How to Share Your Expertise As a Professional Translator or Interpreter Beyond Your CV

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There are lots of ways to share your expertise as a professional. And none of them have to do with what you list on your CV. After all, you don't introduce yourself to others online with the line, "Hi, my name is Paula. Here's my CV." That's why we need to think outside the box and use the reach of the world wide web to meet people where they are right now -- meaning, to talk to them in a way that makes sense with what they're seeking and the challenges they face -- and to show our expertise so that they can draw their own conclusions to hire us as translators and interpreters.

Here are a few ways you can do this with just a little bit of added effort and a sense of what your clients are looking for when they decide it's time to call in a professional.

Maintain a professional website that speaks directly to your translation or interpreting clients.

Having an up-to-date website seems pretty obvious to most professionals these days. But boy… if I had a dime for every translator who told me they don't have time to work on or update their website, I might be able to retire early from my own translation business. All jokes aside, the "up-to-date" bit is just the beginning. Having a website that clearly appeals to your ideal clients first and foremost is key. You may also want to seriously think about writing a blog for your clients. A blog is a wonderful way to drive traffic to your website and to demonstrate your expertise on a given topic. Who better to write a blog for your ideal clients than you? If you know who they are and what their challenges are, you can talk to them -- by way of your web copy and visuals -- in a way that will help them draw the conclusion that you are the right fit for them.  

To read more about how your website is your best marketing tool, or how a blog can boost your online reach, check out Three Easy Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your T&I Website and Why Your Translation Business Needs a Blog. Or to learn how to transform your website into one that will speak to your clients, join the waitlist for my T&I Website Blueprint Course.

Update your LinkedIn profile and connect with potential translation or interpreting clients.

A lot of freelancers think of LinkedIn as a waste of time. The main thing I hear people saying is "I've never gotten any work from having a profile on LinkedIn." And my response is usually something along the lines of "When was the last time you logged in and updated your profile or tried to connect with someone?" Crickets.

Just like any online platform, LinkedIn can be incredibly useful if you put in a little effort and time to make it work for you. Share information often -- both your own, as well as posts from others. Write articles to share as well (did you know that LinkedIn has this feature?). Or better yet… take the ones you've written for your professional blog and share them on LinkedIn as an article. Try to post to LinkedIn or share something valuable for your ideal clients at least once a day. Remember, it's nice to share information by and for colleagues, but remember, they're not usually the ones paying you to translate or interpret for them. Do your best to post content aimed at those you work for (or those who you'd like to be working for!) on a regular basis.

For more information on how to use LinkedIn as a powerful marketing tool, check out How to Strategically Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Network and Business and How to Use LinkedIn as an Extension of Your Website.

Share valuable content.

I often get asked by colleagues what kind of content our clients would find valuable. And while I cannot speak for anyone else's clients, I can say that it's not as hard to figure this out as we make it. Here's what I do.

I think about my clients and who they are, what they struggle with, what their goals are, and where they hang out online. And then I think of how I can help them with their challenges, reaching their goals and how I can show up for them online. It's really that basic. From there, I decide how much content I want to share with them, how often and what type of content would provide value to them where they are right now in their business or organization. This could be an article I find online with a little note from me about something I think they'll find useful. It could be something I write myself because I cannot seem to find anything online that will be helpful in the way I think they would need at this time. Or it could even be a connection I make for them with a colleague or a professional in another industry who might be of service to them. I do it again and again.

You can do the same on social media, sharing original blog posts or articles, as well as those from others. You can do it in direct emails to clients by writing something as simple as "Hi, Jane. I wrote this short piece on "X" and I think it might help you decide how you want to handle the upcoming "Y" you all are working on." Or you could even send someone a book you just read that you think will be truly valuable to them in their work. Include a short handwritten note with it. These things are unexpected and always appreciated.

Yes, all of the items I mention here mean that you will have to go a bit above and beyond your normal work as a translator or interpreter. But in doing so, you have the ability to show others your expertise on a given topic or in a certain field. You'll also be able to show that you're keeping up with your specialization and that you dedicate time to doing so and to sharing that value with your clients. Above all else, it shows you care about what you do and about your clients.

