Many freelance translators, particularly when they are just starting out, opt to create accounts on sites like Proz, Translators Café, and others. When I first started freelancing, I also opened Proz and Translators Café accounts. While some translators report success using these platforms, I have not once received a legitimate job offer through either of these sites. Depending on your goals and where you are in your freelance career, you may derive some utility from these platforms, but many translators will not. Here are some pros and cons of using these kinds of platforms:
1. Improve your chances of being found
Proz and TC directories have decent Google SEO rankings when you search for words like “[language] freelance translator.” Having a profile on those sites could therefore make you more searchable, and since setting one up is relatively easily, you may find it worthwhile to have at least a basic account.
A linkback is when a blog or webpage has a link back to another blog or webpage. If you have your own translation blog or website, using links on sites like Proz and TC that link back to your page can help improve your SEO and thus further increase your searchability.
For many people these days, a robust online presence is a synonym for credibility. You might not receive work through these sites, but if you are on them, it may make you appear more credible to potential clients. That said, read on for more a better way to build your credibility online.
4. Terminology forums
The only feature I use on Proz is its KudoZ Term Questions forum. It can be a good place to have a pesky term question answered or to browse previous research by other translators. Answers are graded and rated by the community, so the really bad stuff is usually filtered out. For me, FR>EN results are much more reliable than ZH>EN ones. If the answerer does not post a reference or the response doesn’t “feel” right, it probably isn’t. Proceed with caution, but there are sometimes gems to be found.
5. Vet potential clients
These sites can be a helpful way to share information about scammers and vet the credibility of potential clients.
If your email address is listed on these sites, you will inevitably receive some spam. You will also potentially receive messages generated by the sites’ internal messaging systems, which agencies can use to blast vendors in their desired language pairs. Make sure your settings are configured in such a way so that you only receive the messages you want.
Many of the features on these sites that are purported to be the most useful are behind a paywall (they have to make money somehow, right?). I have never paid for a subscription to either of these sites or any other site, nor do I intend to, but some users clearly find whatever is back there worth the cost or else where would be zero paid subscribers.
3. Limiting the clients that search for you
If Proz and TC are your only online presence, you will be severely limiting yourself. The buyers searching Proz and TC are not looking for expert translators and do not pay premium rates.
4. Lack of ownership
If the Proz or TC sites were to disappear tomorrow, say goodbye to the presence you’ve created. Do you want to run that risk?
1. Start your own website
With about as much effort as creating a Proz or TC profile, you can create a free website on a platform like WordPress or Wix. For a nominal fee (between $100-$150 a year) you can register a URL and get a basic, add-free website all to yourself. If you want to talk about building credibility online, an attractive and well-designed website can work wonders. Plus, you can track who visits your page, what links they click on, and offer a customized digital representation of your brand that you own.
Why limit yourself to a website solely for freelance translators? On LinkedIn, you are part of a directory of millions of professionals in hundreds of industries. The problem of ownership still exists, but your exposure will be greatly increased. If you are going to join an online directory just for translators, make it the directory of the official translators association in your country or region (ATA, ITI, etc.).
3. Start a blog or participate in someone else’s blog
Sure, everybody is blogging these days. But creating useful content for your colleagues and potential clients is a great way to get your voice out there, showcase your writing skills, and drive traffic to your website, which improves SEO.
What do you think about freelance translator websites like Proz, Translators Café, and others? Have you found them useful or useless? Leave a comment or tweet me at @Bentranslates.