How to Improve Your Marketing Mindset to Grow Your Translation or Interpreting Business

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I hear a lot of feedback from people who feel overwhelmed at the idea of marketing their translation or interpreting business. I won't deny that it can seem overwhelming if you are looking at it from a 30K-foot angle, but I'd like to encourage you to think about it in smaller portions or goals, if you will. After all, any good thing takes time.

You don't lose 10 lbs overnight, right? Well, you also don't grow your business or pick up new clients overnight with a marketing plan you just started implementing a few days ago. These things take time.

This is why it's important to have the right marketing mindset as a translator or interpreter. It is perfectly okay to feel overwhelmed. Everyone experiences overwhelm. But it is not okay to let this mindset result in stagnation.

Here are my top five strategies for giving your mindset related to marketing a good kick in the pants and taking the sense of overwhelm down a few notches.

1. Acknowledge and accept the feeling of overwhelm. Then move forward.

We all feel overwhelmed at some point. The most successful people in any given industry or area of business do as well. Does that make you feel better?

But what makes those people---the ones who actually make real progress with their marketing or business goals---different? The key difference is that they acknowledge the feeling of overwhelm. They accept that it's normal to feel this way sometimes and move past it. Knowing that they will, at some point, feel overwhelmed again, they find ways of dealing so that it's easier to move forward without allowing the overwhelm to result in stagnation.

Here are some great ways to nix the overwhelm surrounding your marketing efforts.

○ Hire things out. No one can do everything well. So, look at the tasks that keep you from getting started on your marketing efforts and try to find a way to get some hired help. I had a hard time with this one at first, because I personally don't like to ask for help. But once I did something about it, I felt an immediate sense of relief and a lot less stress and overwhelm. Consider paying someone to watch your child a few half days a week or look into a nearby preschool if your children are not yet of school age. Hire someone to clean your house if you work from home and the clutter keeps you from feeling productive or becomes a distraction. Contract an accountant to do your invoicing or to input your expenses a couple of times a month. Hire a freelance designer to design your new marketing materials or logo.

○ Write. Write down what it is that is holding you back from marketing your business or changing up your marketing efforts. Sometimes just the act of acknowledging the problem on paper can help you to figure out the reason you're procrastinating and what to do about it.

○ Talk to colleagues. Sometimes the best ideas and support come from those who are in the same boat as you are. Lean on those you trust when you feel overwhelmed. They may be able to help you find a solution.

○ Take a mental break. Get outside and take a walk. Go to an exercise class for an hour. Take a coffee break. Read a book that is totally unrelated to your work for 30 minutes. Practice a hobby for an hour. And then get back to the task at hand with a fresh mind and recharged batteries.

2. Exercise willpower regularly and make a mental note of how each time you do, you become stronger.

A colleague shared this article on willpower with me recently. I find the author's take on willpower, and how it must be regularly exercised, just like a muscle, to be a very effective way of thinking about this concept. We all have willpower. We just need to uncover it (and practice it) sometimes.

When you take some time to outline and check off steps towards marketing your business, you are practicing willpower. Lay out some clear tasks and goals. Then, give yourself a deadline (with an actual date). We translators and interpreters work well with deadlines. So, with this important deadline looming, you are much more inclined to get to work on marketing your business.

3. Determine which is worse for you: the pain of growth or the pain of stagnation.

I heard recently that if you're not uncomfortable doing something at first, then it might be time to change things up. If you feel uncomfortable about trying a new form of marketing, you are probably onto something!

Are your current marketing efforts not getting you very far? It might be time to try something that feels uncomfortable! Start a blog to gain more website traffic, send out a monthly email to your clients, spruce up your LinkedIn profile and reach out to make new connections with potential clients. Keep track of the efforts you make, and follow up with people regularly.

4. Start with slow growth or baby steps.

Know that slow growth is still growth. It is easy to feel a sense of societal overwhelm to grow, grow, grow, fast, fast, fast. All the time.

But slow growth is actually better and more sustainable in the long term.

That said, remember that standing still is not slow growth. Make something happen. Take 20 minutes a day to work toward your marketing goals. Keep moving forward. The more often you do, the easier this process becomes, because it will feel like more of a habit than a chore.

