Many freelance translators want to know how to find more and/or better clients. That is the most common question I receive. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or solution, but I think there are two important ingredients for succeeding in finding clients:
- Your mindset
- Hard work
What do I mean by mindset?
We need to believe in success and in our own value, we need to have a mindset of success. How can we nurture a success mindset?
Stop complaining about everyone and everything, from low rates and bad clients to weird colleagues, and start focusing on how you can develop your business and get better rates and better clients. Don’t spread negativity around you. This only attracts negative people, and these aren’t the kind of people that are good for you or your business.
Instead, make a point of expanding your network and seek out positive, proactive people who inspire you. If you want to create a successful business, mix with like-minded entrepreneurs. If you can’t find them where you live or among the people you spend most of your time with, look for them online. Some examples of where to find them are podcasts, courses, and blogs.
You can have great skills in translation, language, and networking, but if you don’t believe in yourself and your success, you most likely won’t achieve it.
Here are some mindsets to change or avoid to create more successful marketing and get more clients.
1. Thinking that selling is bad
Instead of thinking that selling is bad, try to change your thinking. Instead of thinking that you are selling, think that you are offering solutions that people need. You are not forcing anything on anyone, you are helping them solve problems.
2. Not believing in your value
We also have to understand our value – What value do we bring to our clients? What sets us apart from other translators? Clarity about the solution we offer for our clients and customers is essential to appreciate and recognize our value. Go beyond the tools, processes, and systems that help you to bring about the solution, and focus on the outcome/benefits your clients and customers experience as a result of working with you!
3. Staying in your comfort zone
Your comfort zone is never your growth zone. So, as a translator, you have to push yourself to grow. Try something new and uncomfortable. If you’ve never had a translator website, maybe it’s time to get one. Maybe you’ve only worked with agencies until now. Go out and find some direct clients. It’ll be uncomfortable at first because it’s something you haven’t done. Once you do it, and do it more, pretty soon you’ll feel more comfortable doing it, and it will be a great addition to your translation business.
What do I mean by hard work?
The other great ingredient for finding new and better client is hard work. If you think that the strategy or method you are attempting seems easy, it’s probably too easy to be successful. For example, if you buy a mass emailing list of clients and send out a standardized email with your standardized resume to everyone on that list, perhaps even starting the email with “Dear sir/madam”, the results will likely be poor.
To get good results, you have to put in the effort. It is OK to get a list of contacts to start with, but then you have to do the research. Look up each agency or direct client online. Do they have a website? Do they have a good reputation? Do they pay on time? Who are their clients? Once you have checked that the company is legit, you can start narrowing down your search. Does this company need the services you offer? If it is an agency, do they work with your language combination and your specialization? If it is a direct client, do they do business with the countries where your target language is used? Do they do business in your area of specialization? Do they have a need for your services?
Once you have established a need, you can create a personalized email or letter to them, if you want to contact them directly. If it is a direct client you might opt to get to know them through local networking or online networking first.
Remember that 10 applications are not enough. You need to send hundreds of applications before you will get enough clients to support a sustainable business. When it comes to prospecting direct clients, you also need to set aside time and money to go to networking events. The networking events are also the first step in that type of sales process. It can take 7-12 points of “contact” before someone is ready to buy. Your job is to get to know them, and to get them to like know and trust you.
Now, if you are like me, you might think that you simply don’t have the time. There has been many times when my intention to market has been put on the back burner due to work, but with time, I have learned that a little bit goes a long way. We can’t complain that we do not have enough clients if we do not take the time to try and reach them. Make a plan, set aside some time every day or every week to work on your marketing. It will pay off long term. Don’t get discouraged by no response or negative responses. To borrow a line from sales gurus “Remember that every no brings you closer to a yes.” If you have been using a technique for a long time and you do not see results, tweak it or use some other technique. Switch from emailing to prospecting on LinkedIn, or from local networking to online networking, or any combination of these.
In my opinion, these are two very important ingredients to find more or better clients. What do you think? Do you agree?
Here are some more resources on the topic:
One of the biggest challenges that any business faces is how to find and attract clients. You cannot help people or attract clients if they do not know your business exists. Sounds simple, but you would be surprised at just how many translators struggle to show up on their ideal clients’ radar. In order to show up, we need to market ourselves. In this article I talk about the basic marketing tools for freelance translators and interpreters, plus what I call magnetic marketing tools, with which we can make clients come to us, instead of we contacting them.
The basic marketing tools are:
- Cover letter
- Business card
Though the resume may sound like an antique marketing tool, it is still quite important and chances are that many agency clients will ask you to send one in. You will also need to upload your resume to a variety of online databases including directories, websites. It is the easiest way for clients to evaluate your skills and today more and more people rely on online profiles to help them make hires.
