We are word people, many of us through and through. We express ourselves best through the written word.
And while we do focus quite a bit on finding just the right term or phrase for a given concept, that doesn't mean that we write marketing copy as well as we translate.
Some would even argue that translators should stick to translation. I would argue that translators can (and should!) learn to write great marketing copy as well. After all, not all freelancers have a large enough marketing budget to hire a copywriter to create all of their marketing content. Since we often rely on our own ways with words, it’s important to first take a look at some of the ways we can easily miss the mark when it comes to the copy we write for our own businesses.
Here are three copy mistakes translators make in their web copy and what to do about it.
Mistake 1: Writing too much content
A lot of times we fall into the habit of wanting to give too many details. We think we need to tell those who land on our website everything about how we came to be translators. We think we need to write copy that reflects exactly what’s on our resumes.
Trust me. Having too much copy on your website means that clients will have to sift through it all to find what they need. Is that something you would want to do when you land on a website? Your clients don’t want to do that either! By writing too much content, you run the risk of losing potential clients.
Instead, focus on this solution.
Solution: In two words: write less. More concretely, keep the copy on your site to a minimum. You do not have to tell clients everyone everything about you as soon as they land on your website. A couple of my students in the T&I Website Blueprint Course said to me, “But I want to be honest and let them know why I’m qualified.” Well, of course! But you can still be honest and show your qualifications without writing a novel on your home page. As the saying goes, "Don't show all your cards." Save some of the information about your background and knowledge on a given topic for the conversations you’ll have with a potential client. Use this information to help create a business relationship over time.
Having white space on your website is a good thing. It guides the reader eyes to know where to look next. It is less overwhelming than having a lot of copy. And aesthetically, it’s much more pleasing to the reader’s eye.
Mistake 2: Writing about themselves instead of to their ideal clients
I see this mistake more often than I’d like to admit. Many translators (and other freelancers, for that matter) talk about themselves more than they talk to their ideal clients. Take a look at your website copy and find all the ways you write about yourself (using the pronoun “I”). Then, look at all the ways you write to your clients (using the pronoun “you”).
Does your copy read more like an autobiography than a friendly conversation? If so, it’s time to update that content!
Solution: If you are going to write to your clients, you have to know something about them. It is important to mentally gather this information and write your copy as if you are having a conversation with the reader. Show that you understand your ideal clients in your web copy and talk about how you can help them.
Again, this isn’t the time to tell your clients everything at once. They don't want to know the "how" about what you do. They want to know the "why" that helps them reach the results they wish to achieve.
Mistake 3: Not focusing on what their ideal clients want to know
This is another one of those mistakes I see quite often when browsing translators’ websites. There seems to be a disconnect between what a lot of translators tell their potential clients and what their potential clients are actually looking for. Yes, it’s important for a client to know you’re qualified. But no… they don’t necessarily need to know your life story and why you chose to study languages (unless it’s relevant, of course!).
Solution: This is somewhat similar to number 2 above, but a client you want to work with for the long-term is probably also looking for a long-term solution to a problem they currently have. That's why you have to make your words count! Think about who your clients are.
What do they struggle with? What are their goals? What do they get out of working with a professional translator beyond the translation itself? Maybe it’s the ability to tap into a new market. Maybe it’s the opportunity to close a deal with a new customer. Maybe it’s a way to market their programs to international students. Whatever your clients are looking to achieve by working with you is what creates your value to them.
Instead of focusing on what you think your clients want to know when they land on your website, take the time to ask them what they look for in hiring a professional translator. Talk to your clients about their challenges and goals. If you are an interpreter, you could even make your "About" page of your website a brief video of you talking to your clients instead of a series of paragraphs. This allows your clients to see how professional you are, to listen to the rhythm of your speech and to have a better sense of “knowing you” before they actually meet you.
These mistakes are definitely things one can work on and improve over time. And the best part is that nothing you put on your website is set in stone for the rest of time.
As your ideal clients might change, so should your copy in order to better relate to them and what they need. Remember to talk to your clients through your website copy and to always portray the value you bring to the business relationship.
If you want to learn more about copywriting for your business, as well as offering copywriting services to your translation clients, sign up for the wait list for this course (by writing to Corinne McKay at firstname.lastname@example.org) . This course is given as part of Corinne McKay's online course series.