Building a portfolio/sample translations
Thread poster: Glenda Janssen

Glenda Janssen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:11
English to Italian
+ ...
Jul 7, 2011

Hello all!

I have been on Proz for about 9 years now, and I must confess I just now started to use the forums. I'm so glad to have found the forums, because I am learning about the business by leaps and bounds!

Sorry if this question has already been addressed here, but I searched the archives for a while, and came up with a gigantic amount of returns, none of which seemed to specifically answer this.

In short: I have been translating since 1995, on and off. I completed several projects when I was in Europe, and all those have been lost in the mist of time. When I came to the United States, I took on a few jobs through Proz. Then I got hired as an interpreter, so I was very busy doing that, and, at the same time, translation rates for my languages plummeted from about $0.25 to $0.07 (I have a feeling Trados is to blame for that). Also, it seemed that most jobs posted required at least some sort of a college degree. Now that I have a B.A. and ten years' experience as an interpreter, as well as a schedule better-suited to translation, I am trying to get a regular stream of translation work in.

But I have no samples or portfolio. Every job I did was either too long ago, and thus lost, or is recent, but bound to confidentiality agreements.

I have the time to produce some of my own translations. I am actually planning on working on a book in my own time, so that I can later shop that around to publishers (I understand that is the way it works). So, for instance, I could put some snippets of that in my portfolio... But I'm pretty sure that is a copyright issue. I.e., the original text still belongs to the author, and the translated text does, too.

I could translate some articles published on the web, I guess, but that seems so dull. Not that I mind doing dull work, but I doubt it really highlights my skills.

Any suggestions?

Thanks everyone!!!


DLyons  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:11
Spanish to English
+ ...
The Web is a good source. Jul 7, 2011

You can probably find something in your specific areas of interest and at whatever level you want. There may still be copyright issues of course, unless you choose public domain source.

You could for example take a Wiki article in your source language which doesn't have an equivalent in your target and put the result both on Wiki and as a a sample in your profile.


Mykhailo Voloshko  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:11
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
portfolio Jul 8, 2011

You can also classify the translation projects you did before by topics, etc. For each project, you can specify the subject and product (its type or even name if NDA permits), type of document, language pair, number of words.

This way, you'll show what experience you have with general information on projects (with or without product and company names). Moreover, your prospects will appreciate your observance of NDAs with your existing clients.

That's the way I do it.


Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:11
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Creative Commons Jul 8, 2011

A good option would be to head over and search for a topic of interest among CC licensed content. Almost all CC licenses allow derivative works (e.g., translations) with the sole requirement of proper attribution.

The great thing is that you can find a wide variety of content, say from medical journals to a whodunnit novel (be sure to uncheck "use for commercial purposes" from the search options).


Lucia Leszinsky
SITE STAFF profile: Portfolio and Project history Jul 8, 2011

Hello all,

Note that you can add to your Portfolio samples of texts taken from the Web or elsewhere, . Just make sure your samples do not include any sensitive or confidential information.

Another option is to list projects in your Project history, . Note that projects do not need to contain a sample of the translation, but only project-related information such as title, field and amount of words, among others.

Also, you can send feedback requests to the clients that assigned those projects to you and collaboration requests to colleague that worked with you on them (if any).

You will find more information about your Portfolio and Project history here:

Hope this helps.

Kind regards,



Rossana Triaca  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:11
Member (2002)
English to Spanish
Better not do that... Jul 8, 2011

Note that you can add to your Portfolio samples of texts taken from the Web or elsewhere, . Just make sure your samples do not include any sensitive or confidential information.

Ummhh, no, most of the time you can't do that, even if it's not sensitive or confidential content, unless the copyright holder has explicitly granted you permission to use the material in that specific way.

To just "take content from the Web or elsewhere" without considering copyright issues is really bad advice!! I'm sure your intention was only to let her know of Proz's portfolio feature -which is really nice btw- and not promote copyright infringement... perhaps an edit is in order?icon_smile.gif


Glenda Janssen  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:11
English to Italian
+ ...
Thank you all for your advice! Jul 9, 2011

Rossana, thank you for pointing out the copyright issue with web-published material. Copyright is a tricky subject. Having studied publishing in college, I have seen a great deal of confusion, and, indeed, the rules are a bit vague. I could see how a short excerpt of a web-published work would be okay to translate under "fair use." Just like it would be okay for a teacher to copy a chapter of a book and distribute it to her students, I think it might be okay to use a brief excerpt for a sample translation, particularly if that work is available on the web, and so the original is not being copied. However, fair use is a grey area that we all might want to stay away from. Hence, I really appreciate your Creative Commons suggestion. I publish my blogs and music under CC, and I never thought there was a directory of CC works. Sweet!

Project History was a feature I was planning on using, but that is quite a different ball of wax than samples. For one, I could put ANYTHING in my history, and there would be no way to verify what I say. As an outsourcer, I think I'd rather look at samples if I wanted to check qualifications. I also have had several requests for samples. And I would much rather provide a sample rather than do a test (there is certainly enough evidence on these forums to discourage anyone from doing tests).

Hope you're all having a great weekend!


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