A Four Step Guide to Building your Freelance Translator Brand
Whether you’re new to the field of freelance translation or already translate for a common language pair and want to stand out from the crowd, these 4 steps will help make you — and therefore your career — memorable.
When you think of brands, you probably think of companies like Apple or Coca-Cola. That’s because they’ve had years, and multitudes of people, contributing to building those brands and making sure they separate themselves from competitors. Can you apply the same principles to your personal brand? Absolutely. Whether building a corporate brand or a personal freelance translator brand, the goal is to create a good impression that will be remembered for all the right reasons. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, put it like this: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.” What will clients say about you?
What clients will say about you is 100% in your control. Think about it. What do you want people to think about when they hear your name? What ideals do you want your brand to encompass? Do you want to be the go-to translator for medical translations? Maybe you want to be known for your reliability and professionalism? You need to have a clear vision of how you want to be perceived by your professional community in order to make that vision a reality. Don’t overwhelm yourself with a long list of ideals. This will be difficult to maintain and your brand may lose focus. Keep it short, simple, and manageable — 3-5 sentences or adjectives to sum you up.
Once you have decided on your image, you need to determine what you want to achieve by developing a personal brand. What are your goals? Start by identifying your objectives and the value you can bring to prospective clients. Make your goals measurable and achievable and always keep these targets in mind when promoting yourself. Don’t forget to check-in and assess your progress every couple of months. Self-assessment can be tough. If it’s not one of your strengths, ask for some feedback from clients and peers.They may be able to point-out something that you have overlooked. If you are not achieving your goals, identify your blockers and reassess whether or not this is truly a core value.
In the internet age, if you want to grow your professional network, it is vital to have an online presence. If a prospective client looks for you online, and there is nothing to be found regarding your profession, they may cast you aside without much consideration. How can you establish a professional online presence?
- Create your own website: You don’t have to know how to code, or need web design skills to have a decent website; there are many platforms (such as WordPress or Wix) that can help you get your own website up and running in no time. Use your website as a platform to showcase your writing skills, give details about your professional experience, perhaps provide testimonials, and enable people to contact you. A personal website is a great place to direct people to when they want to know more about you. You may even want to consider paying for your own customized domain for an extra boost of professionalism.
- Be social: You need to be active on social media. First you need to identify the platforms that are relevant to your target audience; these could be platforms such as Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and beyond. You can use social media for self-promotion, sharing your blog posts, and sharing information or articles your prospective clients will find interesting. Use social media as an opportunity to engage in discussions and interact with potential clients – it will increase exposure and help to get your foot in the door. Be careful! Don’t post for the sake of posting. The content you put on social media should be valuable to your followers and be aligned with your brand. Spamming people’s newsfeeds with irrelevant content will certainly do more harm than good.
- Blogging: This is a great way to flaunt your language skills, demonstrate thought leadership, and reflect on your professional experiences. It can also drive traffic to your website especially if you optimize your blog posts for search engines. Also consider writing for other blogs. Being a guest writer for a reputable blog, or an industry influencer can increase your exposure and credibility. (On that note, if you’re interested in writing a guest post for the Memsource blog — reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org!)
But remember – while your online presence is essential, don’t disregard good old fashioned face-to-face communication. Find relevant networking events or meetups in your area where you can mingle with potential clients and other industry professionals. Even in the digital age, meeting a person in real life creates a longer lasting impression.
Being up-to-date on trends in the translation and localization industry is a surefire way of keeping yourself relevant. Read industry news, magazines, and blogs, attend free webinars, listen to podcasts related to your area of expertise, follow thought leaders and industry experts on social media, and join online communities for freelance translators. Building a brand that your peers recognize is just as important as companies recognizing you. Get involved with the industry!
Above all else, consistency is the key to creating a long lasting impression. You want people to associate you with your brand, but if it keeps changing you run the risk of becoming flaky and forgotten. Whether it’s the tone of your writing, the visual style of your website, or how often you post on social media, make a commitment. Become a trustworthy and memorable brand by being you — always.
Spending time on your brand may feel like a waste of time, especially when it takes time away from paid translation work, but you have to consider the long term benefits. Be consistent with your brand development and dedicate a couple of hours a week to writing a blog post, posting on social media, or watching a webinar. Be present both online and offline, and always keep your goals in mind. Cultivating your brand will keep you relevant and stop you from drifting away from the attention of your prospective clients. Your brand won’t be established overnight but it will be worth the effort in the long-run.