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Paying members: what kind of clients do you get here?
Thread poster: Anton Konashenok

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:36
English to Russian
+ ...
Nov 24, 2011

After five years here on ProZ, with yet another end-of-year membership drive, I am asking myself again: are there any valid reasons for me to become a paying member? Looking at the benefits offered to full members, I perceive most of them to only be of value to those not yet solidly established, or those working in the lower market segments, but I am willing to be proven wrong.

Here is the situation as I see it from my standpoint. My day-to-day workload consists mostly of large, complex, highly specialized written projects, plus a little bit of simultaneous interpreting. The rates I charge in all my language pairs are above the corresponding average ProZ rates, yet most of the year I get more job offers than I can physically handle. Accordingly, the only ways to develop my business further, short of outsourcing these offers, would be to find large regular direct clients willing to pay still more, or to get more simultaneous interpreting assignments (which actually pay about the same, but are certainly more enjoyable than written work).

The only ProZ feature that may conceivably earn me such clients seems to be a higher directory ranking, yet I am not quite sure about it: even as a non-paying member, I do from time to time receive unsolicited offers of collaboration from potential clients, but they are more or less in line with my current pricing and workload structure. So, here is my question to paying members working in the top pricing segment: is there a miracle? Do you really get approached by "premium" clients you would not be getting otherwise? Dear fellow simultaneous interpreters, have you been getting any new clients by virtue of paid membership?


 

pgschreier  Identity Verified
Switzerland
Local time: 12:36
German to English
Other benefits Nov 24, 2011

Hi David,

No, I've never received a client through ProZ. I agree that the bottom-feeders seem to hang out here, and I've got plenty of work at my standard rates without them.

However, I think ProZ is a great service -- with help on terminology, Trados issues and general information. It's worth supporting financially just for those reasons.

BTW, I have received inquiries from "premium" clients through my listing on the SDL Trados web site as being fully certified for the software. One in particular has become a steady customer with considerable amounts of work. The cost of the certification program has repaid itself XX times.

-- Paul


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:36
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Other benefits don't always work Nov 24, 2011

Paul, I certainly agree ProZ is a good site with a great environment for professional communication, but I almost invariably find myself on the giving rather than receiving side. For example, just looked up my KudoZ stats: 9 questions asked, 1626 answered.
CAT support and training? I have never called tech support or received formal training for any software in my life, but lost count of software problems I helped fix.
If I am supposed to pay for something that is mostly an opportunity to help others (but certainly isn't a charity), something must be wrong.

Thank you for mentioning SDL. In principle, this may be interesting, although I personally think SDL all but killed Trados after purchasing Trados AG. I don't want to sound like a grumpy old man, but the new Studio is a good example of how not to write software. I am not a career software developer, but have had an occasional hands-on involvement in it for the last 30 years, so I think I am entitled to a qualified opinion: the only adjective coming to my mind to describe Trados Studio is 'kludgy'. And now that SDL is a founding member of TAUS Data Association, I am not sure I want to support them in any way...

[Edited at 2011-11-24 10:04 GMT]


 

Benoit HUPIN (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:36
English to French
+ ...
Of no use for medium-to-high end translators Nov 24, 2011

Anton,

As for me, my paid period will end in the next 10 days and I intend to delete my profile and go to more serious places. Proz is of no use for the high end (or even medium end) translators. Terminology? When you sometimes see the race for points and the rudeness in the KudoZ, one can question the quality of some answers. Long since I stopped answering. Jobs? Where? I am not a monkey and my banker do not accept peanuts. Proz conference? With low cost recruiters and CAT tools providers as participants... Thanks, but no thanks.

I am a member of this site since 2003. I must admit it was useful when I started as a freelancer. Now that I have an established well-paying customers base, it is time for me to go elsewhere (in a private forum to be clear).

Benoit


 

Mila B  Identity Verified
Local time: 11:36
English to Russian
+ ...
My experience: clients here are mostly agencies Nov 24, 2011

Hello Anton, what a great question.
You are right suggesting that value of Proz membership varies depending on the individual situation.

I've been registered on Proz.com since 2005 and became a paying member in December 2010. Membership paid off after the first half-day interpreting assignment, and after that it the return was approx. 20 times of the membership price. Most of that came from interpreting engagements or full-day work at a clients' offices paid at 'interpreting' rate. All clients that contacted me on Proz were agencies.
I will agree that average pricing here is somewhat modest. Most of my translation revenue comes from direct clients that I've met outside or Proz and the difference in pricing is dramatic.

I guess if you'd like to get more direct clients, Proz may be not the right place. However if interpreting is something that you enjoy and you'd like to be doing more of, Proz could bring you that kind of work. The only limitation might be the location of the interpreter - how high do you think is demand for interpreting services for your language pair in your area?

