ProZ.com is a networking site for translators. It can be used to find new clients, apply for jobs, ask terminology questions, and much more. It can be a great resource for freelance translators and interpreters, especially if you are willing to pay for membership, but there are also some pitfalls to be avoided. This blog post offers some tips from my personal experience of using the site as a paying member.
I joined ProZ.com about four years ago, and started paying for membership about three years ago. The site has been a great resource for me as a number of my clients have come through this channel. Clients, usually agencies, can search for freelance translators in the site’s database once a profile has been set up and the freelancer’s basic information has been entered, e.g. language pair and specialisms. As many ProZ.com representatives will tell you (as I’ve learnt from attending their webinars): most of the jobs offered to freelancers come about by the client/agency searching the translator and interpreter directories and reviewing profiles. So my first tip of this blog post is: keep your ProZ.com profile up to date.
ProZ.com features a terminology database: KudoZ. Answering questions on KudoZ also helps to improve your ranking in the directories: the more KudoZ points you have, the higher up in the rankings you will be placed. So if you feel confident that you can suggest an appropriate term, propose an answer. Be prepared to back up your suggestion with references and links as well.
If a term comes up in your translation and you can’t find a target equivalent for it, KudoZ is a Mecca for obscure and/or technical terms. Be sure to use the “Term search” function to look for the term before you ask a terminology question – answerers don’t like it if they find a similar entry in the database already (and who can blame them?). Once this search returns no results and you decide to ask a terminology question on KudoZ, try to provide as much information as you can about the term without breaking confidentiality rules: a couple of sentences of the source text to give context (redacting any client-specific information and personal data), the target audience, and intended use of the text can come in very handy for someone trying to help you.
When starting to collaborate with an agency, the ProZ.com Blue Board is a great source of information. Enter the agency’s name, and a rating between 1 and 5 (1 being “do not waste your time” and 5 being “no qualms”) appears with brief feedback from translators. Always check this rating before taking work from a new source: it may save you time and stress if it turns out your new favourite client is a non-payer. However, these ratings should sometimes be taken with a pinch of salt. Sometimes you see a page full of excellent ratings, but the company turns out to be a low payer, or sometimes you’ll find the odd bad rating that was just a one-off.
The site also has a rating system for freelancers called the Willingness to Work Again (WWA) rating. Here, potential clients can see feedback from some of your clients. It is shown on your freelancer profile, so potential clients will be able to see the number of positive/negative entries. They will also be able to see more detailed feedback if they click on the WWA’s hyperlink. This is a great way to showcase your strengths, and to attract new clients. So request feedback from as many sources as possible.
This blog has presented you with some tips that focus on the more positive aspects of ProZ.com. Stay tuned for part two, which offers some advice on the more negative aspects of the site.
Are you a translator who has used ProZ.com? Do you have anything to add?