Whether you’ve recently been approved to work with an agency or have just won a new client, it’s always important to remember that as a freelancer, you are your own business and must market yourself as one. You might be a fantastic English to German aviation specialist translator, but if no one but you is aware of this, it won’t lead to much work. On the flipside, as a freelancer you won’t want to be spending too much time on your marketing, as this will eat into the time you want to spend working for clients! This blog explores a few ways to maximise your marketing potential.
Be Friendly, but Professional
This may seem like stating the obvious, but we get enough applications to suggest it needs to be said! Firstly, I think it’s important to be modest. So often we receive emails titled ‘The Best Spanish Translator in the Business’. It’s such a ridiculous statement that it’s difficult to take such an application seriously – and we rarely do! Your work and experience should speak for itself, and if you’re friendly and present yourself well, clients will be interested in working with you. Check next blog in this series for further tips on applying to work with clients.
Your Online Profile as a Freelancer
These days, probably the most vital aspect of your marketing will be your online profile. There are plenty of websites out there such as ProZ and Translators Café, where potential clients can locate suppliers. You don’t necessarily have to have your own profile on any of these sites, but it will increase your online visibility and enhance your chances of being offered work. And if you decide not to have your own profile, it’s still worth checking these websites every so often to see what jobs are being posted, and also to check that nothing bad is being said about you! It may sound like we’re being a bit paranoid, but really, anyone can say anything about anyone online, and if someone has posted some negative feedback about your services, however fairly, you need to know about it.
A website or a blog is great but can be expensive and time consuming to manage. Social media is one way of increasing your online profile. Having an active social media account is a great (and free) way of showing that you’re committed to whichever field/service you work in, and are involved with that community. Posting interesting articles can draw potential clients to your profile. There are useful tools out there which manage your social media posts for all of your different profiles. A good tip is to remember that it is better to send the same message through all of the different social media profiles you have, than a different message through each. So if you want to have profiles on all of the different forms of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+), make sure your posts are consistent across the different forms. If you don’t have time or simply don’t want to involve yourself with social media, at least take the time to create a LinkedIn account. It doesn’t take long, and gives potential clients somewhere to find you online.
Whether in person or through online forums any form of networking is great. Not only does it provide a form of human interaction that can be welcome to many freelancers who usually work alone, but will provide you with new contacts and leads for your services. Dedicating 1-2 hours per week to networking, either with colleagues or potential clients will provide a welcome break to your usual working routine, and is a fantastic way of meeting new people. Atlas Translations hold open days twice a year, and from experience, we are far more likely to remember and consequently work with someone we’ve met in person than someone who’s sent an email.
Stay in contact
Possibly the most important tip in this blog is to stay in contact with your clients. One of the most common emails we receive is: “I was approved by your agency 3 months ago but I haven’t received any offers of work yet”. Being approved to an agency is great, but doesn’t mean you no longer need to market yourself to that agency. Attend open days. Call the agency/client and let them know you’re available for work. Send weekly/monthly emails informing Project Managers of your upcoming availability. Sooner or later you WILL receive an assignment, and (all being well) the work will begin to come in. But don’t assume that because you’ve been approved with an agency that they will be contacting you for work – it’s a perhaps uncomfortable truth that your competitors are other freelancer suppliers, and you need to stand out from the others.
And if you haven’t heard from someone for a while who you used to work with regularly, don’t be embarrassed to call then to refresh the contact. Staff changes can lead to the loss of a working relationship, but by remaining in regular contact with the agency/client you can minimise the effect of this.
After quality of work, the next most important attribute we look for in a supplier a freelancer) is how quickly they usually get back to us, so remain contactable during your working hours. If a client sends you an email and does not receive a prompt reply, they’ll contact someone else and you’ll have lost the opportunity. If you know you won’t have email access for any period of time, stick an automated out of office reply on. More often than not we work to tight deadlines and are more likely to contact someone we know we’re going to hear back from quickly than someone we’re not.
If you’ve any tips to add to those in the blog, please leave a comment below!