business tips 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 Use Referrals to Grow Your Client List

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If you're a translator or an interpreter, you know just how important it can be to get a client (or friend) referral that leads you to a great client. It helps you to build what is hopefully a sustainable and booming business. Once you define your ideal client, you'll want to get the word out to others about the fact that you're looking to grow your business or client list. But you will want to do this strategically without coming off as salesy, right?

Here are three ways you can leverage referrals to grow your client list starting today.

1. Give your clients an unforgettable experience.

Before even considering how to get more referrals for your business, it is key to treat your current clients well, first and foremost. As most of us work from home and have clients all over the map, we don't often get to see or meet with our clients. So, finding ways to give them the ultimate experience when they work with you is important in getting them to offer your name up as a referral to those in their own networks.

Think about this. When you refer your friends or family to a particular restaurant, shop or professional provider, you want them to be just as pleased as you were, right? You wouldn't refer them to someone who you thought would give them poor service or sell them a glitchy product. That's exactly how your customers feel, too. So, whenever you have the chance, make a point to wow your clients. Do something unexpected for them like throwing in a bonus translation of something that would serve them well. I'm not saying you should give away your work, but by adding an extra touch like this, you stand out a bit more than other folks who provide the same service as you. If this isn't your style, you could write a handwritten thank-you note and include a gift card to a coffee shop near their office. Remember, it's the little things that clients remember when it comes to why they love to work with you. So, give them a reason to keep coming back and keep referring others to you.

For more tips on how to effectively network with clients when you work from home, check out this post.

2. Never underestimate who you might meet or speak to at any given moment.

It's been said that you should always carry yourself as though you are representing your business or brand. This is even truer nowadays, as more and more people are in touch with each other through technology, too.

Your next referral could come from a current client or a friend, the person bagging your groceries at the supermarket, a bank teller or even a gym pal. So, staying "on brand" and "on message" is key to landing more referrals. How does technology play into this? While you shouldn't underestimate who you might speak to or meet in person, you must also be sure to carry yourself well online. I have had many friends, who I've not seen in over 10 years, refer business to me simply because they saw my social media post about something language-related, or they remembered I have a small translation agency because of a recent tweet they saw in their Twitter feed. Stranger things have happened!

3. Don't be afraid to request a testimonial. They work.

Testimonials can be one of the strongest marketing methods you can use. Don't let anyone tell you that no one reads testimonials anymore. Just look at the number of review on an Amazon product page, and this should convince you otherwise. And what's more? They're totally free. Reach out to past clients and ask them to give you a brief testimonial. As they write it, they will be reminded of just how much they liked working with you, which is never a bad thing.

Once you have a few testimonials under your belt, post them everywhere, post them frequently, but don't be spammy (of course!). Use them on your social media channels, in email campaigns to clients and on your website. If you're on particularly great terms with the person who gave you the testimonial, request that they share it on your LinkedIn profile or another professional site you use as well.

Take a look at your current client list. No matter how long it is, I am willing to bet that more than half of your clients came from referrals. And while this may not necessarily be the case for you, never give up on trying to get more referrals. They are invaluable and worth multiplying if you take a little bit of time to build stronger client relationships and get the word out more often about the work you do and what its like to work with you.

For more reading on this topic, check out Jesse Tomlinson's guest post, "Who's Watching?" on Judy and Dagmar Jenner's blog Translation Times.

How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client

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People talk about ideal clients all the time. But what in the world do they mean? Someone who pays on time? Someone who doesn't try to low-ball you every time they contact you? Projects or assignments you enjoy taking whenever they ask? An ideal client could be all of these things, but my guess is they're even more than that. Your ideal client is someone you want to work with on a regular, ongoing basis. Your business relationship with them is smooth, uneventful and pleasant.

Of course, you can't (and shouldn't) try to be everything to everyone. If you do, you'll be pleasing no one in the process. You'll get price-shopped. You'll turn into part of all that online "noise" we all dislike so much. So, how do we determine who is our ideal client and how to attract more of them as we build our client lists?

Here are my top five ways to determine your ideal client so you can start marketing to them directly online, save time and spend less time on those not-so-ideal clients.

  1. Determine whose exact needs you are meeting with your services. Who is this person and how do your services improve their job and, in turn, their life? That's your ideal client.

  2. Define who values what you offer, and who you value. Knowing the answer to this allows you both to move forward in your businesses. That's your ideal client.

  3. Figure out which potential gaps you fill in your industry. The person who would want this gap filled? That's your ideal client.

