how to get new translation clients

Three Points to Consider When Prospecting for your T&I Business

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I'm pretty sure I've never heard a freelancer say, "I don't want any new clients." But if this is you, it might be good to skip this blog post. Having a revolving door of clients means that you can sustain your business for the long haul, especially if you were to lose one of your anchor or highest paying clients. But, as can be the case, it's not always easy to attract one new client after another.

Sure, you can learn to reach out to agencies and direct clients. You can send out your resume, visit trade shows and events where your clients hang out, connect with potential clients online and in person. These are all good ways to attract new clients!

However, if you're not exactly clear about what kind of client is right for your business, it can be easy to simply continue taking on every job that comes your way from any prospect. This is a cycle we should all strive to break. When prospecting for new clients (or when a new prospect approaches you), there are some important factors to think about. Not everyone will be the right fit for you, and vice versa.

Here are three points I believe worth considering when prospecting for new translation or interpreting clients for your freelance business.

  1. Only look for clients who pay more or the same amount you charge your current clients. If you're not happy with the rate you're currently charging, then it's time to search for clients and reach out to those who can (and will!) pay more. As you become busier with client work, it makes sense that you should only take on work from new clients who are willing to pay the same (if you're happy with that rate) or more than what you already make now.

  2. Only look for clients who will respect your non-negotiables or "business standards". What am I talking about? Think about what is important to you for your business and your lifestyle. What hours do you want to work? What kinds of jobs do you want to take on? If you don't want to start working at night or on the weekend, then try to avoid clients who need quick turnarounds or require working extra hours to deliver a job on time. And if you're willing to take on the odd weekend of work, consider charging this client more to make up for missing out on time you could otherwise be spending with your family or friends. If you're tired of translating a certain type of document, or you no longer want to accept certain types of interpreting assignments, shy away from seeking out prospects who frequently offer them.

  3. Only look for clients who can supply the kinds of jobs you want to do. This is related to #2 above. For example, if you are a legal translator and you would prefer to maintain a handful of clients who send you lengthier documents to translate so that you can really sink your teeth into the assignment and necessary research required, then it's best to avoid seeking the type of client who would only call on you to complete quick one-off projects once or twice a year.


Carefully consider those you reach out to before you take the time to do so. Avoid accepting a job simply because your inbox is a little sparse in a given week. Unless you need to make money quickly, accepting lower-paying jobs for less-than-ideal clients can set you up for more disappointment later on. By lowering your standards (and your rates), you are essentially letting a client know you are okay with fulfilling unrealistic expectations or being paid less. It will also be more difficult to change these expectations with this client down the road.

Remember that prospecting is something over which you have a considerable amount of control. You will receive what you put out into the world. So, if you portray yourself as being confident in the type of client you want to attract, it will happen. While it's important to make a habit of prospecting for new clients, it's also vital to recognize that not all new clients are created equal when it comes to meeting your business goals. Seek prospects who offer a mutually fulfilling business relationship and long-term collaboration, while allowing you to meet the goals you put in place for your freelance business.

Three Reasons to Keep Your Clients Engaged with You When You're Not Translating Their Content

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Keeping clients engaged is not as hard or as uncomfortable as it may sound. Not even close. If you want to stop working on those "one and done" client projects, then you have to stop being a "one and done" translator or interpreter. Look at every job as an opportunity for an ongoing business relationship. But like all good relationships, you have to cultivate this one.

Here are three reasons you ought to be engaging with your clients between your translation and interpreting jobs.

1. It shows that you care about having a lasting business relationship. After all, these are the people who put food on your table. When you engage with a client around the actual paid portion of work, you show that you're worth more than the line item that shows up on their expense sheet. By providing value in more ways than simply handing over the service you provide as a translator or interpreter, you might even be sealing an impression that keeps you on as a contractor for the long haul. People like to do business with people they like and trust. So... help them like and trust you.

2. It helps you to stay top of mind. Even if your client doesn't have a current project for you, he/she can refer you to others who do. These referrals will help fuel and grow your business, too. Never underestimate the power of referrals. When I took a hard look at how much of my business was based on referrals, I was shocked to see it was well over 50%!

To learn more about using referrals wisely, check out How to Use Referrals and Grow Your Client List.

3. It allows you to stay on top of the new things that are happening with your clients and with which you might be able to help. I can't tell you how many times I've simply sent off an email to a client to ask how things are going for them only to receive a tidbit of news or a mention of something that truly helps me to understand my client better. Perhaps your client has plans to grow in a new market. Do you translate that type of content? If you don't yet, could you? Or maybe they are planning to cut back on their budget. That doesn't mean you should stop engaging with them, but it does mean that you should plan ahead and perhaps start marketing to more clients in a similar industry so that your income doesn't suffer when you start to see the effects of that client's reduced budget. The information that comes from staying engaged with clients is valuable in so many ways. Don't overlook the possibilities!

