Proz, Translators Café, and Other Freelance Translation Sites: Are They Worth It?

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.

2. Linkbacks
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.

3. Credibility
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.


1. Spam
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.

2. Upselling
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.

2. LinkedIn
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.


21 thoughts on “Proz, Translators Café, and Other Freelance Translation Sites: Are They Worth It?

  1. Pingback: Weekly translation favorites (Apr 28-May 4)

  2. Unfortunately, due to the way ProZ works (with ranking in search lists for translators based on membership and then on how many KudoZ points you have), it will benefit people like me, who have been on the site for years and back in the day answered loads of terminology questions, far more than newcomers. I agree, therefore, that paying for membership of ProZ might not be worth it for some people if they are new to the profession and work in a common language pair. The ranking system really does need tweaking and as I don’t spend much time on Proz now, I don’t know if this is in the pipeline.
    However, I disagree with your comments about the type of clients searching for translators on ProZ. Agencies working in the industry should certainly know what to expect, but, as you said, ProZ has good SEO rankings, which means direct clients (companies and individuals), who will probably not be aware of’s reputation, should be able to find you easily.
    I am one of those people who does still get new clients occasionally via ProZ and as membership now includes free access to all past webinars, I will probably renew when mine is due.


    • Thank you for your feedback, Nikki. I agree that Proz does work for some people and I have referred people to that site to find qualified translators (and interpreters) in their area (most recently a colleague looking for a Chinese interpreter in the Washington DC area). Back when I first started, I also tried participating in Kudoz forums to get points, but I stopped trawling the job boards and trying to be the first to respond to their automated placement emails because I wasn’t competing on the same basis as many of the other freelancers there. I’m glad to hear that you and others are deriving value from Proz and from their membership (after all, good webinars can be worth their weight in gold). I really appreciate you taking the time to read and to comment and look forward to continued exchange via our respective blogs and elsewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the info, David. Do you have a reference I could look up for that? I don’t want to promulgate incorrect information, but the research I did for the post indicated that Proz specifically was a good place for freelancers to improve their SEO through links. I would like to correct the information if it is incorrect and to cite a reputable source. Your help is appreciated!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting article! Proz and LinkedIn helped me build my current portfolio of clients. You can find my personal story of becoming a freelancer with steady workload in my blog:

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for the article. I am quite a newbie in freelance business, and I must say that Proz helped me a lot, as I found several good clients thanks to it. I think building your own site is a very good idea, but my actual work load doesn´t leave me any spare time for this.


    • Hi Nati, thanks for you comment. I’m glad you have found Proz useful. When I first started, I felt like I needed to take every project that came to my inbox that I was qualified for, and I didn’t spend nearly enough time on developing myself, my brand, or my business. The sooner new professionals in the industry can do that, the better. Carve at least an hour of two out each week to figure out how best to do that for you, whether it’s a website or something else. Good luck!

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Setting up your own website and/or LinkedIn profile may or may not work. If you are a good translator and you translate into English and your source language(s) comes from the FIGS (French, Italian, German, Spanish) languages, you will most likely find work quickly. Agencies do all the marketing for you, and they are fairly regulated by the Blueboard system. The way I see it, registering with ProZ is virtually a sure thing whereas going solos is full of maybes.


    • Thanks for your thoughts, James. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, perhaps? As I wrote in my post, I think registering on Proz is a great idea for freelance translators for several reasons but that I do not rely on Proz for finding freelance work. If you’ve had luck with it, that’s great!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. When I started my career as freelance translator a few years ago, I found my very first clients through Proz. And recently I have found the best two agencies I have ever worked for and who send me regular jobs, or better they found me as they contacted me after finding my Proz profile. No direct clients, but still it proved very useful for me.


