6 Simple Mindset Strategies to Help You Grow Your Translation Business

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Scarcity vs. abundance. Perhaps these are buzz words nowadays thanks to the self-development industry. But these concepts do tend to bring about a sense of self-reflection nonetheless. 

And because it's a topic I keep seeing pop up time and again in a variety of fields, it got me thinking about how freelance translators can easily fall into one of these mindsets. What I tend to see more often reflected (and not just from translators, but perhaps it's just human nature?) is that of the scarcity mindset, however. 

Those who tend to have a scarcity mindset typically act in a way that expresses their belief that there will never be enough of something. Whether it's time, money, clients, or something else related to business, operating from a place of scarcity means that you're always running on the hamster wheel, trying to do more, more, more. But it never seems to be enough. There is never enough time to get it all done, and there is always something lacking. It's a vicious cycle that I think is somewhat natural to get sucked into as a freelancer. After all, we often hear that if we want to make more money, we have to work more. If we want better clients, we have to work harder to find them because they are fewer and farther between. 

In my early days, I subscribed to this way of thinking. After all, anytime there is uncertainty in a given situation, our minds seem to be automatically programmed to worry that there won't be enough [fill in the blank] for us. And let's face it. Freelance work has its fair share of uncertainty.

But so does any type of business. If you talk to just about any business owner – no matter the size of their business – you will rarely (if ever!) hear them say, "Oh, business is always excellent. We never have to worry about cash flow, and we don't market at all."

How do you know if you have a scarcity mindset?

First, it's important to assess the way you think about your business, your work and the market itself.

Do you see others who are "making it" while you're still struggling to pay your bills? Have you had a few bad experiences with clients, and now you think that all clients must be this way? I just don't know how to find the good clients. Maybe I should just look for a corporate job.

Do you have a fear of rejection? What if a client rejects my rates? What if they don't like my work and decide not to pay, or if they decide not to work with me again? 

Do you have a fear of loss? Do you find yourself worrying about losing a client due to reasons outside your control, losing projects to other translators who might be more skilled, losing the opportunity to work on a project because you might not be able to respond to the client within seconds of their message landing in your inbox (yes, this is a thing, especially among those who work with large agency clients… you don't have to fall into this trap!), or even losing money?

This way of thinking is a reflection of a scarcity mindset. It's likely that you're one of many translators with at least one of these fears. We all experience uncertainty in our businesses at one point or another. 

If a market seems saturated, you could take that to mean one of two things: either there is not enough work for everyone because too many players are taking up all the clients (this thought stems from a scarcity mindset), or there is plenty of work out there, which has already been proven, or validated, because there are people who are clearly willing to pay for a product or service (this thought is the result of an abundance mindset).

And while there's plenty you can do to change your mindset, you have to first recognize that the saying, "where your attention goes, energy flows and results show" is true. The less energy you expend on thoughts related to scarcity in business, the less scarcity you'll see. Put another way, the more you focus on what you lack in any area of your life, the more you'll feel that sense of lacking.

It may sound a bit woo-woo to some, but I can honestly say that when I changed my mindset during moments when I had thoughts related to scarcity, my business flourished and continues to do so, even when things don't always go as planned.

So, how do you move from a scarcity mindset to an abundance mindset in order to grow your freelance translation business?

Here are 6 simple strategies to try.

  • Understand that not every client is the right client for you.

It can be easy to take on any job that comes your way. And when you're a new translator, this might make sense to help you get established. But if you're still taking on every client who comes your way after the first few years, even if you don't have to, you may want to start combing your list of clients to weed out those who are holding you back. More of the good ones will come your way if your new focus is working for better clients. Of course, you will need to market your business, but if you continue to work for the wrong clients, you may never find the time you need to do that!

By finding ways to invest in yourself and hone your craft, you improve your skills and your business. You will notice a shift that takes place. You will stand a little taller, you will have more confidence in marketing your services to better clients and you will be able to say that you are worth the higher rates you'd like to charge. When you implement the strategies and techniques you learn as part of your ongoing education, you allow your mind to open up to new possibilities. This, in turn, gives you a sense of abundance. 

