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How likely is it to get work with a free account?
Thread poster: Sara Garcia

Sara Garcia
Ireland
Local time: 17:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
May 14, 2015

Hi all,
I have signed in for a free Proz account, as i can't afford to pay the membership. My hope is to get enough work through the free account to raise money to pay for a full one, however, looking at the jobs panel, it looks like there's not much of a chance of getting any work without paying. So before wasting my time, i thought i put this question to the forum to see if any of you was able to get work without getting full membership. Thank you in advance for your feedback.


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:04
English to German
+ ...
Some thoughts May 14, 2015

Sara Garcia wrote:

Hi all,
I have signed in for a free Proz account, as i can't afford to pay the membership. My hope is to get enough work through the free account to raise money to pay for a full one, however, looking at the jobs panel, it looks like there's not much of a chance of getting any work without paying. So before wasting my time, i thought i put this question to the forum to see if any of you was able to get work without getting full membership. Thank you in advance for your feedback.


Hi Sara,

There are thousands of paying members you are competing with for posted jobs. Ask yourself though if the "jobs" you see posted on translation portals such as this are worth it, keeping in mind the rate/price you have to quote to get those jobs because of the great many other translators vying for them.

Some claim that it's your profile page that will get you the job you're looking for. As long as you are not working in a very specific niche market, your name will not come up on page 1 or 2 of the regular directory as long as those searching it simply enter the language pair and the general subject area. In that directory, paying members are also listed in a completely separate list from non-paying members. The paying members appear right away, for the non-paying members, the searching party has to click on the list labelled "non-paying members."

In the "paying members" list, members who have lots of KudoZ points and are also Certified ProZ (which you can also only become or remain as a paying member) are the ones topping the list here on this portal. You can imagine it will take some work to get all these KudoZ points.

Prospective clients using the advanced directory might be looking very specifically for something that only you and a few other translators are offering. Then your profile might be among the first to come up, but maybe not so likely in the directory because competitors that live in relatively close proximity to you and are paying members might be listed first, depending again on KudoZ points and other things.

It's more likely you are found if a prospective client Googles the information. Even more likely if the person looking for translation services enters your location, down to the very city or county you are living in. Then the Google crawler will find you (your profile). So it should help a bit if you have entered your location prominently on your profile - meaning in the keywords and other additional places. For this, you don't need the membership. But will that get you enough work? Not likely.

Will the membership get you enough work? And I mean good work.

Well, I recommend you list your services on other portals for free, get an additional website (your own) which can be quite inexpensive, and try to reach out yourself to possible clients.

Hope this will help you in your efforts.

[Edited at 2015-05-14 14:18 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
It's all about ponds and fishes May 14, 2015

Will any Spanish to English translator ever land a general translation, at a decent rate, if they are just a registered user and haven't contributed much to the site in non-monetary terms either? I'd say they'll be lucky to get one in their entire career. There are many, many thousands of them here for a client to choose from. Looking at it from the client's perspective, why should they choose you above those who have great credentials?

On the other hand, that non-monetary contribution can be very helpful. For example, if you answer every astronomy question that appear in KudoZ in your pairs, and get awarded points for your helpful answers, you'll do your directory position a lot of good, although you'll always be below those who've paid for membership. You'll also maybe figure quite highly in searches for voiceover talent. I don't know how much call there is for that here but you'll be a bigger fish in that pond, I imagine.

At the moment, you've got virtually nothing going for you, I'm afraid. But some of it is easy to rectify. Just visit the Site Guidance Centre: http://www.proz.com/guidance-center . Attend the free webinar about meeting clients here. Complete everything on your profile, as far as possible, including some persuasive marketing "about me" text. Check your directory ranking and see how you can improve it.

Good luck! And let me know if/when you're prepared to pay for membership. I can donate some BrowniZ points to you, or anyone else, to give you a small discount. They don't seem to have much other value.


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Sara Garcia
Ireland
Local time: 17:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your reply May 14, 2015

Thank you Bernhard, that is very useful information. It doesn't look very promising, specially since I am not even a certified translator.

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Sara Garcia
Ireland
Local time: 17:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you for your reply May 14, 2015

Thank you Sheila for your advice and your offer of BrownieZpoints, any help would be greatly appreciated . I will try the KudoZ forum and see how it goes.

