How to Provide Added Value to Your T&I Clients and Build Lasting Relationships

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If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you probably know that I talk about this topic a lot. And whenever I come across anyone who is resistant to the idea of providing extra value to clients beyond that of the services we already provide as translators/ interpreters, I seem to get the same response. They usually say something along the lines of, "I don't know what kind of value my clients might want." And typically, my answer is, "You know more than you think!"

There are a lot of ways to offer value to your clients beyond the T&I services you already provide. And for some of us who work in language pairs that can have a somewhat saturated market, this is essential! We have to stand out. And to anyone who says, "I don't need to provide any more value than the services I already offer," to that I ask, "Then, what makes you different than any other translator/interpreter who provides the same service?" I know that seems a bit harsh. But if we don't start thinking about the value we provide, both as part of the services we provide and in addition to them, then we may very quickly feel like the market is taking over and we're floundering to raise our rates or find better clients. Everyone is selling something these days. So, it's important to be seen as different. Yes, this is one of those cases in which being different is a good thing!

Of course the translations and interpretations we provide to our clients are incredibly valuable. But they are often thought of as a service that is requested, completed and billed. End of discussion. So, how do we provide even better value so that our clients consider us an integral part of their larger team? How do we keep them coming back to us time and again? Surely, a large part of being valued is due to the services we provide. But it's never just about that. After all, if it were just about the service, our clients would all be shopping around for the least expensive option, right? Who wouldn't be?! So, there has to be something more. By providing more value than other options (i.e. other translators/interpreters in your language pair(s) and area(s) of specialization), we also give our clients more reason to stick with us for the long term.

By building relationships with our clients, we learn how to provide them even more value. We learn how we can serve them best. We learn what their challenges are and how we can help to relieve some of their stresses and challenges. But it doesn't happen overnight. There are plenty of ways to serve our clients in ways other than translation/interpreting that make us even more valuable in their eyes. If you are struggling to come up with some ideas, my best advice is to listen to your clients. Talk to them. Get to know them better so that you can understand the obstacles they face and the goals they have. Then, figure out how you can help them to overcome those obstacles and reach those goals.

When trying to think of additional ways to provide value, first consider your strengths, both as a professional, and in general. 

● Are you a great socializer/connector? Do you know a lot of people and can you connect your clients to others who could help them along in their business/goals? This is valuable.

● Are you an amazing researcher? What can you research or provide that shows even further value to your clients over another translator/interpreter who may not have this superpower? This is valuable.

● Are you a great writer? Can you write for the industry(ies) in which you provide your services so that you can both show your expertise and provide value in another related capacity? This is valuable.

● Are you a wonderful speaker? Could you start speaking at events and conferences that are related to your area(s) of expertise? Not only can you provide knowledge and value to others, but you will soon make even more connections that can open more doors for you! This is valuable.

Notice that none of these suggestions above have anything to do with making a hard sell. That's really not the point here. Providing added value is what allows others to like, know and trust you. From there, people will want to do business with you!

Whatever you do choose to do to provide more value, own it! Don't be shy. Tell people about it. Others will want to help you by connecting you to those they know and who could use your services or gain from the value you are sharing. Here are some ways to spread the word about your added value that will allow you to also shine as an expert translator/interpreter.

● Write a blog post or an article for LinkedIn and send it to your clients' inboxes. Try to do this regularly and watch how much you can engage your target audience.

● Think of what challenges your clients face and try to come up with some clever solutions. Since you know the industries for which you work, something like a guide or tip sheet that could be helpful to your clients in some way is an idea that comes to mind.

● Offer some extras here and there to show that you think more deeply about your clients' projects than just shooting back a translated text. I don't suggest you work for free, but sometimes it's the small and unexpected things we do that people notice the most.

The more you think about the added value you can provide to your clients, the more you will be able to keep their best interests in mind. Your clients will appreciate you even more than they already do. The possibilities here are endless. If you always try to come from a place of serving your clients, the rest will fall into place. You don't have to be salesperson of the year. You just have to think outside the box.

