- Vague blah blah that applies to 10,000 other translators (possibly even 11,000). “I help clients communicate across cultures” (let’s hope so…), “Accurate and efficient,” “Detail-oriented,” “Committed to meeting deadlines.” Instead, get specific: “In 12+ years of freelancing, I have never missed a deadline.” “More than just a word-replacer, I’m a key member of my clients’ communications teams.” “I regularly decline assignments that aren’t within my scope of expertise; instead I concentrate on what I do extremely well.” “In addition to working with words, I’m committed to working well with people, and my goal is for the translation process to be as painless as possible for my clients.” I just made those up, and they may not apply to you, and you may not like the style (but if you do, you can steal them). But they’re examples of statements that get your specific story out there.
- “References available upon request.” Either include testimonials from clients directly on your marketing materials, or get this sentence out of there. It goes without saying that the client will ask for references if they want them.
- “Objective: freelance translation projects using demonstrated expertise in Japanese to English translation.” Again: a message from the department of redundancy department. Clearly, the objective of marketing materials is to find work, and hopefully you have some demonstrated expertise, or you’d be doing something else.
- Any reference to “the best.” Translation is very subjective: Usain Bolt can safely say that he’s “the best” at the 100 meter dash, but you can’t measure translation skill with a clock or a meter stick. Plus, every client’s preference varies. If you want to look at every word in the French document and see a direct equivalent in the English document, I’m not your woman, because I like to rewrite more than I like to replace words. Some clients disagree, and that’s OK.
- Photos of you with animals (unless you’re a vet), or anything that looks like a selfie. It’s surprising how many people’s “professional photos” are anything but. Translator next to a horse? Snuggling a puppy? Cruise LinkedIn and you’ll find these and more, plus lots of photos that are clearly selfies. To me, a crummy headshot photo is sort of like business cards with the “Get your free business cards at…” logo on the back. It shows that the person isn’t willing to put forth even the small amount of effort required to do better. For example, my current headshot was taken by a friend with a nice camera; our local translators association offers discount group headshot sessions every few years. A professional session is absolutely worth it, but there are also alternatives that still look good. Again, people’s preferences will vary: for my own photos, I lean toward a more natural, less posed look. I wouldn’t cuddle my cat in the photo, but a little wind in the hair doesn’t bother me, whereas other people prefer a more posed, studio look.
Readers, anything else that needs to get the ax?