tips for translators

How to Project and Track Sales Revenue in Your T&I Business to Start Earning More

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I recently showed you exactly how I project and track business expenses and how to do it easily in your own business. In this post, I want to show you the more exciting part: how to project and track sales revenue in your T&I business so that you can start earning more.

Everyone needs to know their earnings in order to pay their bills, right? If you are always waiting on the next project to land in your inbox, then you're doing this business thing all wrong. This method and spreadsheet will help you to stop living check to check, or month to month and really take control of your earnings and your business.

Again, just as in my other post and video on expense projection and tracking, the numbers I use in this spreadsheet and video do not reflect numbers in my own business. This is simply a demonstration to show you how you can project and track your earnings using a simple method.

Here's how my sales revenue projection and tracking tool looks in a few snapshot views.

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This spreadsheet is great to use at the end of a tax year, to help you decide when to go on vacation or take an extended work break and to let you see where you can start earning more and/or working less by changing up your rates or fees. No matter if you charge by the word, by the hour, by a flat project fee, etc., you can use this spreadsheet to get a very good picture of your sales goals and how to meet them. Let me show you how.

By projecting your sales revenue, you can figure out exactly how much work you need to do each quarter to hit your sales goals/projections. It will also help you to get an overview of what you can earn for each type of service you provide. Don't like editing? Decide to translate more and plug that into your projections. Don't think you'll hit the numbers you projected? Use the planning tabs to figure out how you can. Want to drop low-paying clients? This will show you what you need to do in order to get there.

This method allows you to stop taking on every project that falls into your lap and start thinking ahead about how much you want to work and what you need to do to hit your sales revenue goals. Of course, you should reassess at the end of the quarter and tweak what you'll need to do in the following quarter or six months. You can use this method every year in your business. You can even project next year's sales revenue now, if you like.

Stop living project to project, check to check and lay out a plan for your T&I business. To get the exact spreadsheet I use in this video, click on the button below to download and get started.

When you purchase the spreadsheet, you will receive:

● the spreadsheet in Excel format (email me for the link as a Google spreadsheet, if you prefer);

● a link to a video that will walk you through exactly how to use the spreadsheet in order to track and project expenses in your T&I business;

● a discount code to use toward the M|Z Expense Planner (available as of April 19, 2018!).

The video tutorial that accompanies the spreadsheet is only available to those who download it. Before you tell another person, "I'm a words person, not a numbers person!", check out this spreadsheet, as well as the Expense Planner, and empower yourself in order to earn more, and plan for the future.


How to Set Quarterly Business Goals for Your Translation or Interpreting Business

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At this time of year (it's tax time here in the U.S.!), everyone is talking about annual goals, projections, and ways to grow the bottom line. But what about thinking in the shorter term? Sure, we need to have long-term goals, but sometimes it can be more effective to break down those "big picture" goals into short-term goals. For me at least, it is much less overwhelming to think and work this way.


Here's the process I like to use when planning quarterly goals. I realize that everyone does this differently, so if you have some tips to share, please do so in the comments. I'd love to hear them!


I like to look at the big picture for the purpose of deciding the direction I want my business to go in a given year (or even a few years out, but let's start with one year). I know. I said not to think long-term. But for the purposes of quarterly planning, we need to decide what we want to accomplish overall in a year.

Ask yourself these questions:

● What would make this year amazing? What needs to happen for you to consider this a truly successful year?

● What are the numbers? Consider how much revenue you want to bring in, your business' reach (social media, email marketing, etc.), new hires you might need to make (accountant, assistant, marketing consultant, tax preparer, etc.), new initiatives, new income streams, etc.

● What value do you want to be sure to provide to your customers this year?

● How do you want to provide that value (new services, larger projects, etc.)?

● What resources do you need to make this happen?

These are your overarching annual goals. These set the framework for planning per quarter.


To make this easy, we can cut the numbers you provided from question 1 above in half and try to shoot for these numbers by the mid-year mark.

It is essential to also consider the value you want to provide in your business. How can you handle the various aspects and details that go into providing this value? Do you need to delegate tasks or choose one to two days per week to work on certain projects that will allow you to provide better value? Turn the bigger goal of how you want to provide value into a smaller goal to be met six months from now.