How to Use a Call to Action to Market Your Freelance Translation or Interpreting Business

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A Call to Action, often abbreviated as "CTA" in the marketing and business world, is defined by HubSpot as "an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It is, quite literally, a 'call' to take an 'action.'" You can see them on websites for just about any product these days, and service-based businesses are really starting to see the benefits of using them, too. Anytime you see a request to sign up for something, share information or pass along a link, you are being called to take an action by the business or organization whose site you're visiting.

Now, you may not immediately see how a call to action could benefit you in your freelance business. I get it. I used to think that way. It can be uncomfortable to sell or market our services, but as business owners, we have to. So, we might as well do it well, right? I realized that what a good friend once told me is quite true: "Everyone is selling something these days. We just have to be ourselves and be authentic with how we share it." So true.

Most of us with a website hope that our site visitors will see something that makes them want to hire us for an upcoming project or assignment, right? Of course. So, it's not really unheard of to ask a prospective client to do something these days when they land on our websites. Even if they're not yet ready to send us a project, we know that they could be one day. And so, we want to hold on to their information if we can. We want to have a way to be able to reach out to them to start a conversation and to nurture the potential client/provider relationship if there is one to be had, right? Yes. So, how do we create an authentic call to action as freelance translators and interpreters that doesn't make us feel like a used car salesman?

First, we have to be clear on what we want our site visitors to do. People like to be told what to do next on a website. Besides making sure your website's navigation is incredibly user-friendly, it is important to make a specific CTA so that anyone who is looking for more information knows what to do next.

Here are a few examples from freelance writers in whose CTAs are both authentic and provide value. If you ask me, that's the magic formula to any solid CTA that brings results.

This first example asks a single question and gives the reader some possible answers that could match what they're looking for. Each answer has a hyperlink that leads to a page where they can find out more about the writer's services.

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The next example is an offer the writer makes in exchange for a prospect's email address. She's giving value (Insider tips in your inbox every Thursday) in exchange for contact information. This is a great way to build an email list and is worth considering.

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And finally, this last example is a call to action to buy the writer's new book. The call to action is front and center on her website. And it's very clear what the site visitor should do next.

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Each of these examples is from a freelance writer who specializes in a different area of expertise. None of them are in-your-face salesy in my opinion. And all of them provide value in their own way.

Now that you've seen some great examples from other freelance service providers who also work with words for a living, you may be thinking, "What kind of CTA could I use on my website to bring about results and provide value to potential customers?"

Well, first you have to really know your audience and what they are willing to do and tolerate. If your target market is used to seeing pop-up ads asking them for their email address to receive a monthly newsletter, you could try that. But my guess is that most of us work for clients who are not fans of unexpected pop-ups. I know I personally dislike them, so it would feel very inauthentic for me to use one.

Instead, I would prefer to share something with them in exchange for their information. Something that not only gives the prospective client some valuable information (a win for them!), but it allows me to capture their information with the assumption that they may one day have interest in working with me (a win for me!). A mutually beneficial relationship and a well-planned CTA are more likely to work, and there are many ways you could start a relationship with a prospective client by having a solid CTA that still feels authentic to you and is transparent for your clients.

If you are considering adding a CTA to your website, I would encourage you to get creative with it! If you are a court interpreter, you could provide something that you know your legal clients would particularly find useful. If you are a translator who prefers to work with agencies, you could do the same thing by knowing what a project manager might find helpful. Before you create your CTA, ask yourself these questions.

● Do you prefer to work for direct clients, agencies, both? Many of us work for both direct clients and agencies, which are two very different audiences. It might be worthwhile to think of separate CTAs for these audiences, or you could settle on just one that is attractive for both. You could get creative with it, or you could go for the simple (but still effective), "Should we connect?" button that leads to your Contact page. Whatever you do, make sure the CTA fits your audience and their needs.