Asking for referrals should be an ongoing practice. Think about it this way. If you ask clients who are pleased with your work to pass the word on to others, your chances of growing your business improve. Pretty simple, right? But time and again, I see translators who are afraid to ask for referrals from happy clients. Or they would rather not bother their colleagues to request referrals from time to time. Again, this goes back to a scarcity mindset that is a result of fear (most probably a fear of rejection). It's an excuse. 

Sometimes it's easier to look at an example from another industry in order to start doing something in our own business. Consider this. If you listen to podcasts, for example, what do you tend to hear at the end of every podcast episode? The host almost always asks listeners to share the podcast. They also ask for ratings on podcast apps. These are requests for referrals! Everyone who wants to grow their business should be asking for referrals. Most people are happy to refer you if they've had a great experience. Don't let fear of rejection stop you.

  • Surround yourself with colleagues you deem successful and kind.

This one is truly key. By having a circle of trusted colleagues who you admire and respect, you start to develop some of the same characteristics as they have. You also notice that these colleagues can offer you support and knowledge when you need it. If you deem these colleagues successful and kind, it's probably also true that they have an abundance mindset, too.

Think about it. If you surround yourself with other translators who moan and groan about clients, who complain that they can't make more money because the market is pitiful or because the well-paying clients are just out of their reach, you will start to believe and internalize these thoughts, too. But if you surround yourself with those who believe that there are plenty of well-paying clients out there for everyone and that the challenge of growing a business is one to embrace, you will start to think similarly. I know who I'd want in my circle of colleagues!

  • Show gratitude for your clients (big or small).

Showing gratitude may not seem to correspond to growth in one's business, but I've seen it happen time and again. By expressing gratitude and putting attention toward the good things we receive from our customers, what we're grateful for tends to multiply. The same can be said for negative aspects of business. Decide where to focus your thoughts, and you will reap more of the same.

  • Find an association that supports you and get involved, too.

Professional associations are a wonderful place to turn to find more like-minded people who have a similar mindset as you have adopted for your translation business. Not only will you gain support from colleagues, but you will also find more opportunities to get involved and gain knowledge from others. If the association is committed to supporting you as well, it's likely that you'll be able to find resources that allow you to grow your business and maintain your mindset of abundance in your freelance translation business.

It seems that more often than not, I hear negative thoughts and comments coming from translators whose businesses are just not where they expected it to be at a given point in their career. Many are frustrated about the clients they serve. Many are worried that technology is taking over. But the ones I choose to surround myself with and collaborate with are the ones who are creative in finding better clients. They're the ones who know that we have to embrace technology and adapt to change in order to grow our businesses. They're the ones who believe that there's enough solid work out there for anyone who's willing to look for it. And I don't think of them as seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. They are intelligent, practical people. They just subscribe to an abundance mindset instead of a scarcity mindset. Which do you prefer?

Have you checked your business mindset lately? What tips do you have for colleagues who want to practice more of an abundance mindset in their freelance translation business?

Learning vs. Implementing: A Simple Strategy to Overcome Overwhelm and Start Taking Action in Your Freelance Business

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A good number of us translators and interpreters would classify ourselves as lifelong learners. This is an excellent trait to have as people who study and use languages in their work and daily lives, and also as small business owners. The same can be said for professionals in many fields, but I feel pretty sure that many translators and interpreters would actually classify themselves as lifelong learners and perfectionists.

With so much information available to us with the click of a button these days, we can learn in a variety of ways – whether online or in person. And while it's excellent to continue gaining knowledge and honing our skills, this can sometimes create a bottleneck in our businesses when it comes to actually implementing what we learn. It can be hard to know how to overcome the overwhelm as a freelance translator or interpreter when there is so much to learn (and do).

As I was listening to a business podcast recently, the interviewee mentioned how important it is to do a "learning vs. doing ratio" check-in with ourselves. So, I started to think about how this could apply to myself and to my colleagues.

