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How much should you invest financially to begin with?
Thread poster: Rachael Clayton

Rachael Clayton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:44
Member (Jun 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Question May 16

DZiW wrote:

IMO, the problem is not only lack of planning or mindless copycating, but rather what the investor is ready to do to for achieving the clear goals.



I think I see what your saying but does this part refer to me?


 

Elizabeth Tamblin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:44
Member (2012)
French to English
Hi Rachael May 16

Just thought I would post to say why I decided to pay for ProZ membership.

I did an MA in translation a few years ago, purely for recreational purposes, but when others on my course were talking about getting paid jobs, I thought maybe I could do that too. But where to find the work. All jobs seemed to require years of experience, which I didn't have.

To cut a long story short, I signed up for the ProZ mentoring scheme and found a mentor who provided me with huge amount
... See more
Just thought I would post to say why I decided to pay for ProZ membership.

I did an MA in translation a few years ago, purely for recreational purposes, but when others on my course were talking about getting paid jobs, I thought maybe I could do that too. But where to find the work. All jobs seemed to require years of experience, which I didn't have.

To cut a long story short, I signed up for the ProZ mentoring scheme and found a mentor who provided me with huge amounts of work. It wasn't well paid, but it was priceless experience for me, and it gave me the confidence to think I could actually get paid for translating.

I answered some Kudoz questions, which improved my ranking on the lists of translators and got a few job offers, some good, some not so good.

Yes, I bought the latest Trados, as so many people seemed to require it, and I wanted to maximise my chances. It suits me fine at the moment.

I'm not the most proactive of people, and I don't think I would have found any paid work unless I had joined this site. I would just have continued with more pro bono work.
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Rita Pang  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 18:44
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
Pretty sure not May 16

Rachael C wrote:

DZiW wrote:

IMO, the problem is not only lack of planning or mindless copycating, but rather what the investor is ready to do to for achieving the clear goals.



I think I see what your saying but does this part refer to me?


Some of the most popular posts on Proz are almost always discussing the perils and challenges for a freelancer when starting out. When I first signed up for Proz I thought it was almost silly to be paying membership for something which I can't be sure I'll get my money's worth, not to mention the site's messy design really put me off.

p.s. spoke to a few staff members about this, there's a reason for the design - it was built years ago when programming languages aren't as advanced, and now to migrate the whole thing is almost impossible - those who are interested to learn more about the whole story can ask site staff about this.

I am in agreement with what DZiW said about putting a specific price tag on the initial investment, but I see merit to both sides of the discussion. On one hand, many of those starting are probably in need of an actual figure, but 2000 EUR is probably quite steep for many. I certainly didn't spend 2000 EUR in my first year in business - I spent $0. In hindsight I probably could have jumpstarted what I did even faster and made more money had I put in *some* money, but I only paid for a Proz membership in my second year. I actually got my first project at Proz and landed my first big client at Proz as well without a membership, but I think a large part of that was luck.

Instead of a specific amount, I'd say that you should look into paying for the following:
- Website hosting for your personal website
- Domain URL purchase (e.g. firstnamelastname.com)
- Optional expenses such as website publishing services (options include logo design, website template, mailchimp etc) - note that the whole issue of running a website/blog as a translator merits another discussion altogether
- CAT tools (not always necessary but many agencies ask for them)
- Proz membership
- Official memberships locally (ATA or other professional industry membership). Note that these aren't always necessary but if you want to become a sworn translator for example it is likely a requirement
- Work station equipment (laptop, scanner, keyboard, etc if you do not have those already)
- Business registration (many clients will not work with a freelancer who is not officially registered as a sole proprietor/corporation)
- Tax number registration (usually free, but I've heard of places where you must pay a certain due)
etc, etc. Others in this thread have already mentioned other things

Best of luck.


DZiW
 

Rachael Clayton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:44
Member (Jun 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks May 27

Elizabeth Tamblin wrote:

Just thought I would post to say why I decided to pay for ProZ membership.

I did an MA in translation a few years ago, purely for recreational purposes, but when others on my course were talking about getting paid jobs, I thought maybe I could do that too. But where to find the work. All jobs seemed to require years of experience, which I didn't have.

To cut a long story short, I signed up for the ProZ mentoring scheme and found a mentor who provided me with huge amounts of work. It wasn't well paid, but it was priceless experience for me, and it gave me the confidence to think I could actually get paid for translating.

I answered some Kudoz questions, which improved my ranking on the lists of translators and got a few job offers, some good, some not so good.