● What do you want your site visitors to do when they land on your website? This is probably the most obvious -- and also the most important -- question to ask yourself. Do you want to capture someone's email address so you can follow up with them? Do you want them to call you to discuss their next project? Do you want to send them to your blog to read some of your original content that shows off your expertise? CTAs don't have to be fancy. They just have to work. So, if all you want is for someone to click to another page of your website to learn more about you, then make this clear and obvious.

● How can you give them what they want quickly and seamlessly? As I already mentioned, clear navigation is vital for any website. But so is a clear and seamless CTA. If possible, try to place your CTA above the fold (i.e., visible from the moment one lands on the web page before having to scroll down to read more). If you have a link you want someone to click on to read more or to contact you, make sure the CTA is in a prominent place on your website. After all, the amount of time you have to capture someone's attention is very short, so make good use of the space (and time!).

So, how do you strategically use a CTA to gain more work? The key to converting prospective clients is showing your value first and foremost. Think about serving before selling. I always try to provide value before making a sale. I want my clients to trust me and to trust that I know what I'm doing. So, you will never see me ask them for something up front without giving them something even better in return. Try to think like this anytime you create a CTA for your website. If you simply want to have a conversation with a prospective client, then frame your CTA around setting up a call with them to discuss their project or answer their questions.. When you talk to them, provide valuable information that they could use even if they decide later to hire someone else.

A good call to action will provide value and eventually lead to a sale. Of course, it may take time to reach the sale, but this is also true of many networking and sales strategies.

And finally, if I can leave you with one bit of advice about CTAs and value, it is this: Always overdeliver. On my small agency website, we provide value by offering our new e-book to those who wish to join our mailing list.

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We email clients once a month with information about the T&I industry that is applicable to them, and we also share our own news, blog posts, etc. In exchange, we offer them a free copy of our new e-book. We have taken a lot of time to put this together, and we know the information in it is useful. Perhaps next year we will change the CTA to something else, but for now, this one works quite well and prospective clients receive something valuable right from the start, as well as every month in their inboxes.

Hopefully by now I've convinced you that having a CTA is a useful marketing strategy. It doesn't have to feel slimy or “salesy”. It's smart. And you can do it in a way that still feels authentic to you and captures your website visitors so that you can start to grow a business relationship with them.

Five Ways to Improve Your Web Presence Before the New Year

It's never too early to start planning for the new year, especially since the month of October basically flew by! That means there are only two months left of 2018! Have you already made up your mind about 2019? I'm hoping you've decided to make it a growth year in your T&I business. I have!

Need some ideas? Here are 5 ways to improve your web presence before the new year!

1. Refine your website to fit your target market.

Everything on your website, from the images to the copy and everything in between, should be created with your ideal clients in mind. If your ideal clients use certain terms and language, you should be, too. When a client clicks on your website, he should know immediately that you are the right fit for him and his goals.

Make updates to your website from time to time so that you can continue to speak directly to your target market. These could be things like the visuals you share, the language you use, the calls to action you create, etc.

I'm teaching a course about this in November, and today's the last day to sign up at the early bird rate! For more information, or to register, click here!

And to read more about how to create an ideal client profile, check out this post and this post!


2. Hang out online where your target market does.

I get a lot of questions on this one. The most common one I receive is, "But what if I don't know where my clients hang out online?" Well, I'd say you have some research to do, but it should be fun to look into this, because the more you understand your target market, the better you will be able to make a connection with them.

Start by doing some simple Google searches. You could also do some searching around LinkedIn for forums related to your target market. What groups or forums do they participate in? What kind of content are they searching for or commenting on?

Where do they hang out on social media? One great way to find this information is to look at the websites of potential clients in your target market and visit their social media pages. Follow them! Engage with them! If they are active on Twitter, make sure you are active and engaging with them on Twitter. If they tend to prefer another platform, create a profile and get to work. Provide value on the platforms where they hang out by sharing valuable content, commenting, and showing your expertise and generosity through the value and information you share. People pay attention to these things. The value and generosity will come back to you!

