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The freelance translator's quick and easy guide to creating a marketing plan

If you’re a freelancer providing a professional translation service and you don’t have a marketing plan, it’s time to write one. Now.

A marketing plan is an essential tool in defining what you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it. It can help you to think through how you approach getting clients, ways in which you could be more effective and how to earn more money. Sounds good? Then let’s get started!

Marketing plan overview
Your marketing plan doesn’t have to take hours to write. It doesn’t even have to look professionally produced. If a series of post-it notes on your office wall works for you, then so be it. This is your plan and it needs to be in the format that will work best for you. The goal is to focus your thinking and create a plan that is genuinely useful to your business, not to create a fancy document full of pie charts that you’ll never look at again once it’s finished.

A SWOT analysis is a great way to kick-start your marketing plan creation. Jot down your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then think about your objectives – are you working in professional translation to earn vast amounts of money or for the flexible, freelance lifestyle? Do you work to live or live to work? Questions like this will inform your objectives and create the backbone of your marketing plan.

Next think through your marketing strategy. Who should you be approaching and how often? And what kind of approach should you take – email, phone, letter, targetted press release?

Finally, set action points with specific dates, to make sure that you complete them. This plan should be a working document that you update regularly, with actions ticked off frequently.

Achieving your goals

Always ensure that every part of your marketing plan leads back to the fulfilment of your objectives. This is the whole point of the plan. Keep your objectives in mind when writing each of your actions to be sure that nothing takes you off on a tangent and distracts your focus from what you are actually working to achieve.

If you find it helpful, you can also include financial details in your marketing plan. Consider what you earned during the past year and include a forecast for the coming year’s earnings. See how much you can increase your earnings by (if a higher income is one of your goals), but be realistic at the same time. Attempting to treble your salary in a year is a worthy ambition, but if it’s utterly unrealistic then falling further and further behind your projected curve each month is likely to demotivate you rapidly.

Tailoring your marketing plan

Above all else, your marketing plan should be tailored to suit you. Every freelance translator is unique in terms of their skills, abilities, availability, interests and objectives. If you have a flair for medical translation, then consider related translation sectors if you are looking to expand your customer base – you are more likely to pick up pharmaceutical translation work that literary translation work, so focus your marketing activities around your interests in order to achieve your goals more quickly.

Remember too to make note of what works and what doesn’t as part of your planning. If you found that an email campaign generated enquiries from five potential clients, while a telephone campaign yielded no results, use that information to shape your future marketing activities.

Finally, remember to review your marketing plan regularly. Over time your goals and skills may change and this will impact on the marketing activities that you should be undertaking. Remember – your marketing plan should be a living document that supports your success, so be sure to update it from time to time in order to get the best out of it.

Author bio:
Louise Taylor is a freelance writer who has had a passion for languages since an early age. She holds qualifications in Latin, French, German and Spanish, as well as her native English. She is also well on her way to speaking Portuguese fluently. As a long-term freelancer, she understands both the positive parts and the pressures of working in the freelance sector. She also writes for the Tomedes Blog.

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