Direct clients (end clients), on the other hand, are usually not interested in resumes. They are likely to search for freelance translators online, or find you through networking, or direct marketing of some kind. They are more interested in your website or brochure, which should provide them with the same information regarding your background and skills, but presented in a different format.
Here are some reasons why prospective translation clients might ask you for a resume/CV. Your resume:
- Facilitates the decision process
- Presents your qualifications in a familiar, professional format
- May be required for quality processes or procedures
A resume/CV is usually accompanied by a cover letter, which is a one-page introduction to the resume that follows. If you are applying to an agency or company directly via e-mail, you should include a proper cover letter. It should be concise, but it should still resemble more an actual letter you’d send via snail mail than an elevator speech. The difference is that rather than attaching the letter in a PDF format, you simply write it in the body of the email.
Even if your business is conducted primarily online, you don’t want to be caught without a business card on hand. Networking opportunities tend to happen when you least expect them and you never know when you will stumble upon someone who could potentially benefit from your translation services.
These were the basic ingredients. Now let’s talk about marketing tools that you use to attract clients, making them find you, instead of the other way around. That is why I call them magnetic. These tools will help you make potential clients more aware of you and the services you provide. With these tools you can also inform and educate them, creating a relationship that can make them know, like and trust you.
The magnetic marketing tools are:
- Social media
- Referrals and testimonials
One of my favorite magnetic marketing tool is a website, which should be the hub for all your marketing efforts. It’s the place you want potential clients or current clients to go for more information or to take action. A website is one of the best ways to maximize your online marketing and presence. When we want to find something these days, what do we do? We Google it! Make sure your potential clients can easily find information about your professional translation services by having an optimized website and a strong online presence.
Do freelance translators and intepreters need to use social media? Quite frankly, social media marketing can either be a phenomenal waste of time or it can be an excellent source of contacts and insights, depending on how you use it. I see social media as a great tool for freelance translators to connect with colleagues and potential clients, and it is totally free. All it requires is time.
Social media networks offer a variety of business benefits, such as:
- Give you direct access to decision makers in your target industries
- Increase your exposure and build your online reputation as an expert
- Improve your visibility and SEO
- Give you an opportunity to expand into new business areas
- Help you network with colleagues and clients all over the world
- Stay informed about industry news and trends
Don’t feel that you have to dive into social media and create 50 profiles overnight. In the game of social networks, strategy wins out every time. Take a moment early on to determine what you hope to gain from using social media. By establishing a clear goal from the very beginning, you will be able to identify the tools and actions that will help you achieve your aims. Are you hoping to find new client leads, and if so, what kind of clients would you most like to work with? Are you hoping to build relationships with other translators who you can collaborate with, and if so, who are they? Or, would you just like an efficient way to share and gather information online?
Once you have identified and clarified what you would like to get out of social media, every subsequent action becomes much easier to take. Knowing your ideal outcome will help you identify which platforms to use, what content to post, who to connect with, and how to measure your impact.
There are literally thousands of social media networks available for business owners to choose from, so it’s no wonder that many entrepreneurs find the options overwhelming. Though the most popular social media tools vary greatly from country to country, I recommend looking into the following networks and considering how they can be useful for your business:
This business-oriented social network is a powerful resource for connecting with other businesses, translators, and for recruiting new hires.
In 140 characters or less, Twitter allows you to upload timely news and updates to followers in your network.
Perhaps the world’s most popular social network, Facebook allows a forum for multimedia, long-form postings. On Facebook you can have both a personal profile and a business page.
Google’s social network is steadily gaining ground and allows you to connect with clients as they search online, all the while boosting your SEO.
Referrals and testimonials
Referrals and testimonials are among the most powerful marketing tools you can put to use for your translation services. Testimonials (written statements from customers) are a great marketing tool because they give past customers the opportunity to tell potential customers what they found most beneficial about you and your services. An endorsement from a third party gives you and your business the credibility you need to build a larger client base. In essence, they get a chance to do the marketing for you. Use testimonials in marketing by gathering praise from current customers and sharing that information in a variety of ways.
To get the word out about your business and your expertise, you can use publicity to help gain positioning within the marketplace. Publicity is something someone else writes or says about you and your company when you do something noteworthy and interesting. There are many business benefits from good publicity, but the most important is that it is much more effective than advertising when it comes to visibility.
Here are ways to create publicity about your services:
- Write articles for publications and other blogs
- Write and publish press releases
- Speak at local or national events such as conferences, chamber of commerce meetings etc.
This was an overview, or a short summary, of the marketing tools you can use to make your ideal clients aware of your company and the services you offer. More in-depth information about these tools and how to use them can be found in The Marketing Cookbook for Translators. You can also subscribe to the monthly newsletter for more marketing tips for freelance linguists and FREE monthly checklists to follow.
