how to get more translation clients

Why You Need to Keep Swipe Files for Your T&I Business

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This blog post was inspired by a topic I brought up in my webinar How to Leverage Your Online Presence to Market Your Translation or Interpreting Business. I mentioned to attendees how I keep Swipe Files and what keeping files like these can do for your business and your ongoing knowledge of your ideal clients. Essentially, Swipe Files are something I believe every translator or interpreter should be keeping for their business, regardless of whether they prefer to work with translation/interpreting agencies or direct clients.

So, what is a Swipe File? In a nutshell, a Swipe File is a file or folder you keep on your computer, in your email, on your phone or other device that you update often and that you can refer to any time you need to create new marketing content or want to do research on a certain client or market you wish to target with your services. These files could also be called info banks, data mining or content collecting. There are so many ways to keep and use Swipe Files to remember information that could help you market or grow your business in other ways.

Here are a few ways to organize Swipe Files for your business and the kind of information you could keep in each one.

1. Create a Swipe File folder or a series of folders and store them on your computer's desktop or even in a cloud-based file organization system, like Dropbox or Google Drive.

Gather information about your ideal client and save it in this folder or in an organized series of files that you can refer back to when you need content to feed your marketing efforts. Take screenshots of social media posts or forum conversations with things that your ideal client wants to know or has issues with (his/her pain points, challenges, etc.) that you can help solve. Make notes of little details, quirks or interesting tidbits that are specific to your target market. You never know when this type of information will come in handy for a marketing campaign!

The more information you can gather about your target market's challenges, the easier it will be for you to market your solutions in a way that speaks to your ideal client. If you see an ideal client asking a specific question in a forum or complaining about something related to their job, take a screenshot of this, post a comment if you have a solution and bank the information to help you create marketing content, like social media posts, warm emails or blog posts.

You could even keep a Swipe File that is specific to each of your current clients that you believe to be ideal (i.e. those you want to keep working with!). Keep this information handy, and tap into this information to use creatively in emails when you write to them.

Here are some examples of information to keep about your current/ideal clients:

○ Their achievements or awards

○ New ventures, like opening their doors to do business in a country where one of your working language(s) is spoken or adding a new location

○ Important dates, like birthdays, work anniversaries, etc.

Use this type of information to send short notes to them as a way of saying "I remembered 'X' was today. Good luck!" or "Congratulations!", etc. Your clients will notice that you took the time to reach out to them and wish them well. This may seem like a small gesture, but it can be significant in maintaining great working relationships.

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2. Keep a Swipe File of images on your smartphone.

Have you recently received a package or a piece of mail with something you ordered or with a marketing slant that you found very effective? How did this piece of mail make you feel? Valued? Understood? Happy? Clearly, it's not effective to keep every package or piece of effective marketing that makes its way into your mailbox. Instead, snap a photo and add the image to a folder on your phone. If you can sync the folder to your desktop computer, even better!

Over time, you will have a collection of photos saved of packaging or messaging that you found effective and worth noting. Could you do something similar for your clients? How could you find a way to "package" your services to make them feel valued, understood, or happy? This type of information can be incredibly valuable when you are tweaking your client onboarding process, sending invoices or even basic emails to clients. You will be able to take the common invoice or email and tweak it to make them feel how you did when you opened that fun package in the mail. Be creative and have fun with it!

3. Add a folder to your email account and name it "Marketing Swipe Files" or "Ideal Client Swipe Files".

We all get marketing emails from time to time, or even daily for that matter. Which emails or newsletters do you find yourself opening time and again? Add these emails to your "Marketing Swipe Files" folder in your inbox. Analyze which emails you have found to be the most effective in marketing to you, as a customer, and that really "speak" to you. What did the business or sender get right to keep you opening their emails and engaged with their content? How can you do something similar in your own business for your clients?

From which emails do you find yourself unsubscribing? Instead of deleting them, keep a folder to house these unwanted emails so that you can look back and remember what you don't want to do in your own marketing campaigns.

In a separate "Ideal Client Swipe Files" folder, store emails that you have sent back and forth with your clients (remember, only the ideal ones!) that you want to remember the next time you are crafting a marketing email or writing a new social media post. Did someone ask you a question recently that you are often asked? File it in this folder. It could very well be the question that inspires your next blog post topic or social media post. Does your client speak a certain way or use specific jargon or terms? Take note and try to incorporate this into the messaging the next time you write to them.

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When gathering content for your Swipe Files, it's important to also look to other industries for inspiration. I get a lot of my own inspiration from graphic designers and copy editors. I find that both of these industries have many similarities to the T&I industry, and yet, they find incredibly creative ways to market to their ideal clients through both images and copy.

Once you have a decent amount of content in your Swipe Files, analyze the information you have collected. What can your Swipe Files tell you about your ideal client? What can you do with this information to improve your marketing efforts? What can you learn from what others do in their industries that could be carried over creatively to ours and help you to stand out from others who provide the same services as you?