  7. Nice post. i have only been a full-time translator for a few years, but I agree with you. They have their uses, especially the forums on usage, but I don’t really find quality work there and I would not pay for the up-sells.Your post really resonated with me, I signed up for the newsletter and look forward to more of your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Ben, so I am new to this freelance world. After working 20+ years for multinationals and being an entrepeneur in the wholesale market (the company still runs, but I frankly don´t like that job) , I decided that I would pursue what I love the most: languages. I was lucky that, via networking, I found my first job. But now I am bursting my mind thinking on how to continue growing. I registered at upwork and proZ, but haven´t paid yet the premium membership. From your point of view, should I do that )pay for the premium membership). I am willing to do it, although expensive for me (I am in venezuela). Thanks a lot in advance!.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Gabriel, I’m afraid I cannot tell you whether or not you should purchase a subscription to any particular site. It sounds like you’re familiar with cost/benefit analyses so that’s something you’ll need to figure out on your own based on your budget. A lot of people have responded to this post saying that Proz has been a great resource for them, whereas some people (myself included) have never generated a successful lead on the site. I think figuring out the best way to reach your ideal customers will be the most beneficial thing for you to do. Best of luck and thank you for subscribing!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks a lot, Ben!. Probably, what I am looking for is some more translation opportunities, more frequent or continuous; so I get onboard and motivated more quickly. But I will think about what to do, I certainly will take your recommendation into account. Cheers!.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Reverse auction websites make you work at a loss and only attract bottom feeders.’s basic features like the Blue Board can be accessed without even registering. So I strongly recommend NOT to give a penny to the CROOKS (amateur, untrained translators with little translation experience) who created those platforms, that have contributing to decreasing agency-to-freelance translators’ fees by 30% (thirty percent) over the last 15 years or so, all the more that they participate in the publicity for the extortion tools re-christened “computer-aided translation” tools.

    Please note that crooks that have been banned from posting on then try their luck on Translators Café, which offers less security. So TC is much worse still than Proz.

    And those who have been somehow blocked from TC try their luck on Translation Directory, which is by far the worst of those translation platforms.

    The only way out of the middlemen’s hell (99.99% of them being incompetent crooks, only interested in their profit margin and couldn’t care less if you die of hunger) is to find your own DIRECT CUSTOMERS.

    There are plenty of online databases of direct email addresses to Communication managers, HR managers, company directors and their executive secretaries.

    Use your website coupled with Twitter and your LinkedIn profile for Inbound Marketing (attracting customers to you) and email/call/visit potential customers (Outbound Marketing).

    By calling them, you will be invaluable feedback on how they see the present translation market. This way you can present yourself as being ‘different’ thus ‘better’ than your competitors.

    Middlemen disinform our customers about translators’ productivity (UNO’s norm is 1,650 words per day, any higher figure entails evening work: let them know!).

    Middlemen disinform our customers about CAT tools and just repeat SDL’s advertising that “now translators translate faster and better at a lower price” with their torture tool which in fact slows us down on top of decreasing quality.

    SDL marketing director even admitted that Trados had only been designed for TECHNICAL translation. Yet their product is polluting the translation market.

    CAT tools only give the IMPRESSION of having a translation ENVIRONMENT. But they are much much much slower than just using MS Word with AutoCorrect, which allows for very quick terminology encoding, contrary to CAT tools’ termbases.

    CAT tools have been designed by NON-TRANSLATORS with the sole and only purpose of increasing middlemen’s profit margin. The rest is deceitful sales pitches, just copied as such on most middlemen’s websites, who themselves don’t have clue since they never translated a single line of text in their miserable salespeople’s lives. They think they know, but they don’t.

    I even had to have a Ukrainian middleman delete from their website the sentence pretending that “most of the time, translators translate at the speed of typing”!

    Anyway, there are clearly two translation markets:

    – that of untrained, amateur translators (and some junior, trained translators) who slave away for bottom feeders;

    – and that of trained and experienced translators, who end up looking for their own direct clients because the world of middlemen (and platforms) has become hell since the advent of the Internet and millions of “agencies” sprouting like mushrooms under the Internet rain (I call them ‘2.0 mushrooms’, those “agencies” created after the year 2000).

    You choose which side you want to be on…

    You might want to also regularly read those two well-known blogs by seasoned translators:

    1. :

    Steve Vitek has been a ‘hybrid’ patent translator for over 30 years now, meaning he contracts out about 30% of his yearly sales figure and only works for direct clients.

    More at

    Useful posts:

    Cf “I make on average about a hundred dollars an hour when I translate, and about three hundred dollars an hour when I proofread translations done by other translators for me”.

    See links to related subjects at the bottom of his posts.


    re. Proz, which he naively and foolishly contributed to launch, for free, until the rrruuules caught up with him :

    He is an advocate of the memoQ CAT tool, he even wrote a book about tips & tricks about using it to its full capacity.

    Let’s say that Kilgray people are much nice than SDL psychopaths, but the concept remains basically the same, with a few minor differences. It is an extortion tool. And Trados termbases cannot be entirely imported. Years of work lost. Forget it.

    I am against ALL CAT tools, under their present form. They do not “aid”. This is a pure LIE…

    You might also want to chase DIRECT CLIENTS via:

    Good luck.

    I don’t want to hear about CAT tools, middlemen and platforms – ever!

    This is NOT a professional way of working.