No matter what you share or the means by which you do so, remember that you are the face of your business. So, before you share something with someone, whether through your website, LinkedIn profile or elsewhere, make sure you ask yourself this very important question first... "How will this serve others?" If you're not sure, save the idea for later and move on with another one that you are sure will be valuable to the person receiving it.

How do you show up for your clients or potential clients on a regular basis? What can you start doing today to show your clients the added value you bring to the business relationship?

Three Easy Ways to Drive More Traffic to Your T&I Website

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Having a website and actually making your website work for you are two different things. Most people who do business these days know how important it is to have a website. But when was the last time you updated yours? Has it been collecting dust for a while? It's okay… you can just nod your head if you like.

This is really common. We get busy with our paid translation or interpreting work, and we put off many of the things that we cannot actually bill clients for. We know we need to get to these things eventually. For some of us, these items hang over our heads for months… or years.

So, while I would love to tell you that you have to make time to get it done, I think you already know that. Instead, I'll tell you to make some small changes first that will make a big impact. And then I'll leave it to you to make the time for the big ones. Sound good? Let's get started.

1. Label everything on your site.

Yep, everything. Label your photos or images. And by "label", I’m talking about the file names for these items before you actually upload them to your site. Make sure that everything on your website has a name that contains key search terms a potential client would use to find you online. Images are searchable! And the same goes for your website's pages. Make sure you have an accurate page description for every page of your website so that search engines like Google know how to find you and what your website is for. This helps those searching to choose to view your site over another, too.

Here's an example of how I intentionally label images on my blog. Notice that I do not leave image names up to the numerical order or download file name created when I find the right image. Instead, I take a moment to create a name that will be searchable by those who need this type of information.

Renaming Photos on Squarespace

2. Use smart headlines that include key search terms.

Did you know that the headlines (or subheadings, as you might think of them) are also highly searchable? Take some time to think about what search terms your target audience might use if they needed someone who does what you do. Now, I'm not saying you ought to stuff or pad your site with these, but make sure they make sense in context and that you think about them strategically before you write your website content.

Here's an example of a solid headline from one of my recent T&I Website Blueprint Course students:

Example of Smart Headlines with Key Search Terms

Gwen knows that her clients will search for a "French translator" or "French translation" and possibly add "IT" to their search query. She didn't pad or stuff her headline with loads of keywords. Instead, she used the most effective ones and made a statement that really speaks to the heart of the client by using words like "trusted" and "partner".

Use headlines like these throughout your site whenever you can. Not only do they help drive web traffic, but they also have a visual and emotional impact for your site visitors.

3. Start a blog.

You knew I was going to suggest this, right? I can't stress enough how much traffic a blog can drive to a website. Of all the pages on my website, the blog is what sees the most traffic in terms of page views. A blog is a huge traffic driver because you can update it often, show your expertise and professionalism, allow clients to get to know you better and stand apart from others who offer similar services.

Why does this fall under an "easy" way to drive more traffic? Well, because writing and maintaining a blog is not as much work as you really think. It's truly a matter of making a plan and getting started.

For more help with how to do this, check out Why Your Translation Business Needs a Blog and How to Plan and Maintain a Blog That Speaks to Your Ideal Clients and Promotes Your Business.

The first two tips I shared will take very little time to implement. All three will drive traffic to your site, and while the third may take more planning and follow-through, it is probably the most effective way to drive traffic to your site over time.

Have you already given any of these a try? How do you take steps to drive more traffic to your website?

Three Types of Client Testimonials You Need to Be Sharing

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Client testimonials are a really powerful way to promote your services. You don't have to take my word for it. Just think about the last time you purchased anything that was more than $50. Did you read the online reviews about it before purchasing? Did you ask around your group of friends to see if they loved this item before you entered your credit card information or made a trip to the store?

Well, your clients are the same. So, it's up to you to make sure that you provide them with "reviews" of your work and your ability to serve them. But guess what? Your clients won't have anything to read but five-star reviews because, well, you're the one requesting them and sharing them (hopefully!) on your website and beyond.

