How Can a Freelance Translator Find Clients?

You’ve made the decision to go it alone and open your own business. You’ve invested in a computer with every virtual connection imaginable, created a private workspace out of a nook or small spare room, and are now sitting at the keyboard, looking at the screen, and getting ready to type. The one thing that is still lacking is something you cannot purchase: a customer.

Finding clients to work for can be extremely difficult if you have to start completely from scratch. And even if you were successful in getting in touch with people or businesses to inform them about your one-person freelance business, why would they choose to do business with you when they have so many other options to choose from that have so much more credibility and reputation?

In fact, it’s probably best to delegate the task of attracting customers to someone else because it can be so difficult. You should get in touch with a reputable translation company and ask them to find the clients for you.

A word of caution, though. For a variety of reasons, general translation agencies are typically not too fond of open applications. They are first overrun by them. Second, your choice of language combination probably doesn’t exactly make your application a novel proposition. Third, there is a chance that their order portfolio in your particular niche is not entirely full if you do offer something unusual, like Finnish-Maltese or Dutch-Urdu.

However, if you have some experience in academic or business translation and don’t price yourself out of the market by charging higher rates than the agency can afford or lower rates than what it takes to sound professional, you may actually hear back from the agency saying they have decided to keep your service offer on file and will get in touch with you when the time is right. And there’s a good chance they’ll do so eventually.

This is due to the fact that at a successful and growing translation company, such appropriate occasions are always around the corner. Although agencies frequently run out of translators, even if they don’t remember your name, they will eventually look through their files of potential freelancers in response to an urgent order. It’s typical that after you complete the first translation project for an agency, more will come your way (providing, of course, that they were pleased with the caliber of your work). They’ll know where to look for you after that. In fact, if the translation agency finds your freelance modalities to be an appealing proposition in terms of rate, quality, speed, and flexibility, they may even find that you are a much better option than some of the people they are currently working with and who have started to take things for granted. The specifics of working with translation agencies in your capacity as a freelancer are outside the purview of this particular publication, but they are covered in a different article by the same author. It is sufficient to say here that translation agencies are likely the simplest to find and get in touch with of all potential customers.

All-around translation agencies, as the name implies, have a very broad clientele. You will be performing translations in a wide range of fields because they have clients in a variety of industries. Even though your interactions with translation agencies have helped you become a true all-around translator, there will be some fields in which you will excel more than others. The following step in growing your clientele would be to concentrate on big companies in your preferred industries and inquire if they have an internal translation department. Numerous multinational corporations do. If you get in touch with those internal translation services, you might find that they’re keen to grow their pool of freelancers, particularly during times when they’re short on staff. Since translators without specialized experience typically don’t stand a chance in such a trade-specific environment, it is important that you market yourself as someone who, if not an expert, is at least knowledgeable about your particular field by this point. The advantage of gradually shifting your attention to in-house translation departments is that you can further specialize yourself and stop having to start from scratch each time you take on a new translation project.

However, trustworthy all-around agencies also frequently distinguish between freelancers based on their preferences and areas of strength; in fact, this is the only way they are able to be all-around while still maintaining a respectable level of quality. The point is that you will have the chance to gain experience and specialize in your preferred disciplines by working for translation agencies, whether they are commercial or in-house.

Of course, this is just one of a plethora of clever detours you could take in your quest to locate and draw clients to your freelance business. Obviously, the size of your company and your goals will determine the exact nature of your effort. To be sure, I think that the path that follows translation agencies is one that likely gives even relatively inexperienced professional translators the best chances of luring initial and repeat business.

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