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use of "I" or "We" on website?
Thread poster: Erika Cenefels
Erika Cenefels  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:15
German to French
+ ...
Jul 17, 2007

I am a freelancer (German & English into French) and have just taken a commercial name to use on my new website.

I am wondering whether to use "I" or "we" to advertise my services. I have a problem with using "we" as I am on my own, but in some way I feel like using "I" wouldn't be totally satisfying either. What do you think?

Maybe it also depends on the country. It seems like "we" is widely used by individuals in the US for instance, whether German freelancers tend to use "ich" (ie "I").

An alternative would be to use the third person, singular, but it's too impersonal, which is why I am not going for it.

Thanks for sharing your views and experience!


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 17:15
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
I for yourself, we for your company Jul 17, 2007

Erika C wrote:
I am wondering whether to use "I" or "we" to advertise my services. I have a problem with using "we" as I am on my own, but in some way I feel like using "I" wouldn't be totally satisfying either. What do you think?


I think that if you market yourself as a person, you should use "I", but if you market yourself as a company, you should use "we", even if there's only one of you.

The main thing is not to create the impression that you're trying to fool the reader into thinking that you are a big company, when in fact it is clear that you're a one-man show.

If your résumé, personal details (name etc) or any other clue that you're a one-man business is given on the site, and no-one else's information accompanies it (to create the impression that there is more than one person), then I suggest you use "I", because it would seem more honest.

In fact, unless you're operating some project management business, my suggestion to freelancers would be to make their professional sites "personal" in the sense that visitors should realise immediately that you're a freelancer and not some tiny corporation.


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Erika Cenefels  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:15
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
depends on goal Jul 17, 2007

Well Samuel, I think you are right.

It also depends on what you are trying to achieve with your website though: advertise what you do or what you want to do?

I feel more confortable with marketing myself as a person, but I do have concerns about the (low) impact such a one-person website can have.

I don't really think it is going to help my business grow, since only smaller companies and individuals will contact me (if I attract any new direct clients at all and not only translation agencies). Large companies use translation agencies, no freelancers, don't they?


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Tina Vonhof  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 09:15
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Stick with 'I' Jul 17, 2007

I think you should stick with 'I' or 'my company'. Using 'we' creates the impression that you are working together with a group of translators or at minimum that you have a group of colleagues you can rely on when you are too busy or for different language combinations. If that is not the case, 'we' is misleading imo.

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Erika Cenefels  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:15
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
avoiding confusion Jul 17, 2007

Tina, I think avoiding confusion is important indeed.

I am currently going through my contact list to build up a team for the cases you mentionned.

I think I'll stick with "I" for the moment and might "upgrade" to "we" if things develop the way I'm expecting.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:15
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
"We" every time Jul 17, 2007

Hi Erika,

Think big, and use "we" as often as possible.

Like we do.


Best regards,



Mervyn


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Erika Cenefels  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:15
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
tempting... Jul 17, 2007

Hi Mervyn,

Hehe, "we" definitely is more attractive and makes a bigger impression. It also sounds more dynamic and self-assure.

A former colleague (sales director) told me that my commercial name allows me to use "we" and that it conveys an image of a company growing with time. Interesting points.

Now of course, it can be either interpreted as self-confidence or as self-importance... or just as business language...


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R-i-c-h-a-r-d  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 13:15
Member (2006)
Portuguese to English
+ ...
Just some personal advice Jul 18, 2007

Erika,
If you are an independent freelancer and you have a personal website you are not going to get as many hits on it as you imagine, not at first - sorry, that's the blunt truth. You will get much more traffic via Proz and people directed from your Proz profile to your website. That individual link already exists. My profile on Proz has a Google PageRank of '5' whereas my personal website has a PR or just '1'. I get little DIRECT traffic to my website - it's there simply to enforce who I am - a professional translator.

I started with the idea of 'we, we, we' until I realised that I was lying to the public - I'm not a company - I am an individual. I just didn't know how to express myself any more. So why lie? What is the benefit in it? It's tempting but it makes you feel awkward when people ask you about 'your company' such as "who are WE". If there is no "WE" then you are going to appear silly. When there is more than just yourself then start saying "WE" and point to those references - my partner, my Spanish translator etc...

Be honest. Be yourself. It will give you a headache if you're not.

An excellent question btw!

All the best,
Richard.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:15
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
To we or not to we Jul 18, 2007

Well, threadies, after Richard's contribution, we had another think about all this. I called in my wonderful assistant first thing this morning, and showed her the plot so far.