Yes, I bought the latest Trados, as so many people seemed to require it, and I wanted to maximise my chances. It suits me fine at the moment.

I'm not the most proactive of people, and I don't think I would have found any paid work unless I had joined this site. I would just have continued with more pro bono work.


Thank you I had a look at mentors but wasn't sure who to go with, maybe I should have another look.


IanDhu
 

Rachael Clayton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:44
Member (Jun 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you May 27

Rita Pang wrote:

Rachael C wrote:

DZiW wrote:

IMO, the problem is not only lack of planning or mindless copycating, but rather what the investor is ready to do to for achieving the clear goals.



I think I see what your saying but does this part refer to me?


Some of the most popular posts on Proz are almost always discussing the perils and challenges for a freelancer when starting out. When I first signed up for Proz I thought it was almost silly to be paying membership for something which I can't be sure I'll get my money's worth, not to mention the site's messy design really put me off.

p.s. spoke to a few staff members about this, there's a reason for the design - it was built years ago when programming languages aren't as advanced, and now to migrate the whole thing is almost impossible - those who are interested to learn more about the whole story can ask site staff about this.

I am in agreement with what DZiW said about putting a specific price tag on the initial investment, but I see merit to both sides of the discussion. On one hand, many of those starting are probably in need of an actual figure, but 2000 EUR is probably quite steep for many. I certainly didn't spend 2000 EUR in my first year in business - I spent $0. In hindsight I probably could have jumpstarted what I did even faster and made more money had I put in *some* money, but I only paid for a Proz membership in my second year. I actually got my first project at Proz and landed my first big client at Proz as well without a membership, but I think a large part of that was luck.

Instead of a specific amount, I'd say that you should look into paying for the following:
- Website hosting for your personal website
- Domain URL purchase (e.g. firstnamelastname.com)
- Optional expenses such as website publishing services (options include logo design, website template, mailchimp etc) - note that the whole issue of running a website/blog as a translator merits another discussion altogether
- CAT tools (not always necessary but many agencies ask for them)
- Proz membership
- Official memberships locally (ATA or other professional industry membership). Note that these aren't always necessary but if you want to become a sworn translator for example it is likely a requirement
- Work station equipment (laptop, scanner, keyboard, etc if you do not have those already)
- Business registration (many clients will not work with a freelancer who is not officially registered as a sole proprietor/corporation)
- Tax number registration (usually free, but I've heard of places where you must pay a certain due)
etc, etc. Others in this thread have already mentioned other things

Best of luck.




I hadn't heard about the migration issue, so that was interesting to hear. I did wonder!
Well done getting a job on Proz without membership
That is a helpful summary at the end there.


 

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 00:44
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
@Rachael May 27

Rachael C wrote:
I'm particularly trying to decide whether or not to buy Proz.com membership. It seems to be the way to start getting jobs [instead of] emailing CVs everywhere.


I'm surprised that so many people here encourage you to pay for ProZ.com membership at the start of your career. I would advise against it. There are better ways to spend €180.

Being a paying member will give you a slight advantage over non-paying members when it comes to bidding on jobs or being contacted by a client directly, but then you'd still have to compete against the other paying members, who have been here a lot longer and will therefore outrank you in directory searches. Jobs often go to the cheapest translator or to the translator who can respond fastest, so I doubt that you can recoup the €180 within just one year, unless you're very lucky.

Your first instinct was the good one: the way to get clients at the start of your career is to apply to agencies directly. Go to the Blue Board, and start vising the web sites of all agencies, and apply to all of them that seem to offer your types of jobs.

Rachael C wrote:
Do agencies/clients mind if you don't have a big name CAT tool (i.e. Trados)?


Some agencies require a very specific CAT tool. Others require any CAT tool. Others don't require a CAT tool, although they prefer it. If you don't have a CAT tool, simply say so in the e-mails you send them. These days, there are many ways for an agency to convert files from their CAT tool's format to a simple format that you can work on, and I find that agencies are not unwilling to do so, if they believe they have a good translator on the line. In the mean time, you can learn how CAT tools work, by practising in free tools like OmegaT and Wordfast Anywhere or using the trial versions of others.


DZiW
 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 00:44
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
My take on CAT tools is: find one that suits you and use it as much as possible May 28

I have reached a point where I simply tell agencies I use my CAT or no CAT. I can still translate without it, but over the years I have grown with Trados, tried several others, and liked Trados best because I can fine-tune the features best to the way I work.

