business tips

Five Website Mistakes Translators and Interpreters Make and How to Fix Them

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The fact that everything is searchable online these days means that you have a responsibility to yourself and to your business to market yourself well via your website. After all, it's an expense in your business that is worth getting a return on, right? But it's all too easy to fall into the well of project overload, pushing things off until the weekend or that next period of free time (psst… it's not coming!) or when things are slow in your business. But what if that proverbial project well goes dry?

You might start to think about your website and how you might tweak it to get more traction with potential customers. Ugh... but where to start?! So, instead of doing an entire website revamp or even making a few of those minor tweaks, you end up keeping your site the way it is. Months start to pass on the calendar and you haven't touched it, let alone thought about what you could do differently to attract more of your ideal clients.

And while you might not be in for the entire revamp just yet, but if you're open to planning it for the future and/or tinkering around a bit on your website, here are five website mistakes translators and interpreters often make and how to fix them. These should get you off to a great start and help you brainstorm how your new and improved site should look and feel once you're ready to tackle it.

Mistake 1: Not making a real connection with those who visit your site

As soon as someone lands on your website, it is important to make a connection with them. If your website takes a long time to load, you can lose someone. If the navigation is hard to figure out, you can lose someone. If there is too much text, you can lose someone. (I know, it's hard as word people not to be wordy, but do your best to be concise and catch your site visitors' attention right away!)

For more ideas on how to make a real connection (or not!) with your site visitors, check out this infographic What Makes Someone Leave a Website.

Mistake 2: Not creating an emotional connection in the "About" section

People want to know what it's like to work with you. So, give them that by engaging with them, creating a connection beyond the services you offer. The "About" section of your website should start by telling visitors who you are, mention some of the problem(s) they face, how you solve their problem(s) and the outcomes they can expect if they work with you. This is similar to an elevator speech, but it's in text form and should be concise without feeling stiff or cold.

Here's an example of a great "About" introduction for a fictitious translator named Susan.

Olá! My name is Susan Duncan… I am a small town Portuguese to English translator who serves big town clients all over the world by delivering translations of their marketing and communications content. I've found that companies in Portuguese-speaking countries struggle to find professional translators who really understand the corporate culture when they start to do business in and market their products in the United States. I've helped numerous clients refine their email campaigns, advertisements, internal and external communications, brand identity and social media messaging so that they can conduct business successfully in the American market and gain peace of mind in the process. 

Mistake 3: Neglecting to consider the user experience

We often fall into the habit of creating our site as we think it should feel or look without actually considering our ideal users. One way to change this habit is to have someone navigate the site in front of you. Start on the "Home" page and let them click around the site at their pace and as they desire. Don't tell them what to do or where to click next. Pay attention to what they choose and where they navigate, click after click.

What changes can you make to improve their experience? Ask them follow-up questions about what they thought they'd find by clicking on certain items. The person (or persons--even better!) should be an ideal client, if possible. This will help you determine various details about how your site should look and feel, keeping the user experience in mind.

Mistake 4: Not updating the site to fit market changes and ideal client shifts over time

Just like everything in business, markets shift. Ideal clients change. As time goes on, you see how what once worked well for you may not anymore when it comes to gaining new clients or reaching your ideal customers. As these shifts and changes take place, you too must adapt. This means your site should adapt to these changes as well. Pay attention to and keep track of the ways your ideal customers change and be ready to change with them. This is all part of doing business.

Mistake 5: Not continuing to make sure all design and branding speak to the ideal client

From time to time, you will want to update the design and branding on your website to continue "speaking" to your ideal client in a way that makes them feel like you really get where they're coming from. No one wants to read a site that's all about you. Make your site stand out to your ideal client in a way that makes them feel like it was worth taking the time to read your content. They should feel like you know them already, like you created your business (and site) with them in mind. This is the true way to win over your ideal client's heart.

For more ways to appeal to ideal clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client. 

If you're making any of these mistakes, there's no reason to worry. Just fix them and move forward. Dust off that website and get to work. The key is to know your ideal client well and to write and design the site with them in mind. The rest will work itself out!

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

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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.


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How to Set Quarterly Business Goals for Your Translation or Interpreting Business

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At this time of year (it's tax time here in the U.S.!), everyone is talking about annual goals, projections, and ways to grow the bottom line. But what about thinking in the shorter term? Sure, we need to have long-term goals, but sometimes it can be more effective to break down those "big picture" goals into short-term goals. For me at least, it is much less overwhelming to think and work this way.

PLANNING QUARTERLY BUSINESS GOALS

Here's the process I like to use when planning quarterly goals. I realize that everyone does this differently, so if you have some tips to share, please do so in the comments. I'd love to hear them!

1 | TAKE A LOOK AT THE BIG PICTURE.

