When you start as a freelance translator, you're like a wee egg that hasn't hatched yet.
You're at the cusp of something new, and you hold a lot of promise of what's to come.
But you're still in an embryonic state. Since you aren't fully formed, it can be scary to break out of your protective shell into the world.
But that's what you have to do to market your translation business.
Marketing your freelance translation business is simple
We often don't want to break out of our marketing "shell" because we feel marketing is so complicated.
You know what? Marketing isn't complicated. We translators just make it complicated.
Especially when we think we have to be the "everyone translator" who works with every type of client.
If that's your approach, you'll quickly become overwhelmed at the millions of possible clients you can target.
It's so confusing to know where to start! To market your freelance translation business, you only need to know two things:
These are simple questions on the surface, but they're hard to answer when overwhelm sets in.
So here is a simple formula that will get your marketing that much simpler.
While you may think that working with any kind of company is the best way to open doors, this just isn't true.
Unless you pick some focus areas, your marketing won't be successful, because prospects will immediately lump you in with every other translator out there.
You just won't stand out.
To get clear on your translation focus, ask yourself: What kind of translator am I?
This simple statement tells prospects right away what kind of work you do. For example, you could be a:
Public health translator
Even if you call yourself, a technical translator, you can still work in all sorts of fields: IT and software, engineering, environmental science, medicine.
If you're, a marketing translator, you could be up to your ears in restaurant menus one day and then translate a position paper the next.
Having a focus does not cut you off from work: it opens doors to work.
Once you've focused on sectors, you need a basic understanding of those sectors.
Because a big mistake translators make is thinking that their marketing is all about them.
You think that if you just talk about the right part of your education or experience, then you'll get noticed and hired. I'm sorry to say that this just isn't the case.
Marketing is all about sending a message to clients about how you benefit them.
But the problem for us translators? It's crazy hard to explain to potential clients how your translation benefits their business.
Translation may be an afterthought for them. Or they may not be bilingual enough to get the quality of your work.
And they probably don't track the results of your translations so you can prove your effectiveness to other clients.
So avoid wasting time racking your brain over the benefits of what you do and get to the core of your clients' needs. For example, companies in engineering-related fields might need:
Someone who knows their jargon
Someone who can provide consistent terminology
Someone who has an eagle eye for editing numbers and figures
When you pin down those needs, it's much easier to get noticed by potential clients, as you'll position yourself as someone who adds value to their company.
What makes marketing work? If you were looking for a one-word answer to that question, that word is commitment. What makes a marriage work? What makes a business work? How do you finish running a marathon? Commitment is the answer, and all the winners know it. Levinson, Jay Conrad. Guerrilla Marketing, p. 25
Marketing is only complicated in the sense that losing weight is complicated.
Because if you want to shed pounds, diet and exercise are really the only two ways to do it.
Yet, the sheer range of exercise and health options out there is staggering: gym memberships, online classes, yoga, tabata, and paleo diets galore!
The people who lose weight are the ones who make things simple, create a plan and stick to it. As long as your routine is based on some form of healthy diet and exercise, it really doesn't matter how you go about it.
And marketing your freelance translation business is no different.
Whether you send five emails a week or twenty, attend 1 networking event a month or none, it doesn't really matter.
What matters is that you choose a routine and commit to that no matter what.
Break out of your shell right now
No matter how complicated it gets to market your translation business, you can make it simple.
With the "focus, needs and commitment" formula, you'll stop the overwhelm and hone in on what's important.
Simply focus on your sector, decide on that sector's needs, and then commit to connecting with prospects.
Your future translation clients will appreciate your simple approach.
And that makes your whole freelance translation life that much simpler too!