Over time, you will continue to update your Swipe Files as you learn more about your ideal client and about marketing in general. It can be fun to collect the information you keep in your Swipe Files, and it should ultimately give you a lot of insight. Mark some time on your calendar each week or month to search for new data or information to add to your Swipe Files. Doing this will allow you to keep your content fresh and create content based on what your ideal client would want to see from you. It also helps you to stand out as a translator or interpreter in your language pair(s) or area(s) of specialization, because it shows that you know your client, you did your homework and you took the time to find out more about them and their needs.

You can be as detailed and collect as much information as you want to store in your Swipe Files. They are truly yours to use for any efforts you have in marketing your business or learning more about the market in which you want to work. You may find that your ideal client or target market can change over time. This is all the more reason to keep updating your Swipe Files to remain relevant in your marketing efforts.

How to Build a T&I Resume That Sells

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One of the first things you do when you apply for any position is dust off your resume and send it to the employer (or contracting entity, in the case of most in our profession). But how do you know what to include on your resume and in your introductory message to a client? What is relevant to that position and what will "sell" your services to the client who will be receiving it? How do you know whether your resume measures up against others who work in the same language pair(s) or specialization(s)? These are all valid questions when applying for a position in any field, but especially so if you feel you feel that you work in a saturated market or if you're just starting out as a translator or interpreter.

The key to getting a response from the recipient is to sell yourself in two areas: the email or form in which you send your resume and in the resume itself. That seems like a no-brainer, right? While this may seem obvious, it's one thing to know and another thing to be able to sell yourself well via these two touchpoints with a client. So, how do you do this?

First, you have to know your client. Really know them. What is it that they want to see when they open your email or skim over your resume? Highlight those things! What is irrelevant to them and their needs? Nix those things! What can you provide through your services that will help them solve a problem. Be that solution!

Here are nine tips on how sell your services well through your resume so that you can start to stand out to those who are on the receiving end.

1. Keep it brief. Don't make your resume too long. Really, just because you have a lot of achievements, awards or education, this doesn't mean the person on the other side of the email thread has the time or will to read through a laundry list of items. So, be concise and know what sells to this type of client. A one- to two-page resume is plenty. Anything longer than that means you run the risk of your resume getting sent to the Trash folder.

If you find yourself having to make a choice as to what to include in your resume in order to maintain brevity, ask yourself these questions.

  • Will listing a particular award or achievement really increase my chances of getting the job?
  • Do the components that make up my resume clearly reflect what I do and why I have the ability to do it well?
  • What skills does this particular client find desirable, and how can I hone my resume to honestly reflect that I fit their needs?

Once your resume provides the answers to the core questions your client will have when reading your resume, you can redirect clients to your website for more information so they can “get to know you” better.

2. List your language pair(s) and specialization(s) at the top of your resume. This saves your reader time, and it helps to weed out clients who may not be right for you. It also makes it easy to locate your resume in a set of files or if printed and placed in a stack of papers on someone's desk.

3. List what is relevant and nix what is not. Only put on your resume anything that is related to your work in translation or interpreting when it comes to your:

  • education,
  • achievements,
  • awards,
  • skills,
  • experience and
  • affiliations/memberships.

4. Leave out the unnecessary bits. There is no need to include your photo or any personal information other than the best way to contact you. And while it's nice to know you have hobbies, most people who want to hire you do not take this information into consideration. Leave this type of personal information for down the road, as you continuously establish your relationship with a client and allow them to get to know you better.

Some common items applicants put on their resumes that are better left out include things like:

  • education or degrees that are completely irrelevant to their language pair, specialization and/or to the translation and interpreting industry,
  • volunteer activities that do not reflect one’s ability to deliver a solid translation or interpretation,
  • contact information that is out of date or no longer in use.

Provide an email address that you check often so that the person who contacts you receives a response in a reasonable timeframe, typically one to two business days. Having an unprofessional email addresses, such as perfecttranslator@gmail.com (No one’s perfect… sorry!) or writing an email that is riddled with errors won’t get you the gig either. Think about your message and resume as the way to deliver the best first impression you can possibly make on a client. After all, for many of us, it’s the one chance we get! So, make it count.

5. If you don't have any education or training in translation or interpreting, make a plan to get some. If all you list on your resume is education and training in other fields, you are not necessarily going to make a very competitive candidate. The key is to have education and training in your area(s) of specialization, as well as in your language pair(s) and translation/interpreting studies.

6. Are you certified? Highlight this! Put this information closer to the top of your resume than the bottom. You may even want to mention your certification in a somewhat larger font or in bold so that it stands out to the reader. Let your hard-earned certification work for you!

7. Make your resume visually appealing. Gone are the days when you have to follow an exact template for a resume. You can be creative as long as you organize the information well and include all the information your client wants to know. Consider using logos to represent your association memberships, certifications, etc. instead of providing a long list.

8. Do something different. Are you an interpreter? You could make a brief video introduction about yourself to include in your email message, email signature and/or on your resume. This is a great way to stand out and sell yourself, as it allows the recipient to see how you speak. It shows your professionalism in a "face-to-face" and more personable manner. And it makes you more memorable than the others who simply send in a traditional resume.