When you work as a freelance professional translator, it’s up to you to do your own marketing. Do it well and you could have a constant stream of clients clamoring for your services. Do it badly and you can waste time, effort and money (as you could have spent that time translating and thus earning). A poor approach to marketing can also leave you feeling demoralized as your efforts are not paying off.
Marketing activities don’t come naturally to everyone. For some people, the thought of picking up the phone and cold-calling potential clients fills them with dread. For others, it is the systematic tracking and analysis of different marketing approaches to find out what works best that they find off-putting. And others are lacking in the confidence and/or knowledge to market themselves appropriately through social media.
The good news is that you can build a bespoke marketing plan that plays to your strengths when it comes to telling the world about your services. Marketing is a professional skill that can be learned, so take the time to do a bit of research online and find out about it. You can start here with these practical tips for translators who want to up their game when it comes to marketing.
Marketing for freelance translators
Little and often is a great approach with marketing. Build yourself a basic marketing plan and divide the activities into manageable chunks, from emailing former clients to joining online forums and approaching new contacts through social media. Task yourself with completing a set number of activities per day or per week, depending on how urgent your need to find more work is.
It’s a great idea to tackle marketing activities as soon as you start work for the day, particularly if marketing is something that you don’t enjoy. That way, by the time you start translating, you can relax and enjoy your work without the marketing work still hanging over your head. Completing marketing tasks first thing also avoids that, “but I’m too busy to do marketing today,” moment as the end of the working day approaches.
Reaching out to people first thing in the morning also means that potential new clients have the whole day to respond and interact with you. Catch them first thing and they can review your email while drinking their morning coffee. Contact them when they’re rushing to get out of the office at the end of the day and you could well end up in their ‘deleted items’ folder within seconds.
While the particular range of activities that you undertake is very much up to you, don’t underestimate the value of reaching out to former clients when undertaking your marketing work. If you’ve translated for someone before and done a great job, then why not contact them with a special offer? It might just make the difference between them using you and them using one of your competitors. Even if they’ve got nothing that needs translating at present, it puts you back in mind for the moment that they have.
Above all, remember that marketing is a means to an end – if you take the time to do it well and make it an integral part of your daily or weekly routine, the result will be more clients coming to you with the kind of work you love – translating!
Louise Taylor is the content manager of Tomedes and she writes content on the Tomedes Blog as well as other sections on the website.
Twitter is said to be one of the best social media platforms to reach a wide target market because it enables a person to communicate with many people around the world via their network. Some businesses even avail of social media account management services from marketing firms to reach their goals. For those who are interested in Twitter marketing, here are a few excellent tools that you should keep in mind.
Hootsuite is one of the most useful Twitter marketing tools ever made. Hootsuite allows you to monitor multiple Twitter accounts simultaneously and enables you to reply to Tweets and make posts for each account. This is especially useful if your company has more than one Twitter account, and you are tasked to monitor all the activities of these accounts every day. Fortunately, Hootsuite can do this task for you.
Buffer is used to help you schedule your Tweets correctly so that you can plan in advance the Tweets that you’d like to post for the week or even for the whole month. This tool is best for community managers who are scouting for the perfect social media account management services that will help them plan their posts ahead of time. Most community managers plan one month in advance while others plan ahead on a weekly basis. Buffer will help you plan those Tweets systematically so that you can be more organized.
As a community manager or social media specialist, it is your job to handle every engagement that happens in your Twitter account. You need to monitor the number of replies, retweets, and other types of engagements that your Tweets have per account. Cotweet is the perfect tool for this as it includes some analytics to help you visualize the performance of your Tweets through graphs and charts. However, the free version is rather limited, so you may have to pay some cash to get the paid version which has the complete features.
Twitonomy is a tool that will let you monitor the Tweets of any business out there; this includes the hashtags, Tweets, or Retweets. It is ideal for monitoring your competitors and seeing how you’ll be able to fare against them. Through this information, you will also be able to know how you’re going to position your Twitter marketing strategy.
Twitter marketing has become quite a big thing these days since Twitter is a primary platform in the world of social media marketing. Furthermore, Twitter offers efficient and useful social media account management services (with the help of these tools) for those who want to manage their multiple accounts with ease. Since Twitter is undeniably one of the most useful tools in digital marketing, it is only just to use nothing but the best tools to help you carry out your goal– to increase your number of leads through social media marketing strategies.
Keep these tools in mind, and learn the techniques on how to actively use them to your advantage. If you can do this, then you are on your way to a successful Twitter marketing campaign.
Andy Thompson has been a freelance writer for a long while. Her passion in writing is her main drive in crafting articles that are engaging, informative, and meaningful. Her partnership with Troop Social has given her a whole new opportunity to take writing to a whole new level.