Marketing your freelance translation business is just like marketing any other business. What it comes down to is making sure people actually know about the product or service that you're offering and then making sure they have a positive experience with that product or service.
As a freelance translator, you are providing people a service and a product. You are providing a service by translating their materials into a different language, and you are also providing a product because what you give back to them is something that you have essentially created (it just happens to reflect what they gave you, albeit in a different language).
So how should you go about getting people to know about your business? Well, here are seven steps for marketing your freelance translation business:
1) Tell everyone you know that you are a freelance translator. Nobody will ever know if you never open your mouth to say anything about it. Make sure that when you do tell people that you are confident about your abilities. Act like you've been doing it for a long time and people will trust you more with their work.
2) Contact local businesses and let them know about your services. There are a ton of local businesses that could use translation services every once in a while. Theses businesses do not often deal with translators and so when the time comes that they need one, they go to the phone book or they find someone they know. Be the person they know.
3) Volunteer. There are a ton of volunteer opportunities either in your community or online where you can provide translation services for free. This will get your name out there and eventually give you more exposure. Check with your local United Way or other non-profit groups in the area to see if they know of anybody in need of a translator.
4) Get online. OK, you knew this one was coming. If you're not able to find enough work in your local area, you might need to expand operations. Get online, create a website and let people know you're there. This article isn't about getting online, but there are plenty of articles written that can help you with that.
5) Ask former clients for referrals. If you've done a good job for a client and they were happy working with you, try and hit them up for either more work or the name of somebody that might need some work done. People are willing to pass your name on as long as you've been professional with them.
6) Get a business card. This goes along with the first couple of tips. You can tell people until your blue in the face about your new freelance translation business, but when it comes time for them to find a translator, they'll have forgotten who it was that was telling them about their translation business. By always carrying your business card, you can give something concrete to people, and they will have something to refer back to.
7) Don't stop. A lot of translators might do a couple of the steps outlined above, get some translation work, and then stop marketing themselves. As a translator, you should spend part of your time each day marketing your freelance translation business. The minute you stop doing that is the minute you start losing translation contracts. Better to spend a few minutes each day marketing rather than try to play catch-up every couple of weeks.
By using these tips, you'll be able to increase the amount of work you're getting as a freelance translator and build your freelance translation business.