The beginning of a new year is always an exciting time that brings out a lot of creativity. It’s the time we make lists and plans, set out goals and set our new year’s resolutions.
And it’s the time to reflect on what has happened the year before, pat ourselves on the shoulder for our achievements and figure out what we could have done to make things better.
Now, I’ve never been good at this. I’ve always written my resolutions on a piece of paper that usually ends up in a dark corner in my top drawer. And I’ve never been the one to brag about my successes: I’m extremely self-critical, and I tend to see the negative rather than the positive when it comes to what I do.
2016, however, has made me realise that I should take pride in my achievements. It made me understand that being too critical and belittling my successes, always saying “I could have done more”, only changes the perception that others have of me. Nothing more. It doesn’t really push me to do better. It just makes me feel less valuable and confident.
On the contrary, recognizing what I’ve achieved and celebrating it has proven to be a strong motivator to do even more. Better results, more champagne, right? 😉
So here’s my farewell to a great year, and my new year’s resolutions for an even better one.
I was nominated for two prestigious national student awards. I didn’t win, but I was among the 5 finalists for the former, and 3 finalists for the latter, and that was a BIG DEAL. Plus I was invited to the two gorgeous awards ceremonies, one of which was at the House of Lords!
I won the runner-up prize in the Make It Happen competition at London South Bank University in the Freelance category: it was the first time I won a prize for my business, and it meant the world to me.
I contributed to the launch of LSBU’s Business Solutions Centre, a student-led advice clinic for small businesses. It has been one of the greatest and most satisfying adventures of my life. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done in setting up the Centre with all its processes, and the work we’ve been doing every week since last April.
I had the chance to present at Language Show Live in London and in Scotland. I received very positive feedback, and it was truly fantastic. Also, I was invited to deliver a workshop for the Interpreting division of the Chartered Institute of Linguists in 2017 as a result of the presentation I gave in October.
I was chosen to work on a massive product marketing project for the Marketing department of my university, which is still ongoing.
I did lots of networking, and I had lots of fun doing it. I met very interesting people, other freelancers and new clients. And I got free drinks and food on the side, which was a big plus 😉
My social media profiles and blog exploded! +139% followers on Twitter, +73% likes on Facebook, and a stunning +289% subscribers on my blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
I completed all the modules in my Master’s with excellent results.
Although I started two new jobs that kept me busy on a full-time basis for at least 4 months, and I studied for my Master’s, I still managed to record a +1,37% yearly growth for my translation business alone. This makes me very, very proud.
Finally, this was the year I truly developed my entrepreneurial spirit, and I now feel more confident, more focus and more driven.
As I said, celebrating my successes gives me the confidence to set the bar higher. This year I won’t leave my resolutions in a dark corner: they will stay here, in this public space, a constant reminder of this new year enthusiasm.
My new year’s resolutions:
Complete and deliver my Master’s dissertation without procrastinating too much;
If you’re anything like roughly 31% of the world population, you are at least on one social media platform. As with any social environment, there are some tacit rules of social media behaviour that allow every user to enjoy their platform of choice to the fullest. In most cases, you don’t want to be perceived as rude or ignorant, or as someone who can’t be trusted. Even more so if you have a professional profile that you use to raise your brand awareness and connect with clients and colleagues alike. To be seen as a professional, you need your social media behaviour to beimpeccable.
With Facebook groups and online forums like Proz, we now have the chance to connect with hundreds of colleagues from all over the world to chat, ask questions and exchange ideas. This really is a golden pot for young translators and interpreters who are moving the first steps in the translation industry: who knows things better than someone who has been there, right?
When looking for answers or advice on Facebook, Proz, etc., however, you should always keep in mind that there are unwritten rules of social media behaviour (or netiquette) to respect. If you don’t follow them, chances are you’re going to get angry responses from other group members, or no responses at all.
To make your life a bit easier, I decided to collect these unwritten rules of social media behaviour for young translators in this article. The list you’ll find below is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a good starting point.
