Guest post: The 3 myths about selling translations and how to make it work for you Reply


Today’s guest post contributor is best-selling author, speaker, and business owner Andrew Lawless.

This is Andrew’s first post in a two-part guest blog series on selling your translation services.


Myth 1: It’s about price, speed and quality

Translation can be easily viewed as a commodity business. The competition is huge and fierce. Many translators believe that they can only survive if they offer the lowest rates, better quality and quickest turn-around times – preferably all three at the same time.

It is true that many buyers of translation services look at translation like I see electricity. They want it cheap, instantly and of good quality. They simply just ask several translation service providers how much they charge per word and choose the lowest bidder.

It is also true that translation is not that two-dimensional, just as color and price are not the only factors in buying a car.

This is evidenced in a recent survey by Slator. It surveyed all 75 US government-certified language providers and discovered the cheapest average per-word rate for English-to-Spanish translation has a low of USD 0.08 and a high of USD 0.30. The priciest language pairs, English-Japanese and English-Korean, have offers ranging from USD 0.14 to USD 0.57.

So, why would someone pay USD 0.30 for a word translated into Spanish when they can get it for USD 0.08 from another vendor? In the end, it’s all about how you market and position yourself to your prospect customers.

For one, experienced buyers value a good translator, like a many of us value a plumber who shows up on time, is friendly, listens, does a great job as agreed, and leaves without leaving a mess behind. Experienced buyers pay a premium for translators that save them time, money and frustrations.

The Sankt-Hedwig hospital in Berlin, for example, would have welcomed better translations when their surgeons improperly transplanted artificial knees in 47 patients. Instead of using a procedure in which the artificial joints are being cemented without a shank or shaft, they were implanted without any cement. This happened because the term ‘non-modular cemented’ was wrongly translated as ‘zementfrei’, which means ‘does not need cement’ in German. So, surgeons put in the knees loose and patients needed a second surgery.

The secret is to build a list of customers who value the benefits that you bring and then foster a relationship with the people on that list. It’s not the quantity of people that are on your list. Otherwise, everybody in localization could buy a list of names from a database acquisition service and be a millionaire in no time.

That’s why in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services’ I will show you how to build a relationship with your audience, so that it becomes natural to buy from you.

Myth 2: Digital marketing is only for big LSP

Years ago, this statement might have been true. Today, not so much. Forrester Research Inc. reports that by 2017, 60% of sales will involve the Internet in some way, either as a direct e-commerce transaction or as part of a shopper’s research. Buyers of both products and services are online, connecting with other buyers on social media and evaluating options on their tablets and smartphones. As a result, modern customers are 65-90% of the way through the purchase decision process before they contact sales.

That’s different from 10 years ago when we were dependent on a sales person to show us what they thought were our best options. Today, buyers have all information upfront – and you will need to deliver that information to them.

While it is true that the higher your budget, the grander your digital marketing campaign can be, don’t assume that you need tens of thousands of dollars to get started. In fact, in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services’ I show how small-budget marketing campaigns can be very successful.

Many pitches from translation vendors are all so similar, it’s nearly impossible to discern the differences. The constant use of digital buzzwords can make it difficult to tell vendors apart. But asking a precise set of the right questions can make finding the right customer much easier. It’s like in job interviews – always good when the candidate has the right answers, even better when he or she asks the right questions.

What also leads to this most common myth about digital marketing is that many small businesses and freelancers believe that they have to generate and post new content every single day.

But the simple concept of dividing campaigns in marathons and sprints will keep your material fresh and readers interested. That’s why I focus on developing a consistent schedule where new material is published two to four times a month.

Remember, 96% of 18 – 29 year olds are online… and so are 93% of people 30-49, and 81% of 50-64. Your customer base is online – and if they can’t find your business… they’re probably looking at your competition.

Myth 3: Webinars don’t sell

Most business owners and freelancers view webinars as just a means to present a product or service. If you are one of them, you might think that webinars attract a lot of your competitors that want to learn more about you and copy one or the other thing from you. You might attract a few customers to view the webinar, but you won’t sell.

However, presentation of a product or service is only about 15% of an entire, well-integrated webinar strategy.

A truly effective webinar strategy involves 5 key stages (planning, pre, live, post, automated) and there will be cash exchange at the end of your presentation. A webinar is more than just showing a set of slides, a product demo and a Q&A session at the end.

Specifically, great webinars include strategic content that precisely aligns with your paid services or products. It also includes list building, email marketing plan, user engagement, and much more. And most importantly, there will be an exchange of cash at the end. A webinar strategy gives you the opportunity to grow your business at will.

