Spend as much time as possible marketing yourself to as many direct clients and translation agencies as you can find.
This post is dedicated to helping new translators get their business off the ground, because we know first-hand just how overwhelming getting started can be. We hope that the following advice will perhaps reduce stress and help you grow your translation business.
Spend as much time as possible marketing yourself to as many direct clients and translation agencies as you can find. Understand that these businesses don’t know you’re available if they don’t know you exist. There’s no right or wrong number here, but the right number would be when you’ve completely exhausted your list of contacts! What is it about you and your translation skills that makes you stand out from other translators? This information is what you need to be marketing and highlighting to potential clients. And of course, with translation, you never stop marketing yourself – ever!
Become Active at Local, National and International Levels
You have to put yourself out there, so aim to join as many associations as you can. Join your local Translator’s Association and become active in the organization; get to know both the agencies and the freelance translators. In addition, attend some of the smaller regional conferences that specialize in fields that you either work in or that you want to work in. Use social media sites like Twitter and LinkedIn, and keep these sites updated on a regular basis. Become active on translation listservs, or create a blog on your website. You do have a website, right? Make sure your website is easy to find, and that the information contained on your website is up-to-date. Unless you’re an absolute newcomer to the translation you may consider writing articles for your local translation newsletters and, perhaps even if you are new to translating, an article in these newsletters would still be appropriate (maybe explaining the trials and tribulations of entering the industry, and/or asking for advice).
Read as Many Articles and Books as You Can
Have you read Judy and Dagmar Jenner’s book titled The Entrepreneurial Linguist, or Corrine McKay’s book titled How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator? There’s a lot of very valuable advice for both new and experienced translators in both these publications; and, of course, there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) of posts and articles online on various different sites giving advice and answering other translators’ questions.
Upgrade to a Full Version of Your CAT Tool
If you’re using a trial version of a CAT tool, then our advice is that you upgrade to the full version. There are some really great tools out there like OmegaT and Fluency that don’t cost a lot – in fact, OmegaT is free. Then, once you’re earning more you might want to consider purchasing one of the more expensive translation tools if you believe it’s necessary. Check out sites like Proz.com because they sometimes offer group buys which make certain software, such as a MemoQ, more affordable to translators.
Be Confident in the Price You’re Charging
It’s important that you stay strong on your per-word rate. It can be quite stressful advising current clients that you’ve decided to raise your rates because you simply have no guarantee that they’ll stay with you; but if you’ve been providing your customers high-quality translations and great customer service, then you must assume that they’ll accept your new rate.