Do your research first
The internet is a wonderful thing. Millions of websites, forums and blogs where you can find tonnes of information in just one click. As a professional translator or interpreter, a big part of your job is to research information. Before posting a question on a Facebook group or online forum, do your research. Most of the time you will find an answer within seconds. Sometimes you’ll have to dig a bit deeper to find what you’re looking for. Very rarely you won’t find the answer: that’s when you can ask your colleagues.
Questions like “how do I become a sworn translator” or “how many words are in a standard page” have been asked so many times that you would need all the time in the world to read all the answers! Sometimes you don’t even have to leave the page and use Google: use the Search box on a Facebook group or a forum to see if someone has asked your question before you.
Don’t assume that others owe you an answer
Don’t forget that when people give an answer to your question, they’re basically giving up their (precious) time for you. They’re doing you a favour. They’re acting as consultants, free of charge. If you don’t like the answers you receive, maybe your question was phrased badly. Or maybe it had been posted hundreds of time before (see my point above).
The translation community is highly collaborative. We all do our best to help younger colleagues, as in the end it will benefit the industry as a whole. Don’t assume, however, that just because you’re a newbie, you’re allowed to behave unprofessionally. Be polite, be smart and do your homework first, as I suggested in this article. You’ll get all the answers you need if you act like a professional.
Ask for the recipe, not for a slice of cake
Ok, it’s 5pm and I’m craving something sweet, hence the metaphor. What I mean is: ask how something is done rather than asking someone to do it for you. When you ask things like “Can you give me the names of good agencies to work with“, you’re basically asking people to give you hours and hours of work for free.
As said a couple of paragraphs before, whoever answers a question on social media is offering their time for free. The more simple and specific your question, the more likely you will get useful answers. Existential questions such as “how do I become a freelance translator” or “how do I find more work” will put off potential helpers as they take ages (and a lot of effort) to answer.
Don’t bother asking about rates
Rates are one of the hottest topics in the translation industry, and one of the most controversial ones. Let’s start with the fact that rates are a very personal choice, so if you ask about how much you should charge for your services, you will get very different answers (if any). Your rates will depend on your language combinations, speciality fields, expertise, positioning, and ultimately on how much you think you’re worth.
Also, don’t forget that the people you’re asking are, in most cases, your direct competition. Not everyone will be happy to share their rates with you. Some translators, on the contrary, even have a price list up on their website. Try to have individual conversations rather than posting a public question, but don’t forget to do your research first! There are numerous articles and surveys that can give you an idea of how translation services are priced. I mentioned some of those in this article on how to define your basic rate.
Do you feel there are other rules of social media behaviour that are often neglected? Please share them in a comment below.
Last Sunday I gave a talk at Language Show Live in London entitled The Freelance Translator’s Free Marketing Toolkit.
It was amazing. The audience was great, and I had the chance to network with a few fellow colleagues I hope to meet again in the near future.
There was, however, something that didn’t go as planned. I had promised to be on Facebook Live and stream my presentation in real time, but the wifi signal at the venue wasn’t as reliable as I thought. My assistants (well, my friends actually, but ‘assistants’ sounds so fancy!) managed to record part of the presentation anyway, so I decided to upload it on YouTube. The first 5-10 minutes are missing, but, as I did last year, I’ll write some in-depth articles about the main topics I covered, so do not worry!
In the meantime, you can watch the recording of my presentation.
The Freelance Translator’s Free Marketing Toolkit – Part 1
The Freelance Translator’s Free Marketing Toolkit – Part 2
You can also flick through my presentation from the Slideshare box below, or download the PDF version from here. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below.
Translation rates are one of the most discussed issues on social media and websites on translation. Have a look around on Facebook, Twitter or Proz and you’ll find hundreds of posts along the lines of “How much should I charge for translation?”. And it’s not just the newbies. I found a lot of the same posts written by experienced translators who have worked in-house for years and have no clue what freelance rates are like.
Calculating translation rates is not easy. Your language combinations and specialisms, the type of text and the deadlines, the market you’re in and the market of your clients are all important factors in determining the price of your services. There is no magic formula, I’m afraid.
You can, however, determine your basic rate.
What is your basic rate?
Your basic translation rate is the rate that you need to charge to cover all your costs. It is the equivalent of the basic salary you need to live comfortably when you work as an employee.
