How to Talk About Your Translation Services So People Get It

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What do you tell people when they ask you what you do for a living?

Do you just tell them you're a translator and then leave them to sit and think about it for a moment before they follow up with another question? Do you cringe a little when they ask you how many languages you speak, expecting you to say something like "5" or "10?"

The way we talk about the work we do helps to shape the way people see us as professionals. Not only is it important to get this right for your own business, but I'd argue that it's just as important for the entire market — all the professional translators out there who make a living at this!

So, how do you tell people about your translation services?

Do you also cringe at the thought of an "elevator speech?" I never liked that term... maybe because I always felt like what we do cannot be summed up in just a few sentences.

But truly… we should be able to sum up what we do in a few sentences. I don't mean we need to repeat the "bridging the language gap" cliché we've probably all used or heard some variation of at one point or another.

I'm talking about real, tangible stuff. The good stuff. The stuff our clients praise us for and want to receive in exchange for paying for our services. I'm talking about results.

So, when it comes time to talk about your translation services to someone who asks, pretend their question was really one of these questions below. It will make it much easier to explain what you do in a way that others can grasp so they can comprehend the enormous value you provide.

  1. What results do you help your translation clients obtain with the work you deliver?

  2. What problems or challenges do you solve for your translation clients?

  3. What goals do you help your translation clients reach?

What do translators do?

One thing to keep in mind is that there are a lot of people who don't really understand what translators do. You may even be the first translator they've ever met. This is why it's important to get it right. They'll remember what you tell them and will remember it the next time they hear someone mention or ask about a translator.

Remember, the last thing you want to do is confuse the person who asks you what you do for a living. After all, they may know someone they could refer to you for business. Do your best to avoid using translation industry jargon like "target language" and "CAT tools," for example. Break down more complex concepts into everyday language. Remove any formality from the conversation, and talk to the person as you would a friend. This also makes it easier to follow up with a question: "Do you know anyone who needs a [fill in your language pair/specialization] translator?" It can't hurt to ask, right?

Practice the way you talk about your work with friends or acquaintances who are not all that familiar with translation. Ask them if what you've told them is clear. Also ask them if they have more questions about what you do based on the explanation you gave. If they do, that means you might want to tweak what you've said a bit until it becomes clear the first time you say it.

By practicing your professional value statement (now, that's much better than "elevator speech," right?!), you see what others find most interesting or surprising about what you do and continue to hone your message over time.

Now, you tell me! How do you tell others about your work as a professional translator?

Translator Website Transformations: The Before and After - Part 2

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Last week I shared with you two amazing website transformations from a couple of students in the first session of my T&I Website Blueprint Course. And because I could not choose just two to share, I'm here again this week to share one more!

Since the first session of this course in 2018, I've received several messages from other translators expressing interest in taking the course as well. Stay tuned to the end of this post to find out how to receive updates about when I will teach this course again (June 2019).

This website transformation is the work of Emily Safrin (Saffron Translations). Like Veronika, Emily already had a site to work with and wanted to give it a good refresh. As you’re about to see, Emily did just that. And, if you don't mind my saying so… her site is drool-worthy right from the first image!

Emily’s previous Home page looked like this...

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The lines were clean, but like Molly, she didn't feel like her site had that extra oomph she wanted it to have.

Now, her Home page looks like this!

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Emily plays off of her business name, Saffron Translations, by using a gorgeous image of saffron above the fold of her Home page. And her headline is perfect to let you know from the start that she is going to solve a problem for her clients so that they can do what they do best.

Emily's original About page was clean, and she immediately shared a head shot of herself so customers could put a face with a professional.

But she completely updated her About page copy with clear and value-based headlines that her ideal clients will appreciate.

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She immediately follows with more reasons her ideal clients will want to work with her -- essentially, what sets her apart!

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Emily's previous Services page was mostly text-based, including a small font that made the copy feel less appealing than the new layout she created in the course. She divided her Services up into two main pages: one for her medical and life sciences clients and one for her culinary clients. She chose images that appeal to those in each of her niche markets. And check out those headlines in the "After" images!

Before:

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After:

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Her Services pages go on to share more about the kind of work she handles, but instead of long paragraphs, Emily uses bulleted lists to make it easy for her customers to find the information they need. The example below is from her medical and life sciences Services page.

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Finally, Emily took the time to create a more effective Contact page on her website. While her previous Contact page worked fine for most purposes...

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Emily has already reaped the benefits of having updated her website!

