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How to become a freelance translator: freelancing with direct clients or agencies?

Hi everybody! How are you? I've been missing you a lot! Seems like life's going faster and faster. Since I've been in touch with you last time, a lot of things have changed. Nancy Matis has finished her training course on Translation Project Management with our translator school, there have been a few more courses taught by Russian-speaking trainers, and some other courses have just started, including a brand new military translation course

Today I'd like to share a guest post written by Hanna Sles, a fellow translator and blogger. So let's welcome Hanna! Let us know what you think about this post in comments!

How to become a freelance translator: freelancing with direct clients or agencies?

Freelancing is an excellent opportunity to be your own boss, work your own hours, and be responsible for your success. While some freelancers thrive on being their own boss, others find that they’re not as good at working for themselves as they were working for a company. The challenges a freelancer faces are not properly grounded marketing strategies and tactics.

Having a solid freelance translator strategy is the only solution to success in the digital world today. In the first place with a particular focus on your strategy you should ensure that you do know what it is you are trying to do. A good marketing strategy is a great deal like a map. That’s because it gets you where you want to go and helps you find your way if you’re lost.

A framework for your freelance translator strategy

The most effective way how to become a freelance translator is to address a freelance translator’s challenges by using a technique known as 5 W’s and 1 H or the Kipling Method. This method, consists of a list of the fundamental questions What? Why? Who? Where? When? and How?
I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
Rudyard Kipling’s 1902 “Just So Stories.”
Once answered it will provide you with a complete framework of your translation business and ground your freelance marketing strategy. 5 W’s and 1 H are the elements which will provide a framework to define your translation marketing strategy and build your freelance translator’s brand. With the six serving-men you will get thought-provoking ideas and tools that will change how you think about your freelance language services. You can discover more about this in my article about Freelance Translator Strategy. But now let’s have a closer look at Who within freelance translation business.

Who are you serving: direct clients or agencies?

While this might seem like a simple question to most of you, but there's no simple answer. The majority of freelance translators mistakenly think that only big translation agencies with big budgets and teams will be able to sell successfully language services. And there are quite a few reasons for that:
- Translation agencies deal with marketing campaigns (marketing strategies, branding, online reputation, website, blog) and selling efforts.
- Translation agencies handle a variety of languages and services which a freelancer is not able to offer.
- Translation agencies has got a lot of professionals to solve different issues.

Dwarfed by the above-mentioned reasons / leading language service providers, many end up submitting resume to translation agencies.

How to become a freelance translator: market your freelance services to direct customers like a pro 

A closer look to the “Who” element of the Kipling’s framework reveals that some of the leading translation agencies with a big budget and many years of marketing efforts behind them only rank in the single digits. What does this mean for freelance translators with WordPress skills, primary SEO and elementary marketing knowledge? It means that before you fall prey to the Big, you have the potential to build a freelance translator brand online.

According to the latest research in marketing, today new media levels are the playing field in ways that we have never seen in the history of marketing. Businesses of all sizes, either translation agencies or freelance translators, can gain greater transparency and trust. Be your own boss sounds very lucrative. To keep up with big brands, big teams and budgets, you will have to develop and permanently improve a range of skills, abilities and knowledge such as:

- website building (advisable WordPress), writing blog posts;
- keyword research in the market you are going to offer your services
- on-page and off-page optimization;
- basic image editing skills (e.g. with Canva);
- marketing knowledge;
- social networks knowledge (e.g. create business pages like mine on Facebook and Twitter)

If you possess the above-mentioned knowledge and skills or if you are eager to tackle them, then you should certainly build your own freelance translator's brand, develop a freelance translator's marketing strategy according to Kipling's method and shatter the myth that only big brands with big teams and big budgets can do big things.

If you have questions how to become a freelance translator, you are welcome to address them to my Twitter account.

Dear Hanna, many thanks for your sharing your post with us! I wish you good luck and success in your business!

Hanna Sles: Translator & localization specialist, WordPress website developer, SEO and online marketing expert. Able to develop and shape your company's voice and style in Russian & Ukrainian to ensure that it’s clear, accessible, and culturally relevant for your customers and partners throughout the Russian- and Ukrainian speaking world. Creative-minded and passionate about impacting business results through localizations.


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