Let’s see how you can determine your basic translation rates.
First of all, you need to write down all the expenses associated with your life and your work. This includes: rent, bills, transportation, food, household expenses, holidays, childcare expenses (if you have children, of course), clothing, gifts, education/CPD, software licenses, equipment (PC, dictionaries, books, keyboards, etc.). Then calculate the yearly total. Here’s an example:
The total is what you should end up with after you pay all your taxes. The amount of taxes you pay depends on your country of residence. If you live in the UK, you can find out how much you have to earn (gross income) to take home the amount of your choice, in our case £21k, by using this calculator. Obviously this doesn’t take into account business expenses and the difference between income and profits, but it’s a good way to start if this is your first year in the industry. If you have already filed one or more self-assessment tax returns, then you’ll know the amount of tax and national insurance you pay as a percentage of your income, and you can make a more accurate calculation.
As said before, you need a gross income of around £26,000 to take home £21,000. But how does that translate to your hourly or per word rate?
Let’s start calculating again. First, you need to know how many days you’re going to spend working in a year. To do this, you simply have to subtract your holidays, weekends, sick days, bank holidays and any other fixed engagements (i.e. conferences you will attend) you know you’ll have from 365. Here’s an example:
Total working days = 217
Then you need to know how many billable hours per week you are going to work. Assuming a week of 40 total working hours, you’re probably going to spend half of your time doing things other than translation, such as researching and contacting new clients, keeping in touch with existing client, marketing, social media, invoicing and general housekeeping. This means you will translate 20 hours per week, or 4 per working day. If you multiply this figure by the number of working days in a year, you’ll have the total billable hours in a year, in this case 4×217 = 868**.
This makes it super easy to calculate what your minimum hourly rate should be. Just divide the yearly net income by the total billable hours and you’ll get your minimum hourly rate*.
NET INCOME / BILLABLE HOURS = HOURLY RATE
£21,000/868 = £25/hour
£25/hour is the minimum translation rate you should charge in order to pay for all your expenses.
Now, a lot of clients, especially agencies, ask for a rate per word. To calculate it, you need to estimate the number of words you’re able to translate in an hour. If you divide your hourly rate by the number of words you translate in an hour, you’ll get the minimum translation rates you should charge depending on the type of text you are translating. Here’s an example:
Type of text
Words per hour
25/300 = £0.09 pw
25/200 = £0.12 pw
You rates should thus be no lower than £0.09 pw for general texts and £0.12 for technical texts.
That was fairly easy, wasn’t it?
Obviously, and let me emphasise this, these are only basic translation rates. These should be a starting point from which you can then determine your full rates by taking into account all factors other than covering your costs, in other words your added value.
Another good starting point is to do some online research to find out what are the average rates charged in the industry. You may not find the most up-to-date research (or you may find it, but you’ll have to pay for it), but you can still get an idea of how diverse rates can be. You can find some examples of research carried out by Fit Europe and by CIoL and ITI.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask. Freelancers are usually reluctant to share their rates on public fora because of the competition; if you engage in networking and build good relationships with more experienced colleagues, you’re more likely to receive answers to your questions.
*All figures have been rounded up for the purposes of this article.
**There was a mistake in my original figures. The issue has now been fixed. Thank you Francesco for pointing that out.
Do you have any techniques to calculate your translation rates? Share them in a comment below.
15 Translation Conferences and Language Events to Keep an Eye on
One of the most effective ways to progress in your freelance career is to network with fellow colleagues. Building good relationships and strong connections with other freelance translators will give you not only a chance to get some extra work through referrals, but, more importantly, the opportunity to learn from more experienced colleagues and exchange ideas and best practices with other members of the industry.
Translation conferences and language events are the perfect setting for some good old networking. Add interesting and enriching seminars and presentations on top of that, and you have the perfect combo for a great business and personal development experience.
Some events are free to attend, but you will have to pay a fee for most translation conferences. To save you some time and help you decide which conference or event is best for you and your budget, in this article I collected information about 15 European translation conferences and language events you should keep an eye on over the next few months.
