Two of the lectures at the conference that I enjoyed the most might be considered basic, but they offered advice that I think is useful for both new and more experienced translators.
Björn Olofsson started his seminar with the premise that there are translation jobs available, but the question is how customers can find the translators they need. Mr. Olofsson said that when trying to reach customers, translators should think about cost and effectiveness. For example, having an ad in the yellow pages is expensive and generally doesn’t help that much, while being a member of a translators’ association is one of the best tools available to translators. Membership is relatively expensive, but also quite effective, since most associations have databases where customers can find you and the association also serves as a credential for translators.
Having your own website is generally pretty cheap and is a good way to sell your services. Here, though, it is important that the first page of your site clearly shows what you do, what you offer, and what you are good at. Customers don’t have the time to go searching for this information. Mr. Olofsson also thinks your website should primarily be in the source language and since generally the source language is not a translator’s mother tongue, make sure you get someone to edit and review the text. Language is your job, after all, and if you have any grammar or spelling mistakes on your website, customers will not trust your language skills and will not hire you. Mr. Olofsson’s website is only in Swedish, but it exemplifies a clear site with easy-to-find information.
Mr. Olofsson also mentioned the importance of specialization, an issue that came up several times during the conference. Many people can translate general texts, so specializing, whether in financial reports, contracts, users’ manuals, medical documents, or whatever else, is a way to help you stand out among all the translators. It also helps customers find you and I believe it builds trust as well; someone who claims to be good at everything is not so believable, but someone who says that she works primarily with dental texts and turns down legal documents because she doesn’t think she provide a high enough level of quality and service is someone companies would be more likely to hire. If you specialize and are asked to take on a translation outside your field, provide service to your customers by finding someone else to do the job or recommending a translators’ association and its database.
In other words, Mr. Olofsson's tips are to think about cost versus effectiveness when marketing your services, have a good website, and specialize.
For more on selling your services, which was the subject of the other lecture I mentioned above, see the next post.
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