If you’re just starting out in the world a freelance translating, your first obstacle is probably going to be trying to find your first elusive clients. Perhaps some of you are already at the stage whereby you feel that the lack of progress you’re making is because most clients won’t pay your rates, or your experience is that the potential clients you’ve approached are not looking for someone who needs your language/specialization.
Maybe the potential client’s you’ve contacted our looking for experienced translators capable of translating large projects on short notice. Whatever your experience is to date, remember that you’re not alone in these experiences. Most translators have felt exactly the same way when trying to get their freelance translation business off the ground.
You’re Missing One Very Important Point!
As beginner translators we can get very caught up in the fact that we need to get out there and find ourselves some new translation clients that we forget about the reality of our business. The truth is you don’t need a lot of clients! You need, perhaps, between five and eight regular clients, and some other clients to fill in the gaps.
Once your business is up and running you’ll realize that around two-thirds of your income will come from your top few clients. Of course you can’t become too reliant on any one client, because life happens and clients do disappear for any number of reasons; however, your top clients are the ones that keep you busy: they already know and trust you, and there’s less administrative time with these clients because you’ve worked so well together in the past.
Change Your Thinking!
Once you understand this, set about changing your thinking about the number of clients you actually need to run a successful freelance translation business. Think small! Think a few, high-quality, well-paying clients rather than thinking big and becoming so discouraged. If you apply to twenty potential clients and one client turns out to be a good, loyal client, then you’ve been highly successful. Keep marketing your translation business until such time as you’ve achieved anywhere between three and ten clients, and you’ll find that these clients will keep your incredibly busy.
There Are Potential Clients Out There Waiting to Hear from You!
Did you know that there are more than 47,000 law firms in the United States? If you’re a legal translator and 99% of these law firms already have a regular translator, or perhaps they have no translation needs or don’t need your language pair, that leaves 470 clients just waiting to hear from you! And still, with that number, you need to hope that at least 99.9% of these law firms don’t need your services, because that still leaves 47 clients - which is way too many for any translator to handle. You get the point!
You don’t need a lot of translation clients: you only need a few loyal and good quality clients to run a successful freelance translation business. That being said, always keep in mind that translation clients come and go, so you still need to maintain some sort of marketing strategy. Your business can’t be allowed to fail simply because you lost one or two of your best translation clients.