[This list is being updated on a regular basis. Last update: 15 January 2019]
Organised by Elia When: 21-22 February 2019 Where: Barcelona, Spain Price: €250 (ca. £225) – early bird rate and discounts available
Together is a two-day event that brings together professionals from across the industry for an open dialogue on industry trends, to learn mutually-relevant new approaches, to update technical skills and, ultimately, serve our end clients better. Most importantly, it’s a friendly, collaborative environment in which to develop lasting relationships.
Organised by GALA When: 24-27 March 2019 Where: Munich, Germany Price: US$1675 (ca. £1,300) – early bird rate and discounts available
GALA’s annual Language of Business conferences are advanced educational and networking events where translation and localization industry leaders collectively discuss best practices, common challenges, emerging trends, and industry technologies. These annual events are your opportunity to connect with translation and localization industry professionals from around the globe who represent diverse companies, sectors, and specialties. We foster an open atmosphere and a spirit of sharing where peer-to-peer learning abounds. With top executives and senior leadership comprising more than 80% of the audience, the focus is high-level, strategic, and growth-oriented. Join us in Munich in 2019 to expand your mind and your network!
Organised by Localize.pl, Textem, Wantwords and Big Talk School When: 29-30 March 2018 Where: Warsaw, Poland Price: €370 (ca. £330) – early bird rate and discounts available
We speed up the time and reach a year ahead. Do you remember recently watching sci-fi movies where 2020 was a distant future full of robots, flying cars and human colonies on distant planets? Meanwhile, 2020 is almost there. And the translation industry will also enter the 2020 era in the blink of an eye. We will enter it with third generation CAT tools, NMT engines, task flow automation, but also with translators who still type on their keyboards and whose work is displayed in a table on the monitor. The world is changing, but it is changing in a different way than we would expect. Surprisingly, this change is often slower in the places where hype and fascination with novelty appear and faster in the places where everyday activities are involved and already-known environments are improved. Translation 2020 is not sci-fi anymore. It is a transformation we will see next year, while we still stay the same. Will we do nothing and try to survive somehow, because the changes will not appear overnight? Or will we do something in the next few months to make our companies really ready for 2020? 2020 might not bring about flying cars, but it will certainly inspire open minds and ideas for the future.
Organised by the Institute of Translation and Interpreting When: 10-11 May 2019 Where: Sheffield, UK Price: €299 (ca. £265)
Description The ITI Conference is the biggest event in the UK translation and interpreting calendar. Held every two years, it attracts delegates from all over the world. In 2017, the ITI Conference welcomed over 350 translators and interpreters from over 20 countries to Cardiff and was, once again, a resounding success. In 2019, the ITI Conference visits Cutlers’ Hall, Sheffield, for the first time.
Organised by E@I When: 29 May – 2 June 2019 Where: Bratislava, Slovakia Price: €120 (ca. £105)
The Polyglot Gathering is an informal event which takes places once a year and brings together polyglots (people who speak several languages) and language enthusiasts from all over the world. It is a five-day event with lectures, workshops and social activities for everyone who loves and enjoys languages.
Organised by International Research Conference When: 11-12 June 2018 Where: Copenhagen, Denmark Price: N/A
International Conference on Interpreting and Translation aims to bring together leading academic scientists, researchers and research scholars to exchange and share their experiences and research results on all aspects of Interpreting and Translation. It also provides a premier interdisciplinary platform for researchers, practitioners and educators to present and discuss the most recent innovations, trends, and concerns as well as practical challenges encountered and solutions adopted in the fields of Interpreting and Translation.
Organised by The Localization Institute and MultiLingual Computing, Inc. When: 11-13 June 2018 Where: Estoril, Portugal Price: N/A
LocWorld is the leading conference for international business, translation, localization and global website management. Attendees are the people responsible for communicating across the boundaries of language and culture in the global marketplace. With a specific emphasis on global business, the conference provides an opportunity for the exchange of high-value information in the language and translation services and technologies market.
