How necessary is a personal website for a beginner translator?
Thread poster: Sarah McDowell

Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:15
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
Apr 23, 2012

I am basically just starting out in translation. However, I have many years of language experience and some past translation and interpretation experience with a local place.

So what I would like to know is how necessary is it for me to create a website. Ideally I would like to attract more (and better paying) clients.

I don't know anything about web design so I would require some assistance with this. I am willing to hire someone to help me provided it's not too pricey. Is this a worthwhile investment or would the money be better spent acquiring a CAT tool or on a Proz membership?

Thanks all,

Sarah


 

Stefanie Sendelbach  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 19:15
Member (2003)
English to German
+ ...
Worth the investment Apr 23, 2012

Hello Sarah,

To me, a website is well worth the investment. With every job application I include the link to my website, which is always up-to-date. I found it rather easy to set up my own website. If you use a website template and an editor that allows you to see your changes immediately (WYSIWYG), it's really not that difficult.

The costs are basically 10 Euros a year for the URL, unless you buy a template and use a paid software for editing your web pages.

The Proz.com membership actually includes hosting and also some free templates together with an editor, if I am not mistaken.

You do not necessarily need to delve into SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which would help bring your website onto the first pages of search engine results. You can use the website like a business card. But if you want to dig a little deeper and invest some time for SEO (or some money to hire someone who does it for you), you can even gain new clients who will find you on the net.

Good luck!

Stefanie


 

Nicole Geslin  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:15
English to French
+ ...
Website first Apr 23, 2012

All I can do is relate my own experience. I started translating professionally in 2003, in South Africa, knowing very little about the industry. I immediately set up my own website, a very simple one which I did myself with the help of a friend and a couple of books on HTML. Nothing fancy, but the navigation was clear (user-friendly, as they say). This website was successful in that it did get me clients, long before word-of-mouth sent me other clients.

In 2005 or 2006 (can't remember) I invested in a CAT tool.

When I returned to France in 2008, I decided to invest in a professional-looking website and contacted a South African web design agency before arriving in France. And yes, it did cost a fair amount of money, but that was well worth it, as it brought me new clients almost immediately and still does. I can't tell you the number of times people start their email with the words "I saw your website and..." I haven't changed it yet, as I think it still looks OK ; I do keep it reasonably up to date (I do that myself). The URL is in the signature of my emails and wherever I can think of putting it.

Early in 2011, I joined ProZ which, frankly, has been a lot less successful at getting me clients than my website - but I probably don't do enough work on my ProZ profile, and that needs to change.

In a nutshell: go for it and start small.

Good luck!

Nicole


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
All of it Apr 23, 2012

Sarah McDowell wrote:
I don't know anything about web design so I would require some assistance with this. I am willing to hire someone to help me provided it's not too pricey. Is this a worthwhile investment or would the money be better spent acquiring a CAT tool or on a Proz membership?

I think you cannot give up on any of these aspects: a profesionally designed website (without those horrible stock pictures with multi-racial teams smiling around a white table with a bright background please!!), one or several CAT tools, plenty of dictionaries, membership of professional associations (and/or proz.com or similar websites), and continuous training are all needed if you want to ensure your success long-term.

Maybe you cannot afford all these things right now, but they should be on your list and will quickly pay back as soon as you can invest on them.


 

LEXpert  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 12:15
Member (2008)
Croatian to English
+ ...
@ Tomas - tell me about it! Apr 23, 2012

Tomás Cano Binder, CT wrote:

(without those horrible stock pictures with multi-racial teams smiling around a white table with a bright background please!!)


You can say that again! Reminds me of an episode from my former corporate life when a company enlisted all the available minorities in the office as models for the obligatory "diversity cred" photo to put on the new website. However, in a classic example of not thinking things through entirely, the photo was arranged in such a way that a middle-aged white guy/suit/manager was clearly lecturing or instructing all the attentive minority employees about something...

I tried to explain to the powers-that-be what was wrong the picture, but nobody would listen.icon_frown.gif


 

Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:15
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
When political correctness does wrong Apr 23, 2012

Rudolf Vedo CT wrote:
However, in a classic example of not thinking things through entirely, the photo was arranged in such a way that a middle-aged white guy/suit/manager was clearly lecturing or instructing all the attentive minority employees about something...

