Marketing for Translators: Find Direct Clients

Marketing for Translators: Find Direct Clients

Marketing for translators is for experienced, full-time translator (with a few years under their belt) and who are ready to move away from agencies.

If you’re just getting started in translation though I’d recommend heading over to my other post where I break down how I became a freelance translator.

How to Become a freelance translator

translator marketing

Why not just work with agencies?

I personally believe there are many upsides to working for “GOOD” agencies (the good part is very important as well all know) such as:

  • No need to market
  • Don’t have to deal directly with crappy clients (although some agencies are pretty garbage too)
  • PM does all of the organization and client communication
  • Editor is provided for you (at good agencies)

However, there are a lot of downsides to working with agencies as:

  • Lower pay
  • Three-way communication with client
  • Bad PM’s
  • Less control over your business
  • Agencies can change rates with little to no notice (or just drop you altogether)

That said, after about 6 years of translating I have a combination of agencies and direct clients. I use agencies as a backup plan in case direct client work is slow or I need a little extra income that month.

If you’re an experience translator you know that most agencies work with pools, so they send their work to a handful of translators that have passed their test and whoever grabs it first usually gets that gig.

So, if I have enough direct client work I let those jobs go to another translator. If not, I’ll grab it. It depends on a lot of factors but that’s how I’ve been running my business for a few years and it’s working out quite well for me.

Marketing for Translators 101

Marketing can be a very daunting process. There’s so much information, so many websites, so many experts and getting started is really the most difficult thing. I don’t claim to be an “expert“. I claim to be a freelance translator who has landed direct clients.

I’m going to show you the outline of what I did to land those direct clients so hopefully you can start to scale your business.

If you feel like skipping all this about marketing you can download my 9-Step Freelance Translation Plan Builder

Inbound vs. outbound marketing for translators

There are two major types of marketing for translators and businesses in general but I’m going to focus on freelance translators: Inbound and outbound marketing.

Inbound marketing for translators

  •  the process of attracting the attention of prospects, via content creation, before they are even ready to buy

Content creation would be your website (if you don’t have one, start here) blog posts, SEO, branding. This is basically when the customer comes to you because of the information and content you’ve put online.

Outbound marketing for translators

  • any kind of marketing where a company initiates the conversation and sends its message out to an audience

This would be you actively seeking out customers and attempting to build a relationship with them, to then turn them into customers.

Which marketing for translators is best: Pros & cons

That’s a very difficult question honestly. However, like with the agency vs. direct client question, I’d say at first, a combination is probably best.

Inbound marketing pros & cons

The advantages to inbound marketing is that “warm clients” (those who already know your product and are interested in your service) come to you and they make the first contact. This obviously makes it easier to build a relationship with prospects if you don’t have to explain the benefits of your service.

However, if they’re interested you might not be the only translator they’ve come to. I know if I was wanting to translate something I would get quotes from different translators, unless one really stood out.

Inbound marketing is also easier in the sense that you don’t have to put yourself out there as much. You’re not going directly to clients and possibly being rejected. Let’s face it, a lot of us are translators because we love books and animals more than talking to people. Okay, not all of us, but I’d say the majority.

Inbound marketing is social media, blog posts (like this one), keyword research and clients find you because you offer to help first, no strings attached and honestly, this help should highlight what their business is missing (your translations).

Outbound marketing pros & cons

Outbound marketing has gotten a bit of a bad rap because people have taken it to the extreme and it can feel a bit “dirty”. You’re basically going after clients and trying to “sell” your service and for many people (myself included) it can feel invasive.

However it does have it’s advantages and it really doesn’t have to be as aggressive as some think. One advantage of this type of marketing is that there’s very little competition as you’re the one contacting clients, they’re probably not shopping around.

However, if they’re not shopping they may not be interested and so the success rate of outbound marketing is much much lower than inbound marketing.

A combination of both types of marketing for translators

My answer, and what I do in my business, is a bit of outbound and inbound. Sometimes people need a little push to become aware of your service and then your content can speak for itself.

For example, I translated a “soccer/football scouting program” for a prominent scouting school in Spain. It’s one of the leaders in it’s industry and so I figured other scouting schools in Spain would also be interested in this type of service as well.

Marketing for Translator’s process

I’ve broken down marketing for Translator’s into 3 sections and 9 steps. I unfortunately can’t break down every step of marketing for translators here as it would take too long but here’s an overview.

Before – Getting to know yourself and showing interest

  1. What’s your target audience (very niche – 4-5 good clients is all you need)
  2. Define your message
  3. Create ways to reach your audience (social media, blogs, got to where your clients are)

During – Earn their trust and get them to buy

  1. Lead capture (get their e-mail and interest)
  2. Nurture (email marketing)
  3. Sales Conversion (your service is the logical next step after you’ve shown them what it can do)

Get them to come back for more and refer others

  1. Deliver a painless and positive experience
  2. Increase customer lifetime value (upsell, more often, raise prices)
  3. Stimulate referrals (ask for referrals)
And then you dance all the way to the bank

Marketing for translators wrap-up

I know that was a quick overview (I’ll go into detail in another post) of marketing for translators but unfortunately there are so many language pairs, niches, countries that it would be impossible to break it down for each specific one.

However if you have any specific questions please, don’t hesitate to write a comment down below and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.

Good luck and Happy translating!

2 Replies to “Marketing for Translators: Find Direct Clients”

  1. Very interesting article. 

    I like you have mentioned the both, pros and cons of Inbound and Outbound marketing. 

    I believe the best would be to start with the inbound marketing – as you mention, to warm up the prospects. 

    And once we see what works, which channels work, then start with the outbound marketing. 
    In other words, based on the experience from the Inbound one we can now laser target the Outbound one. 

    Well, I just felt like sharing my thoughts here with you. 
    Hope that is OK 

    Wishing you all the best 

    1. Hey!

      I appreciate your comment and I think you’re absolutely right. You have to start and then adjust along the way as with anything you do, especially marketing for translators.

      Thank you again and take care!

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