How to Be Honest About Your (Non-)Experience and Still Get Translation Clients
Are you caught in the trap of needing clients to get clients? Think you have to have oodles of experience to build your business? Not so. Read this post to find out what you really need to get translation clients.
It’s soooo scary when you first start out as a translator.
I have no track record! No experience!
They’ll find me out!
Indeed, convincing potential clients you have the translation goods is daunting when you lack years of experience.
Believe me, I’ve been there.
You kind of feel like a puppy dog begging for scraps.
However, the whole “clients equals clients” formula is a BIG assumption. And one that new translators often make.
So you never try to get clients, because you wait for people to find you first. And you sit there thinking you’ll have to start lying or fudging about your experience to start cracking into the industry.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
You can actually be completely honest about your experience–even if you have none–to go after and get translation clients.
And without faking your experience or puffing up your past. (Which, goodness knows, will backfire on you faster than you can sneeze.)
Let’s go over three ways you can be honest with prospective clients so that we can put this “lack of experience = no clients” misbelief to bed once and for all.
Be honest about your passion–but NOT your passion for language
We translators come to the industry because we love language.
Language is our bread and butter. We swim in it. We do gymnastics in it.
But you know who doesn’t care about that? Your clients.
The vast majority do not care about your love affair with language.
Instead, they care about their industry. About their problems. About their business.
Very rarely have I gotten work in my industry–the public sector–by talking about my language skills.
I got work because I knew those clients and understood them. And I could honestly trade on my work experience to get translation gigs.
Be honest about your proactivity
Translators who go the extra mile to check the last detail, who come back to clients with questions well before a due date and who point out any potential problems with a text are like gold.
Even translators with YEARS of experience have problems with this.
But put yourself in your prospective client’s shoes.
What do they need you to be proactive about?
Terminology? Deadlines? Project management?
If you can show, in concrete terms, how being on the ball is what you do best, then you can be very honest about this, with no qualms about your short resume.
Be honest about your professionalism
You’d probably be surprised to learn that many freelance translators make a habit of flaking out on their projects.
They don’t meet deadlines. (What now?)
They don’t check their work. (No way!)
They complain when clients ask questions. (Really?)
It’s like, when taken out of an office, they lose all semblance of professional decorum.
This is very frustrating for clients, who need people they can rely on.
If you simply do what you say you’re going to do, you are definitely in a very select group of freelance translators, no matter what your experience!
And that’s a badge of honour that you can wear proudly and honestly.
Choose your honesty wisely!
You never, ever want to be dishonest about what you can do. That is just a path to no good for anyone.
But there’s a difference between being dishonest and focusing on the wrong things, i.e., on areas of perceived weakness.
Because a lack of experience is often just that: a perceived lack of skill.
You can bring other things to the table besides experience and wow the socks of your prospects.
The trick in your freelance translation business is to be honest about the right things.
So don’t worry about your experience. Simply change the focus to what your clients care about–passion, proactivity and professionalism–and you’ll start getting business a lot faster.