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Poll: Good translators and interpreters don't need to worry about marketing their services
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 11:12
Jan 22, 2018

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Good translators and interpreters don't need to worry about marketing their services".

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neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
It depends on Jan 22, 2018

Whether you already have a stable client base or not. If you already have enough work, and even occasionally more than you can handle, marketing seems a fruitless exercise.


Edith van der Have-Raats  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:12
Member (2016)
English to Dutch
+ ...
What if ... Jan 22, 2018

... you're the best, but your potential clients don't even know you exist?


Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
True Jan 22, 2018

Word of mouth is very effective. The first thing you do when you want a plumber is ask friends and colleagues who is good.

An element of patience will nevertheless be required in the early years, during which time you could fill the gaps with marketing work. But in my experience this isn't very effective and you might do better going out and having some midweek fun.

Remember: ALL translators claim they are good and NONE can prove it. The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

In this vein, I would like to share with the world that the Coffee No 1 cafe chain does the best cheesecake in the world.


Kay Denney  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:12
Member (2018)
French to English
depends Jan 22, 2018

It depends how well established they are! I think once you are well established, word of mouth will help a lot. But until that happens, a good translator had better also be good at marketing.


Muriel Vasconcellos  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 11:12
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
It depends on ... Jan 22, 2018

- Your contact base
- Your language combinations
- Your country and city of residence

Maybe other factors as well. Those are the ones that come to mind first.

I haven't had to market myself because I already had a contact base and clients lined up when I stopped working as a full-time translator. I would imagine that a lot of translators don't have those advantages.

If there is not a lot of demand for your language combinations and you don't have a good contact base, then promotion is important.

If you live in a country where rates are low, more effort will be needed to reach out to the international community.

Interpreters, in particular, need to work on promoting themselves locally and in cities where there are clients willing to pay to bring them there.

[Edited at 2018-01-22 09:52 GMT]


Diana Obermeyer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:12
Member (2013)
German to English
+ ...
Depends on target market Jan 22, 2018

A translator working by themselves and not outsourcing any work can only take on so much. A handful of larger clients can easily fill that space, and do so for a good number of years in a trot.
If the translator is happy with that arrangement, marketing will be a waste of time.

If the translator prefers to work with smaller clients - whether small agencies, SMEs or private individuals - or specialises in a field that requires a frequent change in clients, or likes to have a sideline to break up assignments in their main fields ... then marketing is necessary to keep the flow going.

Chris S wrote:
In this vein, I would like to share with the world that the Coffee No 1 cafe chain does the best cheesecake in the world.

I could kill for cheesecake just now!


Teresa Borges
Local time: 19:12
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
It depends... Jan 22, 2018

When I started out in 1985 I did send a few letters to particularly relevant people and organizations and some of these led to work...In the meanwhile, I’ve build up a good base of loyal clients and I no longer market myself (I must admit also that I’m not very good at that), some of my current clients have come from my website, through directory or by word of mouth.


DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:12
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
I haven't ... Jan 22, 2018

ever done any marketing per se yet. When I set up shop as a freelance translator I also brought a number of clients with me from my previous job in an other industry. I was lucky to be in a position to start out with some direct clients who already knew my work. But I don't think marketing is a bad idea, no matter how good you think you are. It is something I think I should be doing, but I don't know how to go about it. As my regular clients keep my busy, I never have time or that much motivation to research the subject, put a 'marketing plan' together and then put it into action. Maybe in the future I will.

[Edited at 2018-01-22 10:34 GMT]


Parrot  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
I also tend to think it's true over the long term Jan 22, 2018

That said, reaching "long term" is the real trial.

An individual freelancer only has so much time to fill (like the rest of the world - it's an igualitarian parameter). After the initial uphill climb, it's basically coasting and selecting with what things you fill it.

(I also don't have much patience with marketing, but that's personal. You could probably get to the cruising point earlier if you do).


Linda Miranda  Identity Verified
Member (2013)
French to Portuguese
+ ...
False Jan 22, 2018

Like Parrot, I also tend to think it can become true but only over the long term, even for the best among us.


Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:12
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Depends on what kind of clients you want ... Jan 22, 2018

... and what clients you have.

If you spend long days working very hard for low-paying clients, and never do any marketing, you can carry on like that until you drop.

Or you can go out for some mid-week fun as Chris S. suggests and think about your situation. Alternatively, enjoy a powwow, where you might contact interesting colleagues and potential clients, then check out better paying agencies, and make your presence felt...

That is the kind of marketing I do. Brighten up your profile on this site, and wherever else you may have a profile, and draw attention where you can. Talk to colleagues who work in the opposite language pair at powwows and other gatherings, or those who work in different subject areas. Refer clients to them if you are offered a job in a subject area you are not confident about.

Danish colleagues refer English jobs to me, I refer finance and engineering to colleagues who understand them better than I do ...
I do very little direct marketing, but I do try to focus on what I do best, and sell my talents at the best rate I can get for them. icon_smile.gif


Joohee Kim  Identity Verified
South Korea
Local time: 04:12
Member (2017)
English to Korean
+ ...
False Jan 22, 2018

I agree with Edith van der Have-Raats's opinion.


Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:12
Member (2008)
English to Italian
false Jan 22, 2018

word of mouth is not always an option...
companies who call me do not "exchange" information about their translators... word of mouth in my case would lead to nothing, just a few translations have been asked by clients who had been given my name.
In my experience, and in my field of specialization, I have learned that having more options is always a good thing. I have my long-term clients, I am happy with them, but about 7 years ago my 1st client, who was also the one who gave me 95% of my income told me: sorry these days we have no work...

I started to search for new clients and I did a bit of marketing.
Now I have more clients and when one has less work for me, another one can have a bit more.

Lesson learned, always try to find some new clients, not 10 at the time, but 1 every year for me is a good thing.


Ricki Farn
Local time: 20:12
Member (2005)
English to German
False Jan 22, 2018

Good translators and interpreters need to worry about marketing their services because many crappy translators and interpreters are so darn good at marketing theirs.

Reminds me of the cartoon where Dilbert asks why the budget of the Marketing department is five times higher than that of his Development department, and the answer is that marketing a crappy product is five times easier than developing a non-crappy product. Or something to that effect. Can someone find that cartoon for me, pretty please?

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Poll: Good translators and interpreters don't need to worry about marketing their services

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