translation marketing tips

Five Mindset Shifts Worth Making in Your Translation Business

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I talk to a lot of translators and interpreters in our industry. They are amazing colleagues, and the diversity is always so inspiring for me. But one thing we all tend to have in common is that we make excuses when it comes to the things we want to keep putting off in our businesses. What can we say? We're human! But why do we do this? I recently heard this explanation: our brains are wired to avoid the things that feel uncomfortable and to keep on doing what is most comfortable, even if it means we don't grow or improve in the process. But at what point does staying in our comfort zone result in stagnation? I had this discussion with a few translator friends recently, and the conclusion seems to be the same. Going outside of our comfort zone is totally worth it. The outcomes are often better than we expected, and once we've reached the other side, we realize that it wasn't actually all that hard. Most of the difficulty was created from the excuses we made!

These excuses we make for ourselves are not serving us in any way. In reality, we usually just need to make a mindset shift in order to stop making these excuses. We can easily switch these excuses to action items that are less painful by making them a habit--something we do daily or weekly. Here are five excuses I often hear from colleagues and my suggestions on mindset shifts that result in action items to help move the needle forward in our businesses.

1. Excuse: I'll start __________ (marketing, updating my website, etc.) when I'm less busy with client projects.

Action Item: I'll work on __________ (marketing, updating my website, etc.) one morning a week so that I can make progress in this area while still serving my clients and building revenue in my business.

2. Excuse: I'll sign up for that ___________ (webinar, course, conference, etc.) when I am making more money.

Action Item: I'll invest in my professional development now and work hard to pay for this ___________ (webinar, course, conference, etc.), because I know that it will allow me to sharpen my skills, make more money, etc.

3. Excuse: Even though I would prefer better clients, I don't have time to market my business, because I am so busy with the ones I have.

Action Item: I will spend 20 minutes a day marketing my business so that I can slowly replace the difficult-to-work-with or low-paying clients with better ones this year.

4. Excuse: There don't seem to be any direct clients in my area(s) of specialization. All of them prefer to work with large language services companies. So, I'll probably just work for agencies for the rest of my career, unless I change or add a specialization to my service offerings.

Action Item: I'll will brainstorm or talk to a colleague for 15 minutes a week to come up with some ideas of direct clients to whom I could market my translation services. And I will consider developing a second area of specialization that would allow me to market my services to more direct clients.

5. Excuse: I have to be in my email inbox at all times, because I might lose a project if I don't respond right away. (Side note: I had this mentality when I first started as a freelancer. It is not healthy! And it's not true if you have the right clients for you.)

Action Item: I will look at my email three times a day (once in the morning, once before lunch and once at the end of the day before I wrap things up for the evening). I will respond to all client requests at that time, and I will let my clients know what times I'll be in my inbox so that they know when to expect my replies. I will also look for more clients who respect these boundaries and do not expect me to always be available to them.

It's easy to make these and other excuses. I'm guilty of making excuses myself. We all do it in some area of our lives and businesses! It's human nature to take the more comfortable route if given the option. But we will only grow or improve when we decide to take that stroll outside our comfort zone.

What kind of excuses do you make in your business? What mindset shifts can you make to help you overcome the excuses and start taking action?

Five Website Mistakes Translators and Interpreters Make and How to Fix Them

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The fact that everything is searchable online these days means that you have a responsibility to yourself and to your business to market yourself well via your website. After all, it's an expense in your business that is worth getting a return on, right? But it's all too easy to fall into the well of project overload, pushing things off until the weekend or that next period of free time (psst… it's not coming!) or when things are slow in your business. But what if that proverbial project well goes dry?

You might start to think about your website and how you might tweak it to get more traction with potential customers. Ugh... but where to start?! So, instead of doing an entire website revamp or even making a few of those minor tweaks, you end up keeping your site the way it is. Months start to pass on the calendar and you haven't touched it, let alone thought about what you could do differently to attract more of your ideal clients.

And while you might not be in for the entire revamp just yet, but if you're open to planning it for the future and/or tinkering around a bit on your website, here are five website mistakes translators and interpreters often make and how to fix them. These should get you off to a great start and help you brainstorm how your new and improved site should look and feel once you're ready to tackle it.

Mistake 1: Not making a real connection with those who visit your site

As soon as someone lands on your website, it is important to make a connection with them. If your website takes a long time to load, you can lose someone. If the navigation is hard to figure out, you can lose someone. If there is too much text, you can lose someone. (I know, it's hard as word people not to be wordy, but do your best to be concise and catch your site visitors' attention right away!)

For more ideas on how to make a real connection (or not!) with your site visitors, check out this infographic What Makes Someone Leave a Website.

Mistake 2: Not creating an emotional connection in the "About" section

People want to know what it's like to work with you. So, give them that by engaging with them, creating a connection beyond the services you offer. The "About" section of your website should start by telling visitors who you are, mention some of the problem(s) they face, how you solve their problem(s) and the outcomes they can expect if they work with you. This is similar to an elevator speech, but it's in text form and should be concise without feeling stiff or cold.

Here's an example of a great "About" introduction for a fictitious translator named Susan.

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. 

Mistake 3: Neglecting to consider the user experience

We often fall into the habit of creating our site as we think it should feel or look without actually considering our ideal users. One way to change this habit is to have someone navigate the site in front of you. Start on the "Home" page and let them click around the site at their pace and as they desire. Don't tell them what to do or where to click next. Pay attention to what they choose and where they navigate, click after click.

What changes can you make to improve their experience? Ask them follow-up questions about what they thought they'd find by clicking on certain items. The person (or persons--even better!) should be an ideal client, if possible. This will help you determine various details about how your site should look and feel, keeping the user experience in mind.

Mistake 4: Not updating the site to fit market changes and ideal client shifts over time

Just like everything in business, markets shift. Ideal clients change. As time goes on, you see how what once worked well for you may not anymore when it comes to gaining new clients or reaching your ideal customers. As these shifts and changes take place, you too must adapt. This means your site should adapt to these changes as well. Pay attention to and keep track of the ways your ideal customers change and be ready to change with them. This is all part of doing business.

Mistake 5: Not continuing to make sure all design and branding speak to the ideal client

From time to time, you will want to update the design and branding on your website to continue "speaking" to your ideal client in a way that makes them feel like you really get where they're coming from. No one wants to read a site that's all about you. Make your site stand out to your ideal client in a way that makes them feel like it was worth taking the time to read your content. They should feel like you know them already, like you created your business (and site) with them in mind. This is the true way to win over your ideal client's heart.

For more ways to appeal to ideal clients, check out How to Determine and Attract Your Ideal Client. 

If you're making any of these mistakes, there's no reason to worry. Just fix them and move forward. Dust off that website and get to work. The key is to know your ideal client well and to write and design the site with them in mind. The rest will work itself out!