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Poll: How many direct clients do you have?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 17:27
SITE STAFF
Apr 23

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "How many direct clients do you have?".

This poll was originally submitted by samah A. fattah. View the poll results »



 

Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 02:27
Member (2006)
German to English
Only one Apr 23

I gave up with direct customers years ago because it did not matter which company it was (large car company stuttgart, large software company Munich, e.g.) I just got fed up of chasing around for payments because of their internal structures.

Elena Simonelli
 

Philippe Etienne  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:27
Member
English to French
None Apr 23

I've had opportunistic one-offs with direct clients (ie translation users) over the years, but I'm perfectly fine with agencies bringing me work in exchange for charging them less than what I'd charge end clients.

Philippe


Yetta J Bogarde
Michele Fauble
 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 01:27
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
More than 20% of my client base Apr 23

I work with a good mix (30/70) of direct clients and translation agencies. Direct clients pay a higher rate, but they generate far less work as in my experience they tend to be less regular than translation agencies, though projects from two of my direct clients – big international organizations – are generally big and keep me busy for one or two months…

Morano El-Kholy
samah A. fattah
 

Kay Denney  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 02:27
Member (2018)
French to English
half and half Apr 23

I think it's about half and half. The agencies can be more regular, the direct clients are more high-maintenance, and my rates reflect that. Both are good.

samah A. fattah
Gibril Koroma
 

ventnai  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:27
Member
German to English
+ ...
None Apr 23

My direct clients are very few and far between. The last one must have been quite a few years ago.

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
More than 75% Apr 23

However, a lot of people seem to take translation courses and come out of them knowing lots of theory and possibly how to work with major CAT tools and things like that, but generally ill prepared for the nuts and bolts of translation, in other words the admin side, billing, and how to build up a client portfolio. Perhaps the universities and colleges perpetrating these courses should give themselves a shakeup and focus on these more pragmatic issues.

Having said that, I'm afraid there is no magic wand and I don't think I could give anyone advice about how to go about gaining direct clients. I've never really actively solicited translation work. Before going into translation full-time, I worked in TEFL, and would occasionally get asked to translate documents by people, usually students, that I met this way.For example, a student in one advanced business English class I was teaching asked if I knew the person who did the German translations for his company, Spanish based but now successful and well-known worldwide. It turned out that I did, and he asked me if I could do some English translations for the firm. I obliged, and they ended up sending me translation work pretty much on a regular basis. Nowadays I still do the occasional thing for them, but not so much, as their regional managers tend to take care of that in the Far East and the Americas. They even gave me a copy of PageMaker, which was what they used for their manuals in those days, so that I could work directly on the drafts.

I used to give some private classes as well, and made some contacts in the regional government through one of them. They ended up asking me for translations as well, and I collaborated with the regional government for a few years after that. They haven't sent me anything for a few years now. It may be because someone wanted me to do a huge translation in Access, which I refused, so they probably found someone else and ended up sticking with them. However, it's no skin off my nose.

Most of my direct clients have come to me in similar fashion - either by meeting them in person through teaching activities, or by word of mouth recommendation from people in the same environment.

[Edited at 2019-04-23 09:54 GMT]


 

Jo Macdonald  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:27
Member (2005)
Italian to English
+ ...
I've had a few, but... Apr 23

Sometimes I've had to give up trying to convince someone their English isn't actually better than mine just because they speak a bit of it with a sprinkling of macaroni. I almost always end up telling them that if they want to re-write everything I translate they might as well translate it themselves.
Other times I can't be bothered with the "I need it for yesterday dude" attitude, which used to be the prerogative of direct clients only, now a fixed feature of agencies too.
Often I'm simply not local enough as I choose to live in the middle of nowhere. I think you're more likely to get direct clients by teaching/interpreting in a city, going to trade fairs.
At the mo I am translating a very interesting book on evolution for a really cool "mad" scientist though, so I'm definitely open to offers


Andrew Morris
Yoana Ivanova
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
Apropos of which... Apr 23

If you're looking to increase your portfolio of direct clients, you will be interested in Paul Urwin's 10x3 challenge! That's 10 direct clients in 3 months, and here's the dedicated Facebook event, exclusive to ProZ.com. There will be a video on ProZ TV (www.proz.com/TV) tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday 24th April, 14.00 GMT)

https://www.facebook.com/events/626338721161730/


Juliana P Mendes
 

Andrew Morris
ProZ.com team
Direct clients Apr 23

Freelance hat on. Please ignore the "Site Staff" bit. I can't be bothered to keep logging in & out all day but am more than happy to write a disclaimer every time I say a word.