I always highlight the importance of webinars in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services.’ Many students in my course are stunned to learn how many opportunities a webinar can create – even if they do not have or own any content.

You can use webinars for Q&A sessions, inviting people to come ask you questions around a specific topic. Topic like ‘Grill the Consultant’ or ‘The Roast of the Translator’ can produce wonderful results. So can topics, such as, Best Kept Secrets, Common Mistakes or What’s Working Now.

What counts is that a webinar provides value to the audience. Great webinars solve a problem.


Interested in learning more from Andrew about selling your translation services?

On June 7th Andrew will be hosting a free webinar on “Three no-cost list building strategies.”

Learn more and register today »

5 reasons to attend ProZ.com’s 2016 international event Reply

It’s that time of year again! ProZ.com’s 2016 international event is coming up in just a few months, and over 100 people have already registered to attend. This year’s conference will take place in Stockholm, Sweden on September 3rd and 4th.

Below is a list of five things that attendees can look forward to at this event:


5. The social activities

The pre-conference powwow will include a private tour of the Nobel Museum.

The pre-conference powwow will include a private tour of the Nobel Museum

Let’s face it: learning is only one reason (albeit a very important one!) to attend a conference. Translation events also provide an opportunity for language professionals to get together and talk about their work and their lives, exchange tips and advice, form new professional relationships, and even make friends. This is especially important for freelancers, most of whom work from home or in an isolated setting. This year’s international event will provide plenty of opportunities for attendees to network while taking advantage of their stay in Stockholm, during activities like:

  • A guided sightseeing tour of the Old Town district
  • A pre-conference powwow at the Nobel Museum
  • A three-course gala dinner on Saturday night
  • A post-conference dinner overlooking the harbor

See the “Social” tab of the event page for complete details on these activities. Attendees will also have many chances during the conference to chat, like at lunch, during coffee breaks, and in a business card exchange.

4. Visiting Stockholm

Tour Stockholm's Old Town district, or Gamla Stan

Tour Stockholm’s Old Town district

In addition to networking opportunities, industry events are also a great excuse for language professionals to do something they love: experience new and different places, languages, and cultures. If you’re planning on attending this year’s international conference, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a few days in the heart of Stockholm, the capital of Scandinavia. The city is surrounded by water, uniting the vibrancy of a metropolis with clean air, sparkling water and green spaces. An incredibly walkable city, Stockholm combines cutting-edge Scandinavian design, art and cultural attractions with striking natural beauty, spread over the 14 islands that make up the “Venice of the North.” Check out the city’s official tourism website for more information on getting around the city, places to stay, and attractions to visit to get the most out of your time in Stockholm.

3. Getting certified

For the first time ever, ProZ.com will be hosting an ATA certification exam as part of its international conference package. This is an excellent opportunity for translators to certify their skills at a rare European sitting of the exam. Space is limited to only 20 people, so be sure to register soon if you are interested!

2. A one-of-a-kind keynote speech

Maya Hess will deliver the keynote speech

Maya Hess is the founder and CEO of Red T, a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that advocates worldwide on behalf of translators and interpreters in zones of conflict. As a forensic linguist, Maya provided language support and expert witness services in many high-profile terrorism trials, among them those related to the US embassy attacks in East Africa, the World Trade Center bombing, and the New York City landmarks conspiracy. At ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference, Maya will be giving a compelling keynote speech on protecting language professionals who work in high-risk settings. Read more about Maya’s keynote speech and register to attend by visiting the session page.

1. The sessions

In conferences as in marketing, everyone knows that content is king. That’s why this year’s international event features a wide panel of fantastic speakers who will be delivering quality content to attendees at every session. Some of these speakers are renowned trainers and mentors like Irene Koukia, experts in their fields like João Roque Dias, published authors like Oleg Rudavin, current or former heads of translators associations like Inga MichaeliJohn Richard Stokbak Sciaba and Tanya Quintieri, or social media experts like Gala Gil Amat and Erik Hansson. And these are only some of the great speakers who will be presenting during this event! See the full list of conference speakers, including familiar faces and new ones, at: http://www.proz.com/conference/683?page=speakers


In addition to the points listed above, attendees at ProZ.com’s 2016 international event will also have the chance to receive discounts on site membership and training courses, participate in a one-on-one workshop with site staff on tips and tricks for getting the most out of ProZ.com, as well as qualify for 10 ATA Continuing Education credits. New attendance benefits are added regularly, so be sure to check out the “News and updates” section of the main conference page for the latest event news and announcements.

Register today and save!

