If your dream is to work with direct clients, then it’s worth contacting large businesses in your area.
Choosing Who to Work for
When you’re a newcomer to the translation profession, it can be helpful to enjoy the safety nets that translation agencies offer. When you work for a translation agency your translation work will almost always be proofread before delivery to the end client, guarding against what could well be a serious disaster if you should make a mistake. On the other hand, when you work for direct clients, particularly those clients who are located in areas with limited translators to choose from, you may find that these clients are more prepared to give an inexperienced translator a fair go. Most translation agencies have a wide range of translators to choose from, so a direct client who would prefer to work with someone local has more incentive to give someone new a try.
Contacting Direct Clients
If your dream is to work with direct clients, then it’s worth contacting large businesses in your area, and this includes hospitals and school systems, even if their international ties are not that obvious. Another great contact for beginner translators is international business organizations, like the Chamber of Commerce. Joining this type of organization is also the perfect way of networking with potential clients.
Look for Local Clients
If you think you present yourself better in person than you do on paper, then ask translation companies in your local area for an in-person meeting. This is the ideal way of learning about the agency and discussing how you might fit in and be able to offer your services. If agencies advise that they don’t have any work in your language combinations at this point, don’t be discouraged. By requesting an in-person meeting, you’ll be in the perfect position to step in if their needs should change.
Start Marketing Yourself and Your Services
Don’t be fooled into thinking that you only need to send out a few inquiries to start working full-time, because this won’t happen. You need to send out hundreds of résumés during your first year in business! And make sure you blanket the field, meaning send your resume to every translation agency and direct client can think of, like organizations in your area that might be able to use your translation services, agencies in countries where your other language is spoken, and translation agencies in your country.
Keep in Touch with All Existing Clients and Potential Clients
It’s not enough to simply send emails and make phone calls, then wait to hear from your potential clients. You should keep a detailed account of every person you speak with and every person you email, and what their response to your inquiry was. Over time, as you gain more experience, contact these people again to let them know that you’re still available and still interested in working for them. Keep them informed as to what type of translation projects you’ve completed, saying that you’d love to help them with similar translations.
Never Stop Marketing Yourself!
Marketing yourself become so much easier once you’ve already landed your first few clients, simply because you’ve got something to tell your new prospective clients about, other than the fact that you’re still looking for work. However, you must keep marketing yourself, and even successful translators spend a certain percentage of their working time on marketing their services. The marketing side of your career never stops because you will experience downturns in translation work, and there will be times when a direct client no longer needs your services. That’s why it’s so important that you keep up a steady flow of outbound marketing.