The concept, in a nutshell, is that we need to be conscious of how much learning we're doing versus how much we are (or aren't) implementing what we learn. I think we can all raise our hand at some point in our career if asked whether we implement only a small portion of what we learn in workshops, conference sessions, webinars, online courses, etc. We set the best of intentions, but life and work quickly take over, and we find ourselves not implementing as much of what we learned as we'd originally intended.

This could be due to many reasons, of course, but it got me thinking… How many of those reasons not to implement something we learn are simply due to fear of that thing not working out, or even due to imposter's syndrome

Could it be that we don't think we'll succeed or that we don't yet have all the information we think we need to move forward?

I can tell you, I see this a lot, especially in the courses and webinars I teach. There are a few students who take my advice of "done is better than perfect" to heart. And there are others who tell me they know the best approach to actually move the needle forward in their businesses is to take action, but they just don't have something quite perfect yet. That tells me they don't actually get it.

So, they pause. They hesitate. They stall. They come up with a million reasons why they can't take action. We have all done this, right?

So, I'd like to challenge you to start thinking of how much you learn and how much you implement as two dials that you can turn up and turn down.

A Simple Strategy to Overcome Overwhelm and Start Taking Action

One dial is the learning dial. Anytime your learning dial is turned up, the implementing dial is likely to be turned down. In some courses and cases, your learning and implementing dial will both be turned up to about the same level. However, as most of us know from experience, this is not sustainable for long periods of time.

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If we intentionally turn up one dial – let's say, learning –, then we know that we will soon need to turn it down. This allows us to turn up the other dial – implementing. 

Problems arise when you turn down both your learning and your implementing dials for long periods of time. This is the best recipe for stagnation that I can think of. And it's fairly easy to do. 

If you do happen to turn down both the learning and implementing dials, ask yourself:

Is this because I'm feeling overwhelmed or burned out in my business? Or is it an intentional and temporary decision?

Once you know whether the dials are turned down due to overwhelm or an intentional decision, you can then make plans to turn one of them up again soon.

Ideally, the best pattern is to turn up the learning dial, and then simultaneously turn it down a bit while turning up the implementing dial. Once you implement what you learn on a given topic, then turn up the learning dial again, and turn down the implementation dial until you're ready to put into practice what you're learning. A steady pattern like this will keep you moving forward intellectually and professionally. 

Be careful not to keep the implementation dial turned down for too long, especially if you realize it is fear of failure that's keeping you from turning it up. Work out the reasons why you think you might fail, and then decide that it's okay if you do. Great things come from failing. Just ask any of the successful people you know.

One thing I tell myself when I'm procrastinating the implementation of something new I've learned is that everyone has to start somewhere. I only have to take the first small step, and then usually, momentum will allow the rest to follow.

Do you find yourself turning up the learning dial and then finding reasons not to turn up the implementation dial soon after? What would you like to start implementing in your business soon?

How to Maximize Your Email Signature - Updated with More Strategies

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This post is meant to serve as an update to one of my post popular blog posts since I started writing this small, but mighty, blog: How to Maximize Your Email Signature as a Professional Translator or Interpreter.

It's been over a year since I published that post, and it's still one of the most read and shared posts on the blog. Not only do I think the suggestions in that post are still valid and useful today, but since then, I've come up with a few more ideas I'd like to share with you.

So, here are five more ways to update and maximize your email signature to market your services to current and potential clients! 

1. Link to your LinkedIn profile with an invitation for others to connect with you. This not only helps your email recipients to learn more about your expertise, but it helps to grow your network on a platform that is meant for doing business.

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2. If you're an interpreter, link to a video of yourself! You can upload one for free on YouTube, and you can even embed it on your website. Give a brief introduction of who you are, who you best serve, and how you help your clients get the results they seek. Not only is it highly effective to have "face time" with potential clients, but you also allow those who might hire you to hear you speak. A video is a great way for potential customers to see and hear your professionalism, confidence and articulation in your own voice and words.

3. Include a link for clients to sign up for your email list.
Having an email list is important for most businesses these days, and solopreneurs should keep this in mind, too. When you have access to your potential clients' inboxes, you have the ability to continue the conversation more fluidly and frequently. Show up for your clients by providing valuable content once a week, twice a month, or however often you can consistently do so.

