Strategies for getting jobs
Thread poster: SL Leung

SL Leung
Local time: 19:13
English to Chinese
+ ...
Jun 2, 2009

Can anyone give some advice about how to generate more business for a freelance translator? You have to compete with many linguists for every job posted. And you may just join a large pool of translators of an agency. I have been using this site for more than half a year but get no luck.

[Subject edited by staff or moderator 2009-06-03 12:20 GMT]


Maya Gorgoshidze  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:13
Member (2004)
English to Georgian
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
My suggestion Jun 2, 2009

Dear SL Leung,

I would suggest you to read the FAQ about finding jobs at Please visit the page

Also some articles written by language professionals to share their experiences with others may be helpful to you. Please see:

Kind regards,


Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:13
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
See what you can do with your profile page? Jun 2, 2009

Maybe you do not have to compete at all, or only with one other person, if an agency approaches you directly. An agency would do this if they like your profile page. I find that yours could be padded out a little bit yet.

Answering Kudoz questions, which will also get you further up the list in the diretory
Joining the translators' organisation for your country, to have something to report under "Memberships"
I do not know whether a CAT tool is suitable for your language pair, but I see that you do not report use of a CAT tool. Agencies, however, like CAT tools and people who use them.
You can build up glossaries which will all be listed on your profile page as evidence of your expertise
WWA entries - make sure you ask each outsourcer for one until you collect a few


Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:13
Local opportunities Jun 2, 2009

As I've said here before, this site is just one place to advertise your services. You can't expect join Proz or similar sites and expect them to get you customers automatically.

Have you advertised in your locality or researched local/regional companies who trade in China and might therefore need your services? It's a good way to start building client relations.icon_smile.gif


chica nueva
Local time: 13:13
Chinese to English
Building up a reputation; using your strengths; targeting market segments, etc Jun 3, 2009

Hello SL Leung!

Some suggestions ...

To me, your profile suggests that you cater for the Hong Kong market, or for the domestic market of Hong-Kong settlers in Canada/North America, or perhaps for business/cultural exchanges between Hong Kong and Canada. Is that your intention? I am guessing that you have good expertise in written and spoken Cantonese, so I wonder how you can use it ... if you want to, and whether there is a market for it, in your assessment.

If you are looking for work in Canada, and have done work for Canadian clients (or other clients outside Hong Kong), even voluntarily, IMO it might be good to mention it. Have you considered approaching/joining the Canadian-Hong Kong Business Association, for example, or similar associations in your region, or advertising in their magazines. Or approaching the telecoms sector. If you are looking for work (or have done work) translating to/from Simplified Chinese, then perhaps it might be good to see some samples.

Have a look at other translators' profiles - sometimes you can get good ideas from that. BTW, did you know that there is a Chinese Forum/KudoZ on this site? It could be a chance to build a reputation and get recognised here ... whether that would translate into jobs though, I am not sure ... (you never know ...). I understand there are other more-specialised translator forums in certain fields ... so, perhaps, don't limit yourself to ProZ ...

I am sure you have probably already considered some of these things ...



SL Leung
Local time: 19:13
English to Chinese
+ ...
Suggestions for how to get more jobs Jun 4, 2009

Many thanks for all of you who gave me advice. I locate in Toronto where the living cost is high, but I see many outsourcers posting jobs here are unwilling to pay a bit more. For agencies in Canada or other countries, they offer service in many languages and may only get a few English/Chinese jobs. When they do get one, they have many translators to choose from in their databases. I think I should find clients in Hong Kong. But the loonie is soaring again!

I don't trust translation software. Trados is too expensive. How many jobs I have to do to offset the cost? And I may not get a job in months! Joining those translators' organisations is also not a low-cost solution. Companies in HK, perhaps, do not care much about such membership. I feel some discrimination when only certified translators are considered (unless for legal documents that may require certificiation).

Moving up in the directory is virtually useless. The majority of outsourcers (if not all) won't search the huge directory. They need not bother to spend a lot of time in doing that. They just post jobs and then will get dozens of applications.

I submit sample translation whenever it's appropriate but often get no response. All in all, it seems it's not possible for me to live on by being a freelance translator. Due to some personal reasons, I do wish to work from home!

[Edited at 2009-06-04 21:33 GMT]

[Edited at 2009-06-04 23:01 GMT]


Mark Nathan  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:13
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
Develop a speciality Jun 4, 2009

e.g. your profile mentions annual reports, so work on your financial translation skills by researching appropriate documents on line - this does not cost any money - and then tell agencies that this is your field - they are more likely to allocate you jobs on this basis.


Sonja Kroll  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:13
Member (2008)
English to German
+ ...
Another idea Jun 4, 2009

Dear SL Leung,

it is also a question of focus. You seem to be busy with all these reasons for not getting jobs. This might keep you from seeing the possibilities. If you insist that it cannot work, it won't work.

Good luck!


Andreas Nieckele  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:13
English to Portuguese
You need to work to get work Jun 5, 2009

Sonja Kroll wrote:

You seem to be busy with all these reasons for not getting jobs. This might keep you from seeing the possibilities. If you insist that it cannot work, it won't work.

SL Leung wrote:

Moving up in the directory is virtually useless. The majority of outsourcers (if not all) won't search the huge directory. They need not bother to spend a lot of time in doing that. They just post jobs and then will get dozens of applications.

Sonja has a great point. Do you really think it is useless to move up in the directory? I bet the first 3-5 people in your language pair have a different opinion. Trados may be expensive, but there are other cheaper CAT Tools around, even some free ones. You can have this investment back in a day's work. The same can be said about a translator organization or a Proz membership.

