Poll: How long did it take you to build a regular client base?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 05:10
Dec 30, 2015

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How long did it take you to build a regular client base?".

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


Alexander Kondorsky  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 16:10
English to Russian
+ ...
What is regular in this world? Dec 30, 2015

Clients come and go. Good when hiatus is not too long


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:10
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
My work was waiting for me Dec 30, 2015

I hit the ground running because I had been employed as an in-house translator and several clients were ready with work for me from day 1.


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:10
Spanish to English
+ ...
Other Dec 30, 2015

I don't really know. I originally answered > 4 years, but I don't usually keep track of things like this. I sort of drifted into translation through TEFL teaching, and gradually shed my teaching work as it became less satisfying and more demanding, until I eventually reached a point where I was making enough from translation to be able to refuse anything other than the most tempting teaching assignments. I suppose the whole process took a few years, and I didn't send out more than a few CVs to agencies. Most of my clients are direct and came to me by word-of-mouth recommendation. I rarely work with agencies nowadays, for several reasons best left to the imagination.


Teresa Borges
Local time: 13:10
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Other Dec 30, 2015

For several years I had an in-house translator post and I freelanced part-time, so when I started freelancing full-time I had a client base already established...


Maxi Schwarz
Local time: 07:10
German to English
+ ...
Other Dec 30, 2015

I had to think about that one. Whoever I worked for in the beginning were almost exclusively agencies, they came more than once, so they were my clients and "regular". The work was relatively sparse in the beginning, so was it a 'base" - but since I survived maybe it was. But is something implied or assumed about freelance work with "regular client base"? - That's what I had to think about.

In the last few years things have shifted more toward end clients. Being contacted by end clients who need a translation once or a handful of times in their lives, often when they resettle, has happened with greater frequency. This shifting group of people has become a "regular" and accounts for a sizeable portion of incoming work now. Part of my "client base" that comes regular is "a group of different people who are end clients".

There are also clients that I've had for decades who don't always require translations in my language pairs. I might be contacted by such an agency twice a year, but we've worked together for decades. Are they part of my "client base"? When we start we're supposed to build a "regular client base" and I've never really thought about this one way or the other.


EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:10
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Other Dec 30, 2015

because I don't remember, it was more than 25 years ago. I started it as a side activity while employed, I went freelance after about 2 years, so that might be the time required. Although, as others pointed out, what is regular? But after 2 years, I felt confident I would earn more as a freelancer.


Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:10
English to Spanish
+ ...
The least important detail Dec 30, 2015

Alexander Kondorsky wrote:

Clients come and go. Good when hiatus is not too long

When I started translating full time in New York City, I focused on the stream of work from clients both recent and new. Regular clients? How do you measure that? Once you stop to think that one of your clients is a regular, she's gone.

I think the polster suffers from something induced by marketing terms.


Mario Freitas  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:10
Member (2014)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Considering all factors, 1 to 2 years Dec 31, 2015

Considering what most colleagues seem to agree with, we don't really have a regular client base. But we do have regular clients that come and go. I considered it took me 1 to 2 years to build a client base that, althoug irregular and "come and go" was sufficient to pay my bills and allow me to drop my full-time jobs.


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Poll: How long did it take you to build a regular client base?

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