For more on why you ought to have an email list for your clients, check out 3 Reasons You Should Have an Email List for Your T&I Business and Some Bonus Tips.


4. If you'll be speaking at an event your clients might like to attend, include a link! This not only lets your customers find out more about your expertise, but if it's a local event, they may want to attend as well. For an added bonus, upload the slides for your presentation in a downloadable format (with permission from event organizers, if necessary) so that clients can access the value you have to share, too!

5. Add an invitation for others to schedule a meeting or consultation with you! I've seen this quite a bit from professionals in other fields, but I had yet to see any translators or interpreters take advantage of this unique way of "continuing the conversation." That is… until I met Susie Jackson. Susie took my T&I Website Blueprint Course, and she amazed me with some of her simple, but highly-effective, marketing tips. Check out Susie's email signature!

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Not only is the request to chat discreet, but I think that's why it seems so effective. It's professional without being flashy. 

Once you click on the button in Susie's email signature, it leads you to this page on her site.

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Susie uses Calendly, a tool you may have seen me recommend before in this blog post: Why Translators and Interpreters Should Virtually Meet Potential Direct Clients.

I asked Susie about her experience with this simple email signature tweak, and here's what she told me.

"I haven’t actually had anyone book a call through the link in my email signature yet, but I have had two since revamping my website and including the link there! I used to include my phone number in my email signature, but I found it stressful when clients just called me out of the blue. Also, my time zone doesn’t usually match most of my clients’ so I didn’t want calls in the middle of the night. I’ve found this to be a really good compromise – clients can still speak to me over the phone but I get time to prepare and can block out times when I’m busy – win win!"

I love how Susie took what could be a stressful situation for her daily business flow and tweaked it to give a professional and effective option to connect better with her clients!

All of these are easy tweaks to your email signature that can make a big impact. Between this post and the previous one, you now have 10 solid ways to bring more attention to your services by taking just a few minutes out of your day.

Keep testing different ways to connect with clients through your professional email signatures to see which one feels the most like you and is most useful for continuing the conversation with your clients. Whatever you do, don't let your email signature remain static. Use this free piece of marketing that literally everyone sees in their inbox!

Let me know if you've tried any of these email signature tweaks and had any success with them, or if you have any of your own ideas that have proven to be effective!

Why Customer Experience is a Vital Part of Your T&I Business and How to Get It Right

An essential part of running a successful business is considering a customer's experience and keeping it top of mind in every process and decision along the business journey. By keeping your translation and interpreting clients' customer experience a top priority (or not!), you send a strong message to potential and current customers.

NewVoiceMedia paints a pretty convincing picture of what happens to businesses that provide poor customer service. In the United States, it is reported that around half of business lost is due to poor customer service and customers feeling underappreciated.

( Source )

5 Reasons Why It's Important to Give Your T&I Customers an Excellent Customer Experience

1. A customer's experience can be a deciding factor between choosing you and another translator or interpreter.

People like to work with those they like, know and trust. That's why it's important to get the customer service aspect of your business in place from the start. A customer who reaches out to several translators for a potential project may very well decide to choose the one who gives them the best first impression and experience, instead of selecting another who is more qualified but less attentive to the customer's needs. Yes, qualifications are a vital part of providing professional services, but a customer's experience is equally important.

2. It's easier (and less expensive!) to market to and maintain existing clients than it is to market to and gain new ones.

Think about the customers you already serve. When was the last time you touched base with that client whose projects you really enjoy but who hasn't sent you any work in a few months? Perhaps it's time to send a friendly note with a reminder that you're available to help them whenever they need. Remember that marketing efforts should not be earmarked only for new clients. Customers who feel understood and appreciated are more likely to send you more projects in the future. If a customer has already had a great experience working with you, be proactive and continue the conversation by reaching out on a regular basis, even if just to say hello or to offer a word of congratulations for an achievement or milestone.