Now, I'm not saying that you shouldn't be honest about your abilities. If you received poor feedback from a client, you should definitely do your due diligence to improve your craft and customer service. Yes, I think that how you do your work in general is all a part of customer service, too. But, of course you shouldn't be plastering negative feedback on your website, your LinkedIn profile or anywhere else for that matter. That's the type of feedback you should be using to make improvements. But today, I want to talk to you about requesting and sharing testimonials that will help a client decide that they have to choose you over another translator or interpreter.

First, before I get into the details of what you ought to request and share in a client testimonial, do a quick scan of the ones you already have on file. Has a client given you a recommendation on LinkedIn? Did they write you a lovely note that you have saved in your email inbox? Hold onto those. They're golden! More on that in a moment.

Next, I can't stress enough that you have to get comfortable asking for feedback and testimonials. A lot of us don't like to ask for feedback, but it's simply a part of doing business. Think about it. Your favorite podcast host asks you to leave a review on the app you use to listen, right? Your favorite restaurant probably has comments and a star-rating on Yelp. So, you are no different than any other business, and you should always feel comfortable asking for a testimonial from a client as feedback on your work. I'd suggest requesting testimonials from at least three to five clients per year. Now, that doesn't sound so bad, right?!

By collecting testimonials on an ongoing basis, not only can you use these to promote the services or specializations you provide, but you can also share these with prospects in new or existing areas in which you want to provide more of your services. After you've handled several projects or assignments for a client, make the time to send a kind email to request a testimonial. You don't have to write anything long or give an apologetic explanation as to why you'd like one. Have confidence in your work and don't be afraid to ask. Your best clients are happy to sing your praises, especially if you make it easy for them!

For more about requesting and using client testimonials, check out How to Leverage Testimonials When Marketing Your T&I Business.

The key to requesting and sharing client testimonials is to make sure you have a good variety. It's a bit odd if all your testimonials have the same content, right? You would probably be skeptical of an item you wish to purchase if all the reviews about it mentioned exactly the same two features or issues, right? So, do yourself and your clients a favor and let them know what you'd like them to share in their testimonial. Trust me, it's okay to do this! In fact, this is part of making it easy for them to do.

Here are three bases worth covering when it comes to the client testimonials you share about your professional services. Try to shoot for having at least one testimonial for each of these areas.

  • Quality

You're probably thinking, "Um yeah… of course," right? Quality and on-time delivery are not differentiators. They should be a given! So, try to request testimonials that demonstrate your high quality and attention to detail by using other words or descriptions that aren't found in every other translator's or interpreter's testimonials. Do this by asking your clients to focus on the quality of your service or deliverables and the value you provide to them.

  • Results

Much like the previous point about quality, results are incredibly important to share. People like to see results. They want to know what their money is buying them and if you can really help solve their problems. What results are you providing to your clients? Request that one or two of your clients give their testimonials based on the results they've achieved by hiring you.

  • Something special about you

Why are you different from the next translator or interpreter who works in your language pair or specialization? Really... what makes you stand out? Ask your client to focus on why they chose you, what makes you different from others they've worked with before, etc. Not only is this solid testimonial content, but it's just good market research. If you know why your clients hire you, then you can keep doing more of that!

Final Tips About Requesting Client Testimonials

Try to keep your client testimonials brief, to the point and packed with information about why clients should never pass up the opportunity to work with you. You'll want something short that people can read quickly if they come across your website or LinkedIn profile.

As I said earlier, make it easy for them to do. If you know your client well and you think they would appreciate you saving them some time, offer to write a draft of the testimonial for their approval. Some clients actually request this!

Always thank a client who gives you a testimonial! Send them a nice handwritten message, a gift card or something that shows you really appreciate the time they took to share how you've made an impact in their work.

And finally, continue to provide your clients with the same service they expect from you. Never give them a reason to wish they could take back their testimonial. In other words, continue to show up for them over and over again by delivering your best work and an excellent customer service experience.

What tips do you have for requesting and sharing client testimonials?

The Why and How of Setting Standards for Your Freelance Translation Business

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I recently heard someone refer to a freelancer's mindset as needing to be split in two parts: the entrepreneur and the freelancer. The entrepreneur tells the freelancer how to work. He/she actually runs the business. The freelancer is the one who does the actual work that is produced as a deliverable for a client. Both parts are needed to bring in the revenue and keep the business afloat.

