Thankfully in this day and age, freelancers and SMEs can market their services at a relatively low-cost. With social media, online translation job boards and workplaces and the right know-how, it is easier to effectively advertise what you do for free. Gone are the days of taking out Yellow Pages ads, and unless you are a massive corporation, there’s no need to brandish your company’s logo over a billboard on the motorway. And you certainly don’t need to plaster yourself over the side of an inner city bus à la Carrie Bradshaw (phew)!
Starting out can be tough, and initially it’s difficult to know how much of your time and budget should be allocated to marketing. Finding the marketing strategy that works for you can often be a matter of trial and error – and that’s perfectly normal and acceptable. You can add and remove ingredients from your marketing mix until you’ve found a recipe that works. Here are 4 of my top tips on how to market yourself for free or very little aside from using social media.
- Word of mouth. Everyone around you should know you’re a translator: from your granny to your neighbour, from the guy in the bookshop in town to the manager at your local chamber of commerce. You don’t need to give them a whole spiel, but you can have perfectly crafted elevator pitch at the ready (see my post coming up on elevator pitches for translators). Remember at this point you are not trying to sell to anyone (the window cleaner your chatting with is probably not in the market for translations), but rather raise awareness about what you do and make them remember you. They may suggest you to a friend or family member who is in the business.
- Networking events. Your local chamber of commerce, business centres and business associations will often run networking breakfasts, lunches and other meetings. These present great chances to meet people. To get the most out of each event, find out who the attendees are in advance, pinpoint those who you could work with, make a point of introducing yourself to them at the event, give them a business card and send a follow-up email a few days after. In addition, networking is also a great way to get introductions to others professionals and businesses. You’ll know when the moment is right to ask one professional to introduce you to another that you’d like to work with. When we aren’t used to networking then it can be tricky and there will be mindset obstacles to overcome; we begin to feel shy, want to back out, forget names, even our own, get nervous and maybe even spill a hot cup of tea all over the most important person in the room (yes, at my first networking event I did that)! Little by little it does get easier.
- Blogging. Us translators talk and write a lot, so why not write down your thoughts on translation and the industry? Posts that bear your name and are linked back to your website will improve your SEO ranking and help to consolidate your online profile. Does it require time and dedication? Yes, it certainly does. On the plus side, however, with engaging material, it is a sure-fire way to give yourself exposure and build up a community of translator-readers who could potentially become clients. Not decided? Feeling uninspired? See this post I wrote earlier this month on Kasia Pranke’s blog.
- Email signature. Sign off all your emails with your name, company, position, and how to get in touch. Some people chose to add their phone number or a photo of themselves and nowadays others include a call to action. Not only will a cleverly designed and effective one leave a professional impression, but it’ll also add to your credibility. Keep it brief and concise. No need to write your life story down there – save that for your juicy best seller! And remember to test your new signature before you use it on your client email. You’ll find more information about email signatures by clicking here.
Have you tried any other free marketing tools that do not involve social media? How successful have they been for you? As usual I’d love to hear from you, especially those who’ve used infographic CVs, so please share your thoughts in the comments section below.