marketing tips for interpreters

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 Create Good Marketing Habits for Your Translation or Interpreting Business

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I recently starting listening to more audiobooks to give my eyes a rest after long workdays and to keep my mind active when tidying up the house or while I'm out for a run. One book that has me thinking a lot lately is Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results by James Clear. There are so many "golden nuggets" of wisdom in this book, but there is one quote that really stood out to me.


“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”

We all have the best intentions, Clear explains in his book. Many of us also love to set goals for ourselves and for our businesses (I'm raising my hand!). But if we don't also set ourselves up for success by building good habits and systems, then how can we expect to reach these goals? If we were to reach them, it would certainly take much longer without good habits.

He suggests taking small actions so that we can make our big goals more doable and feel like less of a chore. Marketing in a consistent way is the perfect place to start building good habits in our businesses. But it can be overwhelming. That's why, a lot of times, we end up procrastinating instead. Or we spend more time than we'd like to admit not marketing our businesses only to realize that we have made little progress, or worse, we've earned less income than a previous year.

Of course, we know that if we don't market our businesses in some way and on an ongoing basis, then we run the risk of experiencing more times of famine than feast in the future. Sure, our clients might find us. Referrals and a solid web presence make that possible. But we cannot assume that relying on referrals or web traffic will give us a better result next year than they did this year. We can, however, assume that if we market our businesses effectively and consistently, then it is likely we'll have a result to show for it by the end of the year.

Taking small, manageable actions every day to market our businesses, is what will get us the traction and the results we seek. I have heard Ed Gandia, a business strategist and the host of the High-Income Business Writing Podcast, say more than once that even if we have a steady stream of client work, we should be actively and consistently marketing our freelance businesses. He suggests sending several warm emails every week, doing it first thing in the morning and being more concerned about the action of actually sending the emails than the responses we get from them. Because, in the end, the more we put ourselves out there, the higher our chances are of gaining new clients and building more solid business relationships. Seems pretty logical, right?

In addition to Ed's approach, I really like James Clear's suggestion of setting up a cue that triggers the action. The repeated action will, over time, form a good habit that allows you to achieve the results you want in your business. Of course, the opposite is also true. If we have cues that trigger an action that feeds a poor habit, then we will continue to get a poor result. For example, say our cue is delivering a project to a client. This cue then triggers the action of opening up a social media application because we have some time in between projects. We run the risk of forming a poor habit if we are using the social media application only to find ourselves falling down a rabbit hole of tweets, messages and shares. Instead, it would be more effective to use the time spent on the application to engage with clients and actively market our businesses.

Atomic Habits also made me realize all the cues and triggers we experience on a daily basis and what it could mean if we started to consciously and intentionally shape them. For example, a cue to start sending more of the warm emails Ed suggests could be as simple as this. Every morning when you make your coffee and sit down at your desk, open your computer and your email. You don't answer a single inbound message until you've sent a warm email to a prospective client. This allows you to move on with your day and know that you've already handled a marketing task before you even have the chance to get lost in a sea of emails.

Here's one of my own suggestions I'd like you to consider. Commit to spending 20 minutes a day on marketing your business to your clients. Whether that's 10 minutes of engaging on social media each morning and another 10 minutes spent crafting warm emails to potential clients (or following up with those who you've met at networking events, conferences, etc.), the effect of this small habit will certainly add up over time. Let's say you work eight hours a day, five days a week. By committing to 20 minutes a day, that still leaves you 460 minutes every day to handle the rest of your work. How's that for some perspective?

If you spent 20 minutes a day the way I just described, 5 days a week for 48 weeks out of the year, you would essentially engage with clients on social media for 2,400 valuable minutes and send 240 warm emails to prospective clients. I'd be shocked if you told me that this habit yielded few results. In addition to warm emails or engaging with clients on social media, you could use good habits with cues and triggers to sit down and write a blog post or an article to share on LinkedIn over the course of a week. The actual marketing you do depends on your audience, but you get the picture.

I realize this all sounds like logical, common-sense advice, and perhaps as though we just need a little willpower to make these things work. But I do believe it's more than simple willpower. After all, if it were easy, we wouldn't have people writing books on habits and systems. Many of us choose not to market our businesses for fear of rejection. Or because we are overwhelmed at the thought of marketing. Or because we simply don't know where to start. And instead of taking action in spite of rejection, or finding ways to reduce the overwhelm, or learning ways to market our businesses effectively, we often find ourselves simply using these issues as obstacles. We make excuses. These are obstacles that we have essentially created for ourselves. We all do this in some area of our businesses. So, let's commit to changing that by rising to the level of a few newfound habits and systems to achieve the results we want to see in our businesses.