5. Don't use the excuse that you don't know where to start. Tap into the knowledge of others.

Make it your business (no pun intended) to start learning from others if you don't know how to do something. There are all kinds of resources out there to learn how to market well. Seek them out.

Start reading blogs, watching videos, reading books, taking courses, going to conferences, etc. with the goal of learning how to market your services more effectively.

When we use the excuse of never having done something or not knowing how to do something, we are simply staying the same. I don't know about you, but I'm not okay with that. I prefer to improve. To learn and to grow.

If there's something you don't know how to do or where to start, and you know someone could do it better for you, consider paying that person to handle the task and take it off your plate. Or, if it's something you want to learn how to do, pay them a small fee to teach you!

Overwhelm is nothing new. It's also not going anywhere. Once we take the time to acknowledge feelings of overwhelm and accept that it is fine to feel overwhelmed, then we can move forward. What's not fine is letting overwhelm hinder us from marketing and growing our businesses. Take the fear that comes with stepping out of your comfort zone and say, “Thanks, but I'll handle things from here.”

7 Ways to Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile and Gain More Leads

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LinkedIn has long been known as a tool and social media site for professionals. But a lot of us use LinkedIn with little thought to what we should actually put into our profiles. I was guilty of this myself! Some people hardly ever log on to the platform after setting up their profiles for the first time, unless they receive a request to connect or a message from a colleague.

But LinkedIn is a hugely powerful tool for professionals like us. I'll admit that I didn't used to think this way. And then I started learning more and more about how to make meaningful connections and optimize my profile for LinkedIn's search engine, which is ultimately what the platform is: a search engine for finding and connecting with professionals in a variety of industries.

So, how do you boost your LinkedIn profile in order to gain more leads? Here are my seven tips to do just that.

 1. Optimize your headline, summary and current experience.

Use keywords in these three areas of your profile so that potential clients can easily find you. How do you know which keywords to use? Think about the terms your client might use in a Google search if they were in the market to hire someone who provides your services. Make sure you use these words (keywords) in your headline, summary and current experience.

It's important not to be too generic. If you have a niche or specialized area you work in, highlight that. Use a headline that catches people's attention. And give a solid summary of what you do. This is like your elevator pitch, so make it count! For example, a translator who specializes in content marketing and communications might use the description:

I help clients refine their email campaigns, internal and external communications, brand identity and social media messaging by translating their content into English so that they can conduct business successfully in the American market and gain peace of mind in the process.

2. Publish native content.       

It's nice to repost other people's content or even to post short blurbs now and then linking to an article you read, but this type of interaction won't get you very far on LinkedIn. Why's that? Well, anytime you post or repost something (using the "Post" option), this content will show up in others' news feeds, but it will not remain in a prominent area of your profile for others to see when they are trying to learn more about you.

However, if you publish native content by choosing the "Write an article" option, these articles you share will remain in a prominent area of your profile as a thumbnail image. This is great for anyone who is looking at your profile, because they can easily see original content that you're sharing. Publishing native content allows you to show your expertise, writing skills and dedication to what you do. Remember to post regularly and consistently. If you would like to double up on your content, share a recent blog post from your website blog as an article on LinkedIn. You can always link the article back to your website to drive more traffic.

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3. Anytime you try to connect with someone, include a personalized message!

Trying to connect with others is a great way to grow your connections and potential pool of leads. However, when trying to connect with others on LinkedIn, make sure you don't send a request without a personalized message. If the person has never met you, they are less likely to accept your request without knowing why you're interested in connecting. Take the time to learn a little about them and how you can serve them before you send a request.

When you're ready to send a connection request, make sure you use the "Connect" button and not InMail, as the latter can sometimes seem salesy or spammy. Hit the "Connect" button and then "Add a note" so that you can write a brief message before you hit "Send".

4. Look for jobs, even if you're not looking for a job.

While you may not be looking for employment per se, a lot of freelance jobs are posted on LinkedIn. And even if you don't come across a lot of freelance job postings in your search, you can use this feature to see what keywords those who are posting the jobs are using in the job posts. This may help you to determine what keywords to put in your profile or even on your website!

