Before going with guns blazing into social media and advertising through pay per click ads, you need to understand the core pains of your potential clients. See what works, and what doesn’t.
Ditch corporate language
Linguists will be tempted by fancy vocabulary and complex sentences. It’ll prove your competence, right? Wrong. The main focus of your marketing message should be to fix the problem, not show how smart you are.
Don’t say this, or you’ll end up like this Weird Al’s pastiche:
- Provide high quality translation in a fast paced environment.
- Leverage cloud technology to maximize efficiency of projects.
- Holistic approach to excellence in deliverables.
- Maintain brand trajectory by proven methodology.
Do say things relevant and simple:
- Provide translations within the agreed deadline.
- Working with latest software to improve quality of translations.
- Discuss the finer details with clients before translating.
- Understand your client’s branding values and nuances of carrying them over to foreign languages.
Know your competitors
There are tens of thousands professional freelance translators out there. Then there are well funded translation agencies with hired communications professionals. There’s really no point in showcasing that you can translate, because dozens of people can do it cheaper and faster than you.
The hope lies in what businesses call “product/market fit”. You see, since clients can easily find translation services, they will tend to browse looking for an optimal offer. Those will most likely be all the same: quality, cost-effective, fast and client oriented. On a rare day they’ll find one where a translator is specializing in complex areas: healthcare, nuclear technology or astrophysics. But commitment to quality and a niche specialization are not a guarantee of marketing success. Why?
Your competitors are really good at positioning. Search engine optimization paired with the aforementioned communication specialists results in agencies creating content about relevant specialization. Even if they don’t provide the competence, nothing stops them from writing about medical, automotive, dietary, scientific, engineering and any other translation. I’m not saying our team doesn’t have that competence (we do, just check our other translators here), but it’s as easy as that.
Focus on the real problem
What your clients may not be realizing yet, is the fact that they are in big trouble when it comes to translation. Think about it: nearly every company has a website nowadays. They have mobile apps, micro-services given free of charge to get more clients, blog content and of course their core product, well documented, too. Top that off with packaging, instructions, promotional materials for fairs and regular marketing, and that amounts to a LOT of content that can be internationalized.
Consistency and consolidation of all that text within the company’s branding framework can be maintained by a manager of course, but what about translation? I can’t imagine delegating someone to copy and paste bits and pieces of that content ad-hoc to submit for translation. What if they’re in an industry that’s highly sensitive to legal requirements? If they need ISO compliance or are afflicted by variable legal issues in countries they do business in, that will impact their translation needs heavily.
How do YOU fit into all of this? In the end your goal is to translate. But to attract a client, you should first display understanding of the position they’re in. So what if you have a $1000 app that makes YOUR work easier. They want THEIR work easier. The fact that you can provide world-class quality is inherent to their expectation. Emphasizing that just makes you seem like a show-off. And the portfolio: do you really want to list SpaceX and NASA, even though all you did is translated a one-page doc about a screw they both use in their launch pad?
Your client WANTS to know how you soothe their pain with delivering content for you to translate. This is true for one-off projects and repetitive (which in most cases is the result of a successful one-off) operations. Simply put: the work you do on its own won’t cut it when it comes to new business acquisition.
Should you partner with an agency then?
An agency to a translator is like a manager to a rock star. They are profit oriented, and you are the means of generating that profit. They can acquire new business all day long, but without your skills, they can’t do a thing with that opportunity. On the other hand, they help you with actually getting some work.
Here’s the issue: they’re all the same! Clients don’t see any value in working with an agency but they do it simply because they don’t have an alternative. So you join them. What’s in it for you? A bottom-rock word rate which you cannot even negotiate. Maybe a voucher for some CAT tool that’s unbearable to use (but you learned it already so the loss aversion bias will whisper to you that it is, in fact, useful and you’re so much better with it). Maybe the agency’s brand to support your credibility.
Then there’s the contract: a non-compete agreement which actually prohibits you from working with the agency’s client directly, obligatory use of the horrendous tool they get paid for to sell to you on a discount. Do you even call yourself a freelancer at this point?
Become a Text United Translator
So, instead of all that, just get Text United and make the world a better place. Seriously, there’s no other system out there today which gives you so much.
- There’s no contract to bind you from getting work on your own.
- There’s a free, easy CAT tool with browser-based access as an option.
- There’s a steady stream of clients available for you to pick and choose.
- Clients pay you better than an agency because there is no middle man who’d tax your income
As a software company we make sure that every client has all of his content ready for translation. This means that a Text United client is, due to convenience and speed, way more likely to perform repetitive translation purchases. This repetition combined with Translation Memories means they stay with us longer and increase the word count project by project. We allow them to plug in their websites, software, even Dropbox into the system, automatically make translation projects without the hassle of ever having to copy/paste things for you. They just pick and choose, then you get to translate.
If they modify their documents, the system will automatically scan for differences and send micro-translations your way for some on-the-side work. If that’s not a paradigm shift, I don’t know what is! Recommend it to one of your clients for a test run. Do it now. I bet they’ll love you for that!
How do I become independent from agencies?
Get yourself a beautiful website. Try Wordpress, Weebly, Wix. There are tons of free templates out there. Try premium services like https://www.websitesfortranslators.co.uk. They’ll get you up and running in no time.
Grab a Text United profile and share it on your social channels. It’ll allow clients to work with you straight away.
Build a reliable personal brand based on the values you care about. Write about your profession passionately, as you would describe it to your close friends.
Blog a little, and if you’re ambitious, send a blog post our way – we’ll help you spread the word and happily invite you to co-write with us on our blog!
Spend that Big Mac money on a professional photograph, but not the one you have in your driver’s license. Make it cool. You’re cool, you speak the language of millions of peoples and then at least one more! Your work can change lives, yet you’re in the shadows, hidden behind your flawless translations. Give yourself a treat and make your online presence beautiful!
Last but not least, network the bejeezus out of LinkedIn and translation events. If you’re shy, find someone else who isn’t talking with anyone and just talk about that. It works for me! Word of mouth is extremely important, so make sure you put yourself out there. With the internet, it’s possible to do without leaving your home!
Google will start noticing you and bumping up in rankings due to relevance and quality of what you have to say. You won’t spend more than 30 minutes daily on marketing yourself and I can guarantee that that’s sufficient enough to get the ball rolling on building your own translation business!