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.