I've been lurking here for a while, but only reading about other people's cases, so I thought it would be a good thing to take the plunge and ask for your advice.
I'm a freelance translator and I translate from English to French. I specialize in medical and IT. I've been doing this for a little more than two years now. I did various kinds of contracts through agencies here and there. Many times I felt like I was paid peanuts for my work because, among other things, I was pitched against people with low wage expectations (i.e. cheap labor), and often without much experience in the field.
Now, I'm trying to change gear, and get meatier contracts, and if possible, ones that last longer. I don't know if it's possible or reasonable, though. Until now, I have only done one-shot deals. Some company needs a specific document/software to be translated, and after that, it's done, I'm back on the hunt for another piece of work to translate.
Are there any methods to reach companies efficiently? Most of the time, companies don't openly display their email addresses on their web sites, for many good reasons, including spam. I feel like using the on-site form is kind of "doing like everyone else" and will likely be read by someone who doesn't know about my services, nor how the company could need it.
How can I reach the correct person that will be receptive to my offer? Who should I address at the beginning of my offer? Is it okay to use "to whom it may concern"?
Should I present myself as "I" or as a company name? Should I use "we", even though I'm only one individual?
I thought about using email, because of all its obvious advantages (efficient, instant, no hassle), but would it be a good idea to send my offer on paper? Or maybe both email and paper?
Is it a good idea to try to address the CEO/President directly, and use his/her name in the greeting? If I don't know exactly who is in charge of translation, if any, I'd rather aim too high than too low.
Would it be a good idea to make a cold phone call? Or should I wait until after a few days past my initial offer? Or forget the phone altogether?
Should I pitch everything at once or approach with multiple communications? I have read in a few places that it can be a good thing to make an initial offer that is short, but to the point, and then make a follow-up. But if it's not detailed enough, the prospect may miss many details that could make the difference.
Should I propose to meet in person as soon as possible?
Sorry for the bombardment of questions. I want to look as professional as I can on the first contact, but maybe I'm being a little too picky. Thanks in advance for your advice...