9. Link back to your website! This is where people go to find out more about you. So, make sure the link works! Believe me, I have seen many that don't. Continue to update your resume to be consistent with your website. If you start to work in a new area of specialization, make sure you include this on both your resume and anywhere else people can find out more about your services (your website, online directories, etc.).

Now that you have an updated resume, go post it on every one of your directory profiles. Post it on LinkedIn. You could even make it a downloadable PDF file on your website. Start sending your new and improved resume out to several potential clients a week, but remember that all-important email message bit I mentioned above?

Write an email that is tailored to the reader. Make sure it's sent the way the recipient wants to receive it, and not through a client inquiry form on their website! Yes, this happens and it's very off-putting. Make sure you address the person who will be reading your email, and avoid simply putting generic names or departments in the opening of your message. Even if you accidentally send your resume to the wrong person, your message is more likely to be forwarded to the right individual if it doesn't look like you just sent it out to potential clients en masse.

Finally, after you send your resume to a potential client, schedule a time to follow up a week or two later. Continue to update your resume, website and directory listings as you get more training and education so that all of the information is consistent. If you change your email address or phone number, remember to update this in all these places, too. After all, your goal in sending a resume is to elicit a response and hopefully gain a new client. Make the process to choose and contact you as easy for potential clients as possible!

Tips for Onboarding New T&I Clients

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The onboarding process for any type of business is a truly important one to carefully consider and refine. But what about for a translation or interpreting professional? The first impression you give a potential client is ultimately one of the main reasons people will choose to work with you or not. So, making sure that your onboarding process is well thought out can help clients remember you for your professionalism. Onboarding clients well is an great way to show that you have a real process and plan in place, which can reassure customers that they were right to reach out to you in the first place.

If you're like me and you have found that most of your clients have come to you by way of referrals, then this process is one that you can improve time and again when onboarding new clients. Here are my top three tips on how to onboard new translation or interpreting clients in your business.

Tip #1: Let your client know what it's like to work with you from the very beginning.

As professionals who tend to work mostly online with our clients in this digital age, it is even more important than ever to start with a great first impression. Once you know who your ideal client is, you can tailor the experience to fit those you'd like to work with, those you want to attract as clients. You could also think of this as a way to weed out those who would not make ideal clients.

 To read more about how to appeal to ideal clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client.

Think of your onboarding experience as a storefront window. A lot of clients are interested, but they don't necessarily know exactly what they need. This is your time to shine. To show your expertise. To let your clients know what it will be like to work with you. When they ask you for a quote, give them a little more information with the quote. This allows you to focus less on a number (the quote) and more on yourself as the expert they need.

Include with your quote, what the client can expect from you with regard to questions you will need them to answer about the assignment(s) they send you. Fill them in on your working hours and how you prefer to be contacted (and ask how they like to be contacted, too). Include a questionnaire or preliminary questions you may have about their inquiry. Be creative and tailor this introduction to reflect your business and personality.

Tip #2: Create templates!

When you have a real process in place, you can truly utilize the power of well designed and well written templates. If you plan to respond to potential clients with an email, take some time to create several templates that outline everything in Tip #1.

To read more about creating email templates, check out How to Create Email Templates to Implement in Your T&I Business and Save Time.

If you prefer to have a face-to-face conversation, provide a response with a link to your calendar/schedule so that the client can choose a time to discuss their needs with you on a virtual call or over the phone. While this approach may seem more time consuming than shooting off an email, it is very effective in landing clients for service-based businesses. Give it a try!

Tip #3: Build a sales funnel.

This may sound daunting, but it truly doesn't have to be. Outline how you plan to talk to new clients from the time of inquiry until the time you deliver a project (and after). If you have a wait list or a delay in the time an inquiry comes in and the time you are able to start working on a client's project, make them aware of this right away. But make sure you show them why you're worth waiting for!

During the onboarding process, it is vital to discover a client's pain points, i.e. problems or challenges. Explain how you can help solve these problems with the service(s) you provide. Make your value proposition very clear so that the client is not riddled with more questions than when they reached out to you. Ideally, your sales funnel should always have a "next step", i.e. a follow-up of some sort so that you continue to be in touch with the client. This is something you'll make better over time, as you never want to come across as spammy or salesy, but you do want to come across as the perfect addition to their collaborative team.

Lastly, don't drop the ball after you deliver a service. Follow up with your client after delivery with a handwritten or typed (and signed by hand!) letter to let them know you value their business and look forward to working with them in the future. You might even do something extra, something unexpected. Again, the point is to set yourself apart from the rest. You could include an elegant bookmark, a gift card to a coffee shop in your client's local area or another fun surprise that leaves a lasting impression in addition to your outstanding work and service.

The client onboarding process should never be overlooked. It's how you give that meaningful first impression to a client. Again, this process can and should be refined over time. It can change. You will want to keep looking at what worked and what didn't, what you can do better or differently. For ideas on how you might be successful in onboarding new clients, take a look at how key professionals in other industries tend to do it. Or consider your most memorable experiences as a customer. What made you feel valued? What made you return? Take those ideas and start a list. Now, you have something to work with and you can customize it to fit your business, your personality, and most importantly, your clients.