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.”