how to find translation clients

How to Land Your Next Translation Job in Less Than Five Minutes

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Have you ever heard that it's easier to market to existing clients than it is to market to new ones? I completely agree with this statement. It makes sense, right? Existing clients already know us and have some experience working with us. New ones have yet to enter the business relationship, so it's understandable that it would be bit more difficult to market to new clients.

But many times, because we already have existing clients, it can be easy to forget about or neglect them, albeit unintentional of course. One might think, "But I've already landed this client. Why would I continue to market to them?"

This way of thinking and handling existing clients is both a mistake and an easy issue to fix.

I like to stay in touch with my existing clients for many reasons. First of all, it's essential to stay top of mind with them. This can be as simple as letting them know when you have some availability for new projects (more on that in a moment!).

Getting in touch from time to time shows your care for the business relationship. It's also a really easy way to market and keep yourself informed about any changes your client has made since the last time you worked together. Perhaps there is a new contact person. Or maybe your client has a new position or title. It takes no time to send a brief handwritten note of congratulations. In the process of staying in touch, you can also get a good idea of any new projects in the pipeline. This gives you an overall idea of future project-related income as well.

But while I say this is a good marketing habit already, I am just as human as any other translator in the business. At times, I've found that I wasn't doing a great job of staying in touch with some of my best clients, or at least not as well as I could have been. Fixing this issue is really quite simple and doesn't take a lot of time.

I usually like to write to my existing clients with some offer of value. This could be an article I read that I think they'd be interested in as well, something new I've prepared for them that I believe will help them in their work, etc.

But from time to time, I may not have anything new or of concrete value to send them. This happened recently, in fact. So, I decided to test out a method that I read on Jennifer Gregory's blog and in her book. She suggests writing to clients to say hello and them know that you've recently finished a large project and have some availability in the coming few weeks.

I tested this only once… and it took me less than five minutes to write and send the email. I received a response almost immediately with a "I have a few things in the pipeline that we're waiting for approval on first, and then I'll let you know". This type of response is a positive one! I made a note to follow up a week later. But within three days, the client had already responded, offering me a translation assignment worth $1,250. That's an excellent return for something that took me less than five minutes to do!

As my good friend and colleague Emily Safrin puts it, "No fun, big return!" It may not be fun to sit and think of how to authentically craft an email to a client without coming across as salesy or pushy. But boy, when you do it right, the return can be big.

To give you another perspective, I had the tables turned on me recently by a fellow translator. If you've been reading my blog for a while, or if you follow me on Twitter, you know that in addition to being a freelance translator, I also own a boutique translation agency. This translator had applied to work with my small agency about a year ago. At the time, I told him we'd let him know when something came up that fit his language pair and area of specialization.

Well, he followed up with me about a month ago just to say hello and to give me his holiday availability. And lo and behold, his timing was perfect. We had a current project that fit his qualifications and language pair perfectly. And just like that, he landed a project from us that paid out several hundred dollars.

Of course, I knew that he was making a marketing "move" (and a smart one at that!), I didn't mind at all. He was friendly, authentic and didn't come across as pushy or salesy in his message. And it paid off. He's now someone we will call on more frequently. In this process of working with him once, we were able to see that his work is superb, and he's very pleasant to work with. All that just from being consistent and writing an email that probably also took him less than five minutes to write!

So, you see? It very well may be easier to market to existing clients. The key really is consistent and authentic messages, offering value whenever you can. Have you tried this approach before? How did it work for you?

Finding (and Losing) Translation Clients: Why It's Important to Do Both

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There is the saying that when you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. I've found this to be true in the translation world, and I know a lot of colleagues who have as well. So, while it's very important to take steps to attract clients (more on that here and here), it's just as important to repel clients who are not a good fit for you and your business.

I don't hear many people talking about how essential it is to turn translation clients off. But in reality, it's just as important as finding good translation clients.

Once you can pinpoint who your ideal clients are, you can quickly point out the ones who are not a good fit for you. This may sound a bit odd, but it is just as important to repel the wrong clients as it is to attract the ones with whom you prefer to work. So, how can you do both effectively and respectfully? Here are my tips on how to make sure you do this well.

  • Be very specific about your niche(s)/specialization(s).

In other words, don't call yourself a generalist, even if you believe yourself to be one for the most part. Just because you may have a variety of clients from more than one industry, you can still narrow down the type of work you do into a couple of specialized areas. By doing this, you are setting yourself up to work only with clients in those main areas. Of course, if one comes along who does not fit these areas of specialization, you can make the call to work with them or not. But the sooner you specialize, the sooner you can repel the clients who don't have a decent budget, who have unreasonable expectations or who simply don't fit the area(s) in which you work. By being very clear about what you do and for whom you work, it will be easier to repel those clients who are less than ideal.