You also need to work on your profile and make it stand out. Everyone recommended this 2 days ago, and I see absolutely no change yet.

Sounds to me like you just want the work to fall on your lap...

[Edited at 2009-06-05 01:11 GMT]


John Rawlins  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:13
Spanish to English
+ ...
Stop offering Chinese to English Jun 5, 2009

On the evidence of your postings, your English is not good enough to offer Chinese to English. By continuing to offer the pair in this direction you are undermining your credibility in English to Chinese.

Your English is fine for correspondence, but does not reach publication quality.

Relaunch yourself and good luck!


András Kiss  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:13
English to Hungarian
+ ...
No publicity, no prosperity Jun 5, 2009

Your background seems impressive. Know your skills and publish them as much as you can. Something is bound to happen. Don't forget that every venture needs investment and entails risks.

[Módosítva: 2009-06-05 08:00 GMT]


Susan Welsh  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:13
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Website? Jun 5, 2009

I notice that one of your specialties is website localization, yet you do not have a website of your own, and as others have noticed, your Profile on Proz is rather spare.

It may be just a coincidence, but since I got my website up and running a month or two ago, I have gotten a lot more inquiries and jobs--even though you can't find my website yet on the internet unless you already know you're looking for me! (I have to make some improvements.) It took me a long time, because I knew nothing about HTML or web design. But it's a start. Even if you use it as part of your e-mail signature, that gets it around. And put the URL on your Proz profile. (There are also forum articles on this topic.)
(Proz has a website creation wizard, but I found it so restricted and dull as to be useless.)

Good luck,


Irene Koukia  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:13
Member (2008)
German to Greek
+ ...
It worked for me and I see no reason it won't work for you! Jun 5, 2009

Hello my friend,

I can only tell you my own experience: I quit my previous profession (20 years in tourism) last August and decided to work exclusively as a freelance translator. My steps were the following:

1.- Create a website and subscribe to any free listings available. The website is in 3 languages and pretty simple but it works!
2.- Subscribe to any translator directories you can get, free or at least try them out for 3 to 6 months with a fee to see if you get any jobs or requests.
3.- Translate any samples companies ask you to. Apart from practicing they might eventually give you a job.
4.- Translate something for free for a good cause. Apart from practice you may use it as a reference in the future.
5.- Update your profile and add any jobs you have done, ask for feedback and promote the field that you are best at as a specialization.
6.- Check your e-mails frequently and reply to all requests.
7.- Send a complete CV to some translation companies in your country.
8.- Check your pricing policy - you may be too expensive after all. I suggest that you start a bit lower and work yourself to higher levels.
9.- While waiting for jobs, use the time to read a lot and to communicate with other professionals.

I did all the above. For 6 months there was nothing - now I am really busy and wish that the day had more than 24 hours...

Don't forget that satisfied customers will bring you more workicon_smile.gif

If you really want it to work IT WILL but you have to do something about it!

Good luck!

Best regards,


SL Leung
Local time: 19:13
English to Chinese
+ ...
disadvantage: not a native Mandarin speaker Jun 8, 2009

Irene Koukia wrote:
I can only tell you my own experience: I quit my previous profession (20 years in tourism) last August and decided to work exclusively as a freelance translator. My steps were the following...

Thanks for sharing. I have already done seven of the nine points you mentioned. I am a member of another site, and rank the third in its directory. However, nearly all the E-to-C jobs posted there are translation into Simplified Chinese. I can speak Mandarin, but I am not a native Mandarin speaker with mainland background. You know three languages: German, Greek and English. I don't know if there is less competition in your language pairs.


chica nueva
Local time: 13:13
Chinese to English
Credentials; markets/marketing etc Jun 8, 2009

Hello again SL Leung.

What about Chinese -> English. I think your English is possibly very good - in any case, many agencies seem to have proofreaders/checkers. If you did your degree in English-medium and went to an English-medium school, perhaps you could mention it (eg number of years of education in English-medium). I wonder whether you have done any proficiency tests at all eg TOEFL/TOEIC, IELTS, Cambridge, HSK? If so, perhaps you could also mention them. Your writing/translating and editing career in HK, can I ask was this in English or Chinese, or both?

You can see that, from your profile, I am really not very sure about your language background and experience. The match between your samples and specialist fields is OK, but do you think you should add telecoms to your specialities? And could you perhaps consider expanding the samples and projects sections. Further, have you done any interpreting. If so, perhaps you could mention it. And did you want to consider proofreading or subtitling as a possibility.

I wonder, is there any opportunity to use your HK contacts? Do you think you are able to work between Cantonese and Mandarin, or any other dialects. There are Canadian-based translators in the ProZ Chinese Community BTW. There is a large Chinese community in Toronto I believe, and also in Vancouver. You might find that some Chinese-owned businesses do translation in-house.

You mention Simplified Chinese, and say you are not a native Mandarin speaker with Mainland background. I am not clear. Does this mean that you are proficient in translation for which markets exactly? Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore ... (?) I wonder, do you work in Simplified Chinese at all (I think you possibly do) - how about taking the Australian Naati exam, or whatever is recognised in Canada. That would give you translation credentials in both scripts, and verify your competence. Also, Wiki might be a good resource. There are pages in Mandarin and Cantonese there. If you started translating there, voluntarily, who knows, perhaps some paid work might come out of it.


[Edited at 2009-06-08 04:47 GMT]


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