The special early bird discount to attend this conference ends in just 18 days, so be sure to book your seat now while this offer is still available. Just click one of the “Buy now” buttons on the left side of the main event page: http://www.proz.com/conference/683. Special discounts are also available for students, site moderators, members of the Certified PRO Network, and members of the SFÖ.

Any questions?

Don’t hesitate to get in touch via email at conferences@proz.com, or contact the local organizer, Erin Lyons. You can also find this event on Facebook, and on Twitter using the hashtag #StockholmConf.

Hope to see you in Stockholm!


If you plan on attending this event, what are you most looking forward to?

If you’re not sure if you’ll be able to make it to the conference, let us know what you would like to see at this and future ProZ.com events. Simply post in the comments section or via Twitter @ProZcom

Confessions of a Freelance Translator: An interview with Gary Smith 3

“Welcome to one of the best jobs in the world!” screams the back cover of Gary Smith’s new book: Confessions of a Freelance Translator, Secrets To Success, a book offering practical, easily applicable tips to make a successful living out of freelance translation.

Gary Smith, a ProZ.com member, Certified PRO, trainer, event organizer and conference speaker, is an experienced proofreader and translator from Spanish and Catalan to English. A British native, he has lived in Spain for over two decades, offering webinars and talks internationally and around Spain.

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Gary Smith, author of “Confessions of a Freelance Translator, Secrets To Success”

In today’s post, I had a chance to speak with Gary about Confessions of a Freelance TranslatorSecrets To Success, the motivation behind the book, the process of writing it and the usefulness of the tips and tricks he provides throughout the book to translators starting out or who wish to make the leap to better earnings and work.


The interview

Me: What inspired you to write this book?

Gary: This is the kind of book I wish I’d had many years ago, so I could have avoided mistakes! Back then I would have loved this book with plenty of practical, applicable tips on freelance translation to start out or move up to higher earnings and productivity.

I think today in general there’s a generally positive attitude in the freelance translation community and a good example of that is Erik Hansson’s cathartic Facebook page “Things Translators Never Say” (TTNS) (voted winner of the ProZ.com Community Choice Award for best Facebook Page), which looks at frustrating situations with clients with humor and inspired this book’s title (there is a section in the book with funny situations with clients). It’s far better to laugh about such things with our colleagues around the world than to bang your head against the desk!

Even so, I felt there was a need for a book with this positive attitude that also gives a great deal of realistic, useful advice for translators about how to improve their situation. The Things Translators Never Say group gave me plenty of examples of typical problems faced by freelance translators, which helped me understand what they need and produce a book for them, all with a dash of of humour. And here it is!

Me:  What was the hardest part of writing this book?

Gary: Strangely, the same kind of things we come across as translators, since translators themselves are writers! In other words: organisation, editing, revising, reviewing, proofreading, layout, design, etc. Then, as our translation clients sometimes do, I’d discover something new or realize I’d forgotten to mention something, so I’d have to add it in a logical, coherent way. Sometimes I thought I’d never finish it!

It’s taken about three years to write and I’ve used material from my own talks as well as studying successful small businesses and listening to advice from my experienced translation colleagues, of course.

Me: How much of the book is realistic? Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own professional life?

Gary: All of it! But the difference with this book is that there are lots of examples we can all relate to from service providers we come across in everyday life, using similar “tricks of the trade” that are in fact relevant to all professions and applying them to translation services to help attract and keep good clients.

There are also many examples from my own experience in the profession and from translators I have known over the years. Too many good translators are let down by a lack of simple, practical business nous that doesn’t seem to get taught enough in formal education. Whether we like it or not, most translators have to be freelancers and therefore entrepreneurs to a certain extent to make a good living.

Me: Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?

Gary: Hmm…I’d say above all the message is that you can definitely make a good living out of translation by being a good professional and that the pros definitely outweigh the cons. It’s a great job if you get it right!

Me: Did you learn anything from writing your book? If so, what was it?

Gary: Well, as I’ve found when preparing my talks for congresses and webinars, when you want to teach something well and clearly you always end up fact-checking and learning something yourself, yes. I learned a lot from small business experts and even about sales psychology. And I also listened to some of my successful translation colleagues, of course! But with this book in particular, I observed service providers of all kinds, learning how they deal with their customers.

Me: Can we take a sneak peek at the book before its release?