3. Referrals!

Customers who are happy with their experience are much more likely to refer you to those in their networks. Give your customers nothing but good things to say about their experience with you, and you'll find that your referrals will increase. After all, many of us can attest that more than half of our client lists are made up of clients referred to us.

For more on the topic of referrals and how to leverage them, check out How to Use Referrals to Grow Your Client List.

4. You can position yourself as the expert your client needs.

The more you get to know your clients, the more you will understand their pain points and goals. By doing so (and keeping a note of them), you can find new and creative ways to better serve your clients. One of my T&I Website Course students is thinking of offering a new service to her clients where she monitors and reports on her clients' competitors' social media posts. She knows that her customers do not speak French or have the bandwidth to monitor competitors in France. To help solve this issue for them, she has offered to provide monthly reports to her customers about new product launches, customer questions, etc. that appear on their social media channels. Genius! Not only does she provide translation services to her clients, but she also offers an additional, related service that furthers her position as the expert and professional they already know her to be.

5. You help the profession! 

We are a group of professionals who are often seen as part of the gig economy. NO MORE! We need to up our game in the area of customer experience and show our professionalism from that very first conversation with a potential client until even after they've paid us for our services. I personally encourage you to do your part to further the profession and commit to not only giving an amazing customer experience to your customers, but as a boost to all our professional colleagues. 

So, how do you get the translation/interpreting customer experience right?

Think back to the last amazing customer service experience you had. What did the brand do right in your eyes? Do you now feel like you will be a loyal customer for the long haul? 

Now think about a brand that you thought was a good fit for something you needed, but the customer experience was awful or inconsistent. Did you look for another brand where you could spend your hard-earned money instead?

As professionals, we want our clients to feel reassured when working with us. We want to give them that amazing customer service experience. 

So, how to get it right? Here are my five tips to provide an excellent customer experience to your translation/interpreting customers.

  1. Show up for your clients from every touch point, start to finish. Don't leave them waiting for your responses and wondering if you received their emails. Even if you cannot respond in detail right away, it's important to acknowledge receipt of a customer's message. These days, even this small gesture can go a long way in building trust. After you finish an assignment for a customer, make sure to wrap up the project in a way that leaves them feeling appreciated.

    For more on leaving a lasting first impression, check out Tips for Onboarding New T&I Clients.

  2. Be consistent. Related to number 1 above, consistency from touchpoint to touchpoint is vital. If you provide a consistently excellent customer experience, clients won't even think about shopping around. But if you are inconsistent with clients, it's only a matter of time before they will be ready to move on. Put together a checklist or process that ensures you make it clear how much you enjoy working with your clients so that they never have to wonder. Then, stick to this process every single time. Consistency in messaging is truly important to get right. Make sure your marketing materials, including your website, reflect the same excellent customer experience.

  3. Make sure your branding reflects your customer service experience. This is a bit of a follow-up to number 2 above. Do you offer an excellent customer experience to your clients, but your branding doesn't seem to match? Do clients and colleagues refer new customers to you, but your website is lacking any semblance of being up-to-date or user-friendly? Branding is a large part of a customer's experience. Make sure your marketing materials are a reflection of what it's like to work with you so that a new client immediately knows that you're the right fit for them.

  4. Make a note of your own amazing customer experiences (as the customer) and find ways to implement a similar experience in your own business. If you recently had a great customer experience with a brand, make a note of it. What did the business do to make you feel appreciated or heard? How can you implement a similar approach with your customers in your own business? I tend to keep these kinds of notes in a "swipe file" on my computer. They come in handy when it's time to revitalize certain areas of my business and customers' experience.


    For more on keeping "swipe files," check out Why You Need to Keep "Swipe Files" for Your T&I Business.

5. Be different! Part of a giving a stellar customer experience is being memorable. What makes you different? How can you infuse this into your customers' experience with you? Think of a few ways that you can give your clients more than what they ask for. This could be offering several updates along the way throughout the translation process, or it could be sending them a handwritten note or a small gift during a time of year when they least expect it. I personally prefer to send clients a New Year's gift instead of a Christmas or holiday gift. Whatever you choose to do to stand out, make sure it's "on brand" and a natural fit with your overall customer experience.

