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  • Jasmine Heesaker

Digital Marketing Strategies for Freelance Translators

The short answer is, yes! In fact, I think that digital marketing has become even more effective than ever before. With so many people staying at home, working remotely and using the internet as a way to connect with others, now is a great time to ramp up your marketing efforts and grow your business.

Companies are looking to hire remote workers more than ever, and as freelance translators, we have a leg up on the competition. We already know the ropes of working remotely and know what it takes to stand out from the crowd.

Here are my top 4 tips on how to improve your digital marketing strategy during a pandemic:

1. Revamp your website

Now is a great time to update your website. I’m willing to bet that you have a bit more time on your hands (if not a lot more), so why not make the most of it? In my opinion, your personal website is the best tool in your arsenal for proving to new clients that you are professional, reliable and above all, credible. Start by updating your “About Me” section with any new accomplishments/credentials and add testimonials from new clients (or create a testimonials section). You may even want to work on tweaking your website for mobile use. Translator’s often overlook creating a mobile-friendly website. However, so many of us use our phones to browse the web and you wouldn’t want a potential client to struggle to find the “Contact Me” button. Lastly, I’m sure you’ve heard talk about SEO lately, and for good reason. SEO is short for “Search Engine Optimization” and it’s what helps new clients find your website amongst the sea of competitors. Now is the time to read up on how you can improve your website’s SEO so that your website rises to the top of Google search results!

2. Revive your blog

With so many people at home on their laptops, smartphones and tablets, now is the time to revive your blog and start creating some content! And if you haven’t already created a blog, there is no better time than the present. Blogging is a great way to get your name out there and engage new clients, meet new colleagues and let out some of your creative energy. Many translators might not see the advantages of having a blog––however––speaking from personal experience, I have met so many new colleagues and made business connections because of my blog. If you have the time, why not give it a shot?

3. Engage on social media

Using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook for business has been gaining in popularity over the past few years. I always encourage translators to create business pages on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn as a way of getting involved in their industry. These platforms are a great springboard for engaging with other translators and even new clients! More and more companies are using social media accounts to onboard new employees, interact with their clients and make new business connections. If you are going to be browsing social media anyways, you might as well keep your eye open for new opportunities. The best part of all is that it doesn’t even feel like work.

4. Double down on email marketing

Market to new clients

I will preface this by saying that email prospecting needs to be done thoughtfully and strategically. Please don’t send out generic emails to every translation agency or business under the sun. Since we are all stuck inside for the foreseeable future, attending in-person conferences, seminars, workshops and business meetups is out of the question. Since we can’t exactly go out and meet people in person, now is the time to do your research and send out personalized emails to prospective new clients explaining why working with you would benefit their company/organization. For example, take a look at their website and let them know why getting X section of their website translated could be beneficial to them. Don’t expect to get answers back from everyone, but you will never know unless you try!

Email existing clients

Many companies have seen a downturn in their business activities during the pandemic. Clients who usually bombard you with jobs may have gone radio silent. Now is the time to send them a friendly email and ask how they are doing. In doing so, you can also let them know that you have been doing X, Y and Z to improve yourself/your business during this time and gently remind them that you are ready to take on any new jobs whenever they start coming through again. Nudging clients is probably one of the most effective and least-used marketing techniques out there. I encourage you to give it a try, you may just be surprised by the results!

This article was created for and originally published in the September publication of Muratho.

© 2020 South African Translators’ Institute

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  • Jasmine Heesaker

Updated: May 25, 2020

4 templates I wish I knew about when I was starting out as a freelance translator

Add these free templates to your freelance translation toolkit! You can thank me later.

  1. Email Signature Template

Since freelance translators mainly communicate through email, it is a great idea to add a professional email signature to the bottom of all of your correspondence. It will make you look more professional and potential, existing and brand new clients will have easy access to the information that matters most. I know that when I started out as a freelance translator, I didn't know where to begin with email signatures. How was I supposed to create one? How do they work? I found a really easy-to-use and customizable set of email signature templates from the Microsoft Outlook website here, that you can use to get started. Remember that the most important things to include in your email signature are: your first and last name, phone number, website URL and links to your social media platforms. Below is a Word doc. with over 20 different templates to choose from.

Email Signatures
Download DOTX • 1.08MB

2. Invoice Template (that calculates totals!)

As a freelance translator, having access to a simple and easy-to-use invoice template will save you loads of time... seeing as any work that you do will need to be invoiced. The invoice template that I once again found on the Microsoft Office website here, is a great place to start. You can easily add in your personal information and then change the amounts (pricing) and client details for each job/agency/client. The invoice comes as an excel spreadsheet but once you input all of your details, you can easily save it as a PDF and send it off to get paid (promptly!). Many clients and agencies have their own specific invoice format that you can easily apply using this template. You can find the template that I first used to get my freelance translation business started below.