Disclaimer: the views expressed here are my own and do not represent ProZ.com.

***

Sure, there are plenty of challenges in working with direct clients (95% of my portfolio now), but the benefits are also huge, and not just financial. In my experience, there's much more of a sense of colleagues working together on a project, more consultation, and funnily enough, longer deadlines by far.

Sure, some clients are behind schedule for that major exhibition and somehow forget the translation of the entire brochure needs more than 24 hours, but they are (imho) a minority. Most businesses operate efficiently and it's far more frequent to have someone asking "can you possibly do these 2,000 words by the end of next week?"


samah A. fattah
Muriel Vasconcellos
neilmac
Gabrielle Garneau
 

samah A. fattah  Identity Verified
Egypt
Local time: 02:27
Member (2009)
English to Arabic
+ ...
Hope to have more direct clients Apr 23

Both agencies and direct clients have different benefits, each one of them improves my experience

Andrew Morris
 

Barbara Cochran, MFA  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 20:27
Spanish to English
+ ...
Almost 100 % Direct Clients Apr 23

As a literary translator, I almost exclusively work directly with authors (with one exception).

I like the way the authors pay me immediately, upon submission, which seems to be something agencies almost never do.

I have, in fact, whittled down the list of agencies I will work with to 5: 2 in the UK, and 3 here in the US, because they are the only ones that pay good rates and that don't bother me about projects that I have no interest/expertise in.



[Edited at 2019-04-23 16:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-04-23 17:59 GMT]


 

Oksana Gerasymets  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:27
Member (2012)
English to Ukrainian
+ ...
The structure of the poll Apr 23

The question is interesting. However, the author did not take into account that it is possible to have 2-3 clients and those 2-3 clients might constitute 20% of the client base etc.

[Edited at 2019-04-23 17:49 GMT]


Kaisa I
 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:27
German to English
+ ...
oodles, but can't do the "client base" thing Apr 23

I have direct clients who are companies, organizations or institutions, and I also have direct clients who are the man and woman off the street who need a document translated once in a lifetime or quite a few times (repeat customers). They don't really constitute a "base" since they're continually different individuals. In a given month, the percentage of work from direct clients has risen dramatically over the past 10 (maybe less) years and is either the same or increasing. Average people are much more computer and Internet savvy, and more likely to know how to go to the source than say 20 years ago.

 

Maxi Schwarz  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:27
German to English
+ ...
I like your hat, Andrew ;) Apr 23

Andrew Morris wrote:

Freelance hat on. .....
***

Sure, there are plenty of challenges in working with direct clients (95% of my portfolio now), but the benefits are also huge, and not just financial. In my experience, there's much more of a sense of colleagues working together on a project, more consultation, and funnily enough, longer deadlines by far.

Sure, some clients are behind schedule for that major exhibition and somehow forget the translation of the entire brochure needs more than 24 hours, but they are (imho) a minority. Most businesses operate efficiently and it's far more frequent to have someone asking "can you possibly do these 2,000 words by the end of next week?"


Between the two hats, the previous having been the "staff" side with the promo, i much prefer this one, which seems much more connected to how I know translation to be.

I tend to agree with your post.

Re: "longer deadlines" - This is something that has struck me more than once. Agencies are often under pressure to compete on time, even the good ones, so one is used to that. An end client comes along and is astonished at "how quick" the delivery is, and feels good. So is the praise. But you also get the "brochure emergency" situation. The flip side is that we can sometimes deliver after they have contacted umpteen agencies who all say "We can't handle such a short time frame" and then they're chuffed that we can.


Andrew Morris
 
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