Organised by the Language Technology Industry Association When: 24-25 June 2018 Where: Brussels, Belgium Price: N/A
The Language Technology Industry Summit is Europe’s major high-level event showcasing the latest developments in the three technology stacks driving language intelligence: speech interaction, deep language & meaning processing, and multilingual communication & cognition. The Summit is the ideal meeting point between CEOs of technology providers & CIOs of technology users, technology integrators, leading-edge developers & researchers, investors & analysts to learn, exchange, network, forge new partnerships and alliances and get tuned to the multilingual intelligent future.
Organised by InText Translation Company When: 22-28 July 2019 Where: Dnipro, Ukraine Price: N/A
UTICamp-2019 is a conference for everyone connected with the translation industry: novice and established translators, translation company managers, lecturers and students, software developers and customers.
Organised by Mediterranean Editors & Translators When: 26-28 September 2019 Where: Split, Croatia Price: N/A
The annual Mediterranean Editors and Translators Meeting (METM), now in its 15th year, is an established CPD and networking event – a highlight in the calendar for many editors, translators, interpreters and other providers of English-language support services in the Mediterranean area and beyond.
Organised by Evolved Events When: 15-17 November 2019 Where: London, UK Price: Free
Language Show London is Europe’s largest exhibition for anyone with a passion for languages. Spanning three days, the event will offer you the chance to attend seminars and workshops, meet the best language suppliers, and network with thousands of other language teachers, learners, translators and linguists who love languages as much as you.
Organised by ICWE When: 22-23 November 2019 Where: Berlin, Germany Price: Free
EXPOLINGUA Berlin in the must-attend annual event for anyone with an interest in learning and teaching foreign languages, international travel and global cultures.
150+ exhibitors from more than 30 countries and a programme of workshops, seminars and performances provide you with extensive information on international, local and online language courses, internships abroad, working overseas and general information about travel and cultures.
A hashtag a day keeps the doctor away. No wait, it was an apple, wasn’t it?
Keeping up with trending hashtags on Twitter can be a real challenge, but they can help you reach a wider audience and increase your visibility. Of course, you have to use them wisely and make sure that they fit with your overall content strategy. Your tweets should be relevant to your target audience and should add value to the rest of your shared contents.
Here are 7 trending hashtags, one for every day of the week, that you can use to increase your visibility and add value to your Twitter content.
We all know it: Monday means that the weekend is gone, that a whole week of work is ahead of us and that the alarm clock will start ringing again early in the morning. What’s better than a little bit of motivation to begin the week with the right mindset? You could share an inspirational blog post you wrote a while ago, or share a motivational article that is relevant to your target audience.
Share a valuable tip with your audience and use this hashtag to gain more visibility. Make sure that the tip you share is relevant to your followers, i.e. if your target is small manufacturing businesses who want to expand internationally, don’t share a tip on how to groom your dog or how to grow basil in the UK!
Yes, ours is a solitary profession, but most of us are actually very social animals! Share a story or a picture of a networking event you attended, or a coffee you had with colleagues, or a dinner you shared with fellow translators. Or share some tips to become more social on and offline.
All work and no play… we all know how it ends. Show the world that translators know how to have fun and relax, too! Maybe this way clients and potential clients will learn that working on weekends is not the rule but the exception 😉
You can work from wherever you want, so you’re not forced to spend hours on your commute to the office every day. You can work from your sofa, your bed, your garden, your kitchen… And you can work in your pyjamas, or in those ugly sweatpants you bought when you were determined to go to the gym at least twice a week. And you have unlimited access to your fridge, kettle and coffee machine. And you don’t feel judged if you watch a video by Matthew Santoro on YouTube because you need to relax (plus, it’s informational, folks!).
Ok, this might be getting slightly autobiographic…
As I said, working a freelancer is awesome. But it can be terribly unproductive. Sometimes you just can’t resist the coffee machine calling you. Sometimes Matthew Santoro is so good that you have to watch another video.
Yes, I’ve had my unproductive moments. And I’ve had to sacrifice evenings and weekends because of them.
Luckily, I found a few life hacks to minimise distractions and boost my productivity. And I decided to share them with you.
Appearance is everything. Your brain associates pyjamas with a state of relaxation and sleep, so working in your PJs may slow you down and let you surrender to more distractions. Getting dressed in the morning will instantly get you in a work mode, and will help your brain distinguish between work time and home time.