3. Consider your emails… yep, those things you write every single day.

When a client emails you and you hit "reply," are you really talking to your clients in a way that builds trust? Or are you just shooting back a response so you can move on to the next email or task at hand?

Consider providing value in every email you send. Whether you include a link to an article the client might find relevant (bonus points if it's to one of your articles or blog posts!), or if you throw in a freebie add-on when you deliver a translation. I don't like to give away work for free, as I feel that that devalues the work itself, but consider something "extra" you could do for a client that they aren't expecting. This helps you to build more of the like, know and trust factor with them at the same time.

4. Start producing original content.

It's fine to repost and share others' content online. In fact, it's necessary, as we cannot possibly produce new content all the time. But what are you producing that shows your professional skills and the value you provide?

Consider starting a blog or posting articles to LinkedIn on a regular basis. Make sure that what you write is relevant to your target market and that it is something that they would want to read and pass along to colleagues!

Once you've created the original content, share it with them. Don't expect others to follow your blog or be on the lookout for your next LinkedIn article. Let people know when you have provided value. No one will see this as being boastful or showy. They'll appreciate it, I promise!

5. Take 20 to 30 minutes a couple of times a week to find valuable content online for your target market, and share it!

Send it in an email to a client or a prospect. Tweet it or share it on LinkedIn. Post it in a LinkedIn group or forum where your target customers hang out. And please… when you share it, say something intelligent about it! Don't just paste the link. Mention what you find useful or valuable, too! This shows your expertise and knowledge on the subject. And perhaps even more importantly, it shows that you care.

There are a lot of ways to step up your web presence. Make a plan for yourself for the coming year. Commit to one hour a few days a week to really put time into improving your online marketing game. You will start to reap the rewards sooner than you think!

How to Use Your Website to Build Trust with Your T&I Clients

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You know I say this a lot... but people really do do business with people they like, know and trust. Since a lot of us often don't get to meet our clients face-to-face (at least not at first), our websites are often the first impression or interaction our clients have with us. That's why we have to use our websites strategically so that we can build trust with them from the first time they land on our page.

So, how do we use your websites to help build trust? Here are six ways to build trust that you can start implementing right away.

● Keep things simple. Yes, here's your permission to not pull out all the bells and whistles. You don't need them! And site visitors often find them distracting. You want your clients to get a feeling of what it's like to work with you as a translator or interpreter. So, keep the layout and navigation simple and intuitive.

● Make your navigation easy to maneuver. How many times have you visited a business' website and find yourself hovering over every navigation menu option because you're looking for something specific, but you cannot seem to find it? Don't do this to your prospects or clients!

Make things easy to find and make it obvious about where they should click next. If you're unsure whether your site has navigation issues, ask someone to sit down for 10 to 20 minutes and click through your site as if they were a client. Just watch what they do, and make notes of where they click from one page to the next. When they finish, ask them why they chose to click on certain items or links and what they thought they should do next. This will help you to determine if your navigation is confusing and if you could use a few good calls to action.

● Speaking of calls to action, you need some. People like to be told where to go. Think about it like navigating a neighborhood you've never visited before. If you are unsure about your surroundings, you might fire up your GPS system or ask Siri. The same is true for your website. People visiting your website need direction. So, think about what it is you really want them to do and carefully walk them through it. Don't make it complicated, though! Just make it obvious. If you want someone to sign up for your email newsletter, make the sign-up box prominent and simple to fill out. If you want them to contact you for a quote, create a solid call to action (or more than one!) that encourages them to do so.

● Steer clear of pop-ups or other distractions. Have you ever heard someone say, "I love their website. The pop-up advertisements are amazing!" Yeah, no. I bet you haven't. They are annoying and they may cause skepticism among your site visitors. So, avoid them and be smarter about your calls to action.