And if you don't mind a personal note... I normally regret things I haven't done more than things that I have done. This was one of my arguments for trying out full membership, and it looks like it worked.

[Edited at 2011-11-24 12:56 GMT]


 

David Hayes  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:36
Member (2009)
French to English
Good for applying for jobs Nov 24, 2011

I am not a paying member myself, but I am tempted to become one. For me, the great advantage would be being able to bid for jobs straightaway (many jobs are restricted to paid members until its far too late to have any hope of landing them). I would also have full access to the Blueboard and so be able to find out more detailed information on job posters.

I have only once been approached by a client via Proz in over two years, and that was by a very dodgy sounding agency to whom I did not reply. On the other hand, even as a non-paying member, I did manage to successfully bid for two jobs on the job board (one private company and one agency), both of which turned out to be some of the best paid work I've had so far this year.

I would be interested to hear how much work other translators pick up from bidding for jobs on the job board.

I have no idea why many jobs are restricted to paying members in this way. As though paying members are somehow more expert than non-paying members.


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:36
Hebrew to English
Overrated Nov 24, 2011

Personally, I don't rate the job-bidding ability as an advantage of paid membership.
I've had more clients approach me through proz directly than I have won successful bids.
I also don't like the race to the bottom approach with the whole bidding system.

In my language pair, I can't compete with Israelis on price (despite the fact that most of them only have English as a second language and are essentially translating into a non-native L2)....well I could compete on price, but I don't want to work for 0.05USD (or less) per word.

I've won the odd bid on there, mostly very small jobs, certificates and the like. I've also been given jobs which although I lost the bid initially, have been offered to me afterwards (God only knows why).

I'm much more selective nowadays which (if any) jobs I bid on. I tend to only bid on jobs which interest me personally (the subject/topic being of specific interest etc). Otherwise I just let my profile do the talking and wait for clients to find me.

As far as I'm concerned, job bidding is not the most pressing reason to become a paid member. Blue board access is more advantageous, but even that can be bought by non-members with BrowniZ. Post vetting is another reason, it is slightly annoying having your posts vetted when you are not a paying member.

As a whole, I'd say it's worth it, my membership has already paid itself a few times over, but then, there's definitely no guarantee of this and it all depends so much on expectations vs realities. e.g. because you can bid faster won't necessarily entail a job (unless you are dealing with one of those "first come first served" agencies), so it is somewhat a bit of a gamble.


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:36
Hebrew to English
What's most advantageous about paid membership is.... Nov 24, 2011

....Directory Ranking.

I forgot about this. I think this is probably the thing I find most beneficial. As a non-member you'll always languish behind all the members, regardless of how many kudoZ points you have. So if you want to occupy pole position in the directories, then paying for membership is something you will want to review.

[Edited at 2011-11-24 15:43 GMT]


 

Laurent KRAULAND (X)  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 12:36
French to German
+ ...
Short answer Nov 24, 2011

My regular clients -mainly agencies- found me through the directories here and elsewhere (and never or barelt posted a job on a translators' portal).

Due to the very nature of Internet-based work, I did not expect much more and therefore have not been disappointed.

Collaborations that faltered did so because of CAT tools issues. And yes, Trados -together with the endless this-ism and that-ism requirements from agencies "demanding" it- was and still is an issue rather than a solution to me.

Needless to say, the above mentioned clients NEVER asked me for a specific tool - they asked for publishable translations.

Conclusion: set your own rules, especially as a paying member.


 

Anton Konashenok  Identity Verified
Czech Republic
Local time: 12:36
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Agree with Ty Nov 24, 2011

Ty, I certainly agree with you on the job bidding system. Speaking of non-member delay, no *reasonable* agency or client would intentionally narrow down the circle of prospective providers, nor rush to award a large project within 24 hours from posting it.

Israeli market is very strange indeed, and not only in the translation industry... In fact, I spend several months a year in Israel, so I do feel your painicon_smile.gif

Directory ranking was essentially the only thing I really wanted to learn about. I do already know that a paid membership would move me in some language pairs and topics from somewhere in the second hundred to the top three in the list, but the question is - is it really worth it? Who the heck are those clients who are reasonable enough to pay the top price for top quality, yet never bother to look down the list? Has anyone encountered them? So far, my impression (admittedly slanted by the free membership, though) has been the opposite - the clients who approached me usually mentioned they had found me in KudoZ, not in the directory.