Now, we are left with quarterly goals. And now that you know how much money you want to make in a year, how many new or improved services/initiatives/income streams you want to offer or have, you can take these quarterly goals and convert them into action items for each of the three months in a quarter.

Here's an example. Let's say you want to make $100,000 this year in your business. Your 6-month revenue goal would be $50,000 and your quarterly revenue goal is $25,000. Pretty simple, right?

And let's say you want to provide two new services this year. You could offer one in the first six months of the year and begin providing the other in the second six months. That means that this quarter and next quarter you'll be working toward offering one new service by taking actionable steps to get there and making sure your clients know about them.

You could spend a month or so doing research about what your clients need in terms of the new service offering. The next month, you could spend time gathering resources and creating copy and sales emails/social media posts surrounding the new offering. The following month, you could launch the new service with a small group of your clients and run it as a beta version. Be sure to request feedback!

Next quarter would be all about taking that feedback, refining the process and improving the service. This will also help you determine the right price point for the service and give you a better idea of how to provide your customers with the best value based on the feedback you received.

By setting smaller goals, you allow yourself to create specific tasks and timelines more easily, which means less overwhelm! I love to use this method of "working backwards" because it allows me to see the overall picture and create smaller steps in order to reach bigger goals.


Before we finish up here, there's one final and very important step to tackle. Map it all out!

Take a look at your calendar for the next three months. Mark every trip, special occasion, doctor's appointment and any other commitments you have that would keep you away from your desk and working towards your quarterly goals. Go ahead and get them down on paper so that when you plan your action steps for each month (or week, if you're like me!), you already have these important dates on your calendar and you won't overbook yourself. There's nothing worse than getting all set to tackle a bit goal and then realizing you have to reschedule the actionable steps that it's going to take to reach it.

This will keep you from missing the mark or getting behind on working toward your goals, because it shows you exactly how much time you have to put toward them. You might see that you were overly ambitious with your quarterly goals and that you really don't have as much time to work on them as you thought. That's okay. Reschedule your actionable steps so that you can be sure you know what you need to do, and when, in order to meet your goals.

A great way to work toward your quarterly goals is to schedule your actionable steps in batches. I like to work on certain tasks which I batch on certain days of the week. These are called "batch days" by productivity experts, and they really do work. Each week, set aside a certain day when you will only work on the tasks that bring you closer to reaching the goals you have set. So, if you plan to start a blog for your clients, choose to write your outlines and posts every Tuesday. This way, you not only devote specific time to the tasks that take you one step closer to your goals, but you also give yourself some devoted time that is non-negotiable. Try not to schedule any other work tasks for that day and focus solely on creating content for and working on your blog. Give it a go. I promise it works!


Now that you've set your quarterly goals, put a date on the calendar for the end of the quarter to assess how well you did in meeting those goals. Once that date comes, take a look at how close you came to meeting the original goals you set for your business.

● Did you come close?

● Did you surpass your goals?

● Did you miss the mark completely?

If you more than surpassed your goals, you can probably shoot for even bigger goals next quarter. If you missed the mark, try to rework some of the actionable steps you laid out, and focus ruthlessly the next quarter so you can hit those marks.

How do you usually plan ahead in your translation or interpreting business? Do you prefer to plan annual, six-month or quarterly goals?


Why You Should Never Offer a "Free Quote" On Your Website (Or Elsewhere)

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Whether you're a seasoned professional translator or a newbie who's just getting your feet wet, your website should be the place where clients go to find out more about your services and to find out how they can work with you. Not only that, but it should make them want to work with you. There are a lot of ways to convince a client to reach out for an inquiry about your services. But one way that I recommend you never utilize on your website (or anywhere else for that matter) is by mentioning a "free quote". Some people use mentions of free quotes as a button to click, or a tab at the top of the web page in the navigation bar, or on a form that clients can fill out and submit. Wait a minute. Doesn't everyone do that these days? Well, not everyone. But a very large number of people do. Want to know a little secret? I did the same thing! Then why in the world am I suggesting you not do this? 

Here are my top five reasons to never mention requests for a free quote on your website (or elsewhere).