How to Take the Fear Out of Networking and Own Your Message as a Translator OR Interpreter

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A lot of us have a less than loving relationship with networking. I'll be honest. I've never really enjoyed it. And while I don't think I'd consider myself a true introvert, I do like to think of myself as a "webtrovert", i.e. someone who feels more comfortable interacting for the first time with clients and leads online rather than in person.

It's not that I'm opposed to meeting clients face-to-face. I often do, but ask me to go to a networking event, and I'll probably think of ten other things I'd rather be doing. I don't love to be thrown into situations where I don't know anyone in the room or I think I may not be making the best use of my time. However, if I can take some time to prepare in advance of the conversation, I feel more in control of or like I have more of an influence on the outcome. Of course, there's no guarantee, but I do prefer to feel prepared than caught off guard. My guess is you do, too.

So, how do we take the fear or discomfort out of networking and really own the message we want to share as translators and interpreters?

My suggestion: online networking… especially because of the industry in which we've chosen to work. As translators and interpreters, we don't always have the ability to meet our clients in person. Some of us work with clients in other states and countries. That's why we sure as heck better know how to effectively networking with them online.

Here are my top tips for taking the fear and discomfort out of networking.

● Set up a time to network every day. Yes, every day. Or at the very least, a few times a week. You set the time. Put it on your calendar or in your agenda, and show up for it like you would a meeting with a client. Decide how to best make use of this time by preparing and providing them with value. That value will look different for each of us. That's why it's best to know and understand the needs of your ideal clients.

To read more about how to know and target your ideal clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client and How to Create and Ideal T&I Client Profile to Market Your Services.

● Use this time to interact with your clients or potential future clients. Send some warm emails or engage with them on social media. Give them a call, or send them a handwritten note. All of these things can be done on your own time and do not require you to attend an event or have an awkward conversation.

● Treat your online networking efforts as market research. The more you get to know your clients, the more information you can "swipe" for future marketing campaigns and messaging.

To learn more about what "swipe files" are and how they can work for you, check out Why You Need to Keep Swipe Files for Your T&I Business.

● Set aside some time or a specific day each week in which you can meet with your clients virtually. You can easily set up appointments these days with online calendar tools, like Google, Calendly, etc. It's just as important to stay in touch with and meet with current clients so that they know you are available and excited to continue working with them. Tell them what you're working on and ask what they're working on as well. Engage. Engage. Engage. This is not the time to sell. Just engage.

● In advance of the networking session or meeting, take some time to get to know the person you are meeting by looking them up online. See if they have a blog, or published articles, if they've won any awards, if they have been mentioned or interviewed recently. See what they're posting on their social media platforms. Do your homework. A feeling of preparedness will allow you to show your interest in working with the client and will also give you some potential topics of conversation.

When you take the time to schedule these things, you will start to see the benefits of networking this way.

● You are in control of the "when" and "where". No longer will you be caught off guard by a direct question from a potential client.

● You can feel comfortable meeting someone from the familiar surroundings of your home office or workspace instead of having to pay $15 to $20 for an event and trying to juggle finger foods, a drink and hold an intelligent conversation.

● You can easily schedule your work around these networking sessions because they are short, focused and you won't be spending valuable time driving to and from an event.

● You are able to make sure that you meet with someone who you actually have a desire to do business with, and not just the person who ends up standing next to you in the buffet line at a large networking event. This type of networking allows you to be strategic.

● You can continue to get to know your clients and hone your message. Practice makes perfect, right? The more you take the time to network online with your clients, the better you will get at it. It will no longer feel like an uncomfortable task to help you market and grow your business. It will simply be a part of doing business.

Don't like the idea of a virtual session? Pick up the phone. Prefer to meet the client in person over a meal? If they're local to you, schedule it! Once you are able to comfortably network with clients on your terms, whether virtually or in person, you can really craft and refine your message so that marketing and networking become second nature. See what works for you and what doesn't. And go from there.

Networking doesn't have to be something that makes your hands sweat just thinking about it. It can be fun to do the research to get to know a client better before you have that first conversation. It also helps your clients get to know you better and trust you. After all, people like to do business with people they like and trust. Own your networking skills. Own your message. Grow your business.

To read even more networking tips, check out my Seven Tips for Effective Networking When You Work from Home.