Remember, those who post jobs on LinkedIn have to pay to do so (at least at the time of this blog post), so many of the postings are more legitimate or serious than a random job board that doesn't require those posting to put any skin in the game. If you’re interested in being contacted by recruiters, set your profile as visible by making sure you set the "Let recruiters know you're open to opportunities" toggle to "YES" in the Privacy settings.

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5. Hide the “People Also Viewed” box on your profile's sidebar.

You may not have noticed this little feature (I hadn't!), but there is an option for those who visit your profile to see a box that reads "People Also Viewed". It is located in the sidebar on your profile as a default setting. This is similar to when you're shopping for a product online and the site allows you to see similar products that might interest you. This feature is basically an invitation for those who visit your profile to leave and go elsewhere. So, take the time to turn it off by turning the "Viewers of this profile also viewed" toggle to "No" in your privacy settings.

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6. Don't pitch. Just share VALUE.

It is important to share value on a platform like LinkedIn. Let your profile speak for itself and simply try to share valuable content and information with others. This is not the place to make a sale. Rather, connect with others and get to know them as well. This is a great way to form relationships with other professionals, as well as to nurture potential leads who may later become paying clients.

7. Engage every day.

It is essential to engage with others on LinkedIn in order to get something out of it. In addition to posting, writing articles and reaching out to make connections, send a private message from time to time with a link to an article that might interest the recipient. Try to engage with a few people per day. If you are worried you won't have time or that this could take up a lot of your time, set a timer for 15 to 20 minutes and see how many people you can connect and engage with. Try to do this five days a week and watch your connections, engagement (and hopefully your leads!) grow.

Bonus Tips:

● Avoid inconsistencies with your resume if you are someone who sends your resume out to new clients. Make sure that your resume and LinkedIn profile match up for anyone who might wish to view both.

● Use a high-resolution, current and professional headshot.

● Use your profile to show your work. Since we can't often share a portfolio of past work we've done for clients (hello, confidentiality clauses!), we can still provide information on our expertise by showing blog posts, articles we've written, testimonials or recommendations, etc.

Now that you know a few tricks to to optimize your LinkedIn profile, make sure you take the time to update it from frequently. Dust it off. Go ahead. I just did the same with mine, and I'm already seeing that more people are visiting my profile and trying to connect. If you don't have the time to completely update your profile all at once, schedule 20 minutes this week and 20 minutes the next two weeks. In a month, you'll have a more current, updated profile that is much more likely to generate leads for your T&I business. 

How to Stop Competing on Price as a Translator or Interpreter

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You know those emails you get from time to time with potential clients asking for your rates, or even giving just a little bit of information about their project--usually not nearly what you need--followed by a request for a "ballpark figure"? Yeah, you know the ones.

What is the one thing they really want to know? The cost. Most of these folks really just want to shop for your rates to see how much you'd charge them. Oh, and if you can turn it around "asap", that would be great, too. 

So, you do what they ask and you give them your general rates, knowing full well that since you don't have enough information, or perhaps even the source document to review, the rates you gave them might not even be what you'll really need to charge them in the end. You go to the trouble of explaining all of this to them, using valuable time you could be spending more productively in your business. And then... they balk, and they walk. Many times they don't even respond. Well, what did you expect? They simply wanted to price shop you.

So, how do you avoid these types of price shoppers and their inquiries? Sure, they're bound to pop up from time to time for all of us. But there are ways you can avoid dealing with them as often.

Here are my six tips to stop competing on price and avoid dealing with price shoppers. Essentially, it all comes down to changing the way you talk about yourself and your services.

● Stop advertising yourself as someone who does compete on price. In your emails, on your website, and in your marketing content. You might be doing it without even realizing it. Many of us are guilty of this, myself included! And I didn't even know it at the time. What do I mean?

Have you ever thought about offering a discount, even to friends? Do you advertise your services as "affordable" or "competitive"? Both of these terms are related to pricing. If you want to earn what you feel is appropriate, this is not the best way to go about it. Cut these words from your vocabulary, and offer your rates confidently. Those who appreciate what you do for the quality and value you provide will pay your rates in the end. Even your friends.

● Stop offering "free quotes". I used to be so guilty of this. I had no idea the vibe I was giving by mentioning "free quotes" on my website until a friend who owns her own small business brought it up.