An example of how you can create an offense if you are clumsy when you try to be politically correct...icon_smile.gif


 

Sergei Tumanov  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:15
English to Russian
+ ...
Ready solution is waiting for you... Apr 23, 2012


I don't know anything about web design so I would require some assistance with this.


And you don't need to.
Have a look at the WordPress software.
The net is full of free ready WordPress templates that you can use for your translation business.
I don't know why, but they call them 'themes'.

[Edited at 2012-04-23 19:31 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:15
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Kill many birds with one stone Apr 23, 2012

Stefanie Sendelbach wrote:
The Proz.com membership actually includes hosting and also some free templates together with an editor, if I am not mistaken.


ProZ.com membership will bring a free, or at least very cheap, website your way.

Sheila


 

Anthony Baldwin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:15
Portuguese to English
+ ...
options Apr 24, 2012

I also do web development and design (and, of course, site localization, etc.)
You do not want a fancy, animated, bloated, snazzy, hip website.
As a translator in a technical world, you will have to master some technology. The more the better.

You want a website that presents the relevant information about your services and how to contact you, in a clear, concise, easily navigable, easily read format.

Now, a recommendation.
When you sign(ed) up for a full membership at proz.com, it comes with some free webhosting. Use it.

While I pay for hosting for other websites I own/run/administer for others, etc., I host my translation services website, baldwinlinguas.com, right on the hosting that comes with my proz.com account.
It works out just fine. You do not need to use fancy software or have a ton of pages. Many of the other sites I run are far more complex, require more powerful software, more storage, more system resources, etc., but a simple website for a translator should be, indeed, simple, straightforward, and sleek.

While, of course, I write my own webpages by hand, all html, css, php, etc., it is not difficult to use various wysiwyg (what you see it what you get, i.e., graphical tools) to design a simple page or a few pages to upload to such a hosting account. Think of it as an electronic resume or CV, essentially. Make it professional. Don't use too many wild colors. Keep images to a minimum. Animations and frilly frippery will be a distraction and look unprofessional. Avoid them. Make your site light-weight and quick to load, easy to read, easy to navigate, informative, not overly personal. Let it exude confidence, emanate simplicity, and demonstrate a command of your industry and your languages. Proofread it very carefully before publishing it. Language errors on a translator's site are a huge read flagg [sic].

Now, there's a lot more to the SEO (search engine optimization) stuff, and there are people all over who will try to sell you services promising to get you #1 search rankings, but don't buy it. Most of them are scams.

Just make sure that the text on your page is relevant to the services you offer, primarily.
Make sure you have a meta tag for keywords, and include the relevant keywords (which should/must also appear in the body of your text), such as your languages and words like "translation", "translate", etc. Then add your url to your e-mail signature, and use it on any professional e-mail lists, forums, etc., in which you participate. Stick it in your social networking profiles. The more links there are to your site (but not spammy links), and the more pervasive your name is in relevant places (translation sites, language forums, etc.), the better your search rankings.

For this purpose, as mentioned, meta-tags are your friend, especially "description" and "keywords". This is the one thing you REALLY should learn to edit in the html code. It goes in the header (between the (head) and (/head)).
I have these:

<meta name="Description" content="Translators Brazilian Portuguese English Spanish French" />

<meta name="keywords" content="Portuguese, spanish, ingles, anglais, English, translate, language, legal, court, website, globalization, French, translation, Brazil, Brasil, Connecticut, CT, tradutor, traductor, français, español, interpreter, judicial, court, legal" />

Of course, substitute your own location, specialities, and languages.
This might sound complex, but it's a lot simpler than it sounds.

My simple little site gets tons of visitors, and I turn down more work than I take, anymore, because I get more offers than I can take (I do take some and outsource it, too, but still end up turning work down, referring it to friends/colleagues). I do have first page search results for many relevant searches, and I didn't pay anybody any money to "optimize" my site. I did it myself, and it was pretty simple, really, and, making websites is fun (okay, I think it's fun, at least).

