how to market to 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.

How to Nail the "About" Section of Your T&I Business Website

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The "About" section of your business website is arguably the most important page to get right. Why's that? Your "About" page section allows people to get to know you. It also lets you show potential clients what it will be like to work with you. After all, people do business with those they like (and sometimes those they are like). So, use your "About" page to shine, and really toot your own horn. There's no need to be salesy, but you will want to be specific and brief, since you have little time to impress those who visit your page and read about you for the first time. You have less than 30 seconds to impress someone in order to keep them interested enough to stay on your site, so it is crucial to get it right.

That's why nailing the "About" page of your website is so vital. People want to know who you are and how you're qualified before they hire you to translate a document or interpret for their next meeting. Sure, it's fine to go and look at the "About" section of others who work in our industry to get an idea of how to construct this page on your website. But here's where I'd tell you to stay in your lane. Before you follow the lead of others, use your research on what others do to really take a hard look at how you can be different. Remember, you want to stand out from the crowd in order for a client to choose you over someone else who provides the same or similar services.

How do you do this? The answer lies in giving potential clients a better idea of who you are and what it's like to work with you. Here is an example (admittedly, one I made up for the purpose of this post) of a truly different and effective "About" description.

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Olá! My name is Susan Duncan… I am a small town Portuguese to English translator who serves big town clients all over the world by delivering translations of their marketing and communications content. I've found that companies in Portuguese-speaking countries struggle to find professional translators who really understand the corporate culture when they start to do business in and market their products in the United States. I've helped numerous clients refine their email campaigns, advertisements, internal and external communications, brand identity and social media messaging so that they can conduct business successfully in the American market and gain peace of mind in the process.

It's easy to see that this translator mentions all the key areas that a client would wish to know about the work she does: her profession, language pair and the type of translations she is able to handle. She also touches on a pain point that she knows her clients have and how she can solve this problem for them. The description is effective because Susan tells clients that when they work with her, they will gain peace of mind and will be able to conduct business successfully in the American market. This type of language not only taps into the emotion of the buyer, but it also builds confidence within the reader.

You may have noticed that there is no long list of coursework or trainings, certifications, certificates, awards or achievements. Why's that? While still important to mention, these are items that do not necessarily have to be wrapped into the "About" section of your website. By keeping the "About" section brief and above the fold (i.e. the part of the website that is shown when someone first lands on the page before having to scroll down), Susan is able to capture the attention of the reader. Once the reader decides that he wants to know more, he will click to other pages on the website to get more information.

So, where should you put things like your education, trainings, achievements, memberships, etc.? I would argue that these are fine to put below the fold (i.e. the area of the page that is seen once the reader scrolls down) on the "About" page, or even on another page of the site. In order to avoid long lists or bulky paragraphs, consider using logos to represent education, memberships and other key information.

If you are an interpreter, you could even create a video for your "About" page instead of writing a description. Video is a very effective form of marketing these days. And what better way to allow your clients to hear how you speak and see your professionalism firsthand than through a video where they can get to know you better?

Finally, don't forget to utilize the "About" page of your website in other ways as well. Link your directory listings and profiles from organizations to which you belong back to this page or to the homepage of your website. Utilize every platform where people can find more information about you and drive all the traffic from those platforms back to your website. This is key to getting more work from the clients you want to target.

The "About" page of your website is bound to be one of the pages with the highest number of views, so you should always make sure it's up to date. Over time, this page is bound to change, just as your business does, as you do, and as your ideal client does. You may not always have the same type of ideal client. This is yet another reason to continue to update your "About" page at least once a year. Remember to include the type of work you want to do, not necessarily the work you are doing now. There is sometimes a difference, especially if you are just starting out or if you are looking to shift your specialization(s), so craft the description of yourself and your work to benefit you in the long term.

To read more about how to target your ideal translation or interpreting clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client, How to Build a T&I Resume That Sells, and How to Create an Ideal T&I Client Profile to Market Your Services.

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/
        challenges?

     ○ 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.

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.

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 SubjectLine.com. 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!