Other CAT tools may suit different styles and types of texts. I hated several other CATs, and you have to be able to work with the basic functions at least without constantly having to think of the 'mechanics' - how do you move
... See more
I have reached a point where I simply tell agencies I use my CAT or no CAT. I can still translate without it, but over the years I have grown with Trados, tried several others, and liked Trados best because I can fine-tune the features best to the way I work.

Other CAT tools may suit different styles and types of texts. I hated several other CATs, and you have to be able to work with the basic functions at least without constantly having to think of the 'mechanics' - how do you move to the next segment, insert tags, etc. It has to come automatically, like typing, or it distracts you from translating, and it DOES affect the quality of your work.

You have to be able to update your TMs and remove errors, which is much easier than before with the latest Trados and a 'Retrofit' that inserts corrections from a Word document.
The benefits of a CAT are cumulative, so it takes time to get used to it, build up your own TMs and glossaries, and be able to find things in the concordance. (Again, Trados has features that help, but it finds a lot more when prompted.) For that reason I refuse to work with online CATs that do not allow me to link up with my own. That is where I have stored my experience!

Of course, you can keep word lists and glossaries without a CAT, as we all did and some translators still do. As long as you have a method that works, it doesn't matter, but a CAT is potentially a useful way of doing it.

Trados in my experience is generally better than its reputation. Admittedly, I have had bugs, but I have also had many years altogether when it has simply functioned smoothly. The PSMA (annual subscription for all updates and technical help if you need it) is definitely worthwhile in my opinion. Whichever CAT(s) you work with, make sure help is available when you need it...
__________________

I invested in Proz.com about 16 years ago, and the first job paid for the subscription. I am not 100% sure that it pays in cash, dollar for dollar these days, but I use the Blue Board and other features. It is worth the investment all round, and I do still get job offers.

Many of my good clients have found me though Proz.com, but a lot have found me through networking, especially at powwows and translator events, and then looked up my profile, rather than searching this site first.
You have to invest time and effort in it as well as the annual subscription, but then I would say it is well worth it.
Best of luck!
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Kevin Fulton
Rachael Clayton
 

Rachael Clayton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:44
Member (Jun 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you Jun 11

Samuel Murray wrote:

Rachael C wrote:
I'm particularly trying to decide whether or not to buy Proz.com membership. It seems to be the way to start getting jobs [instead of] emailing CVs everywhere.


I'm surprised that so many people here encourage you to pay for ProZ.com membership at the start of your career. I would advise against it. There are better ways to spend €180.

Being a paying member will give you a slight advantage over non-paying members when it comes to bidding on jobs or being contacted by a client directly, but then you'd still have to compete against the other paying members, who have been here a lot longer and will therefore outrank you in directory searches. Jobs often go to the cheapest translator or to the translator who can respond fastest, so I doubt that you can recoup the €180 within just one year, unless you're very lucky.

Your first instinct was the good one: the way to get clients at the start of your career is to apply to agencies directly. Go to the Blue Board, and start vising the web sites of all agencies, and apply to all of them that seem to offer your types of jobs.

Rachael C wrote:
Do agencies/clients mind if you don't have a big name CAT tool (i.e. Trados)?


Some agencies require a very specific CAT tool. Others require any CAT tool. Others don't require a CAT tool, although they prefer it. If you don't have a CAT tool, simply say so in the e-mails you send them. These days, there are many ways for an agency to convert files from their CAT tool's format to a simple format that you can work on, and I find that agencies are not unwilling to do so, if they believe they have a good translator on the line. In the mean time, you can learn how CAT tools work, by practising in free tools like OmegaT and Wordfast Anywhere or using the trial versions of others.



Yes, it's confusing.
If I haven't misunderstood what people are saying it seems a bit like pot luck whether or not Proz is good for finding work. Perhaps it depends on volume or language pair? If not then it looks like a catch-22 because when you start out you don't have any Kudoz points but when you're experienced one would rather be looking for higher rates that aren't available on Proz.

[Edited at 2019-06-11 14:51 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-06-11 14:55 GMT]

[Edited at 2019-06-11 16:04 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 23:44
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Not pot luck Jun 11

Rachael Clayton wrote:
If I haven't misunderstood what people are saying it seems a bit like pot luck whether or not Proz is good for finding work. Perhaps it depends on volume or language pair? If not then it looks like a catch-22 because when you start out you don't have any Kudoz points but when you're experienced one would rather be looking for higher rates that aren't available on Proz.