By allowing yourself to separate these mindsets in your business, it becomes easier to realize that you should be treating your business the way a larger business might operate… with policies or standards set in place in order to keep things running smoothly.

It is essential to maintain a set of professional and personal standards with regard to your freelance business. Ed Gandia has an excellent podcast episode related to setting standards as a freelancer. Just as you set standards around the way you like to work and the type of work you do, you'll want to have some standards in mind when it comes to the clients you agree to take on.

You can set as many or as few standards as you wish. The number is really not important here. What is important is that your standards protect you as a freelancer from business practices you find to be less than ideal for your line of work and lifestyle. Here are some potential standards to consider setting for your freelance translation business.

  • Working hours

    Decide what hours you will work and what times of day or days of the week you will take off. Try to stick to these and accept client work that falls into these hours so that you can use your non-working hours to rest and recharge. The same goes for vacation. Set your vacation "rules" in advance so that you are not tempted to work when you should be resting your mind and getting in a little rest and relaxation.

  • Types of projects you will (and won't) accept

    You know that type of project you took on one too many times, and then you kicked yourself later for taking it? The one that didn't pay well or that left you drained and exhausted, having to turn down all the projects you'd rather be doing? That's the one you might want to consider setting a standard for. If you have certain projects you no longer wish to take on, set a standard in your business to refer that kind of work to a colleague who enjoys it.

And by the same token, set some standards for the work you do want to take on. This could be documents you translate that align with something you believe in, or projects you receive from an organization you truly admire. Of course, there will likely be exceptions to this standard, as it's nearly impossible to always have projects in the pipeline from organizations you strongly value. Impossible? No, of course not. But probably unlikely until you build up a strong set of regular clients you truly value.

  • Minimum rate requirements

This one may seem obvious, but it should be one of the top priorities on your list of standards. If you haven't already set the standard to only take on projects that meet your ideal minimum rates, it might be time to do that. Of course, just like any of these standards, you may need to make an exception from time to time. The key is to be aware of making the exception and to always try to return the standard for the majority of your work.

  • Rush jobs and fees

    I know some translators who simply do not take on rush jobs. If your lifestyle is such that rush jobs are something of the past, then it might be one of your standards to never take on a rush job. Or, if you're okay with taking on the occasional rush job, you could go ahead and set a rush fee for your freelance business and hold yourself to charging that fee every time, no matter how attractive the project that lands in your inbox. It's important to know these numbers before the request is made by a client so that you are prepared.

  • Payment terms

    Go ahead and decide what you find to be an acceptable amount of time for a client to settle an invoice. Your payment terms should be set before you take on a project, but they also shouldn't be different for every client. Yes, some clients may not budge when it comes to payment terms, but trying to get all your clients on the same page as far as when they pay you is key to maintaining cash flow. If you aren't happy with a client's payment terms, it might be time to have a conversation with them and be ready to move on if they are not willing to meet you in the middle.

  • Other qualifying methods for clients

Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to the types of clients they prefer to work with on a regular basis. Sit down and make a brief list of the the ways in which you qualify a client. If you find that a pattern comes up in this process, you may want to set a standard for your freelance business with regard to what makes a client ideal for you and vice versa. You should also determine what "disqualifies" a client from working with you. This is much easier than it sounds. Just stick to what you value as a business owner and freelancer, and remember that the goal is to have a long-term working relationship with your clients.

Once you have a list of business standards, review them from time to time in order to see how well you're sticking to them and whether you need to readjust any. As Ed puts it, "The purpose of your list of standards isn’t 100% compliance. The purpose is to have an objective measure for making good decisions."

The best we can do is to hope we take on clients by making good decisions and choosing them carefully. But the truth is, we cannot always control who reaches out to us with a new project or when we will have those inevitable periods of famine in our work. This is when you may make an exception to a standard you've set for your freelance business.

If you do make exceptions, at least take a moment to stop and recognize why you're making them. Is this a one-time exception, or is it becoming a habit? Does the standard still reflect the values you have in your business and what you want to get out of it? As long as you do so intentionally, you can feel confident in the fact that you won't make the exception your norm.

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.