I just on-boarded with a new agency client and when I went into their portal to fill out my profile, I noticed that the vendor manager had copy-pasted text from my "Bio and Publications" page into my profile so PMs can quickly see my strengths and background. She hadn't even mentioned that she looked at my website, but she clearly poked around enough to find that detail on my "Bio & Pubs" page and found it worthwhile to include in my profile!  – Emily Safrin

Emily's new website is stunning. The images she chose are spot on with the types of clients she's looking to attract. Not only that, but Emily's experience brings up a point that all translators should consider. Whether you work for direct clients or translation agency project managers, your clients will look at your website to learn more about you and to get to know you better. Does your site reflect your best professional image?


If you, too, would like to update your website or create one from scratch, you can join the waitlist for the next session of the T&I Website Blueprint Course, starting in January 2020.

You can
read Part 1 of the "before and after" website transformations that resulted from this course here.

Translator Website Transformations: The Before and After - Part 1

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An attractive, well planned website is easily a freelance translator’s best calling card. In fact, more people are searching online these days for services than ever before. That’s why it’s vital to update your freelance translation business website from time to time. And the key is to keep your ideal client in mind.

In the first session of my T&I Website Blueprint Course, 10 students committed to revamping an existing website or creating an entirely new one. The results that came from the students who took the course were truly amazing. I’d like to share a few of the websites that were created in this course, including some really beautiful before-and-after images of updated designs, web copy and formatting that truly speak to these translators’ ideal clients.

Since the first session of this course in 2018, I've received several messages from other translators expressing interest in taking the course as well. Stay tuned to the end of this post to find out how to receive updates about when I will teach this course again (June 2019).

The first website transformation I'd like to share is from Molly Yurick (Yurick Translations). Molly chose to do a complete overhaul of her previous website. As you’ll see in the following images, she not only updated the look of her site, but she truly crafted a message and a feeling for site visitors that fits the niche industries for which she translates.

Molly told me, “I had my website set up for me, but I don’t really have control over any of it. I’d like to completely redo my website so that I can make updates whenever I want.” So, when it was time to start the very first module, she was ready to tackle a brand new website.

Molly’s previous website looked like this when visitors landed on the Home page.

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She told me that she didn’t feel any real attachment to the images on her site, including the one in the banner on the Home page.

Now, her Home page looks like this!

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Not only does she use an image that appeals to clients in her niche areas of specialization (tourism, destination wedding planning and hospitality), but she speaks to them immediately in a succinct, well-crafted headline and sub-heading.

The rest of her Home page went from this…

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to this!

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The original About page of her website was very “text-heavy.” She had very little in the way of visual appeal.

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But she updated her About page copy, and now it is bold, clear and truly describes who she is and how she serves her clients.

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Molly’s previous Testimonials page was also rather plain, including a small font that made the copy feel less appealing than the new layout she created in the course. She wanted to share her expertise through client testimonials in a way that would resonate with her potential clients in seconds. She even included more images to appeal to those in her niche markets.

Before:

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After:

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And finally, Molly took the time to create a more effective Contact page on her website. While her previous Contact page was suitable…

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She can get much more out of her new Contact page. Not only does she address her clients in both English and Spanish, but she uses a contact form that will allow her to gain more insight on those who inquire about her services. Tip: Always include a required question on your Contact page form that asks a client how they found you!

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The website Molly built in the T&I Website Blueprint Course is a solid step toward attracting her ideal client base. She made wonderful use of white space without cluttering the pages with text that could feel overwhelming. And she chose images and crafted copy that will really speak to those searching for her services online!

I'm very excited about my new website! The whole process was totally worth it as I now have a website I am proud of!  – Molly Yurick


The second website transformation I’d like to share in Part 1 of this series belongs to Veronika Demichelis. Veronika’s case is a bit different. She already had a beautiful website, but she said, “It just doesn’t feel like the authentic me.” So, she enrolled in the course with the goal of updating the look and feel of her site to market herself in an authentic way and to truly reach those she wants to work with in the years to come.

It may look like Veronika made fewer aesthetic changes, but don’t be fooled. Veronika took an already well designed site and made it feel more like her. She simplified the copy and used images that reflected the inspiration she had behind her new logo and visuals.

Veronika’s original Home page looked like this (below). The sections below the fold became one long, scrolling page of content.

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But now, it looks like this! Veronika crafted content for each of her pages with a call to action (CTA) on every single page. This helps her clients know exactly what to do next.

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She updated her About page as well, going from this…

to this!

