Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Marketing Strategies for Sustaining a Freelance Translation Business

Marketing is an integral part of a translator’s life, and marketing strategies are vitally important to the success of any freelance translation business. Errors in marketing and lack of marketing can have the same result - no work!

Below we’ve listed some common, but critical, marketing errors by freelance translators: errors that can break a freelance business –

No Marketing!

Even when there’s a downturn in the economy it seems that the translation business still does very well, and most qualified professionals don’t need to look for work. However, most translators rely on a steady flow of work from their regular clients, each of whom provides a certain percentage of their yearly income. Now, what would happen if one or more of these relationships failed? Any number of scenarios could result in the loss of a client. Your clients’ business could fail, or your translation services may no longer be required because they’ve either found someone cheaper or perhaps it’s a cost-cutting exercise on the part of the business. 

Translators must have a plan to cover unexpected client losses. It’s not realistic to assume that you’ll be translating indefinitely for your current client base. You need to consider who your next translation clients will be, and how you intend marketing to them.

Most Translators Discover Their Loyal Direct Clients Through Either Personal Referrals Or In-Person Meetings

If you’ve met a client in person and been able to build a relationship with them, you’re obviously going to have a better rapport with that client. And, as in any other business, the clients that either offers a large volume of work or pay very well, meaning your high-value clients, are the ones who are more likely to trust someone they’ve met in person. It’s very important that you put yourself out there and talk to real, live people. Why not attend a tradeshow for your specialization or go to a freelancers group potluck? 

You could join your local Chamber of Commerce or attend an ATA conference – however you decide to network, realize that this is the most effective way of attracting good clients.

Don’t Try And Compete On Price Alone

To start with, quality conscious clients are likely to be skeptical if you’re charging low rates: they’ll wonder why you’re willing to work so hard for so little. In addition, most people work better when they feel they’re being well paid for their services, and of course, the reverse is also true. The other problem with setting low prices is that it creates a negative dynamic between the translator and the client, where the client is likely to consider the translator as simply a commodity provider; meaning that your hard work is not valued. Translators also need to remember that there will always be another translator prepared to work for less money; so, instead of competing on price, you need to charge what you believe your expertise is worth. What you should be competing on, however, is quality and customer service. These are what your clients are looking for!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Translators: Learning to Trust Your Instincts with New Clients

Learning how to vet job offers and prospective clients can be difficult for a new translator: it’s not always easy to know straight off if a job offer or a new client is legitimate, and of course there’s no true way of really knowing. And yes, even very experienced translators can get scammed! And sometimes you can be unsure about a potential client, but once you get over some initial hiccups they turn out to become one of your most loyal clients.

Below we’ve listed some tips on learning to trust your instincts and how to determine whether a job or a client is legitimate.

Check a Translation Industry Client Rating List

Our first piece of advice is very important! Use a translation industry client rating list and check to see if your potential client has been rated. So, first step: check the rating list as soon as you’ve been contacted by a new client: these are invaluable resources for translators, and you’ll generally find that clients who are non-payers will have been rated on these lists. If you don’t yet belong to a translation industry client rating list, check out Payment Practices, and of course there are others.

Ask Your Prospective Client for References

In our opinion, it’s quite acceptable to ask your potential client for references from other translators they may have used in the past; remembering that you should also be prepared to offer the client the same information. Ask the client if they belong to any professional associations for translators. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee legitimacy, but it does indicate that the client is prepared to invest their money and time in joining such an association.

Make Sure You Get All Contact Information

Never accept instructions from a client without first obtaining full contact information from the client: this should include their physical address, email address, and their phone number; and don’t forget to get the full name and contact information of the person who will be handling your account.

Ask for Payment in Advance

Another option is to ask for payment in advance, and this advice is generally for people who don’t really need the work that’s being offered. You might request full or partial payment in advance, but remember that some clients won’t agree to this proposition because they now run the risk of receiving no translation at all or an unacceptable translation. If you’re not prepared to take any risk at all with a new client, then ask them to pay in advance: it can and does happen that a client can disappear after they’ve received the translation and leave no forwarding phone number or address, leaving you high and dry when it comes to payment.

What Does Your Gut Feeling Tell You?

In our opinion, we should all use our intuition a lot more than we do. ‘Trusting our instincts’, ‘having a gut feeling’, and so on: we all get these feelings and sometimes we simply ignore them because they’re going against what we really want to do. But, remember that you’re a professional and your time and effort is worth a lot more than completing a translation for someone who has no intention of paying for your services. Follow the above tips and let the client know that you’re checking rating lists, asking for references, and working out payment terms and conditions upfront. If they’re not prepared for this, they’ll more than likely move on to a more gullible, unsuspecting translator.