Poll: How many agencies do you regularly work with?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 15:59
Jan 13, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How many agencies do you regularly work with?".

This poll was originally submitted by texjax DDS PhD. View the poll results »


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 15:59
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
5 or more ... BUT Jan 13, 2014

85% of my income is from direct clients (international organizations). I squeeze in short jobs for agencies in between the long jobs for the organizations. Last year, for example, 50% of my projects were for agencies.

(My longest job last year was 72,000 words; the assignments from international organizations tend to average around 15,000 to 20,000 words.)


Teresa Borges
Local time: 23:59
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
5 or more agencies Jan 13, 2014

Give me work every month and for two of them I have been translating for almost 3 decades (since 1986). I work (although with monthly variations) with what I consider to be a good mix (almost 50/50) of direct clients and translation agencies.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:59
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jan 13, 2014

I mostly work with direct clients.
I do occasionally work one agency that has such a bad BB rating that nobody else I know seems willing to work with them, but I've always got on OK with them (although they pay at 90 days). I have also done some odd jobs for a couple of other agencies, but their procedures are usually too formal and time consuming for me to be bothered - for example, their revising ("or proofing") process is like ping-pong; they keep sending things back or expecting me to comment on changes, which my direct clients don't do.


Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:59
Turkish to English
+ ...
5 or more Jan 13, 2014

Given that the term 'regularly' is not defined, I can only make my own subjective interpretation, so here goes: I count that I have worked for 14 agencies in the last six months which have worked with me on multiple occasions in the past and which I expect to hear from again in the future.


Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:59
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Fewer and fewer Jan 13, 2014

I would like to have replied "1 less" since I shed my monster customer (agency) last summer. Good riddance!

On the whole, agencies over here are not that bad, I'd like to add, since they actually do run around and do the interfacing between you and the end client and earn their keep. I keep them on their toes! icon_biggrin.gif

I provide them with decent translation and they fend off the stupid and time-consuming inquiries, which is a nice synergistic relationship.

But there are rotten apples in the barrel .... vis a vis my 'ex' above. icon_mad.gificon_mad.gif


Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:59
Member (2006)
German to English
Quite a few Jan 13, 2014

but I have narrowed myself down to taking work from 5 agencies with good payment / payment terms - and the work + PM´s are also fantastic!!

[Edited at 2014-01-14 08:24 GMT]


Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:59
English to Spanish
+ ...
Evolving to acquire direct clients Jan 13, 2014

I've been working towards having only direct and/or contract clients for the last 10-12 years.

For those who think that aiming for direct clients is a fool's errand or something impossible in your local market, let me share the following:

1) I've been working for translation agencies, big and small, since 1992, when I got my start in NYC.
2) In 1995, I found my first contract work (3 months) in Denver, CO; contract was shortened to 10 days because manager had some issues.
3) A large health care conglomerate from California found me in 2003, just when I had lost my full-time project manager/translator job (low sales, I was told). This client was my lifeline for the next 3 years, paying me about $0.27 per word (that's US dollar cents). I also translated their website. They were my first direct client.
4) Between 2010 and 2012, I acquired several direct clients (an HVAC/weatherization training company in Montana, a radio station marketing company in Chicago, and an environmental company in Canada) for a number of interesting, medium-sized projects. In that period, I had to decline a project from a publisher of medical emergency pocket publications because, well, their pocket manual was so confusingly designed.

To give you a brief idea, this medical emergency manual was meant to be used by different professionals and first-responders: nurses, paramedics, firefighters, etc. Instructions for each of them were embedded in different colors within the same text! A nightmare.

5) In 2013, I acquired, almost by accident, a contract with an Internet security company, which ran a very successful IPO a couple of months ago. I work with them from home, but it's like having a 40-hours-a-week job.

Moral: even if you think your prospects of landing a direct client are next to nil, take gradual risks, introduce yourself in novel and interesting ways to people from other industries, make the conversation about translation a fun and engaging one (not a condescending one, which seems to be the default position). Help people discover you and what you do.

That way, you won't be so controlled by the ups and downs of lower-rate translation agencies.


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