CLEAN YOUR WORK SPACE
Before turning on your computer to start working, make sure that your work space is clean and tidy. Your desk should be the physical representation of your work mind: if you clutter it with potential distractions (books, crosswords, newspapers, or even your mobile), your brain will be more inclined to give into those distractions.
MANAGE YOUR TIME
There are countless time management techniques that improve efficiency and increase productivity, such as the popular Pomodoro Technique. Personally, I like to work without interruptions for two hours, take a 15 minute break, work another two hours, take a 1 hour break for lunch, and then work another 4 hours with a 15 minute break after the first two hours. This helps me keep my focus and avoid distractions, and also prevents me from going to the fridge or the coffee machine every 10 minutes.
For the same reason you should not work in your pyjamas, you should also not work on your sofa or bed. Your mind will be set on relax mode instead of work mode, and closing your eyes to relax for five minutes could easily become a very long nap. Try to keep your life space separate from your work space: avoid working from your bedroom if you have another area of your home you can use as an office. And if you don’t have another room to use, try to physically separate your bed from your desk, i.e. with a fabric panel or a room divider.
Do you have any life hacks of your own to boost your productivity? Share them with other freelancers by leaving a comment below.
After almost an entire month (!), I finally found a few minutes to edit and upload the slides I used for my presentation at Language Show Live Scotland. I’m quite new to the Slideshare world, and I couldn’t figure out how to include the animations in the slides, so I just added some text and pictures to make my slides easier to understand.
The content of the presentation will be published in the coming weeks, similarly to what I did with my previous presentation. In the meantime, if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write a comment down below.
When you’re a freelance professional, there are many (daunting) tasks that you generally have to carry out on your own. These include accounting, financial management, planning, prospecting and – yes, you guessed it – marketing.
Fortunately, there are many tools that freelancers can use to market their services at zero or very low cost. Here are 5 free (or almost free) marketing tools that freelancers can use to promote their services to clients.
This one is rather obvious, I believe. Social media, if used correctly, can help you build a professional identity (or brand) and make you visible to a wide audience, which includes colleagues and potential clients alike.
Cost: only time. Building your online presence takes time. Keep your profiles alive and interesting. A blank profile with no fresh content won’t attract many people and will surely not give a good impression.
How to use it: first of all, keep it separate and consistent. Create professional profiles for your clients to find and follow you, and keep your personal profile separate. You might use your personal profile on Facebook for example, to participate in group discussions and keep in touch with colleagues, but you should have a separate, professional page – something that doesn’t require a friend request and thus access to your personal life – for your clients to find and contact you. Then, make sure that your professional image is consistent across platforms, and communicate accordingly.
Rather obvious too, I know. A website is basically your window on High Street Internet. You want it to show the best of you, and you want it to be as clear as possible.
Cost: less than £100 a year for basic domain hosting + cost of the web design (based on what kind of website you want). If you have some knowledge of web design, you might be able to make the website yourself and save the cost of design.
How to use it: keep it simple. Don’t overwhelm visitors with too much information, but make sure that all relevant information is there. Highlight your strengths, and use clear, simple (and correct) language. Make your contact details visible. For more visibility and a higher search engine ranking, publish fresh, relevant content on a regular basis (i.e. blog posts).
Trade shows and industry events
The fact that the Internet allows us to virtually meet people from all around the world in just a click doesn’t mean we should avoid human contact. Networking by attending trade shows and industry events is a powerful way to meet potential clients and grow your business.
Cost: cost of event tickets, transport and time. A lot of events are free to attend: with a simple Google search you can find all the events happening in your area. Conference centres websites (such as the Olympia in London) usually have a list of all the events they host.
How to use it: be professional, be yourself. The brand image you present on the internet should be the same as the one you show when you meet clients and colleagues in person. Act as a business person, speak your clients’ language and highlight the benefits that your services could provide them. Dress and behave professionally, and don’t be shy!
This tool looks a bit old-fashioned but can work miracles. You never know who will be sitting in front of you while you’re having lunch with your colleagues, for example: someone might overhear your conversations about your industry and show interest in your services. Handing them your business card might secure you a new client.