1. When you offer a free quote, you are bringing attention to pricing. Front and center. You are inevitably going to attract price shoppers. Are they your ideal clients? Do you want to be discussing pricing over quality? I'm guessing you don't. Then remove the "free quote" bit as a way to draw people in. You do not want to devalue anything that you do, so avoid the word "free" all together.

If you choose to remove mentions of free quotes from your website, I am willing to bet that you will start attracting fewer price shoppers and more serious clients. Give it a try! Remember, everything in business is an experiment.

2. You are stating the obvious. Of course the quotes you send clients are probably free. I say this because I don't know of any translators who charge for to provide quotes to clients. So, they're likely expected to be free anyway. When you change the verbiage on your site from offering a "free quote" to something like "contact us", "contact me", "send John an email", "request a consultation" or something like that, you remove any thought you might have instilled with the word "free". Price shoppers will be less likely to contact you, and you will be more likely to receive requests with serious inquiries.

3. By avoiding any mentions of free quotes, you allow site visitors to focus on what's more important than the price: the value you bring to them and to their business or organization. When you focus on defining your value proposition for your ideal client and making that as clear as possible, people will want to work with you. The quote itself will be merely a formality.

4. You get to choose the direction the conversation goes. When you avoid discussing free quotes on your website, you also attract fewer of those "I need this yesterday!" clients. If your site gives off more of a "let's have a conversation" vibe, those pesky clients who want something done for nothing, or who have an unreasonable timeline, will look elsewhere. Who wants to work with clients like that anyway? 

If you plan to work with direct clients, you should be setting most of the parameters. When do you have an opening to work on a new project? How long will it take? What will it cost the client? You are not an order taker. So, have a real conversation with your client and talk pricing last, after you've had a chance to "wow" them.

5. By not leading people to ask for a price right off the bat, you allow yourself to customize your service sales. While you may charge the same price to all of your technical English to German translation clients, you have the opportunity to actually price your work based on the value you bring to the table. This means that you do not have to set prices from price sheets you have on file. Instead, you can factor in the value you bring to each project as part of the background information you need in order to provide the quote in the first place. The "value factor" should be considered just as much as other factors you consider when providing a quote (number of words or hours a project will take, technicality of the language used, delivery time, etc.). If this is a concept that interests you, then check out Blair Enns' YouTube video on the differences between customized and productized services and how they impact your business approach, pricing and profit margins.

Now, remember that I told you that we found we were sending the wrong message by including the "free quote" verbiage on my business' website? Well, in the process of pivoting that message, we also came up with some great ways to deal with price shoppers when they do contact us. I've turned those ways to deal into a list of tips.

Tips for dealing with price shoppers when you prefer to market your services based on value.

○ When a lead starts off the conversation asking about the cost, say, "Is price the only factor in your decision to hire a professional?" Then pause. Allow the person to respond, and if it seems that price is their deal breaker, you can choose to take them on as a client or direct them somewhere else accordingly.

○ If you direct them somewhere else, warn them that you cannot vouch for the quality of the service they will receive. Sometimes they will see that you were right and will come back to you.

○ Let them know that you're not the only one promoting high quality over cheap translations. Here is a great article to share with those clients who are clearly making decisions based on price, written by my late dear friend and colleague, Stephanie Tramdack Cash: "The High Cost of Cheap Translation".

○ Let them know that you already have paying clients who you work with at your current prices who see the value in the quality of your work. This shows them that others are willing to pay for your services and it lets them know you don't depend on their job or project for your survival. You are a professional. Portray yourself as one. Don't back down on your prices just because someone says you're too expensive for their budget. That's actually a good thing, as it tells you that this person or business is not your ideal client.

○ Lastly, explain to him or her the processes you have in place to produce a professional and valuable translation. Some clients price shop because they are simply unaware of what it takes to be a professional translator and what systems and workflows, training and education are needed to perform a professional job. Take a moment to educate these people and move on with your day.

While educating clients on hiring professionals for their translation and interpreting needs can be frustrating at times, there are ways to attract your ideal clients and avoid those who are less than ideal. Adjusting your messaging on your website, and any other marketing materials or profiles you have, is a great place to start.