Now, tell us. What do you do to provide your clients with an outstanding customer experience? What would you like to implement in the future to make it even better?

If you're looking to update your website as part of your customer experience in 2020, consider taking my T&I Website Blueprint Course. A recent student said,

"Madalena's website course exceeded my expectations in terms of what I was able to accomplish! I'd been in a stuck place for a while with my client-facing website, and I was able to make a big impact on the design and copy by making just a few changes that I worked on in the course. I also appreciated Madalena's thoughtful and thorough feedback on the work I did."

Join the waitlist to find out when registration opens for the January 2020 session of this course.

How to Answer the Question: Should I Translate My Website?

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I receive this question more times than I can count from fellow translators: "How do I know if I should translate my website?"

And the answer is… well, it depends on how your translation clients find you and how you find them. A translator may think it's an obvious step to create a website in both their source and target languages, but truly, this isn't the right move for everyone. 

Before you decide to hire a colleague to translate your website into your source/non-native language, ask yourself a couple of simple questions.

How do translation clients find me?

Take a look at your client list and ask yourself: How do my clients typically find me? 

Maybe they arrive on your virtual doorstep via client or colleague referrals. Or maybe they come across your profile in an online professional directory. Perhaps they tend to find you by conducting an online search. 

However your clients find you, it's important to understand what your biggest traffic stream is — whether referrals, directory listings, online searches or some other way — so that you can determine the best way to maximize the results you get in the future. This will also help you determine the language(s) for your website content.

If the majority of your clients are the result of referrals, take a look at the language your referring colleagues or clients speak. Those who refer you may not necessarily need to be able to read your website like a client would, but it would definitely help if they can skim your site and get a good idea. Many people will visit a website and poke around a bit before they send a link to someone. So, make it easy for those people who refer you to share something useful about you by describing yourself and your services in a language they can read, too.

If you find that you receive a lot of inquiries due to your profiles or listings in online directories, think about the language the directory itself appears in and make sure your site is in the same language. This sounds a bit simplistic at first, but there is good reason to do this. First and foremost, you ought to have a link to your website in your directory profile (your LinkedIn profile counts, too!). If the details listed in your profile are in English, then the link to your website that you include in your profile should lead to an English-language website, or at least an English-language page of your website where a potential client can learn more. If the directory and profile are in another language, make sure your site accommodates this language as well. Remember, it's important to make sure that the link your prospects click lead them to what they hope to find!

Also ask yourself...

How do I find translation clients?

This is another essential question in determining whether you should translate your website into your source/non-native language. 

Maybe you tend to find new clients at conferences. Or perhaps you prefer to reach out to agencies and apply to work with them. You might even have a marketing plan that is focused on reaching out to potential clients by using warm emails.

In what language do you most often speak to your prospective clients? If you are a French-to-English translator, you might write to prospective clients in France or another French-speaking country or territory. Or, if you prefer to work with agency clients, you might only communicate with project managers in English.

The language you use to find new clients and the one you use to communicate with them is the primary (and perhaps only, depending on your preferences and methods of finding new clients) language your website should appear in. 

You need to have a place where clients can find out more about you after they receive your résumé. If you reach out to a client in French, but your website is only in English, they might quickly lose interest because they won't be able to learn more about you and why they should work with you.

The short answer...

Clients often do their homework before they are willing to pay for professional services. Make it easy for them to work with you. If you have never once had a client reach out to you in your source language, then it might not make sense to translate your website into that language. But if you're looking to change your prospecting strategies and start approaching clients in your source language, then by all means… have a place for them to land that convinces them you're the right fit for their next project!

If you don't have the money to pay a colleague to translate your entire website, consider having a landing page on your site for customers who speak your source language. This page can be a brief summary of the content on the rest of your site. Be sure to include who you are and who you help, what services you provide and how they can reach you. This way, they understand the next step in continuing the conversation with you.

For more tips on maximizing your website, check out my 13 tips to nailing your T&I website and converting leads into clients, or sign up for the waitlist of my next session of the T&I Website Blueprint Course.