business strategies for translators

More is Not Better When It Comes to Your T&I Client List

More is Not Better When It Comes to Your T&I Client List | | Translation and Interpreting

Everyone wants to grow their client list. After all, who wouldn't, right? It's part of being a business owner, no matter if you are a freelancer or if you manage several people who work for you. It's good to always have more clients coming in the door… but quantity over quality is often not a good idea, and that includes in business. When you have high quality clients (i.e., ideal clients), then you don't necessarily have to have an ever-growing client list. Once you have consistent work coming in from those ideal clients, you can shift your focus more to maintaining those client relationships by refining the client experience, and then a slower incoming trickle of new clients won't seem so much of a make-or-break issue.

To read more about finding that sweet spot with quality clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client.

Just like most things in life, when you focus on quantity (i.e. how many new clients you can gain or how many clients you currently have), losing sight of quality can easily create more issues for you. If you are constantly striving for more, you will find yourself always wishing you had more. And frankly, you cannot possibly focus on sustainable growth or nurture client relationships with your best clients if the focus is always on when that next project will be coming down the pipeline.

By choosing to focus on attracting and maintaining lasting relationships with quality clients, you will find that you have more time to work on the things you want to within your business. You can take a vacation (and leave that laptop at home!), and you can take more time for yourself and the things and people you love outside of your business. With some care and time, you can grow your business into something that sustains the lifestyle you want, rather than working to sustain your business and income until that next payment arrives.

Rather than trying to convert every lead that comes your way, or take on every project that is offered to you, be more selective. Make some non-negotiables when it comes to the work and clients you take on. Do you want to avoid working after a certain hour of the day and on weekends? Quality clients mean that you can achieve this. Do you want to drop projects that you find absolutely tedious and draining? Seeking clients (and maintaining an ongoing, positive relationship with them) whose work you value in terms of content will allow you to do this.

Don't get stuck in the "But what if next month is slow?" cycle or way of thinking. Decide to make an effort to attract those clients that will make you feel satisfied with your work, because the quality of the client and the quality of the service(s) that you can provide to them match up. After all, if you're always taking on quantity (volume), then the quality of what you produce will suffer as a result. It is impossible to keep up with quality if you are accepting every project that crosses your desk. It's okay to say "No."

When trying to determine whether a client is "high quality" or not, ask yourself these questions:

  • Would you like to hear from them whenever they come knocking, or would their projects feel like tedious tasks that make you less than excited about sitting down at your computer to complete their projects?

  • Do you like to work with them because of the type of work you can do for them (subject matter, their mission lining up with your own values, etc.)? This may even be the case if the client doesn't have the budget to pay your higher translation or interpreting rate. As long as you feel good about the working relationship and the value you provide (as well as the value the projects provide to you as a professional), you may very well think of them as a high quality client.

  • Does the work you receive from the client allow you to be open to new opportunities later? For example, is the subject matter is something that will help you to pick up new (and high quality!) clients because of the experience you're gaining by working on their projects?

Be sure to reassess your client list from time to time. If there is a client you'd rather not work with in the long term, put your energy toward gaining more of those you do want to work with, and set a goal to let go of those that are less than ideal.

By focusing on quality over quantity when it comes to your client list, you will see that you are happier with the work you do and the value you provide. This satisfaction will carry over to other areas of your life. You will produce better content and output as a result. You will be able to spend more time on the things that you want to work on after you've met the deadlines set by these quality clients. And last, but definitely not least, you will simultaneously be refining your craft with the work you get from these clients. This alone is enough reason to take a hard look at how your clients shape up when it comes to quality vs. quantity.

How to Project and Track Expenses in Your T&I Business to Increase Your Profit Margins


Expenses. Everyone has them. No one wants to think (or talk) about them. But as they aren't going anywhere, we need to make sure we can project them and track them in our businesses. After all, no one wants to end up with a loss at the end of the year. Don't worry if you're not tracking and projecting your expenses for your business already. I'm going to show you how to do it without all the complicated software and gadgets. This way of tracking is simple.  Once you do this, you can then utilize whatever accounting system you like to input your expenses and manage your accounting. This post and the spreadsheet I will show you are all about making sure you know what's coming so that you can increase your profit margins and build a better business. Let's dive in!

Now, before we get started with the method that I am going to show you, please note that the numbers reflected in this post and in the video below do not reflect actual numbers in my own business, nor are they suggestions for the numbers you should have in yours.

Here's how my expense projection and tracking tool looks in a few snapshot views. It's truly not as complicated as it might look. I promise!

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And here's how I use it. When a new year or quarter comes, I open the file and take a look at the tabs at the bottom of the spreadsheet. I let the order of the tabs guide how I track and project expenses so that I know what's coming. One thing to remember any time you project expenses. And this is something my accountant tells me often: Projections are just that. Projections. You know they're going to be wrong, but you can come pretty close to figuring out what those numbers will be.

This method will help you to determine what you need to do each month and quarter in order to cover your expenses and make sure you still land right side up. Don't forget to plan for annual expenses like memberships, conferences, licenses, tax fees, etc. These have a way of sneaking up on most people, and no one wants to be hit with a few thousand dollars to shell out all at once. That's why projecting your expenses will help you determine how much money to put aside throughout the year so that you can pay these off all at once without creating any debt for yourself or putting a serious dent in your business account.