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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:04
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Neither am I May 14, 2015

Sara Garcia wrote:

Thank you Bernhard, that is very useful information. It doesn't look very promising, specially since I am not even a certified translator.


Nor am I a certified translator. Instead, I'm a very good translator with a long track record of proven expertise in my specialist fields. You'll find that many of us are. So don't give up at the first little hurdle!

HOWEVER to get the maximum benefit from Proz, your profile should be 100% complete - although I'll admit that I spent well over a year messing about and not completing it.

I can't give an accurate estimate of how many contacts I've had via Proz, since I've been a member, that have led to lucrative translating jobs - but there have been lots. None of them, however, were for jobs offered directly through Proz.

Jobs come to you through agencies who come here looking for expert translators in narrowly-defined subject areas, in particular language pairs. If they like your profile they contact you directly by email and then you deal with them privately. I get a lot of work that way.

Proz works, but it's only as good as you make it! (Thinks.....time to freshen up my sample translations.....)

[Edited at 2015-05-14 16:27 GMT]


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Bernhard Sulzer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:04
English to German
+ ...
Regarding the term "Certified Pro" May 14, 2015

Sara Garcia wrote:

Thank you Bernhard, that is very useful information. It doesn't look very promising, specially since I am not even a certified translator.


I wasn't referring to certified translators, just to make myself clear. Although you can get certified by various authorities or courts in some countries, there is no such thing in the US for example. However, a translator can "certify" translations.
I referred to the term "Certified Pro" as used exclusively on this website. This is not an official certification of a translator in the sense it is used in certain countries, and it has really nothing to do with the level of quality of translations provided by the bearer of that title or the rates at which some Certified Pro outsourcers (yes, they can also attain that title at ProZ.com) expect to do business using this site.
As Tom says, it's about being a good translator. But there is more. You also need to be a savvy business woman or man in order to be successful.


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Inga Petkelyte  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 17:04
Lithuanian to Portuguese
+ ...
Echoing Tom May 14, 2015

I would like to echo what Tom has said: various repetitive clients via ProZ but not through ProZ job postings. I even had unsubscribed from the job postings here and resubscribed to them not so long ago, for curiosity sake - mostly because of so much talking here in forums about "how dare ProZ allow posting such prices":)
There are many ways to get clients and ProZ is a great place for everyone - paid members and not.


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:04
French to German
+ ...
Regular customers through the job board May 14, 2015

Well, within 18 months I got three regular, well paying customers through the Job Board, 2 agencies and a direct client, and I did about four or five little jobs for other customers.

Concerning the regular customers one was looking for a proofreader with a Master's degree in German specializing in culinary which was exactly my case. The second one did look for a copywriter and did send me the texts he used to do his marketing with and asked me why I thought they did not work. He liked my answer, I did write a first text for him which worked very well for him and since then I do his whole marketing in a few languages with the help of other freelancers. The third customer had an urgent project late at night and I guess I was the first person to answer. So I'd say: What is important is to propose exactly the service customers are looking for and being available just when they need that service.

Normally, lots of colleagues answer though and it's not easy to get work through the job board. Also there are a lot of offers which are really not worth answering as the rate is so low.

As an outsourcer who sometimes does post jobs on the job board I have to say though that a lot of translators who answer send messages which are not personalized and which do not correspond to the job at all - just as if they have one answer which they post everytime. Others make a lots of faults in the languages they are actually working in. So I think that if you really answer to the offer, explain why you are the right person, if you are speaking of your experience in the exact field you certainly have more chances to get the job.

You should not rely on that way to get jobs though.

As others already said I do not think that outsourcers will contact you via the directory if you are not a paying member. To be contacted you need to be part of the first translators coming up and you probably won't. I actually have been contacted 4 or 5 times by agencies that way in 2014 what never actually did make me work because the proposed rates for either too low or I already fully booked.

Concerning me most of my customers are direct ones and I get them either through social networks or business clubs, friends... or traid fares. I do have a website since about a year as well but it does not really work for translation. I get some customers for training in German and content writing though.