29a0fa76-d14e-474b-86f9-6dec6a4fe8deThe book, through Gary: “…First, let’s put ourselves in our potential client’s shoes. The monolingual, monocultural client needs a text translated but knows nothing about translation, how to find a good translator, or how much they may reasonably charge. Their idea of a human translator may be a studious hermit sitting at a desk piled with paper dictionaries, holding a quill poised in the air as they muse over a mixed metaphor. On the other hand, the only translator everybody in the developed world has heard of is Google Translate. Everybody has used the famous word cruncher once in a while to see what their Chinese tattoo actually means or get the gist of a foreign news article or recipe. So our potential client knows of Google Translate at least. They also know it is capable of translating thousands of words per second for free. And then they turn to you and discover that it will take days and cost several hundreds or thousands of euros. Understandably, they may well be taken aback.

To understand their predicament, imagine your car breaks down in a town you don’t know and you have to find a decent mechanic to repair it. At one garage they nonchalantly tell you it’s going to cost € 5‌‌‍0 and take half an hour. At another, they shake their heads sagely and tell you it’ll cost € 1,000 and take a week. Who’s telling the truth? Who knows what they’re doing? Who’s trying to rip you off? In order to gain a potential client’s confidence, there are little strategies that mechanics and other service providers from lawyers to doctors can and do use to allay our fears and convince us to choose their services. We, too, can apply such strategies to gain our clients’ trust. We shall look at them throughout this book.”

Me: When will the book be released and how will readers be able to purchase it?

Gary:  The book will be made available any time now at Lulu.com.

The book

Confessions of a Freelance Translator is divided into easily digestible sections relating to: finding, keeping and dealing with clients, setting fees, visibility, guiding the client through the translation process, freelance organisation in general, specialisation with some useful tips on scientific and technical translation, a general discussion of hot topics (e.g. machine and crowd translation), some tips on small interpreting jobs and of course some hilarious examples of confessions of a freelance translator!


Get this book →

From the corporate corner: New benefits for Corporate members Reply

The corporate badge

Translation companies are an essential segment of the industry, and one key objective of ProZ.com is to better understand their needs and to provide them with tools, opportunities and resources which will help them achieve their objectives.

And of course this also means providing better opportunities for good translators and good companies to meet for their common benefit.

In line with this goal, ProZ.com Corporate members enjoy all the benefits associated with the site’s professional membership package, such as unlimited Blue Board access, plus several other tools and opportunities available exclusively to Corporate members, such as:

  • Increased visibility through privileged positioning in the Translation agency and company directory, the industry’s busiest directory for finding language service providers
  • Full access to both the traditional and advanced directories for finding service providers and collaborators, including premium job posts and vendor management tools
  • A corporate membership badge for added credibility among service providers and clients
  • Access to a dedicated instance of the translation center to manage translation projects, assign tasks and keep all communication and data in a single platform
  • Only Corporate members may apply for inclusion in the ProZ.com Certified PRO Network, giving them increased credibility, visiblity and promotion
  • The ability to extend the Corporate membership benefits and access to employee accounts
  • Immediate job posting (no vetting required)
  • Risk management through exclusive access to a scam prevention tool that allows them to verify the contact email address of potential service providers
  • In the event of feedback or payment disputes on the Blue Board, Corporate members have the ability to work closely with ProZ.com support staff in resolving issues quickly
  • Priority response to support requests, including phone support

The ProZ.com team is currently working on new Corporate-only features such as Classic jobs notifications, a mechanism for corporate members to report feedback on non-delivery by translators, and improved features for employee accounts.

Further down the road we plan to provide better risk management tools – especially for fraud prevention – as well as advanced vendor management features for recruiting, qualifying and managing service providers.

Several channels are used to learn about the needs of translation companies, including through the site’s support center. A survey is also being conducted in order for ProZ.com to better assess the needs of translation companies and learn how it can add value to Corporate membership. If you have not yet participated in this survey, please taking a few minutes to share your concerns and feedback.

Last but not least, I would like to open acorporate corner in this blog, and extend an invitation to all ProZ.com Corporate members to share their views on industry-related issues through a series of guest blog posts. If you are interested in contributing to this initiative, please reply in the comments section below.

Let’s all grow together!

Guest post by Paula Ribeiro: Interpreting the present to translate the future Reply

Today’s guest post was written by Paula Ribeiro – president and co-founder of the Portuguese Association of Translators and Interpreters (APTRAD). This organization will be holding its first international conference on June 18th and 19th in Porto, Portugal.


APTRAD, the Portuguese Association of Translators and Interpreters, was established in February 2015 by a group of freelance professionals in response to a perceived need for a modern, creative and innovative approach in order to achieve greater cohesion and exchange of information at a national level within the profession. After almost one year of hard work we are proud of achieving some of the important goals we initially set.