"What do you think of all this?" I asked her.

Idoia stifled a yawn.

"Perhaps a little too early for this kind of thing, boss?", she sighed. "Well, in our case it's obvious we use "we" in our publicity and when we talk about Cuil Rathain. You handle the actual translations to English, and I do the bills, the bill reminders and the payment thank-yous, general secretarial stuff and a bit of PR when I can, so we say "we" quite a bit.

"But aren't we forgetting something here, Idoia?"

"The fact that I don't actually exist? That you invented me?"

"For example."

She grimaced. Always gets a little peeved when I mention this.

"You love reminding me of this every so often, don't you? But I do exist to all intents and purposes, boss. You gave me my own e-mail, the customers talk to me, I have a relationship with them. Some of the male customers flirt with me by e-mail, I know they do. The females either prefer dealing with another woman or they can feel smug about being superior to her, so it's all good for business."

"Only by email, not by phone. On the last occasion somebody absolutely insisted on talking to Idoia on the phone, my wife had to do the job, remember? An admirable job, too, considering I only had five minutes to give her all the details on what she was supposed to be talking about".

I drew a deep breath. "You know, Idoia, I think we'll go on using "we" at Cuil Rathain - it can't do any harm, because our translations are first-rate and on a par with bigger "we" outfits anyway, but bearing in mind what Richard said, we've got to be careful not to get caught, that's all."

She sniffed a little and turned back to her PC screen.

"I may not exist", she said without turning round, "but at least I'm not sitting in the office chatting to myself".

Maybe she has a point.


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comunicado
Local time: 11:15
English to Spanish
+ ...
An alternative to "I" and "we" Jul 18, 2007

Erika,

Great question. I'm developing my site at the moment, too, and pondering about these issues of branding, image and transparency. The direction I'm leaning toward is a true and professional presentation of myself positioned within the framework of my company:

1. Certain pages on my site will detail my services, methodology, research and samples -- all introduced in third-person.

Those sections will be expository, benefit-oriented and customer-centric. Sometimes, overuse of "I/we" statements can weaken persuasive writing as well as sales collateral, depending on the context. However, I realize that in this line of work, my commitment to quailty and my direct involvement in each project are the driving force of my company's value proposition.

As such, I'm developing a "personal" component to my site:

2. An "About [company name]" section featuring my background, credentials... and my photo. Oh, how I grappled with this last one. But I soon determined that posting my picture, more likely than not, will increase clients' comfort level and shorten distances; in addition, if I only include a photo of myself, and not of an entire staff, it implies that the company, in essence, is me. This will relieve me from editorializing my business site elsewhere with gratuitious "I/we" references.

In my bio, I will outline my professional experience and my role as founder/president of the company, framing myself as a consultant who assesses clients' projects and is capable of fulfilling them myself or handpicking a qualified team of colleagues to do so.

With all the above elements in place, I can use a third-person voice (which can even be informal, should I so choose), yet my company maintains integrity in its presentation and has ample room to grow. Perhaps you're in the same boat?

Good luck,
Ruth


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Erika Cenefels  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:15
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
feedback Jul 18, 2007

Thank you all for sharing your reactions.

@ Richard : I understand your point, although I don't think "we" would be lying. It's rather a perspective. Depends on how you look at it.

@ Mervyn : Nice story, you are gifted.

@ Ruth : Yes, more or less the same boat indeed. I will think about the third person again, although I was first reluctant to it.


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Wouter Vanhees  Identity Verified
Belgium
English to Flemish
+ ...
Me, Myself and I Jul 18, 2007

Hi Erika,

I mostly used "I" on my website. On the first page though, I use the third person (my commercial name) quite a lot. I also thought it's better to make it clear from the start that I'm running a one-man show.

Good luck!

Wouter

Ortelius Language Services
www.ortelius-ls.com


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Erika Cenefels  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 17:15
German to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
similar Jul 18, 2007

Ortelius,

My project is quite similar to yours, since I'm advertsing a specilal field and only a few language combinations.

This is all about niche marketing.

Big challenge !

Good luck to you.


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Mervyn Henderson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 17:15
Member
Spanish to English
+ ...
Cheek of the man Jul 18, 2007

I must protest at my boss. How dare he say I don't exist. I certainly do - in fact, it's nine in the evening, and by now any other assistant would be happily engaged sipping a little pre-dinner something paid for by a pleasant attractive man in a cool ambience, but no, here I am still tying up his loose ends.

Best regards to all,


Idoia Belaustegigoitia


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