[Edited at 2012-04-24 00:36 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-04-24 00:37 GMT]


 

ATIL KAYHAN  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 21:15
Member (2007)
Turkish to English
+ ...
Lineup Apr 24, 2012

My personal lineup for investment would be, in the order of preference,

1) ProZ full membership,
2) Personal website,
3) A CAT tool.


 

Sarah McDowell  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 12:15
Member (2012)
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thank you so much to everyone who responded with advice! Apr 25, 2012

I really appreciate your advice about the website. I have decided to become a Proz Member today! I have been on the site since the beginning of the month but didn't really do much here except create my profile (it still needs to be improved) and ask questions in the forums. I didn't like that I wasn't able to quote on jobs as a non-member. That was pretty frustrating.

Thanks also for pointing out about the hosting available to members. I wasn't aware of that feature of membership. So I will be able to get the hosting for my upcoming translation website. Fo me it's a better deal than paying somebody else to do a website for me.

I am excited about getting the membership but I hope it's not a waste of money for me.

-Sarah

[Edited at 2012-04-25 05:32 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:15
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Welcome! Apr 25, 2012

Sarah McDowell wrote:

I really appreciate your advice about the website. I have decided to become a Proz Member today! I have been on the site since the beginning of the month but didn't really do much here except create my profile (it still needs to be improved) and ask questions in the forums. I didn't like that I wasn't able to quote on jobs as a non-member. That was pretty frustrating.

Thanks also for pointing out about the hosting available to members. I wasn't aware of that feature of membership. So I will be able to get the hosting for my upcoming translation website. Fo me it's a better deal than paying somebody else to do a website for me.

I am excited about getting the membership but I hope it's not a waste of money for me.

-Sarah

[Edited at 2012-04-25 05:32 GMT]


I hope you never regret your commitment to ProZ.com Sarah - I certainly haven't. But don't make the mistake of paying and then sitting back and expecting to get value for money. I'm afraid you'll probably be disappointed. Proz.com is only (normally) a success for those who use it pro-actively, as a presence and as a professional networking tool. It's a great place to come for peer advice, as you've already found outicon_smile.gif.

But there are an awful lot of translators on this site! You have to give clients an incentive to come and find you: by having a good position in the directory (I'm sure you've been given info on how to improve that), by completing everything in your profile including the text about you, etc. Then, they'll contact you when they have a job that matches your skills.

Bear in mind that those who post jobs on the job board are often desperate, and often that desperation is caused by the fact that good translators don't want to work with them for one reason or another (stupidly low rates, payment in the distant future, crazy delivery demands, etc.). However, there are exceptions - it would be a mistake to ignore every posting on the job board, just don't rely on it for work.

In my opinion, an active presence here, coupled with a simple website, is the best you could do.

Good luck

Sheila


 

Heidi Nyberg  Identity Verified

Local time: 20:15
English to Swedish
+ ...
Contact agencies directly... Apr 25, 2012

I would also recommend that you put some effort into contacting agencies directly through their websites (if you haven't already). This is how I have established long-lasting relationships with nearly all of my business partners. It can be a lot of work going through the Blue Board, looking for good agencies, but for me it's definitely been worth it.

 
not a bad idea, but u can do it by yourself May 12, 2012

you can have your website, but just as a visit card....I mean, one-paged website is pretty enough and you can do it easily in wordpress.
Like smb before said, make sure you have at least basic SEO meta-tags. I wouldn't propose you to pay smb for SEO, as it has no sense - you'll have a lot of competition from professional translation companies.
What could really help you is constant monitoring of thematic forums, blogs and posting about your services there (be carefulicon_smile.gif they can ban you if you do it too obviously)...when posting, you can put a link to your website - that's for you'll need it.


 

Jenn Mercer  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:15
Member (2009)
French to English
Don't promote yourself in forums May 12, 2012

There are very few circumstances where it is appropriate to promote your services in a forum or comments on a blog. You might not get banned immediately, but I doubt you will get any business. If you instead respond to the topic at hand in an intelligent and honest manner WITHOUT promoting your services, your colleagues will get to know you as a person. It is those personal relationships which will help your business to succeed.

 


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