most job offers I receive through Proz.com clearly show that the potential client hasn't even bothered to take at least a single peek at my profile. Why else would they send me e. g. legal or medical jobs, fields I, frankly, know nothing about, let alone work in?

I don't know how well the directory works. I've certainly found some strange things happening when I've used it. Maybe that accounts for some of the messages but some outsourcers clearly just "spam" youe. If it isn't addressed to me personally (i.e. "Sheila" in there somewhere) then I'm immediately less interested. Some have been for languages that I know nothing about, many are for highly specialised areas I'd never touch, a fair number don't bother to tell you what the text is about, and of course the deadline and/or rate proposed is very often laughable. But it's worth giving them all a brief glance as a few will have the potential to turn into regular clients.

The best bet to get jobs, interesting and well-paid projects, is through word of mouth

Absolutely. I've had a few word-of-mouth clients contact me initially through my ProZ.com profile. Sometimes a client will remember your name and where they out found you. Finding your email address probably wouldn't take long but it isn't always convenient. Registering at ProZ.com only takes a minute and my profile is easy to find after that. I've had several potential clients register on the site with the sole intent of contacting me. Contacts of that sort already have confidence in you, as a result of the personal recommendation; they've read your profile carefully, and your CV if you've uploaded it; they probably have an idea about your rates. They're looking forward to a positive outcome. Certainly the best emails to receive.


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