I like to look at the big picture for the purpose of deciding the direction I want my business to go in a given year (or even a few years out, but let's start with one year). I know. I said not to think long-term. But for the purposes of quarterly planning, we need to decide what we want to accomplish overall in a year.

Ask yourself these questions:

● What would make this year amazing? What needs to happen for you to consider this a truly successful year?

● What are the numbers? Consider how much revenue you want to bring in, your business' reach (social media, email marketing, etc.), new hires you might need to make (accountant, assistant, marketing consultant, tax preparer, etc.), new initiatives, new income streams, etc.

● What value do you want to be sure to provide to your customers this year?

● How do you want to provide that value (new services, larger projects, etc.)?

● What resources do you need to make this happen?

These are your overarching annual goals. These set the framework for planning per quarter.

2 | TAKE THOSE ANNUAL GOALS AND BREAK THEM DOWN INTO SIX-MONTH GOALS.

To make this easy, we can cut the numbers you provided from question 1 above in half and try to shoot for these numbers by the mid-year mark.

It is essential to also consider the value you want to provide in your business. How can you handle the various aspects and details that go into providing this value? Do you need to delegate tasks or choose one to two days per week to work on certain projects that will allow you to provide better value? Turn the bigger goal of how you want to provide value into a smaller goal to be met six months from now.

3 | CUT THOSE SIX-MONTH GOALS IN HALF AGAIN.

Now, we are left with quarterly goals. And now that you know how much money you want to make in a year, how many new or improved services/initiatives/income streams you want to offer or have, you can take these quarterly goals and convert them into action items for each of the three months in a quarter.

Here's an example. Let's say you want to make $100,000 this year in your business. Your 6-month revenue goal would be $50,000 and your quarterly revenue goal is $25,000. Pretty simple, right?

And let's say you want to provide two new services this year. You could offer one in the first six months of the year and begin providing the other in the second six months. That means that this quarter and next quarter you'll be working toward offering one new service by taking actionable steps to get there and making sure your clients know about them.

You could spend a month or so doing research about what your clients need in terms of the new service offering. The next month, you could spend time gathering resources and creating copy and sales emails/social media posts surrounding the new offering. The following month, you could launch the new service with a small group of your clients and run it as a beta version. Be sure to request feedback!

Next quarter would be all about taking that feedback, refining the process and improving the service. This will also help you determine the right price point for the service and give you a better idea of how to provide your customers with the best value based on the feedback you received.

By setting smaller goals, you allow yourself to create specific tasks and timelines more easily, which means less overwhelm! I love to use this method of "working backwards" because it allows me to see the overall picture and create smaller steps in order to reach bigger goals.

4 | MAP IT ALL OUT.

Before we finish up here, there's one final and very important step to tackle. Map it all out!

Take a look at your calendar for the next three months. Mark every trip, special occasion, doctor's appointment and any other commitments you have that would keep you away from your desk and working towards your quarterly goals. Go ahead and get them down on paper so that when you plan your action steps for each month (or week, if you're like me!), you already have these important dates on your calendar and you won't overbook yourself. There's nothing worse than getting all set to tackle a bit goal and then realizing you have to reschedule the actionable steps that it's going to take to reach it.

This will keep you from missing the mark or getting behind on working toward your goals, because it shows you exactly how much time you have to put toward them. You might see that you were overly ambitious with your quarterly goals and that you really don't have as much time to work on them as you thought. That's okay. Reschedule your actionable steps so that you can be sure you know what you need to do, and when, in order to meet your goals.

A great way to work toward your quarterly goals is to schedule your actionable steps in batches. I like to work on certain tasks which I batch on certain days of the week. These are called "batch days" by productivity experts, and they really do work. Each week, set aside a certain day when you will only work on the tasks that bring you closer to reaching the goals you have set. So, if you plan to start a blog for your clients, choose to write your outlines and posts every Tuesday. This way, you not only devote specific time to the tasks that take you one step closer to your goals, but you also give yourself some devoted time that is non-negotiable. Try not to schedule any other work tasks for that day and focus solely on creating content for and working on your blog. Give it a go. I promise it works!

5 | REASSESS AT THE END OF THE QUARTER.

Now that you've set your quarterly goals, put a date on the calendar for the end of the quarter to assess how well you did in meeting those goals. Once that date comes, take a look at how close you came to meeting the original goals you set for your business.

● Did you come close?

● Did you surpass your goals?

● Did you miss the mark completely?

If you more than surpassed your goals, you can probably shoot for even bigger goals next quarter. If you missed the mark, try to rework some of the actionable steps you laid out, and focus ruthlessly the next quarter so you can hit those marks.


How do you usually plan ahead in your translation or interpreting business? Do you prefer to plan annual, six-month or quarterly goals?


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