How to Provide Added Value to Your T&I Clients and Build Lasting Relationships

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If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, you probably know that I talk about this topic a lot. And whenever I come across anyone who is resistant to the idea of providing extra value to clients beyond that of the services we already provide as translators/ interpreters, I seem to get the same response. They usually say something along the lines of, "I don't know what kind of value my clients might want." And typically, my answer is, "You know more than you think!"

There are a lot of ways to offer value to your clients beyond the T&I services you already provide. And for some of us who work in language pairs that can have a somewhat saturated market, this is essential! We have to stand out. And to anyone who says, "I don't need to provide any more value than the services I already offer," to that I ask, "Then, what makes you different than any other translator/interpreter who provides the same service?" I know that seems a bit harsh. But if we don't start thinking about the value we provide, both as part of the services we provide and in addition to them, then we may very quickly feel like the market is taking over and we're floundering to raise our rates or find better clients. Everyone is selling something these days. So, it's important to be seen as different. Yes, this is one of those cases in which being different is a good thing!

Of course the translations and interpretations we provide to our clients are incredibly valuable. But they are often thought of as a service that is requested, completed and billed. End of discussion. So, how do we provide even better value so that our clients consider us an integral part of their larger team? How do we keep them coming back to us time and again? Surely, a large part of being valued is due to the services we provide. But it's never just about that. After all, if it were just about the service, our clients would all be shopping around for the least expensive option, right? Who wouldn't be?! So, there has to be something more. By providing more value than other options (i.e. other translators/interpreters in your language pair(s) and area(s) of specialization), we also give our clients more reason to stick with us for the long term.

By building relationships with our clients, we learn how to provide them even more value. We learn how we can serve them best. We learn what their challenges are and how we can help to relieve some of their stresses and challenges. But it doesn't happen overnight. There are plenty of ways to serve our clients in ways other than translation/interpreting that make us even more valuable in their eyes. If you are struggling to come up with some ideas, my best advice is to listen to your clients. Talk to them. Get to know them better so that you can understand the obstacles they face and the goals they have. Then, figure out how you can help them to overcome those obstacles and reach those goals.

When trying to think of additional ways to provide value, first consider your strengths, both as a professional, and in general. 

● Are you a great socializer/connector? Do you know a lot of people and can you connect your clients to others who could help them along in their business/goals? This is valuable.

● Are you an amazing researcher? What can you research or provide that shows even further value to your clients over another translator/interpreter who may not have this superpower? This is valuable.

● Are you a great writer? Can you write for the industry(ies) in which you provide your services so that you can both show your expertise and provide value in another related capacity? This is valuable.

● Are you a wonderful speaker? Could you start speaking at events and conferences that are related to your area(s) of expertise? Not only can you provide knowledge and value to others, but you will soon make even more connections that can open more doors for you! This is valuable.

Notice that none of these suggestions above have anything to do with making a hard sell. That's really not the point here. Providing added value is what allows others to like, know and trust you. From there, people will want to do business with you!

Whatever you do choose to do to provide more value, own it! Don't be shy. Tell people about it. Others will want to help you by connecting you to those they know and who could use your services or gain from the value you are sharing. Here are some ways to spread the word about your added value that will allow you to also shine as an expert translator/interpreter.

● Write a blog post or an article for LinkedIn and send it to your clients' inboxes. Try to do this regularly and watch how much you can engage your target audience.

● Think of what challenges your clients face and try to come up with some clever solutions. Since you know the industries for which you work, something like a guide or tip sheet that could be helpful to your clients in some way is an idea that comes to mind.

● Offer some extras here and there to show that you think more deeply about your clients' projects than just shooting back a translated text. I don't suggest you work for free, but sometimes it's the small and unexpected things we do that people notice the most.

The more you think about the added value you can provide to your clients, the more you will be able to keep their best interests in mind. Your clients will appreciate you even more than they already do. The possibilities here are endless. If you always try to come from a place of serving your clients, the rest will fall into place. You don't have to be salesperson of the year. You just have to think outside the box.

How to Use a Call to Action to Market Your Freelance Translation or Interpreting Business

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A Call to Action, often abbreviated as "CTA" in the marketing and business world, is defined by HubSpot as "an image or line of text that prompts your visitors, leads, and customers to take action. It is, quite literally, a 'call' to take an 'action.'" You can see them on websites for just about any product these days, and service-based businesses are really starting to see the benefits of using them, too. Anytime you see a request to sign up for something, share information or pass along a link, you are being called to take an action by the business or organization whose site you're visiting.