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Not only did she update the content, but she wrote it in a way that speaks to her clients and not just about herself. This is essential in getting your content marketing right!

Veronika also made changes to her Services page. Before, it was somewhat unaligned and “text-heavy.”

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Instead, she chose to create a “path” for clients to take so that they wouldn’t have to sift through information that didn’t relate to their needs. And it turned out beautifully!

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All her site visitors have to do is read a brief heading and service description in order to match their needs with Veronika’s niche services.

Veronika’s updated website is a real reflection of who she is and how she serves her clients with value. She took the copywriting and layout skills she learned in the T&I Website Blueprint Course and created a clean, sharp and incredibly appealing website that appeals to her ideal clients.

I loved everything about this course—the pace, the amazing content, the group support from the course community, and most of all—Madalena’s encouragement and advice. The course was unique and invaluable in that it taught us to make our websites about our target audience and what solutions we can bring to the table. This was eye-opening and empowering!”  – Veronika Demichelis

Both Molly’s and Veronika’s new websites are much more in line with the vision these professional women have for their freelance businesses. Their content speaks to their direct clients. They’ve also told me how proud they are of their websites now. I know they will reap the benefits for years to come!

If you, too, would like to update your website or create one from scratch, you can join the waitlist for the next session of the T&I Website Blueprint Course, starting in January 2020.

You can also
read Part 2 of the "before and after" website transformations that resulted from this course here.

How Case Studies Can Help You Market Your T&I Services

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Case studies are gold. They are also underutilized in the T&I world. Case studies are real accounts of successful customer experiences. If written well, they could also convince new clients to hire you.

When was the last time you read a customer review before you purchased something, or relied on an app on your mobile phone to see what others thought of a restaurant you were considering checking out?

Your clients do the same. Testimonials are powerful -- no doubt about it. But case studies -- those are like testimonials on steroids.

How Case Studies Can Help Your T&I Business

As translators and interpreters, we don’t often get to tell others about the work we do… at least not the finer details. Confidentiality clauses and codes of ethics make it difficult to showcase our work. But case studies can be a great solution in solving the issue of rarely getting to share our work with those who might hire us. Sure, we can send a potential client a sample. But a case study can show them what you can do for them. And that’s what most clients really want to know.

How to Build a Case Study from Your Clients’ Experiences with You

If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to crafting the content for a few case studies for your website or LinkedIn profile, start small. Think of the times when a client complimented your work. What did they say? What did you do for them that caused them to send you those kind words? Make a mental note to follow up with this client and make a request to share their positive experience as a case study.

Here’s an example of content that would be perfect to craft into two amazing case studies.

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Immediately after reading this tweet from my colleague, Jamie Hartz, I thought, “Those would make great case studies!” The outcomes Jamie shared in her tweet are the results clients are hoping to achieve when they hire a professional translator. This is the “why” behind the reason they hired her. They each had a goal to achieve, and because of Jamie’s great work, they achieved their desired outcomes.

If you can’t think of a specific compliment from a client that could eventually be turned into a longer case study, create a folder in your email inbox or on your computer to start saving the compliments you receive. Once you receive one that showcases a really spectacular outcome for a client, you’ll have the content you need to write a solid case study worth sharing.

Learn to Write Case Studies from Others

If you’re not sure how to write a case study, start reading some from other industries and professionals who work with clients in a similar way as you (online, for most translators or in-person assignments, for interpreters). These examples can be truly helpful in helping you decide how you’d like to craft your own case studies. The overall message to share in your case studies is how you deliver value to your clients. So, look for this information in the case studies you read, and decide how you prefer to portray this information to your ideal clients.

But What About Confidentiality?

You don't have to break client confidentiality or share the actual content you translated or the assignment for which you interpreted. But you should ask your clients' permission if you want to feature them and their success (largely due to you, of course!) in a case study. Most clients are thrilled with this idea and will give you permission. However, if you are working for a corporate client or even a mid-size company, you may have to make sure you have other correct permissions — like that of the marketing or legal departments, for example. Don't let asking for these permissions stop you. Case studies are really powerful. So, if a client responds with a "No thanks," just move on to another client!

Try to come up with one or two case studies a year if you can. Make them reflect the kind of work you want to keep doing for your clients, not work that you would rather avoid. And start small. Your case studies don’t have to be pages long. In fact, a simple page on your website with testimonials and a few solid case studies is more than sufficient! If you want to get more mileage out of your case studies, you could even share them as a file on LinkedIn (just upload a PDF) or as an “article” that will remain pinned to the top of your profile.