Of course your quotes should be free. If you're able to charge for them, I tip my hat to you. But stop talking about them being free. Anytime you give something away for free and label it as such, you are devaluing what you do, even if you don't mean to be. 

To read more about this topic, check out Why You Should Never Offer a Free Quote on Your Website (or Elsewhere).

● Do some market research. Figure out a range of what colleagues charge for your same specialization and language pair. If you are below the range, it's time to raise your rates. After all, you don't want to be the one who's poisoning the proverbial market well, right? Stay away from open discussions in which others are trying to influence or set rates, but do your own research to make sure that you're at least charging a reasonable amount for your professional services.

● Or simply… raise your rates. Yep, I said it. Raise them and you will ensure that you can no longer compete on price. It may hurt for a little while, but you'll quickly realize that you do have clients who are willing to pay your rates, even if just a few in the beginning. Now, it's time to find more clients like those! They're out there. I promise.

● Prove yourself by showing your value so that your rate is ultimately the last thing people inquire about. People want to work with you because they like and trust you. They'll be happy to pay your rates as long as you have properly demonstrated your value and translated (sorry for the pun) that value into something they can easily understand, appreciate and want for themselves.

● Leave your rates off your resume and skip the price/rate sheet, too. If you've ever been to a restaurant that doesn't have prices on the menu next to the dishes, you might automatically think you have chosen an eatery that is either very chic or far above your means, right? When you leave your rates off your resume, you are doing two things: 1) you're allowing the person who reads your resume to focus on something else: your value! and 2) you give them a chance to actually ask for your rates. If they make it to step two, that means they've probably read your resume and have a real interest in working with you on their next project. Of course, this won't always be the case, but at least you can keep the conversation going a little longer and have the opportunity to discuss their project further to show that you're the right fit for them.

When you stop competing on price, you start to realize that you've essentially made all of your clients ideal clients. They'll be the ones who are willing to pay your rates and not ask you to lower them because they actually value what you do and consider you to be a part of their team.

If you feel that you're constantly getting price shopped, it's time to take a hard look at how you're advertising (or simply talking about) your services, whether on social media, your website, in your emails or in your directory listings. Figure out what your value proposition is and base your pricing on this. What value do you bring to a client beyond the services you provide?

Three Reasons to Keep Your Clients Engaged with You When You're Not Translating Their Content

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Keeping clients engaged is not as hard or as uncomfortable as it may sound. Not even close. If you want to stop working on those "one and done" client projects, then you have to stop being a "one and done" translator or interpreter. Look at every job as an opportunity for an ongoing business relationship. But like all good relationships, you have to cultivate this one.

Here are three reasons you ought to be engaging with your clients between your translation and interpreting jobs.

1. It shows that you care about having a lasting business relationship. After all, these are the people who put food on your table. When you engage with a client around the actual paid portion of work, you show that you're worth more than the line item that shows up on their expense sheet. By providing value in more ways than simply handing over the service you provide as a translator or interpreter, you might even be sealing an impression that keeps you on as a contractor for the long haul. People like to do business with people they like and trust. So... help them like and trust you.

2. It helps you to stay top of mind. Even if your client doesn't have a current project for you, he/she can refer you to others who do. These referrals will help fuel and grow your business, too. Never underestimate the power of referrals. When I took a hard look at how much of my business was based on referrals, I was shocked to see it was well over 50%!

To learn more about using referrals wisely, check out How to Use Referrals and Grow Your Client List.

3. It allows you to stay on top of the new things that are happening with your clients and with which you might be able to help. I can't tell you how many times I've simply sent off an email to a client to ask how things are going for them only to receive a tidbit of news or a mention of something that truly helps me to understand my client better. Perhaps your client has plans to grow in a new market. Do you translate that type of content? If you don't yet, could you? Or maybe they are planning to cut back on their budget. That doesn't mean you should stop engaging with them, but it does mean that you should plan ahead and perhaps start marketing to more clients in a similar industry so that your income doesn't suffer when you start to see the effects of that client's reduced budget. The information that comes from staying engaged with clients is valuable in so many ways. Don't overlook the possibilities!

