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.
In this episode I discuss how to use public speaking in our freelance business. As a member of Toastmasters, I know how important it is to be a good public speaker in many situations, and I am constantly working on it. In this episode I interview a conference interpreter, speaker, writer and researcher from the UK. He is talking about how we can use public speaking in our business.
Important things covered in this episode
- How to prepare, rehearse and present talks
- The 4 C’s of public speaking
- What to think of when presenting our services to a potential client
- How to prepare a 10 minute speech to our prospective clients
- How to create a connection with prospects
Important links mentioned in this episode:
- Jonathan Downie’s website
- Troublesome Terps podcast and also available here
- Successful Interpreter – Adding Value and Delivering Excellence
- Jonathan Downie on Twitter
- Jonathan’s posts on LinkedIn
Being comfortable speaking to our clients and the public gives a professional impression. This can help us market our services more efficiently. The same tips as in public speaking are also valid for marketing; know your audience, know your material, practice, gain experience and focus on the message. Don’t forget to take a minute to leave us a tip by entering a short sentence review on iTunes or Stitcher. Thank you so much for listening. I hope you found it valuable.
Jonathan Downie is a conference interpreter, speaker, writer, and researcher based in Edinburgh, Scotland. He interprets in both directions between French and English at meetings ranging from product launches to board meetings and recently completed a PhD on expectations of interpreters in churches. His first book, Being a Successful Interpreter: Adding Value and Delivering Excellence is due out in mid-May and is available from all good bookstores and direct from Routledge.
A special thanks to Catherine Metcalfe for editing the show notes.
This podcast is sponsored by:
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I’ve found LinkedIn to be the most important social media tool for freelance translators looking to boost their businesses. LinkedIn is the online version of your resume, but it can do so much more than that. Think of it as your online narrative, your reputation, somewhere you can demonstrate the value you bring to your clients. There are hundreds of clients and networking opportunities available on LinkedIn every single day and many of them are available entirely free of charge.
I have personally received clients and referrals from LinkedIn and I want to share some quick tips on how to optimize your experience there, all for free.
You’ll be able to fill in your contact information, professional experience, education history, and a variety of other fields. Be sure to include a professional-looking profile picture (preferably a headshot with a friendly smile). Don’t use your company logo in place of a portrait. People want to see you – the person behind the business! Use your headline and profile summary to briefly describe what you do. Craft a powerful title for your LinkedIn profile, for example, Helping UK law firms and financial service companies communicate in German.
Unless someone clicks on your full profile, your name and title are the only things visible on LinkedIn lists, such as the list “People also viewed” and “People you may know” as well as when you accept someone’s invite to connect. Use strong keywords such as English into Swedish translator or French medical translator. Remember to fill in as many available profile fields as possible, including links to your website or blog. The more complete your profile, the more likely you are to be perceived as an expert. Proofread your work thoroughly and click to publish!
One of LinkedIn’s best functions is the search function. You can search for prospects, colleagues and contacts to connect with and then save the search. Later you’ll be notified about anyone else who also fits your search criteria.
Groups are the second best feature.
Follow prospects to keep abreast of changes, comments and updates. You can follow people in groups without being connected to them. People that find clients through LinkedIn are usually heavily involved in a few select groups. Ask and answer questions, share resources and start conversations.
- Join a group as a way to start conversations with people who could benefit from your services
- Review targeted prospect profiles to discover which groups to participate in.
- Analyze prospects group participation to look for ways to connect
- Provide value by contributing to relevant discussions without expecting immediate returns.
When you find people you want to connect with, take a minute to write a personal invitation to connect.
Ask for recommendations.
Another great feature with LinkedIn is that people can publish endorsements about you and your work, which is a great way to demonstrate your worth to prospective clients. Though it may feel awkward at first, don’t be afraid to request a recommendation from a past colleague or client if you think you did a good job for that person. However, I do not recommend sending the standard recommendation-request message in an effort to prompt responses. Take a moment to edit the message and make it specific to the work you did. You may even mention that as a freelancer, you rely on positive testimonials in order to grow your business. Also mention how much you enjoyed working with the client and that you would be happy to provide a positive recommendation in return for the client’s time.
Post status updates.
These updates appear on the homepage feeds of people connected to you. As always, keep your posts work-related and professional. However, you don’t have to be salesy or stuffy. It’s still perfectly respectable to have a personality, just don’t sacrifice credibility for creativity. Be yourself and add links to interesting articles that are relevant to your audience, projects you’re working on (as long as they’re not confidential), or repost updates from your connections if you think the extra publicity would help them.
The possibilities for LinkedIn are endless and these are just a few tips. I encourage you to schedule some time on LinkedIn every week and linking, commenting, and sharing updates that you think your network would find interesting. It only takes a minute, and your connections will soon see you as a trusted source of great information.