Have you ever thought about creating some case studies to showcase your work?

Three Copy Mistakes Translators Make with Their Website Content and What to Do About It

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We are word people, many of us through and through. We express ourselves best through the written word.

And while we do focus quite a bit on finding just the right term or phrase for a given concept, that doesn't mean that we write marketing copy as well as we translate.

Some would even argue that translators should stick to translation. I would argue that translators can (and should!) learn to write great marketing copy as well. After all, not all freelancers have a large enough marketing budget to hire a copywriter to create all of their marketing content. Since we often rely on our own ways with words, it’s important to first take a look at some of the ways we can easily miss the mark when it comes to the copy we write for our own businesses.

Here are three copy mistakes translators make in their web copy and what to do about it.

Mistake 1: Writing too much content

A lot of times we fall into the habit of wanting to give too many details. We think we need to tell those who land on our website everything about how we came to be translators. We think we need to write copy that reflects exactly what’s on our resumes.

Trust me. Having too much copy on your website means that clients will have to sift through it all to find what they need. Is that something you would want to do when you land on a website? Your clients don’t want to do that either! By writing too much content, you run the risk of losing potential clients.

Instead, focus on this solution.

Solution: In two words: write less. More concretely, keep the copy on your site to a minimum. You do not have to tell clients everyone everything about you as soon as they land on your website. A couple of my students in the T&I Website Blueprint Course said to me, “But I want to be honest and let them know why I’m qualified.” Well, of course! But you can still be honest and show your qualifications without writing a novel on your home page. As the saying goes, "Don't show all your cards." Save some of the information about your background and knowledge on a given topic for the conversations you’ll have with a potential client. Use this information to help create a business relationship over time.

Having white space on your website is a good thing. It guides the reader eyes to know where to look next. It is less overwhelming than having a lot of copy. And aesthetically, it’s much more pleasing to the reader’s eye.

Mistake 2: Writing about themselves instead of to their ideal clients

I see this mistake more often than I’d like to admit. Many translators (and other freelancers, for that matter) talk about themselves more than they talk to their ideal clients. Take a look at your website copy and find all the ways you write about yourself (using the pronoun “I”). Then, look at all the ways you write to your clients (using the pronoun “you”).

Does your copy read more like an autobiography than a friendly conversation? If so, it’s time to update that content!

Solution: If you are going to write to your clients, you have to know something about them. It is important to mentally gather this information and write your copy as if you are having a conversation with the reader. Show that you understand your ideal clients in your web copy and talk about how you can help them.

Again, this isn’t the time to tell your clients everything at once. They don't want to know the "how" about what you do. They want to know the "why" that helps them reach the results they wish to achieve.

Mistake 3: Not focusing on what their ideal clients want to know

This is another one of those mistakes I see quite often when browsing translators’ websites. There seems to be a disconnect between what a lot of translators tell their potential clients and what their potential clients are actually looking for. Yes, it’s important for a client to know you’re qualified. But no… they don’t necessarily need to know your life story and why you chose to study languages (unless it’s relevant, of course!).

Solution: This is somewhat similar to number 2 above, but a client you want to work with for the long-term is probably also looking for a long-term solution to a problem they currently have. That's why you have to make your words count! Think about who your clients are.

What do they struggle with? What are their goals? What do they get out of working with a professional translator beyond the translation itself? Maybe it’s the ability to tap into a new market. Maybe it’s the opportunity to close a deal with a new customer. Maybe it’s a way to market their programs to international students. Whatever your clients are looking to achieve by working with you is what creates your value to them.

Instead of focusing on what you think your clients want to know when they land on your website, take the time to ask them what they look for in hiring a professional translator. Talk to your clients about their challenges and goals. If you are an interpreter, you could even make your "About" page of your website a brief video of you talking to your clients instead of a series of paragraphs. This allows your clients to see how professional you are, to listen to the rhythm of your speech and to have a better sense of “knowing you” before they actually meet you.


These mistakes are definitely things one can work on and improve over time. And the best part is that nothing you put on your website is set in stone for the rest of time.

As your ideal clients might change, so should your copy in order to better relate to them and what they need. Remember to talk to your clients through your website copy and to always portray the value you bring to the business relationship.

If you want to learn more about copywriting for your business, as well as offering copywriting services to your translation clients, sign up for the wait list for this course (by writing to Corinne McKay at corinne@translatewrite.com) . This course is given as part of Corinne McKay's online course series.