Customizable Invoice Template
Download XLSX • 66KB

3. Resume Template

When starting out as a freelance translator, you are going to need a clear and concise resume to send out to potential clients. As a rule of thumb, you should really try and keep your resume to 1 page and make it stand out from the crowd. Insert a photo of yourself (professional, of course), add your business logo and use colour! Try and show your personality through your resume. Many agencies and clients receive tons of resumes each and every day so make yours as attention grabbing as possible. I found a set of unique and modern 1-page resume templates on the Novoresume website here that can be downloaded for free. Tip: keep a PDF and a Word doc. version of your resume on hand at all times and only include the most important information such as: certifications, awards, memberships, education, work experience, CAT tools, specific skills and specializations. I have provided one of my favourite customizable templates for translators below.

Customizable Resume Template
Download DOCX • 49KB

4. Website/Social Media Banner Template

This may sound a little strange, but a nicely designed banner can go a long way. As a freelance translator, your online presence means a lot. I suggest creating a unique banner that you can use on your Facebook page, website, LinkedIn page, Twitter account... you name it! It really adds a professional flare to your business and allows those who you are interacting with online to know what you and your business are all about. The Canva website is great for this. There are tons of free (and paid) templates you can check out here. The website is super easy to use and you can save your work in several different formats. Below is one of my favourite simple and eye-catching banner templates to use. You can really go wild with this and change the colours, add your logo... anything goes. You just want to make sure that you include your name/business name, language combination and what it is you do—simple as that!

Banner Template
Download PDF • 43KB

I hope these templates will help save you some time when building your freelance translation business!

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  • Jasmine Heesaker

5 tips from my creativity toolkit

As a marketing translator, creativity is key. Coming up with trendy catchphrases, witty one-liners and unforgettable taglines can become exhausting day after day. I know I sometimes feel as though I just can't muster enough flare. If that sounds all too familiar, I have put together 5 quick tips to help you keep your creativity at an all-time high, your puns quirky and your marketing translations on point.

1) Read

Oh no, here we go again. I might sound like a broken record, but reading is a fantastic pass-time for creative types like marketing translators. I'm not suggesting reading large tomes on marketing techniques or translation through the ages.... I am suggesting that you pick up something completely unrelated to your profession so that you can allow your mind to switch gears. Reading is the perfect way to wind down and allow your mind to be consumed by something other than translating. I always pick up fantastic new vocabulary words or remind myself of some fabulous words that I should be using in my translations. Sometimes one magic word can sneak its way into various translations for weeks to come.

2) Get out

Moving your translation workstation outdoors or simply to another location other than the comfort of your own home is a great way to get some inspiration. Breathing in the fresh air outside or people watching at your favourite café are great ways to refill your well of creativity. Taking yourself out of your daily routine and opening your mind to a new atmosphere can help give you a new perspective and a renewed sense of motivation. This can be just the push you need to shift your thinking so that you can muster up some creativity bombs.

3) Get crafty

Allowing yourself to get creative in other ways outside of work is a great way to boost your marketing translation creativity. Zoning out and letting your thoughts run wild is sometimes what you need to recharge your creative battery. Getty crafty and changing up how you get creative in your daily life is a great way to round out your creative side. Try picking up an adult paint by numbers or colour by numbers book. I know it sounds childish, but I find it extremely therapeutic and calming. It relaxes my mind and allows me the freedom to think about anything other than translation so that I can give myself a fresh start.

4) Exercise

Of course, exercise had to make it onto the list. I don't expect you to become a marathon runner or a bodybuilder, but moving your body is a great way to calm the body and rejuvenate the mind. I usually opt for short yoga sessions or brisk walks. I find that once I step away from my computer and start moving my body, my mind (and creative juices) also starts to get moving. All of a sudden, great catchphrases or perfectly charismatic words start flooding in and I feel ready to get back on the horse.

5) Browse social media

This may seem counter intuitive to some... but I find that browsing social media, listening to the radio and watching TV helps me flick on my creative lightbulb. It can be easy to get carried away with browsing social media, but when used in moderation, I find that it can help spark my creativity. As a marketing translator, staying up to date on the latest trends is crucial. Browsing social media to find out the latest news, discover which ads are drawing people in and observing how brands interact with their audiences to keep them coming back for more is invaluable information.

How do you stay creative? Let me know in the comments below!

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