  4. Decide who is willing to accept your non-negotiables. No working on the weekends or after 6:00 pm? No last-minute jobs unless the client will pay your rush fee without balking? That's your ideal client.

  5. Determine your differentiating factor and use it everywhere you can. This is different from number 3 above. Your differentiating factor is what sets you apart from everyone else in your language pair or field. The client who loves you for this? Yep, that's your ideal client.

To read more about how to differentiate yourself, check out Nine Ways to Stand Out in the T&I Industry.

Once you've determined who your ideal client is, you can target all of your marketing efforts and outward messaging, especially online, to appeal to them. It won't feel complicated. It won't come across as spammy. It will flow, and you will watch your client numbers rise. Of course, you'll want to constantly be aware of whether your ideal client is changing or adapting to market or industry shifts and refine your marketing and messaging to fit these changes. But once you've nailed down who that ideal client is, the rest will come!

3 Reasons You Should Have an Email List for your T&I Business and Some Bonus Tips

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Having an email list is essential these days for any type of business. It doesn't matter if you're a freelancer or a small agency. When you are able to show up in people's inboxes on a consistent basis, you have the opportunity to serve your clients more (and more often). Don’t worry if you don’t have an email list yet for your clients. You can create one very easily by using one of the email services available (MailChimp, ConvertKit, Constant Contact, Kartra, etc.) and start showing up for your clients in a way that serves them beyond simply providing them with your services.

Here are three reasons you must have an email list for your translation or interpreting business.

1. You own it!

When you have an email list that you can use to market to and inform your clients about new and exciting things in your business, you have an advantage over other mediums. Now, you might think, “Well, I have a Facebook page already.” or “But what about my Twitter feed?” While social media is all well and good for reaching current and potential clients, there are some key issues to remember about these channels. First, they are rented space. There is no way to know if these social media networks will be around in the next few years. Consider this: If Twitter disappeared tomorrow, how would you market to your clients or share tidbits of information with them frequently? These days, with changing algorithms and news feeds that don’t show your posts to all of your followers, having the ability to show up in someone's inbox means you have a higher chance of your content being seen and read (by those you want to see and read it!).

 2. An email list allows you to speak directly to people who care about what you're offering.

By utilizing your email list strategically, you are able to put valuable content in your clients’ hands pretty immediately. You can also tailor the content to fit your clients’ areas of expertise, as they probably match up well with yours. Since you already know them and what they do, their challenges and their goals, you can create and email them content that will serve them. This is the key to using an email list strategically.

Also, if a client is willing to join your email list in the first place, they have already shown an interest in the information you might share with them. Take this very seriously and be grateful for the opportunity to meet them in their inbox. After all, they can always choose to unsubscribe. However, as long as you’re providing content that they find valuable, they will happily continue to receive and read your emails.

3. You can serve clients better and more personably because you're offering them great content that doubles as a networking opportunity!

Not only is the content you provide meant to be valuable, but simply by showing up in your clients’ inboxes on a regular basis, you are networking with them, albeit virtually. Even if one of your email subscribers is not a current client (yet!), your continued commitment to provide them with valuable information that serves them will show that you care about the relationship you have with them. This alone is all the more reason to continue showing up for them.

Hopefully, by now, you’ve determined that having an email list for your business will be a particularly useful and strategic form of marketing to and networking with your clients.

Here are some bonus tips on how to make the most of your email marketing endeavors.

● Write your emails to clients as if you were writing directly to each one of them. Use language you would normally use in your writing. This is your chance to show your "voice" and what it is like to work with you. So, write for your clients, but remain true to you.

● Choose a frequency with which you will send them emails, and stick to it. If you decide to email your clients once a month, make sure you can maintain that frequency. If you choose to write once a week, stick to it. Don’t let long periods of time pass without sending an email to your subscribers. If you become inconsistent with the emails you send your email list, this shows that you might not be that dedicated to your business. And that’s not the perception you want to create.

● Make sure you use great subject lines that have a hook, but be careful of any that would be considered deceiving or spammy. A handy website for creating subject lines that will make your subscribers want to read more is Go ahead and test your subject lines to see how the likelihood of people to opening your email campaigns.

● Make sure that those on your list have agreed to be on it by subscribing or opting in on your website. Be careful not to simply add clients to your email list without asking them. This is particularly annoying to many people, and you will probably see several people unsubscribe. In addition, some countries have regulations on how someone can and should be added to your list (e.g. a double opt-in method, etc.), so do a little research and make sure you market your email list well so that clients are excited to sign up for it.

