Greetings, Training for Translators readers! I hope you’re all doing well in your various corners of the world!
Here’s a question for you: What kind of marketing works?
Here’s the honest answer: The kind of marketing that you do. Any kind of marketing that you do. Not the kind of marketing that you only think about, and definitely not the kind of marketing that you talk yourself out of without ever trying it.
Here’s a typical conversation between me and a freelance translator or interpreter who would like to have more work, find better clients, or make more money:
Freelancer: I’m stuck on what marketing method to use and who to contact. I don’t know if I should e-mail people first, but I’m afraid that they won’t write back. Or maybe I should start on LinkedIn. But do people really check LinkedIn that often? And I guess I could fill out agencies’ applications, but it seems like maybe they don’t respond.
Me: Well, let’s back up for a second. In, let’s say, the past six months, how many agencies or direct clients have you applied to or contacted, and what kind of results did you get?
The reality is that so many of us are overthinking our marketing strategies, engaging in a lot of talk and not much action (and I include myself and lots of other experienced freelancers in this category). The kind of marketing that works is any kind of marketing that you do and that you stick with.
If you had a slow summer and you’re actively looking for work, here’s what I’d suggest. Don’t overthink it. Keep it simple.
–If you’re looking for agency clients, apply to five agencies per day by filling out their online forms or e-mailing them your CV (look for instructions on their website). After the first week, keep up with the online applications but add in contacting those agencies’ employees on LinkedIn, using the 300-character note that you can add to a connection request and saying that you applied via their website and are interested in the next steps. Let’s say you’re going to do this three days a week, so you’ll apply to 60 agencies a month, which is pretty good!
–If you’re looking for direct clients, follow a similar process, but obviously they don’t have translator applications on their website, so you need to either e-mail them (if they’re not in the EU GDPR zone) or contact them on LinkedIn, or approach them through a mutual connection. Aim for a similar number of contacts: five per day, three times a week. Following up with direct clients is always tricky, because many people don’t respond on the first try, but you also don’t want to hassle people who don’t need you. If you’re contacting clients in the US, I would recommend starting with e-mail (use a tool like Hunter.io to find addresses if they’re not on the client’s website), then adding LinkedIn after a week or so.
I hope these tips are helpful if you’re currently looking for new clients!
Corinne McKay (email@example.com) is the founder of Training for Translators, and has been a full-time freelancer since 2002. She holds a Master of Conference Interpreting from Glendon College, is an ATA-certified French to English translator, and is Colorado court-certified for French interpreting. If you enjoy her posts, consider joining the Training for Translators mailing list!