Firstly, although maybe very high rates aren't possible here, the 'not bad' rates around the one I charge are certainly feasible. By no means is the site only of interest to translators who are happy with peanuts.

Whether you'll get the better jobs isn't down to pot luck, I don't think. It's down to a load of different reasons of course, and while some are a bit difficult to do anything about, others aren't. I imagine there are rare pairs that see little if any regular trade, but what there is probably all comes through this site. Being the biggest such site dedicated to translation, there's certainly a vast volume in the common pairs. But as there are also thousands of translators registered as supplying those pairs, you're going to be a tiny fish. If you don't manage to get your head seen above the vast shoal then you can't expect to land many, if any, jobs as you won't be able to compete on price against all the 'hobby' translators.

I really do think that beginners who make a real effort to differentiate themselves through specialisation and a strong marketing message can hope to get a solid ROI from site membership from the get-go. All the more so if you go for Plus membership and take full advantage of its perks (CAT tool, terminology software, personalised help with your profile, the library of training videos, etc.). It isn't just the directory position you need to think about. Many posted jobs are never made available to non-paying users, and I don't believe any are available straight from publication. Members generally get a head start of 12 hours, by which time most will have been filled and further quotes will probably just be ignored.

However, if you just turn up, pay your fee, and fill in a few things on your profile, you're probably unlikely to get much ROI. You have to make the site work for you. Of course, I can only speak for myself with any real conviction, although I've heard many others say the same thing. As for me, most of my income for the last 12 years has come through this site in one way or another -- publicly posted jobs; privately posted jobs; private messages from agencies and direct clients; contacts from fellow freelance members who search the directory to outsource excess work or for holiday relief or to fulfil a request from a regular client for the opposite pair or whatever; and contact from fellow freelancers I've met at conferences or who I 'e-meet' in the forums etc. Then of course there are referrals from those clients to other potential ones ... and so it snowballs.


DZiW
 

Rachael Clayton  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:44
Member (Jun 2019)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Conclusion Jun 17

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Rachael Clayton wrote:
If I haven't misunderstood what people are saying it seems a bit like pot luck whether or not Proz is good for finding work. Perhaps it depends on volume or language pair? If not then it looks like a catch-22 because when you start out you don't have any Kudoz points but when you're experienced one would rather be looking for higher rates that aren't available on Proz.

Firstly, although maybe very high rates aren't possible here, the 'not bad' rates around the one I charge are certainly feasible. By no means is the site only of interest to translators who are happy with peanuts.

Whether you'll get the better jobs isn't down to pot luck, I don't think. It's down to a load of different reasons of course, and while some are a bit difficult to do anything about, others aren't. I imagine there are rare pairs that see little if any regular trade, but what there is probably all comes through this site. Being the biggest such site dedicated to translation, there's certainly a vast volume in the common pairs. But as there are also thousands of translators registered as supplying those pairs, you're going to be a tiny fish. If you don't manage to get your head seen above the vast shoal then you can't expect to land many, if any, jobs as you won't be able to compete on price against all the 'hobby' translators.

I really do think that beginners who make a real effort to differentiate themselves through specialisation and a strong marketing message can hope to get a solid ROI from site membership from the get-go. All the more so if you go for Plus membership and take full advantage of its perks (CAT tool, terminology software, personalised help with your profile, the library of training videos, etc.). It isn't just the directory position you need to think about. Many posted jobs are never made available to non-paying users, and I don't believe any are available straight from publication. Members generally get a head start of 12 hours, by which time most will have been filled and further quotes will probably just be ignored.

However, if you just turn up, pay your fee, and fill in a few things on your profile, you're probably unlikely to get much ROI. You have to make the site work for you. Of course, I can only speak for myself with any real conviction, although I've heard many others say the same thing. As for me, most of my income for the last 12 years has come through this site in one way or another -- publicly posted jobs; privately posted jobs; private messages from agencies and direct clients; contacts from fellow freelance members who search the directory to outsource excess work or for holiday relief or to fulfil a request from a regular client for the opposite pair or whatever; and contact from fellow freelancers I've met at conferences or who I 'e-meet' in the forums etc. Then of course there are referrals from those clients to other potential ones ... and so it snowballs.


Thank you for clarifying the pay situation. I took advantage of the special offers and am now a full-out member!


 

Camila bryant
United States
.... Jun 18

Thank you all for sharing this information. I think I will surely pay for Proz membership in near future and see if it will help me personally.

Rachael Clayton
 
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