APTRAD’s motto – Interpreting the present to translate the future – reflects the Association’s aim to promote and foster the growth of its professional members, and to support the integration as professionals of all future translators and interpreters into the market.

Pursuing this thought, APTRAD is holding its first International Conference on June 18-19, 2016. Taking advantage of the main festivities of our city in that month, we will try our best to turn this event into a big party, welcoming all translators, interpreters and linguists in general to join us in our beloved hometown – Porto.

The theme of the conference will be “Stages in the career of a freelancer” and will tackle the different phases in the career of a professional freelance translator and/or interpreter and what’s expected and required at each stage. We will have renowned speakers who will certainly inspire all of us with their knowledge and experience in several areas of our profession.

The organisation of this event becomes much easier with the valuable help of our partners in which ProZ.com is included as an essential reference in the career of so many professionals. A big thank you on behalf of APTRAD.

Feel free to visit our website at www.aptrad.pt and more specifically the conference website at www.aptrad.pt/conference/conference and drop us a line if you need help from us. See you in Portugal, in June!


About Paula RibeiroPaul Ribeiro

Paula Ribeiro started translating in 1997, and since then she knew that this was the career she wanted to pursue! She graduated in 2006 with a Master’s Degree in Specialized Translation and Interpretation with English and French as her working languages, and later Spanish as her third language. She is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in Computer Assisted Translation.

In 2010, Paula decided to create her own company – Crossingwords – and to undertake translation and interpretation as her main occupation, always maintaining her education and training as a key part of her professional and personal development.

As an event organizer, Paula has planned several conferences on both a national and international scale, including the 2013 ProZ.com International Conference.

Since February 2015 Paula has been one of the founders and the President of APTRAD, the Portuguese Association of Translators and Interpreters, a formally constituted non-profit organisation based in Porto.


Did you know?

You can find APTRAD’s international conference listed on ProZ.com’s translation industry events calendar, along with dozens of other language and translation-related events that are scheduled to take place this year, ranging from workshops or seminars, to powwows, to regional events, to major international conferences.

See the announcement: http://www.proz.com/topic/298930

ProZ.com teams up with TM-Town Reply

proz_tmtown_merger_final (2)Since 2014, TM-Town creators Kevin Dias and Nate Hill have sought to provide translators with tools to better manage their linguistic assets and meet clients who are looking for language professionals in their specific areas of expertise. These kinds of services are at the core of ProZ.com’s mission statement to give translators the resources and opportunities to grow their businesses and improve their work. The ProZ.com team is happy to announce that as of April 13th, the site will be joining forces with TM-Town in the hopes of better serving translators. See the announcement »

On behalf of ProZ.com, I want to welcome Kevin and Nate to the ProZ.com community. TM-Town’s platform is constantly being improved and updated with better tools designed with language professionals in mind, and we are excited to see what will come next.

Welcome to the team, Kevin and Nate!

A silver bullet against translation scammers 1

Scammers who prey on translators will not go away. They operate under fake names, pretending to be clients, and cheat translators out of their work or money. The community has taken on the task of creating resources and sharing information about these scams with impressive results, creating an abundance of posts raising awareness about scams targeting translators. The oldest such article I could find dates back to January 2011, and since then they have multiplied. There are also discussion hubs like ProZ.com’s Scams forum in which information about scammers is shared on a daily basis. I think it is safe to say that creating content to fight this blight is a step that has been successfully taken.

As the manager of ProZ.com’s Translator scam alert center since 2011, I have been in touch with people that have fallen for scams for a long time. A pattern that stands out is that only those who are unaware of online scammers fall for scams. Knowledge of online scams and risk management procedures, in this case, works like a vaccine that makes the one exposed to it immune to scams. The knowledge is out there and it’s being shared, but not everyone may be exposed to helpful information in regards to spotting scammers.

No amount of posts about known scammers will prevent new scammers from finding new victims, but a solid method for risk management method may. I would like to propose the following steps as the silver bullet for risk management:

  1. If you are offered a job that does not make sense to you, does not match the service they offer, is below your rates, etc., simply dismiss it.
  2. If you are offered a job that you find interesting, ask for verifiable contact information.
  3. Once you receive verifiable contact information, check it until you are sure you know who you are dealing with.
  4. After that, check payment practices and other information (for instance in the ProZ.com Blue Board).

Anyone who fails any of these checks should be deemed too risky for collaboration. This doesn’t mean they are confirmed scammers, they are just too risky to consider doing business with them.


Have you ever been the victim of a translation-related scam? If so, what could you have done differently to prevent it?