Cost: cost of design + printing. There are some online businesses (such as Vistaprint or Moo) that offer good quality for value and allow you to create your own business cards without needing any graphic design skills.
How to use it: this is rather easy. Hand in your business cards at networking or industry events, to people you know who might need your service, or to friends who know someone who might need your service. Always keep some business cards with you: as I said, you may meet a potential client while you’re having a coffee or lunch in a restaurant!
As mentioned above, the internet allows us to connect with individuals and companies all around the world in just one click. Researching potential clients in your niche and sending them a well-crafted email can be a very good source of business for freelancers.
Cost: time spent on researching potential clients.
How to use it: research, research, research! As I wrote in my article about how to find new clients, research is absolutely key for any freelance business. Spend time looking for companies and individuals who might need your services, try to find the name of the person who deals with service suppliers and address your message to them directly, when possible. Keep your email short, simple and catchy. Highlight the benefits that your services will provide to that person or company. Be polite, be professional, and spellcheck!
There are many marketing tools that freelancers can use to promote their services. Which ones do you prefer? Which ones do you find to be more effective? Let me know in a comment!
It’s been quite a lot since my last post of the Moving the first steps series, I know. I apologise: I’ve been quite busy with work, studying and… yes, the holidays! But I think there’s no better moment than the beginning of a new year to talk about changing one’s mindset and attitude.
Now is the moment to talk about the real heart of your business: YOU. You are your own business, so you should have, in my opinion, two crucial features: the right business mindset, and self-confidence. Let’s start with the former.
Everything that I have said so far in my blog posts highlights the fact that you need to think and act as an entrepreneur.
Having business and financial goals, planning, being organised, acting professionally with clients and prospects alike, keeping up to date with industry norms and practices, continuing your professional development through seminars, courses and reading, negotiating, networking with clients and peers are all aspects of good entrepreneurship.
Committing fully to your work and your business is thus crucial: you can work as a translator or interpreter and stop there, but your business will never grow to fulfil its potential. In order to succeed and grow your business, you need to work on all the aspects we’ve talked about in the previous posts.
You need to rethink everything that you do, understand and exploit your strengths, find your weaknesses and look for ways to turn them around. Get creative! Find new ways to promote your business, add value to your work by strengthening your capabilities and developing new skills. Network with your peers, as they can be a source of information, inspiration and possibly work. Moreover, if a client asks you to perform a task you don’t have the right skills for (such as a translation in a language pair you don’t work with), your network might come in handy: you may have a trusted colleague who’s right for the job, and this way your client will know that you act professionally and that you support them.
Secondly, you need to know yourself.
You need to know what your skills are and exploit them. You need to know what skills you don’t have and avoid tasks that require those skills. You need to know what skills you should have and work to achieve them. This will help you deliver better quality work, satisfy your clients and earn their trust.
You also need to know the value of your work and your time in order to set your rates and feel rewarded. If you don’t know your real value you might set your rates too low, work hard and earn less than what you deserve, and consequently feel frustrated and lose confidence in yourself.
Thus, you need to know your potential, and you need to work towards its fulfilment. If you know that a new skill can add value to your work and allow you to expand your pool of clients, then go and learn it. If you know you can speed up your accounting by implementing new processes, go and develop them. If you know you have expertise you can share to enhance your reputation, then find a way to do it and promote it.
But you also need to know your own limits. Don’t commit to more than you can deliver, or you’ll end up disappointing your clients. If you know that your daily turnaround is, say, 2000 words, don’t accept a 4000 words job for tomorrow – the quality will be compromised, and so will your reputation and relationship with the client. Never accept jobs you know you can’t do! As I said before, rather recommend a colleague and suggest a viable solution to keep your business partners happy. Don’t be afraid to say no.
My last piece of advice: be confident! If you know yourself well, you won’t have anything to feel insecure about. If you work hard for your business, it will grow. It may take some time, but it will grow. Trust yourself and your efforts: you will get results. If you trust yourself, the rest of the world will feel confident to trust you, and your business will benefit from it.
The moment is now. I wish you the best of luck for this new year, and I’ll see you soon again on these pages with new articles about the translation and interpreting world!