Poll: How long did it take for you to land your first big project as a freelancer?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 10:46
SITE STAFF
Jul 16, 2014

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How long did it take for you to land your first big project as a freelancer?".

This poll was originally submitted by Leinung. View the poll results »



 

Theo Bernards (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:46
English to Dutch
+ ...
Should perhaps be the first in a series of questions,... Jul 16, 2014

... to be followed by a question like: "How long did it take you to obtain a regular stream of assignments after your first big assignment?".

I started my career with a big assignment, only to be confronted with a few months of nitty-gritty marketing to get in more assignments. It took me a good while to keep my head above water comfortably(ish)...

[Edited at 2014-07-16 08:35 GMT]


 

Tim Drayton  Identity Verified
Cyprus
Local time: 20:46
Turkish to English
+ ...
It was already lined up Jul 16, 2014

I had a big project lined up (about one month's work) before I took the leap.

[Edited at 2014-07-16 11:02 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:46
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Jul 16, 2014

Define "big". Then explain why big is good. To me, the use of the word "land" sounds like I was fishing for something "big". But I wasn't.

 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 18:46
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Jul 16, 2014

I started immediately after having landed my first big client. It was an enormous project translating every month a bulletin for a European Community Institution. As it kept me busy for the whole month and I was so green by then, I made the deadly sin of having (almost) no plan after that client. It was pure stupidity and of course I paid the price later on!

 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:46
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Other Jul 16, 2014

I started freelancing in 1965, so I can't remember the first single large project, but the first client I contacted, though they only sent small amounts at first, soon increased them till I was regularly earning several thousand a year from this client.

 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
No time at all Jul 16, 2014

I began working with several clients evenings and weekends before leaving my job in-house, and my employer continued to use me after I left, so there was no real risk and no big gap.

I suppose that was lucky, but the real piece of luck was to land an in-house job in the first place in my languages, even though it was a disaster in itself (four months of twiddling thumbs and dusting off my German). It sparked off a chain of referrals that has kept me and various employees busy ever since.

Going back to the poll the other day, I did some really terrible translations while in that job. I was forced to translate not only from rusty German but also from Danish, which I could only barely understand through its similarity to Norwegian, which in turn I only knew indirectly via Swedish, and I had no dictionaries, it was in subjects I knew nothing about (I remember lots of stuff about fishing trawlers), and this was before the Internet. I just had to guess a lot of the stuff. Absolute nightmare.

By the way, that was at one of the world's biggest translation companies...



[Edited at 2014-07-16 09:43 GMT]

[Edited at 2014-07-16 09:45 GMT]


 

Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:46
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
No wait at all Jul 16, 2014

I had a project waiting when I resigned from my job as a full-time translator. My former employer has kept me very busy (and still does), but I have gradually added more clients and now have a list of over 60 clients (not all of them active).

 

Luiz Barucke
Brazil
Local time: 14:46
Member (2013)
Spanish to Portuguese
+ ...
small is better Jul 16, 2014

neilmac wrote:

Define "big". Then explain why big is good. To me, the use of the word "land" sounds like I was fishing for something "big". But I wasn't.


Agree

I prefer many small projects from different clients, some of them annoying and some exciting, than a big project which keeps me on a same subject and makes me say "no" to many other clients during weeks or months.


 

María González, M.A. ForLang
Spain
Local time: 18:46
English to Spanish
It actually came to me Jul 16, 2014

My first freelance job was a big, complex one that I casually got from an acquaintance. Upon sucessful completion, delivery and payment, I decided to formally become a free agent. Until then, in fact, I had never considered self-employment as a career path, but I guess I saw the light and realized I could do iticon_smile.gif

Have a nice day, -M


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:46
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Don't remember Jul 16, 2014

... and I don't often do 'big'.

I am just remembering why, as I hope to finish this year's big project this week, phew!

Unlike Chris S., my in-house experience was absolutely impressive, with what claimed at the time to be one of the biggest agencies and/or the oldest translation agency in Denmark (it used two names after a merger). Really super colleagues and a sponsored diploma restored my battered self confidence and set me up.

That agency was my first big client, which is more important, because it meant a steady stream of jobs, albeit small. The transition from employed to freelance stretched over a few months: the office closed and I worked off my notice at home, freelancing with my employer's blessing as I was not paid full time anyway.

It took me a couple of months to find this site and register with at least three competitors, none of which produced any work BTW. And within a month another large client found me.

That was back in 2003, when the economic climate was somewhat different, and there were some really impressive colleagues who helped me on my way. There always seems to be enough work, but I am glad I am not starting out now!


 

Mike Sadler  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:46
Spanish to English
+ ...
It came quickly, but it all seems so old fashioned now. Jul 16, 2014

This was before the internet. I sent direct mailshots to a few hundred industries on the banks of the River Humber in eastern England. I got two replies, and one of them was a big (well, it seemed big at the time) text about oil production from a major multinational. I'm not sure if I made any money out of it as I spent a small fortune on specialist dictionaries and trips to a technical library. I printed it out on a dot matrix printer and took it round to the firm by car. Times have changed.

 

Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 12:46
German to English
+ ...
Why "big project" Jul 16, 2014

There is nothing special or desirable about large projects. As someone indicated, a steady stream of projects, or sufficient amount of work, is what matters.

Agencies sometimes contact us with "promises" of big projects as though it were something preferable, for which we would gladly offer discounts. But it's better to do 10 projects of 2,000 words for a number of clients, than one project of 20,000 words.

I honestly have no idea when I got my first big project. I did not "land" it, in the sense that this was not an aim. It just happened to be big. I do remember my first translation job. I got it within about 10 days of advertising my services for the first time.


 

Triston Goodwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:46
Spanish to English
+ ...
A couple of weeks Jul 16, 2014

Turned out to be an advanced payment scam. I had to give the fake money orders to the police, but I have a picture of them on my wall so that I always remember to be cautious. I'm just glad I caught on before I lost any money.

I did have fun sending him off to Western Union a dozen times with fake control numbers, and I especially enjoyed our phone conversations. At one point I advised him to sing the control number to the western union rep because he had such a thick accent in English.

The best part is that the guy actually got caught ^_^


 

sralbrigh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:46
English
+ ...
Still working on it Jul 17, 2014

I just graduated college in May, and I really want to be busy with translation work. I luckily found a translation agency that sends me small projects once in a while, and I got hooked up with another that seemed promising but haven't had word on any jobs for them yet. Everyone says to be patient, and I know, but it's killing me that I'm working at my part time high school job again. I was scammed last week and found out after putting in about 10 hours of work. I'm feeling discouraged, but I know I shouldn't be. I don't like being in limbo here.

 


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