  • Avoid mentioning the type of work you don't wish to do.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but I've seen so many translators who advertise an area of specialization or a type of client work on their website that they would actually prefer to stop doing. They tell me that they continue to mention it because they don't want to seem inexperienced or close any doors. "What if that's the only type of work I have right now?" And here's where I'd say, "If you don't want to take on a certain type of translation work, then stop talking about (and accepting) it. The longer you do, the longer you'll attract that kind of work." This concept can be carried over to one's résumé, too. If you prefer not to handle certain types of documents or niche areas, it's best not to even mention them on your CV. Instead, focus on what you do want to do and you'll start to attract more of it.

  • Talk directly to the type of client you wish to attract, and avoid talking to those who no longer serve your career goals.

I mention this a lot on the blog and in my T&I Website Blueprint course. It is vital to direct all your marketing efforts, including your web copy and design, to speak to your ideal clients. Talk directly to them, addressing their challenges and pain points and show how you can help solve them. Just as you should avoid mentioning the type of work you don't want to take on, you should also avoid talking to clients with whom you don't wish to start a business relationship. Again, this may sound obvious, but if your web copy is attracting clients you no longer wish to work with on a regular basis, then it might be time to review and revise it. Pay attention to the language you use, and make sure it's fitting for the type of client you want to attract more of in the long run.

  • Check your mindset.

If you're going to attract your ideal clients, you have to come to terms with repelling clients, too. Not everyone should be a good fit for you. So, the next time you're at a party, and someone asks, "You're a translator? So, who are your clients?", try not to give the answer I've heard time and again: "Anyone who needs a [target language] translation." Please. "Anyone" is not your ideal client. The more specific and specialized you are when you describe yourself and your work (both in your marketing copy and when you discuss your work in person), the more you will attract your ideal clients.

It's okay that not every client is the right fit for you. This is a good thing. It means that you don't serve everyone. And honestly, who can?! It's important to recognize this and decide how you will start to actively attract (and repel) clients. By making a conscious effort to market to clients by appealing to them directly, you will inevitably start to repel those who are not your target audience. Instead of worrying about losing potential work or income, use the time you would be spending on that client's work by looking for better clients or handling jobs for clients you already value.

How to Create an Ideal T&I Client Profile to Market Your Services

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It is incredibly important to know your ideal client if your marketing efforts are going to be effective. After all, we want to work with our ideal clients, and not just anyone who crosses our paths, right? I mentioned recently in a webinar that I created an ideal client profile and its usefulness in creating effective marketing content in my business.

One of the attendees asked me if I could show an example of an ideal client profile and how to create one, so I'm breaking it all down for you right here. I've even thrown in examples from my own translation client profile!

● Start with creating your ideal client avatar.

     ○ Find an image that depicts your ideal client. This way, whenever you create new marketing content, you have an image of this person in your head and you know that this is who you are talking to and targeting in your marketing campaigns.

     ○ Give your ideal client a name (also called a user persona).

     ○ Give them a position or title.

     ○ Include demographic information:

          ■ gender

          ■ age

          ■ education/background

          ■ marital status

          ■ salary

          ■ where he/she lives

          ■ number of children, etc.

     ○ Include information about his/her personality. What does he/she:

          ■ like to do outside of work?

          ■ like to watch on TV?

          ■ like to buy (what brands and where does he/she shop)?

          ■ drive?

          ■ wear?

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● Then, describe how you can be your ideal client's best choice of translator or interpreter.

     ○ What are his/her goals at home and at work? What does he/she aspire to do in his/her career?

     ○ What are his/her pain points/challenges?

     ○ What outcomes does he/she want?

     ○ What services do you offer that can help relieve his/her pains/

     ○ What services do you offer that help him/her reach goals?

     ○ What pains can you kill? What gains can you create?

     ○ How did he/she find you?

     ○ What makes him/her engage with you?

     ○ What makes him/her return to work with you?

     ○ What makes him/her recommend you to someone else?

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● Finally, create your marketing content based on what you know about your ideal client. Be creative!

     ○ How did he/she find you?

     ○ What makes him/her engage with you?

     ○ What makes him/her return as a customer?

     ○ What makes him/her recommend you?

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Once you can summarize this information related to your ideal client, you will have an ideal client profile that will inform all of your marketing decisions and efforts. All of your marketing efforts should be geared toward this type of client. You need to know this person before you can market to them. So, now that you do, create those marketing campaigns that you know will speak to them on a personal level. You can do this via social media posts, emails, blogs, etc., and always remember to keep them in mind every time you create a new piece of marketing content.