It’s not always easy being a freelance translator. You don’t have the security that comes with being an employee. Most freelancers struggle with workflow from time to time. How can you make sure the customers you want can find you?
Websites for freelance translators
In a globalised world, some say that visibility is all about the Internet. Most freelance translators these days have a website. Some are more complex than others, but most professionals recognise the need to have some kind of Internet presence.
Creating a website throws up its own issues. As Gwen explained in her recent article, Multilingual Websites: Single or Multiple Domains? one issue is the question of languages and domains. Should your website be in your source language only (if you only work in one language pair)? If you need a website in more than one language, should you use multiple domains? Read her article for help answering this question.
Once you’ve created your website, what about SEO? You can use it to your advantage to drive more traffic to your freelance translator site. Blogging can also be used to improve visibility and attract interest. Check out my blog for customers about SEO: How SEO Translators Can Help You Get More Website Traffic.
Profiles on translator portals
Lots of freelance translators set up profiles on translation websites and portals to network with other professionals and look for work. I’m sure you can think of a few. You’ve almost certainly used some of them at least once. Most offer member benefits like discounts on software and the chance to create a profile and be included in directories. This can be a way of helping customers to find your services. Some, like ProZ, have systems for customers to give visible feedback to translators. The translator can then publish this positive feedback on their profile.
Freelance translators can use social networks to be more visible to customers. There are Facebook groups about all sorts of things of use to freelance translators. Many translators have a Twitter and/or Facebook account and use it to keep up to date with industry news and connect with colleagues and customers.
I’m involved in several Facebook groups, mostly for keeping in touch with other translators rather than looking for work. I’ve gradually got to know colleagues working in similar fields and built relationships with them. On a couple of occasions those contacts have led to interesting work that I’d never otherwise have heard about. One was a screenplay for a political thriller, another time a non-fiction book. It’s not a quick fix, as you need to take time to build up contacts.
LinkedIn can be very useful to freelance translators looking for leads. It can be a good way to connect with other professionals who might use your services. I admit I haven’t yet made as much use of LinkedIn as I could do. I’ve been reading lately about ways to create an effective LinkedIn profile. And use that to generate leads.
On my to-do list is to properly research Social Selling Indexes and start making better use of LinkedIn. Even without this, I’ve found that creating a strong profile is worthwhile, especially if you take some time to build your network of connections. About a year ago I was contacted by a direct client based on nothing more than my profile. It was for a small project, but we have kept in touch. This client contacts me now when he needs translation into English. I hope to reach more clients like this in the future.What are you doing to make sure customers find your freelance #translation services? Click To Tweet
Also known as flyers, leaflets and knocking-on-doors. It depends on who your customers are, but don’t forget old-fashioned paper marketing. If your customers are local to you, it may be worth targeting them with leaflets and the like. Or visiting in person. Perhaps you have a Chamber of Commerce? It may be worth investigating for potential customers and how to reach them.
The Internet is important, but networking still has a primary role. Translators’ associations have networking opportunities, so you may want to think about joining one. There are often conferences and webinars you can attend. This gives you the chance to meet other translators who may be able to point you in the direction of interesting opportunities, or become your collaborators.
Networking can also be a way to connect with your potential clients. Check out trade fairs and other places where your ideal customers meet as a way to make contact and find out what they need. This works particularly well for more niche markets.
As a subheading under networking, word-of-mouth recommendations are some of the best ways to improve your visibility in your chosen field. I’ve found that making sure people know what I do has brought me interesting contacts locally. People who know me and trust me can provide points of contact to possible clients. A personal recommendation goes a long way when you’re deciding whether to buy a service or not. If you can back that up with professional accreditation and a credible Internet presence, you’re onto a winner!
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