Now, you may not immediately see how a call to action could benefit you in your freelance business. I get it. I used to think that way. It can be uncomfortable to sell or market our services, but as business owners, we have to. So, we might as well do it well, right? I realized that what a good friend once told me is quite true: "Everyone is selling something these days. We just have to be ourselves and be authentic with how we share it." So true.

Most of us with a website hope that our site visitors will see something that makes them want to hire us for an upcoming project or assignment, right? Of course. So, it's not really unheard of to ask a prospective client to do something these days when they land on our websites. Even if they're not yet ready to send us a project, we know that they could be one day. And so, we want to hold on to their information if we can. We want to have a way to be able to reach out to them to start a conversation and to nurture the potential client/provider relationship if there is one to be had, right? Yes. So, how do we create an authentic call to action as freelance translators and interpreters that doesn't make us feel like a used car salesman?

First, we have to be clear on what we want our site visitors to do. People like to be told what to do next on a website. Besides making sure your website's navigation is incredibly user-friendly, it is important to make a specific CTA so that anyone who is looking for more information knows what to do next.

Here are a few examples from freelance writers in whose CTAs are both authentic and provide value. If you ask me, that's the magic formula to any solid CTA that brings results.

This first example asks a single question and gives the reader some possible answers that could match what they're looking for. Each answer has a hyperlink that leads to a page where they can find out more about the writer's services.

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The next example is an offer the writer makes in exchange for a prospect's email address. She's giving value (Insider tips in your inbox every Thursday) in exchange for contact information. This is a great way to build an email list and is worth considering.

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And finally, this last example is a call to action to buy the writer's new book. The call to action is front and center on her website. And it's very clear what the site visitor should do next.

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Each of these examples is from a freelance writer who specializes in a different area of expertise. None of them are in-your-face salesy in my opinion. And all of them provide value in their own way.

Now that you've seen some great examples from other freelance service providers who also work with words for a living, you may be thinking, "What kind of CTA could I use on my website to bring about results and provide value to potential customers?"

Well, first you have to really know your audience and what they are willing to do and tolerate. If your target market is used to seeing pop-up ads asking them for their email address to receive a monthly newsletter, you could try that. But my guess is that most of us work for clients who are not fans of unexpected pop-ups. I know I personally dislike them, so it would feel very inauthentic for me to use one.

Instead, I would prefer to share something with them in exchange for their information. Something that not only gives the prospective client some valuable information (a win for them!), but it allows me to capture their information with the assumption that they may one day have interest in working with me (a win for me!). A mutually beneficial relationship and a well-planned CTA are more likely to work, and there are many ways you could start a relationship with a prospective client by having a solid CTA that still feels authentic to you and is transparent for your clients.

If you are considering adding a CTA to your website, I would encourage you to get creative with it! If you are a court interpreter, you could provide something that you know your legal clients would particularly find useful. If you are a translator who prefers to work with agencies, you could do the same thing by knowing what a project manager might find helpful. Before you create your CTA, ask yourself these questions.

● Do you prefer to work for direct clients, agencies, both? Many of us work for both direct clients and agencies, which are two very different audiences. It might be worthwhile to think of separate CTAs for these audiences, or you could settle on just one that is attractive for both. You could get creative with it, or you could go for the simple (but still effective), "Should we connect?" button that leads to your Contact page. Whatever you do, make sure the CTA fits your audience and their needs.

● What do you want your site visitors to do when they land on your website? This is probably the most obvious -- and also the most important -- question to ask yourself. Do you want to capture someone's email address so you can follow up with them? Do you want them to call you to discuss their next project? Do you want to send them to your blog to read some of your original content that shows off your expertise? CTAs don't have to be fancy. They just have to work. So, if all you want is for someone to click to another page of your website to learn more about you, then make this clear and obvious.

● How can you give them what they want quickly and seamlessly? As I already mentioned, clear navigation is vital for any website. But so is a clear and seamless CTA. If possible, try to place your CTA above the fold (i.e., visible from the moment one lands on the web page before having to scroll down to read more). If you have a link you want someone to click on to read more or to contact you, make sure the CTA is in a prominent place on your website. After all, the amount of time you have to capture someone's attention is very short, so make good use of the space (and time!).

So, how do you strategically use a CTA to gain more work? The key to converting prospective clients is showing your value first and foremost. Think about serving before selling. I always try to provide value before making a sale. I want my clients to trust me and to trust that I know what I'm doing. So, you will never see me ask them for something up front without giving them something even better in return. Try to think like this anytime you create a CTA for your website. If you simply want to have a conversation with a prospective client, then frame your CTA around setting up a call with them to discuss their project or answer their questions.. When you talk to them, provide valuable information that they could use even if they decide later to hire someone else.

