How to get translation clients

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The number 1 question I get from other translators is “How do you get translation clients?” Here I’m going to show you a simple 4-step system that will help you find clients not just for today, but for life.

I first devised this system when I was starting out, had minimal experience and no translation certificates – it helped me go from zero to working full-time with a number of interesting, professional clients. I still go back to this system whenever I want to broaden my client base or add new areas of expertise, so wherever you are in your translation career this system will work for you!

Let’s get started!

1. Search for jobs on Proz, TranslatorsCafe and TranslationDirectory

Proz, Translatorscafe and TranslationDirectory are the major translation job boards that I have used to find jobs. You don’t need to register to look at all the available jobs, but for Proz and TranslatorsCafe a profile is necessary if you want to see client information and apply through the platform.

Note that registration is FREE – you do not have to pay one cent to get clients. I’ve written detailed tutorials on using all three platforms that you can find here: Proz, TranslatorsCafe, TranslationDirectory.

2. Apply to the right clients

Your time is precious (no one is paying you for writing applications, right?) so only apply to suitable clients. What is a suitable client?

Go through this check list:

    • is the language combination right?
    • do I have the required experience and/or qualifications?
    • do I have the required CAT tools?
    • is the client looking for long-term collaboration?

This last point is the most important. As a translator you are not interested in short-term, urgent translation projects – you want a client who you apply to ONCE…and who comes back to you again and again. This means applying to clients who are interested in long-term collaboration or who are offering work on a long-term project. Everyone else is a waste of your time.

3.Create a daily routine

Ok, here comes the bad news: you’re probably not going to get a great long-term client overnight. There’s no point you logging into Proz once a month, finding a client and then half-heartedly sending out an application one week later. I suggest you follow this little daily routine to streamline your application routine:

  1. Log into Proz and check new available jobs
  2. Save interesting jobs by bookmarking them. Create a folder called “Translation Jobs” in your bookmarks bar.
  3. Do the same for TranslatorsCafe and TranslationDirectory.
  4. Go through your list of interesting jobs one by one and apply to each one
  5. Delete jobs from the bookmark bar as soon as you have applied
  6. Repeat the next day

4.Ignore the rejections

Don’t get hung up about rejections. Often you won’t even hear from a client. That’s ok. Don’t take it personally. You have no idea what part of your CV didn’t please him: perhaps they were recruiting people with a specific language variant, or with specific area of expertise. I once went through a lenghty application process for a big translation company, received training, had to provide more documentation…and never received a single job in return.

If it seems like all of your applications are being sucked into a black hole, go through your application documents, your profile and CV. If they are as good as can be and you’re still getting no response, drop me a line and I’ll see what I can do to help.

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