Don't continue searching for work in the same areas where thousands of other translators are searching for work.
Changing Your Business Skills
If you continue searching for work in the same areas where thousands of other translators are searching for work, you’re going to break your heart. When a translation client has such a wide choice – let’s say between you and 500 other translators - the decision is obviously going to boil down to ‘Who can do this work the cheapest and quickest’? Unless you’re translating a very unusual language or you have an unusual specialization, forget about translation job boards. What you need is an attractive, professional website! It only needs to be very basic, and you can create your website yourself on SquareSpace or WordPress.
Tips for Finding Better Clients
- No longer will your selling point be low rates. Seriously, would you trust the cheapest surgeon or accountant? Of course not!
- Don’t have business cards with ‘Free business cards available at…’ on the back: and don’t use ‘print-at-home’ business cards. And don’t alter old business cards – get new professional business cards made specifically for your business.
- Respond to inquiries from potential new clients immediately, and make sure that people find you easy to work with. Keep in mind that price is not always a client’s main concern: there are many good clients out there who are happy to pay good money for a translator who’s responsive, competent, constructive, pleasant, and all the other positive traits that you possess.
- Look for translation work where other translators aren’t looking. Make sure you attend conferences for your specialization. Even more, be the translator who asks a really clever question during the Q&A session. If finances don’t allow for you to attend these types of conferences, make sure you’re at least on their LinkedIn group.
- Start hunting! Actively search for the kind of work that you not only like to do, but the kind of work you know you’re good at: work LinkedIn, send warm emails, follow your prospective clients on Twitter, and attend conferences. When they’ve achieved something great, send them a short email with your congratulations – basically, just get in their game!
Improving Your Translation Skills
- Help your clients out! Help them say what they really meant to say and not what was actually written. There will be many times when you read something in a client’s document that’s utter nonsense, so don’t simply accept that and translate it. Flag the error for the client and make your suggestions for alternatives. Your client will really appreciate your help!
- We also strongly suggest you enroll in one or more continuing education classes for your specialization: this will help you understand the concepts you’re translating, in addition to how to translate them.
- Make sure you’re open to constructive criticism of your translation work. If and when an editor finds an error in your work, remember that your goal is to become a better translator. This means that whenever your work is edited by a good translator, it’s just another opportunity to improve your skills. Accept criticism gracefully, because it’s just another opportunity to learn and grow.
- Slow down! No-one can produce engaging, dynamic, flowing translations by consistently translating 4,000 words each and every day. Perhaps you might get 4,000 words of meaning across, but it’s not going to be high-quality work. You need your client to say ‘That’s exactly how I wanted this translation to sound,' so ‘quality, not quantity’ is the order of the day!