A good call to action will provide value and eventually lead to a sale. Of course, it may take time to reach the sale, but this is also true of many networking and sales strategies.

And finally, if I can leave you with one bit of advice about CTAs and value, it is this: Always overdeliver. On my small agency website, we provide value by offering our new e-book to those who wish to join our mailing list.

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We email clients once a month with information about the T&I industry that is applicable to them, and we also share our own news, blog posts, etc. In exchange, we offer them a free copy of our new e-book. We have taken a lot of time to put this together, and we know the information in it is useful. Perhaps next year we will change the CTA to something else, but for now, this one works quite well and prospective clients receive something valuable right from the start, as well as every month in their inboxes.

Hopefully by now I've convinced you that having a CTA is a useful marketing strategy. It doesn't have to feel slimy or “salesy”. It's smart. And you can do it in a way that still feels authentic to you and captures your website visitors so that you can start to grow a business relationship with them.

Five Ways to Improve Your Web Presence Before the New Year

It's never too early to start planning for the new year, especially since the month of October basically flew by! That means there are only two months left of 2018! Have you already made up your mind about 2019? I'm hoping you've decided to make it a growth year in your T&I business. I have!

Need some ideas? Here are 5 ways to improve your web presence before the new year!

1. Refine your website to fit your target market.

Everything on your website, from the images to the copy and everything in between, should be created with your ideal clients in mind. If your ideal clients use certain terms and language, you should be, too. When a client clicks on your website, he should know immediately that you are the right fit for him and his goals.

Make updates to your website from time to time so that you can continue to speak directly to your target market. These could be things like the visuals you share, the language you use, the calls to action you create, etc.

I'm teaching a course about this in November, and today's the last day to sign up at the early bird rate! For more information, or to register, click here!

And to read more about how to create an ideal client profile, check out this post and this post!


2. Hang out online where your target market does.

I get a lot of questions on this one. The most common one I receive is, "But what if I don't know where my clients hang out online?" Well, I'd say you have some research to do, but it should be fun to look into this, because the more you understand your target market, the better you will be able to make a connection with them.

Start by doing some simple Google searches. You could also do some searching around LinkedIn for forums related to your target market. What groups or forums do they participate in? What kind of content are they searching for or commenting on?

Where do they hang out on social media? One great way to find this information is to look at the websites of potential clients in your target market and visit their social media pages. Follow them! Engage with them! If they are active on Twitter, make sure you are active and engaging with them on Twitter. If they tend to prefer another platform, create a profile and get to work. Provide value on the platforms where they hang out by sharing valuable content, commenting, and showing your expertise and generosity through the value and information you share. People pay attention to these things. The value and generosity will come back to you!

3. Consider your emails… yep, those things you write every single day.

When a client emails you and you hit "reply," are you really talking to your clients in a way that builds trust? Or are you just shooting back a response so you can move on to the next email or task at hand?

Consider providing value in every email you send. Whether you include a link to an article the client might find relevant (bonus points if it's to one of your articles or blog posts!), or if you throw in a freebie add-on when you deliver a translation. I don't like to give away work for free, as I feel that that devalues the work itself, but consider something "extra" you could do for a client that they aren't expecting. This helps you to build more of the like, know and trust factor with them at the same time.

4. Start producing original content.

It's fine to repost and share others' content online. In fact, it's necessary, as we cannot possibly produce new content all the time. But what are you producing that shows your professional skills and the value you provide?

Consider starting a blog or posting articles to LinkedIn on a regular basis. Make sure that what you write is relevant to your target market and that it is something that they would want to read and pass along to colleagues!

Once you've created the original content, share it with them. Don't expect others to follow your blog or be on the lookout for your next LinkedIn article. Let people know when you have provided value. No one will see this as being boastful or showy. They'll appreciate it, I promise!

5. Take 20 to 30 minutes a couple of times a week to find valuable content online for your target market, and share it!

Send it in an email to a client or a prospect. Tweet it or share it on LinkedIn. Post it in a LinkedIn group or forum where your target customers hang out. And please… when you share it, say something intelligent about it! Don't just paste the link. Mention what you find useful or valuable, too! This shows your expertise and knowledge on the subject. And perhaps even more importantly, it shows that you care.

There are a lot of ways to step up your web presence. Make a plan for yourself for the coming year. Commit to one hour a few days a week to really put time into improving your online marketing game. You will start to reap the rewards sooner than you think!