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  • Jasmine Heesaker

Should Freelance Translators Have Business Cards?

Business cards, relevant or not in 2019?


You might be thinking, "No way, business cards are outdated. Internet marketing is where it's at!" Well, I'm here to tell you that you may be wrong. It may be worth your while to create some business cards and get out into the world of brick and mortar in order to boost your marketing game.

If you ask me, I think that business cards are even more crucial in 2019 than ever before. The world is becoming more and more digitalized, making almost everything available to us in one simple click. Freelance businesses live and breathe online. However, you can never beat the personal touch of a real, tactile, tangible representation of your business. In a world where potential clients could be neighbour down the street or the barista at your favourite coffeeshop, it's never a bad idea to get out there and show off your wares.

I recently took to the plunge and ordered a set of business cards that I designed myself online. So far, I have been very happy with the results these simple pieces of card stock with my name on it have produced. I thought I would share with you a few of the ways I have used my business cards to gain new clients over the past few months.

1) Use business cards as a friendly reminder to potential clients that you're interested in working with them

The first thing I did when I got my business cards was send them in the mail to potential prospects. I read in Corinne McKay's book How to Succeed As A Freelance Translator that it is good practice to follow up with any agencies or companies that responded favourably to any business or collaboration proposals. So, I went through my e-mails and compiled a short list of agencies and businesses that responded kindly to my offers, but said that they just didn't need my services at the time. I proceeded to write a short but personalized note to each recipient which included my business card. Of the12 notes I sent, I received 4 favourable responses which turned into actual wins or leads! Better than the 1% return I was expecting. All 4 recipients who responded back were happily surprised to receive something in the mail and applauded me for my marketing efforts. In an age where digital relationships are taking over, why not give it a try!

2) Use business cards to snag new clients

Feeling confident after sending out business cards to companies and agencies I had already made contact with through e-mail, I decided to experiment with also sending snail mail to snag new clients. It often happens that when doing research for potential clients or translation agencies that there is no specific e-mail address to send your application to. Throughout my research, I have saved many of these prospects in a separate file. Now was the time to leverage that intel! Once again, I am a firm believer that hand written notes and letters are a great way to set yourself apart from the competition. I drafted up a short but sweet proposal to the potential clients (think elevator pitch) and once again, included a copy of my business card. Of the 10 letters I sent, I received 2 responses! Again, just slightly better than the 1% return I was expecting. I have to say, it definitely was more time consuming than clicking send on an e-mail. However, I believe it undeniably set my new business relationships up to succeed. If you are short on ideas or are looking to impress a certain client that you've had your eye on, why not try out this effective technique.

3) Use business cards to network

This one is pretty self-explanatory, and arguably the reason business cards are primarily used. However, I thought I would still include it, because of the amount of times I have been at networking events in the past few months and have been the only person handing out my business card. I am always shocked when I see that other freelance translators or remote workers aren't toting these little paper gems around. Never overlook the importance of real-world networking, even as a freelance translator. Whenever I go to any events, conferences or workshops, I always have a handful of business cards on me. Additionally, try and get friends and family to hand out cards on your behalf. Have a sister who works in finance? A best friend in digital design? Leverage your closest network, you never know what the results may be. I recently had a former work colleague, turned friend, who recommended my services to a local business by handing out my business card. When the company first made contact, they said they had received the glowing recommendation along with my business card and were thoroughly impressed. This client is now one of my favourites! You don't have to push your business onto family and friends, but be open to the idea of having them help you out.

Although, I do try to reduce my use of paper products, I feel that business cards, if used mindfully, don't have to feel like wasted paper. Below are three simple pointers you might want to consider before jumping on the business card bandwagon:

  • Take the time to really think about what you want to put on your business cards. Decide what information is most important to include to potential clients so that you can most effectively get your message across.

  • Don't over print! Even if there is a deal to print 1000 cards for 15% off, I recommend just printing in small batches to ensure that the cards get used, passed out or put in the mail before you decide to change or update the information on them.

  • Choose quality. High-quality business cards reflect so much better on your business and your values. Don't choose flimsy paper and white backgrounds. Make your business cards eye-catching and attractive. This goes hand in hand with my above point, that quality over quantity is key.

I still have a quite a few business cards left to make use of, but I will be very mindful of how I use them!

Do you have business cards? If so, how do you use them? Let me know if the comments below!

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