● Use your email list wisely by paying attention to what subscribers want to know more about. If you provide links or downloads in your emails, check back later to see the reports associated with your emails. This will not only allow you to know more about what your clients find important to know and what interests them, but it will help you to determine what type of content to continue providing and what content they may not find that appealing.

Having and keeping up with an email list is not as daunting as it may seem. In fact, most businesses these days have email lists and use them to let customers know about news, upcoming promotions and information they believe will be valuable for them. Take this as an opportunity to further serve your clients, and start your email list now!

Five Types of Blog Posts You Should Write for Your Clients

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Writing a blog, in general, can be very good for your business. If you decide that the purpose of the content on your website is to serve your clients, then sharing your ideas and expertise via a blog can boost your credibility among clients. It can also bring up your SEO ranking in search engine results significantly, and rather quickly. And perhaps most importantly, it can increase buy-in from clients.

For more information on blogging for clients, check out Why Your Translation Business Needs a Blog.

It can sometimes be hard to know what kind of content to write for clients. And while you may start out with some great ideas, and feel very motivated in the beginning of your blogging ventures, it’s important to continuously think up new ideas and content that you can share with your clients in order to keep them coming back for more.

Here are five types of posts you can write and schedule for your blog today.

1. Tips and best practices

When it comes to some of the most effective blog posts among general readerships, those that are chock full of tips and tricks tend to be very well received. Create a blog post, or a series of blog posts, on best practices for working with a professional translator or interpreter in your area of expertise. Try not to be too self promotional. Instead, allow the reader to draw the conclusion that you want them to draw simply by becoming more informed and demonstrating your expertise in the area.

2. A “how to” article

People love these! Teach your readers how to do something that most would not typically know how to do. Try to relate this to language and/or translation or interpreting in some way. You could write something basic and simple, like a post on how to work with a freelance translator. Or you could be more creative and write a post on how to prepare a text for translation in your given area of expertise with key items to consider before requesting the translation. You could even write a fun post on how to greet someone in the language(s) you speak. This is useful for trips, in meeting new or potential clients, etc. Remember one thing, however. Keep the post simple and to the point.

3. A checklist or list of resources

 Who doesn’t love a good checklist? Or a well curated list of resources that cuts out one to three hours of work on their part? Think about what kinds of things your clients often request. What would need to know to do their jobs better (bonus points when these relate to your language pair), or simply something that would make their jobs (or lives) easier? Even if you cannot directly relate the checklist or resources to your language pair, the simple fact that you have taken the time to prepare the list of resources for them shows that you are dedicated to ensuring your clients’ success, while allowing you to further demonstrate your expertise.

4. Frequently asked questions (and answers)

In addition to number 3 above, putting together a post that answers the most frequently asked questions you receive will allow you to direct new clients to these responses without having to answer the same questions over and over again. Try not to frame this as an FAQ page on your website. Instead, draft some engaging content based on the questions you are often asked, and provide your best answers to them. Anytime you get a new client inquiry, you can use this post as part of your onboarding process. Include a link in your reply email to your client as a way to both answer potential questions and to demonstrate that you have created content with your clients in mind.

5. Current trends or information that is relevant to your clients

One great way to further demonstrate your knowledge on a subject area is to provide clients with current information that is relevant to them in their area(s) of expertise or on items that might affect their line of work. For example, if you have clients who frequently market their products or services in Europe, you could create a post for them how they might be affected by regulations on data collection and protection. Of course, you’ll want to refer to more authoritative sources within your post, and perhaps include a disclaimer that you are not a lawyer, etc., but just by getting them to think about what they might need to do in order to prepare shows that you have their best interests in mind and that you are aware of current issues. Of course, there are many trends and events that you could write about. So, take some time to brainstorm a few and decide which would be of most interest to your client readership.

It is vital to truly understand your clients if you plan to write for them. This means you have to ask them questions, understand their problems, talk to them! It is also essential to use the kind of language or register in your blog posts that your clients use. If you are in a very niche market, then it may be okay to use jargon that is industry-specific. But if you serve a variety of clients, then it is probably best to avoid jargon or specialized terminology.

Don't be afraid to talk directly with your clients to find out what it is that they struggle with in their positions or within their industries. You will often find that the answers you receive are things you were not expecting! And this is your chance to shine and show how you can help them. Be creative and open to writing content for them on a regular, consistent basis. This is the key to “showing up” for them, even when you are not currently working on one of their projects.

One final tip is to use your client email list to let clients know when you have published a new blog post. Don’t assume that just because you are writing for your clients that they will be waiting for your next post to be published. Let them know and include a link to the post. This will drive more traffic to your site and will keep you (and your services) top of mind.