By taking a real look at your business expenses for the year, for each quarter and for each month, you can truly make a positive impact on how you do business. You will have more peace of mind about your spending habits and earnings. You will not have to worry as much about when that next big project is coming in to cover your expenses. And you will empower yourself by knowing these numbers. This is not meant to be a scary exercise. It's a practical one.

To get the exact spreadsheet I use in this video, click on the button below to download and get started.

When you purchase the spreadsheet, you will receive:

● the spreadsheet in Excel format (email me for the link as a Google spreadsheet, if you prefer);

● a link to a video that will walk you through exactly how to use the spreadsheet in order to track and project expenses in your T&I business;

● a discount code to use toward the M|Z Sales Revenue Planner (available April 26, 2018!).

The video tutorial that accompanies the spreadsheet is only available to those who download it. Before you tell another person, "I'm a words person, not a numbers person!", check out the spreadsheet and empower yourself in order to increase your profit margins, plan for future expenses and start making more informed decisions about the way you spend in your business.


Why Your Translation Business Needs a Blog

Why Your Translation Business Needs a Blog | Madalena Sanchez Zampaulo | translation blog for clients

I want to start this post out by debunking a couple of myths about blogging.

Myth #1: Blogging is dead. There are some who believe it is, and while video and social media channels with mostly visual content are very much desired by current users, blogging still works as a massive driver to bring people to your website. No matter what you may have heard, blogging is not dead. And yes, many people do still read!

Should you need any further proof of whether blogs are a worthwhile addition to your site, talk to anyone who has one for their business and ask them about their analytics. Specifically, ask them what the most popular pages on their website are. I will bet that most will tell you that certain blog posts rank the highest when it comes to visitors and conversions.

Myth #2: Blogging will take up tons of your time and give you little return. Absolutely untrue. The return itself may take some time to see, but the tags and phrases you use in your blog posts will show up in search terms on search engines, which directly push traffic to the blog on your website.

I am of the opinion that if you have a business and a website, you need a blog. Period. Whether you are a freelancer who works from home, or if you have a small translation agency, you need to be writing a blog on a regular basis. I know so many business owners and freelancers who have the best intentions of starting a blog. They may write a post or two here and there, but consistency is not their strong suit.

In my own business, we typically write 6 to 8 blog posts a month, but you can start with twice a month or once a week if that suits you better. You'll see that it's not nearly as much work or as stressful as you might think. Over time, traffic will be driven to your site and you will reap the benefits with keeping up with your professional blog.

Determine your audience

First and foremost, when you're thinking about topics for blog posts, it's best to remember who your audience is (or better, who your ideal audience is) and connect with them through your blog posts. Create a customer avatar based on your ideal client and write directly to that person in your posts and marketing content. Think about your customers' pain points and how you, as their expert translator, can relieve that pain. What can you do to better serve your customers? What value can you provide and share via your blog, social media posts, direct emails, etc.?

One of the key things to remember when you write blog posts is to write about topics that interest your ideal clients. Remember, if your goal is to drive potential clients to your website, make sure you don't use terms specific to the translation industry that a layperson would have a hard time deciphering. The common client doesn't know what a TM is or how post-editing works. So, try to write for your customers and not your colleagues.

Promote your blog

Use key search terms in your blog posts (and elsewhere on your website). If you are translator who specializes in Japanese to English automotive translation, make sure to use key terms in your blog posts that your ideal client would enter into a search engine. For example, you could write about key considerations in the translation of car manuals. By using terms your ideal client would search for, and simply by writing the blog post at all, you increase the chance of your website showing up in search rankings.

I also cannot stress enough that the more often you update your website with a blog post, the more often you will show up in search engine rankings because blog posts are considered NEW content by today' algorithms. And since blog posts tend to be lengthier than other text on your website, there is a higher probability that simply writing a blog post will increase the search terms that drive traffic directly to your site.

Another way to promote your blog posts in addition to the designated page on your website is to share your blog posts as articles on professional social media channels like LinkedIn. Showing up in social media feeds that also drive traffic to your website is a great way to get further exposure.

Blogging drives people to your website and helps you to direct traffic with intention. You can establish yourself as an expert, gain trust among potential clients and provide the information you want your audience to know simply by writing consistently. Blogging regularly is key.

You can also add your most recent blog post URL to your signature in outgoing emails. You can let your clients know about your blog posts through a monthly newsletter to current clients or by sending potential clients a link when you get a new inquiry. We've found the email marketing method to be very effective and you can easily track email marketing efforts by seeing what your audience opens and clicks on within each email.

If blogging has been on your radar for a while, or if you just want to try a new method of marketing in your translation business, take an hour and create an editorial calendar for this quarter. Decide how often you're going to blog and make sure you schedule days to create the content so that you are sure to follow through. Don't forget to schedule time to promote your blog posts. If you don't tell anyone about your blog, you cannot expect any engagement, especially when you're first starting out.