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 17:04
French to English
+ ...
Yes you CAN get work... but paying is worth it if you have a good profile May 14, 2015

Sara Garcia wrote:
Hi all,
I have signed in for a free Proz account, as i can't afford to pay the membership. My hope is to get enough work through the free account to raise money to pay for a full one, however, looking at the jobs panel, it looks like there's not much of a chance of getting any work without paying.


It *IS* possible to get work as a non-paying member. The thing that will be difficult is to get jobs where the outsourcer either needs to allocate the translation within less than 12 hours, or would prefer to do so if a reasonable candidate comes along in that time. And in reality that does probably mean a good half of jobs, I suspect.

Whether you pay or not, the main thing that will make ProZ bidding a waste of time is if you don't have anything "niche" to offer in a few translation jobs advertised on ProZ. Consider that a job poster may get typically get 50 responses to a job posting, and at least 5-10 fairly "serious" ones. On the other hand, when you bid for a job, very often you are bidding for the ensuing "relationship" with the client in question if you win that job. Every year I re-coup my ProZ fee many many times over not because of the value of individual jobs necessarily, but because almost always one job won every now and again on ProZ leads on to a whole string of other jobs with the client in question.

So I would suggest: take a look over the next few weeks and see how many jobs there are where you genuinely would be one of the 5-10 "serious" applicants among the 50, and where it's a job with a delivery deadline of less than 3-4 days (i.e. cases where the outsourcer isn't realistically going to waste a day allocating the project, and so all contenders will be members who can quote within 12 hours).

[Edited at 2015-05-14 23:00 GMT]


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Everyone is in a hurry nowadays May 15, 2015

Neil Coffey wrote:
So I would suggest: take a look over the next few weeks and see how many jobs there are where you genuinely would be one of the 5-10 "serious" applicants among the 50, and where it's a job with a delivery deadline of less than 3-4 days (i.e. cases where the outsourcer isn't realistically going to waste a day allocating the project, and so all contenders will be members who can quote within 12 hours)

My experience lately has been that outsourcers always seem to select someone within a couple of hours. I don't check every few minutes and every one of my quotes is more or less written from scratch, after doing some research on the poster to see whether I actually want to work with them. I've had quite a few negative responses lately regarding jobs where I was clearly a great match and very hopeful. They aren't "No thanks" ones; they're more along the lines of "Damn! We've already allocated it! Sorry!".


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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:04
French to German
+ ...
Summary May 15, 2015

To give a little summary: As a non-paying member your chances to get a job through ProZ are not very high, as a paying member they are better but this does not guarantee you to get any work.

What Sheila said is right, some outsourcers already close their job posting after one hour or two when they have found the translator they needed to find (or think they did...), others always stick with the same translators and if this one is available you have no chances to get the job.

[Modifié le 2015-05-15 10:23 GMT]


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Sara Garcia
Ireland
Local time: 17:04
Spanish to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Your feedback has been great! May 15, 2015

Thank you so much for all the feedback! It's been very useful to get so many replies with your opinions. I will take all of them on board and persevere for a while, see how it goes. I have already filled in my profile, though I'm not sure how good it is.

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Andrea Halbritter  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 18:04
French to German
+ ...
Your profil May 15, 2015

I have had a look at your profil. What I do not like is the following sentence:

"I am happy to take any sort of translation work, though I would like to eventually specialise in Science translations."

Sounds a bit desperate for me and as if you'd just translate anything (wether you are good in the subject or not) just in order to have work. Of course I am not an English native, but for me it leaves no good impression.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:04
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Your profile May 15, 2015

Well done for fleshing out your profile a little, Sara. I suggest you add some sample translations as soon as possible - with nothing else to give the clients those will be very important.

However, I feel I must let you know that your CV is a disaster for the purpose of landing translation jobs here or elsewhere. It's true that it gives a lot of information on your subject specialisations, and in your case this is clearly your forte, but there are some rather important omissions apart from the fact that it's actually fuzzy (at least it is on my computer). Unless I've missed them, neither "translation/translated..." or "Spanish/Catalan..." are actually mentioned anywhere, and the only "languages" mentioned are programming ones.. I'm afraid few clients would contact you after reading that. You need to rework it completely to change it from a job-seeker's CV into a marketing document designed for a freelance translator. Look at it from the point of view of a client asking: "Can I entrust my Spanish to English science translation to this person?"


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