[Edited at 2011-11-24 16:08 GMT]


 

Ty Kendall  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 11:36
Hebrew to English
Directory Ranking Nov 24, 2011

It's a tricky one. I don't think it's something you can necessarily predict as being the decisive factor (the avenue which led your clients to you/into choosing you) - none of mine so far have come to me via kudoz, a handful have come through the directories, and I often see visitors to my profile arriving via the directories
(another benefit of paid membership - you can see the IP address, the route taken to your profile and other details of visitors to your profile),....
(For example, one person who visited me in the last hour was a non-logged in user from Hamburg, Germany who looked at my profile once and came via the forums. German visitor: If you're reading this, I hope you liked my profileicon_smile.gif )

I don't think directory position is the be all and end all of "capturing" clients. I agree that a decent client should really look down the list....but then there's human nature to contend with, which might only stretch to the first 10, 20 pages perhaps (if that)...so for this reason it is better to be on page 1 than page 100. And if the only thing keeping you on page 100 is unpaid membership, then I can see how paid membership would be alluring....(but as I said before, by no means is it a guarantee that the clients will come flocking....).

That's how I see it anyhowicon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2011-11-24 17:03 GMT]


 

Graham Poole  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 06:36
Member (2008)
Russian to English
More ProZ than ConZ Nov 24, 2011

Hi, Anton!

I ask myself the same question every time the payment date for my membership dues arrives ~ Do I actually, really need this?

I joined Proz in 2008, got my first few clients through its job advertisements, and since then I have never been without work. I no longer need (nor have time) to market myself or seek work. Work finds me, and there is likewise more than I handle. A success story? Perhaps. I'm certainly not bragging. But complacency is death. I think it advisable to keep my iron in the fire, so to speak, and not retreat totally from the marketplace in case some or all of my so-far excellent clients go belly-up.

By looking at the Proz forums and KudoZ questions whenever possible, I find I can keep in touch with the profession as a whole, linguistically and otherwise, although time constraints make it difficult to contribute any longer. So I'll probably stay with Proz ~ not only for "sentimental" reasons, but also to keep in touch with industry and linguistic developments, and for the idea that, while in practical isolation, I belong to a virtual community.

Replying to your original questions, I do get approached by clients, naturally, and doubtless some of the approaches could turn into something "premium", but I am in the fortunate, if not everlastingly guaranteed, position of having more than enough on my plate, Gott sei Dank, to consume. Invariably, and unfortunately, I have to turn them down.

If you give more than you receive on Proz, as I agree you do, then the rewards will come in other ways. But to expect to find premium clients on Proz that will enable you to join the higher income bracket is a pipe dream. Sole operators rarely get rich that way. Incorporation could provide the answer, although taking charge of the translators/interpreters you employ and guaranteeing their quality brings headaches of its own. It's a tough choice, but at some point, if you want to progress financially, I think you have to give up the "hands-on" approach and let others (fielded by you) do the actual work.

Best regards,
Graham


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:36
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Seconded Nov 25, 2011

Ty Kendall wrote:
I forgot about this. I think this is probably the thing I find most beneficial. As a non-member you'll always languish behind all the members, regardless of how many kudoZ points you have. So if you want to occupy pole position in the directories, then paying for membership is something you will want to review.

Although I often get job proposals via Proz.com from customers who pay ridiculous rates and are far from being the ideal customer, about half a dozen times in the year I get contacted by serious customers who are willing to pay my rate and who are easy to work with at a professional level.

I have never asked what had driven them to email me and not other people, but indeed I presume my high ranking in the list increased my profile's visibility.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 12:36
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
For me Nov 25, 2011

Anton Konashenok wrote:
So, here is my question to paying members working in the top pricing segment: is there a miracle? Do you really get approached by "premium" clients you would not be getting otherwise?


Let's suppose that as a non-paying member you get 1 offer from a good client and 3 offers from bad clients. You would then (as an example) get twice as many offers, i.e. 2 from good clients and 6 from bad clients. You could say "Now I get more offers from bad clients than I did before", or you could say "Although I have to say "no" a lot more, I do get twice as many good clients".

That said, I suspect that the above example is idealisitic, since the number of bad clients will increase more than the number of good clients. In other words, saying "Being a paid member will increase my offers from 1 good + 3 bad to 2 good + 10 bad" is more realistic. This is because you are ranked higher in the directory, and both good and bad clients use the same directory.

But... you still get more good offers, which is a good thing, right?

For me, the benefit is the Blue Board and the ability to bid first. I often don't win the bids, but I don't think of bids as a way of getting that particular job, but rather as a way to get my name in front of the client so that he will know me "next time". I get about twice as many job offers now that I'm a paying member, but that isn't very many (for my language combination).

As a paying member, I can potentially make more use of KudoZ, but I rarely use it (and neither do any of the other translators here in my language combination). Other than that, being a paying member has no benefit over being a non-paying member.


 


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