How to Take the Fear Out of Networking and Own Your Message as a Translator OR Interpreter

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A lot of us have a less than loving relationship with networking. I'll be honest. I've never really enjoyed it. And while I don't think I'd consider myself a true introvert, I do like to think of myself as a "webtrovert", i.e. someone who feels more comfortable interacting for the first time with clients and leads online rather than in person.

It's not that I'm opposed to meeting clients face-to-face. I often do, but ask me to go to a networking event, and I'll probably think of ten other things I'd rather be doing. I don't love to be thrown into situations where I don't know anyone in the room or I think I may not be making the best use of my time. However, if I can take some time to prepare in advance of the conversation, I feel more in control of or like I have more of an influence on the outcome. Of course, there's no guarantee, but I do prefer to feel prepared than caught off guard. My guess is you do, too.

So, how do we take the fear or discomfort out of networking and really own the message we want to share as translators and interpreters?

My suggestion: online networking… especially because of the industry in which we've chosen to work. As translators and interpreters, we don't always have the ability to meet our clients in person. Some of us work with clients in other states and countries. That's why we sure as heck better know how to effectively networking with them online.

Here are my top tips for taking the fear and discomfort out of networking.

● Set up a time to network every day. Yes, every day. Or at the very least, a few times a week. You set the time. Put it on your calendar or in your agenda, and show up for it like you would a meeting with a client. Decide how to best make use of this time by preparing and providing them with value. That value will look different for each of us. That's why it's best to know and understand the needs of your ideal clients.

To read more about how to know and target your ideal clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client and How to Create and Ideal T&I Client Profile to Market Your Services.

● Use this time to interact with your clients or potential future clients. Send some warm emails or engage with them on social media. Give them a call, or send them a handwritten note. All of these things can be done on your own time and do not require you to attend an event or have an awkward conversation.

● Treat your online networking efforts as market research. The more you get to know your clients, the more information you can "swipe" for future marketing campaigns and messaging.

To learn more about what "swipe files" are and how they can work for you, check out Why You Need to Keep Swipe Files for Your T&I Business.

● Set aside some time or a specific day each week in which you can meet with your clients virtually. You can easily set up appointments these days with online calendar tools, like Google, Calendly, etc. It's just as important to stay in touch with and meet with current clients so that they know you are available and excited to continue working with them. Tell them what you're working on and ask what they're working on as well. Engage. Engage. Engage. This is not the time to sell. Just engage.

● In advance of the networking session or meeting, take some time to get to know the person you are meeting by looking them up online. See if they have a blog, or published articles, if they've won any awards, if they have been mentioned or interviewed recently. See what they're posting on their social media platforms. Do your homework. A feeling of preparedness will allow you to show your interest in working with the client and will also give you some potential topics of conversation.

When you take the time to schedule these things, you will start to see the benefits of networking this way.

● You are in control of the "when" and "where". No longer will you be caught off guard by a direct question from a potential client.

● You can feel comfortable meeting someone from the familiar surroundings of your home office or workspace instead of having to pay $15 to $20 for an event and trying to juggle finger foods, a drink and hold an intelligent conversation.

● You can easily schedule your work around these networking sessions because they are short, focused and you won't be spending valuable time driving to and from an event.

● You are able to make sure that you meet with someone who you actually have a desire to do business with, and not just the person who ends up standing next to you in the buffet line at a large networking event. This type of networking allows you to be strategic.

● You can continue to get to know your clients and hone your message. Practice makes perfect, right? The more you take the time to network online with your clients, the better you will get at it. It will no longer feel like an uncomfortable task to help you market and grow your business. It will simply be a part of doing business.

Don't like the idea of a virtual session? Pick up the phone. Prefer to meet the client in person over a meal? If they're local to you, schedule it! Once you are able to comfortably network with clients on your terms, whether virtually or in person, you can really craft and refine your message so that marketing and networking become second nature. See what works for you and what doesn't. And go from there.

Networking doesn't have to be something that makes your hands sweat just thinking about it. It can be fun to do the research to get to know a client better before you have that first conversation. It also helps your clients get to know you better and trust you. After all, people like to do business with people they like and trust. Own your networking skills. Own your message. Grow your business.

To read even more networking tips, check out my Seven Tips for Effective Networking When You Work from Home.