    Leave that to amateur translators, housewives who make a buck after hours from their kitchen table…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isabelle,

      Thank you for your long response. I think there are several blog topics embedded in that response, for sure! You make many valid points, which I most appreciate. I must, however, respectfully agree to disagree on the use of CAT tools. They are, in my view, an incredible way to increase the efficiency, speed, and quality of my work. I do not feel that all CAT tools are created equal and that there is one that works better for me where the price/quality ratio is good and the value it helps me add to my projects far outweighs the cost or time investment needed to learn to use it properly. That said, if you haven’t found it necessary to use one, that’s fine, too. Thank you for taking the time to read and to comment. Happy Holidays!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I translate a million times faster using MS Word with Autocorrect (macros, under Tools) as a terminological database and typing accelerator than with SDL Trados Studio 2009, 2011 or 2017. Are you talking about memoQ? I have downloaded the previous trial version and started following the demonstration video, then quit when I realised it was exactly the same basic concept, which considerably slows you down on top of reducing quality – the quality diminution is a widely recognised fact, even SDL admits their ‘tool” was only created for technical translation (because they are no translators, just crooks tryin” to make a buck on a deregulated profession). When you have to encode each target term individually in your CAT tool’s termbase, it takes FOREVER. When your CAT tool is coupled with machine translation, instead of accelerating it also considerably slows you down, because the normal and unavoidable reaction is to correct the corpus so that future results will be better (SDL even makes you pay for accessing their corpus: they know how to suck every little eurocent out of a profession that has always been known for having modest revenues, so the business model those crooks have launched on the translation market is both immoral and unfeasible: it is IMPOSSIBLE to earn a living with such a model). Translators who have never used Autocorrect with MS Word (an old sworn translator’s trick) have the IMPRESSION of having a translation ENVIRONMENT with a CAT tool. And naively get impressed when the machine spots full segment repetitions. But fuzzy match rebates are totally dishonest since there is NO TIME GAIN. NO STUDY HAS EVER PROVEN THAT THERE WAS ANY TIME GAIN WITH A CAT TOOL. The translation profession is deregulated (except for sworn translation), so you only have to surf on “translation” platforms like Translators Café to see the number of profound idiots (and mentally ill people) who troll as online “translators”, like Timothy Watts, who was asking online help for… translating into French a French song that had been translated into English (and he KNEW it was a Noir Désir song!!). Yet those non-translators who pollute OURRR market act as if they were important and dare to tell professionally trained translators what to do. All that encouraged by the local psychopaths… who are only impressing the untrained translators who proliferate on that kind of “translation” platform… That kind of “translation” platform considers online “translators” as slaves, not as clients even if you pay their subscription. They are on the side of our abusers, i.e. middlemen. They promote the torture and extortion tools that crooks are selling via their websites, pretending, like on Proz, that “you might not get enough work if you don’t buy a CAT tool, preferably several”. Plus it’s ILLEGAL for customers to impose the use of ANY TOOL to freelancers. It’s all the more ILLEGAL for them to impose rates and rebates. The whole CAT TOOL BUSINESS MODEL IS TOTALLY ILLEGAL and I really wish that governments would at last put some law and order in the translation market: crooked platforms, crooked middlemen, crooked software producers. Taking advantage of usually very little educated bilinguals. A diploma in translation is NOTHING: just learning about 3 languages, translation and a varnish of general culture, which is why I obtained a second master’s degree. Most translators are BRAIN-LESS. Profound IMBECILES…. There is NO OTHER PROFESSION in which customers dare imposing working tools so that they can impose rebates… and make independant workers work at a loss… Only the profound IMBECILES that plague this profession make such a HELL happen… This is the main challenge about surviving on the translation market: being surrounded by thousands of PROFOUND IDIOTS. Brainless stuff. Like translating back into French a French song (and asking online help for it!). You see? I talk to you because you are one of the very rare persons on this market that sounds intelligent. But even Kevin Lossner, who has been promoting memoQ for years and even wrote a book about it and is at the source of the shift from Trados to memoQ, was naive enough to benevolently participate in the launch of the “translation” platform, which was a TOTAL disaster at the beginning because the owner and staff are no professionals of the translation world, just amateurs. The site was rapidly populated by amateur bilinguals that agencies couldn’t use. The staff’s attitude towards translators is disastrous, they treat us all like shit, whether we are professionally trained translators, with two master’s degrees and all, or just bilingual housewives tryin’ to make a buck from their kitchen-based laptop… Anyway, have a nice day and enjoy your memoQ torture and extortion tool (if that’s what you are using)… 🙂


  11. Pingback: How I first got started as a freelance translator: finding work

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