● Pay attention to load times and tweak your content to make your site load faster. Again, I'll ask you about your own experience on this one. Have you ever visited a website that seemed to take forever to load? Could it be that your internet just took a snooze? Or is the site really that clunky? Avoid slow load times on your own website by using proper file sizes and minimizing the number of things that could slow it down. This is an issue that is easy to solve with a little bit of research on your part. So, take about 20 minutes to research how to improve your website's load times and implement some of the tips. Remember, you want it to be easy for clients to navigate your website.

● Make your site visually appealing. Yep, visual appeal is incredibly important in a solid business website. It doesn't matter that you may be a freelancer and working as a one (wo)man show. Just like first impressions in person are key to getting the job or that first client meeting, your website is the first impression that many clients have of you. So, make it good! Use beautiful images that tell a story. Avoid long-winded paragraphs and lists of qualifications and degrees. They are important, but they are not what your prospects are looking for when they visit your website. They want to know if you can help them fix a problem or reach a goal. Show them that!

Clients may not say it to your face, but many times they choose a freelance translator or interpreter based on what they found on their website. You can have all the qualifications in the world, but if you don't know how to relay the value you provide and build trust from the start, then you may not be the one they choose. Consider making updates like these to start building more trust with your clients and prospects.

Why Solid Web Copy is a Vital Marketing Tool for Your T&I Business

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There can be a bit of a conundrum when it comes to web copy. For one thing, there is the argument that people don't like to (and tend not to) read much anymore. Of course, this is a general blanket statement, and there are many people who do (like) to read. But on the other hand, your web copy and some solid behind-the-scenes website strategies are what allow your translation or interpreting website to show up in search engine results and convince your site visitors that you are the ideal solution for their language-based needs.

When it comes down to it, your web copy and what you say are what sell your services to prospective clients. You can have the most beautiful images and layout on your website, but if you don't have anything to say, what's the point? As translators and interpreters, we often have a lot to say. ;) But knowing how much, and just what to say, are vital to nailing your web copy and attracting your ideal clients.

Excellent web copy is often overlooked by service-based businesses and providers. Many think that just having a website with their contact information, bio and a photo will be enough to start attracting new clients. Wrong. The way to attract new clients is to speak to them on your website. Think of it as a conversation. You don't want to talk to your clients about "A" if they typically need "B" to solve their problems or relieve a pain point. If you want to write great web copy that works, it's important to know your clients and their needs, as well as what you do well for them that helps to solve their problems or pain points.

Yes, there are formulas for writing great web copy. And all of these formulas are based on sales. But you don't have to be "salesy" to create amazing web copy that will bring you results. Of course, the goal is to make a sale! But your copy should do one thing, first and foremost. Your copy (and your services) should provide value to clients. Think of it as content marketing. The marketing and sale is a byproduct of really solid and valuable content.

Great web copy not only attracts ideal clients, but it tells them what you want them to do next. There has to be a call to action for your clients so that they know where to go from one page of your site to the next. You don't have to get fancy. You just have to be smart about it. Again, it all comes down to really knowing your ideal clients.

For more information on how to build an ideal client profile, check out How to Create an Ideal T&I Client Profile to Market Your Services.

You'll know when you've gotten your web copy right. You will start to hear from more and more prospects who are "qualified" to work with you (i.e., those who are willing to pay your rates and will cause you fewer headaches than those you'd rather avoid). They will seek you out and refer you to others, because you are that good. You will be beyond valuable to them and a key part of their team.

Finally, think about this. Our websites are often the first impression our clients have of us. And it also might be their last. Nailing our websites, and that includes solid web copy, is essential. When you have great web copy, people will stay on your site longer. And the longer they're there, the higher the possibility of their engagement with you.

For "word people" like us, we should be some of the best at getting web copy right, no? Wrong. We're not! So, how do we get it right and use our websites to attract our ideal clients and keep them coming back? We provide real value to them. And I'm not even talking about the value we already provide through our professional services. We don't overwhelm them with long lists of our qualifications (yes, those are still important, but they're not what our clients want to know upfront!). We don't provide them with chapters of our experience to sift through in order to find what they really want to know. And we definitely don't make it all about ourselves!