So many freelance translators and interpreters have so much website anxiety. They’ve been meaning to/planning to/thinking they should set up a website for the past three years and it’s still not done. Or, they hate their website. I’ve observed that it’s kind of “a thing” with translators and interpreters: it’s hard to even find people who will let their websites be used as examples, because so many people hate their website.
I don’t have all of the website answers, but here are a few tips to hopefully get you unstuck if you’re having this issue:
- You need at least a basic website. When you’re going to hire a professional service provider (accountant, web designer, etc.) what’s the first thing you do? Google them! Take a look at their website and see who they are. Even if your website is used only for passive purposes (having it there so that clients can check out who you are), you need a website.
- Basic can mean basic. Even one page is a whole lot better than nothing.
- Personally, I think Squarespace is the easiest website creation tool to use. That’s not an affiliate deal, and I don’t actually use Squarespace, but having dealt with WordPress (very flexible but usually requires manual updates and is not super-intuitive to use), and Wix (easy to use but limited customization options), I would recommend Squarespace. If you have a complicated website that really requires WordPress (this is the case with my Training for Translators site), you may need to consider hiring a website manager to run updates on your plugins and theme. I made this switch a couple of years ago after I broke my entire website while trying to update the theme!
- The entire website should not be an About page. Lots of freelancers’ websites are one long About page, because they don’t know what else to talk about. “I learned Russian on my grandmother’s knee.” “Here’s a photo of me studying abroad in France 25 years ago, ” etc. etc. You definitely can talk about your professional credentials and background, but we also need to know what services you provide, and how to contact you. It continually amazes me when I have to hunt for this information (language pair, specializations, e-mail address) on someone’s website.
- If people can’t find you, they can’t hire you. If you’ve never promoted yourself before, it can feel weird to put your photo, e-mail address, etc. directly out there on the web. But unless you’re getting tons of work through word of mouth, people need to be able to find you online if they want to work with you.
- If you’re stuck on a domain name, just use yourname.com if it’s available. It’s always a bit haphazard as to whether the domain name you want is going to be available. In my case, corinnemckay.com was already taken when I made my first website in 2003 (I’ve since been able to buy it!), but I was shocked that both certifiedfrenchtoenglishtranslator.com and frenchconferenceinterpreter.com were available. You have to just check and see, but if you’re stumped as to what your domain name should be, the easiest and most flexible is just your name.
- If needed, give yourself a deadline. Whether you’re hiring a designer or doing the site yourself, the website timeline that drags on into the next decade can be a real problem. You need a deadline: if you’re doing a simple site yourself, commit that you will spend no more than two days on it. Don’t accept any work for those days, and just get it done. If you’re working with a designer, ask how long their sites typically take and what typically causes delays (most often, lack of response from the client, so don’t do that!!).
I hope these tips are helpful if you’re struggling with website anxiety!