How to find direct clients?
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How to find direct clients? is a very common question; I believe there is not even one translator who has not asked himself this question.
I know I have asked myself this question since the very beginning. It took me a few years to find an answer and even now I am not sure I found the right solution; but I am willing to share my experience with other translators hoping this would be helpful.
At the beginning, as “freshmen” in this business, translators are seeking work; they do not have enough experience to go directly to the big companies, so they address to the other players such as translation agencies. This is a good point to start, I might say. However, the main goal is to have your own business and your own clients. Working for or in collaboration with agencies it is a good opportunity to gain experience and to understand the demands of the companies that need translation services. Once you have gained enough experience, you can address directly to companies. I must stress on the fact that it is not fair play to contact the clients of your collaborators (most of the time the agreements you have signed with the translating companies include such clauses in order to make sure that you do not "steal" their clients). It is recommended to seek other companies, to contact them and offer your services. You can work both with translation agencies and other companies.
You can find direct clients by searching on the Internet. When you start searching you must ask yourself the following question: “Who needs my services?”
The answer is not as complicated as one might think: multinational companies, import-export companies, companies with offices abroad, branches or subsidiaries of foreign companies, lawyers, notaries public etc.
Many translators are disappointed after getting several negative answers; others are not even trying to address these companies because they think as follows: ”this is a very big company; I am sure they have enough money to hire they own translators or to work with important translating agencies; so what is the point in sending my offer?” I also used to think so until experience proved that even companies with in-house translators need other translators. If you are in their data base, there is a great chance to be contacted. When? When they have a lot of work to do and their in-house translators are overloaded with work; when they have to prepare presentations, conferences, marketing campaigns, tenders. The amount of work is not the same throughout the year and there are moments when they really need more translators for a short period of time or for a specific project. Therefore, there is a great chance to be contacted.
Another way is by posting an ad on the Internet or by having your own website.
The website represents an investment but it will soon pay for itself. The companies or natural persons in need of a translator will browse the Internet to find one. If you are there, they will see you. Furthermore, you can subscribe to a search engine and pay for their services. When you do this, a link to your webpage will appear on the right side of the screen even if the person who searches has found a link to another company/translator’s webpage.
Last but not least, another way of finding direct clients is by providing the best services. If you have done your job properly, a satisfied client will be living advertising. He will recommend you to his business partners or to his friends and they will further recommend you. So, no matter the circumstances, a translator must act as a professional. Even though you do not like the client or you consider that you are not paid as you should be, do not let these considerations interfere with your work; you are a professional and you should act like one no matter what. If you manage to do that, when a professional is needed your name will be automatically associated to this word. It is the best advertising one could get. On the National Business Association website someone said that if people do not know you, they cannot trust you and in order to convince them to “buy” from you, they have to trust you.
Everyone has heard about the 4 P which are the cornerstone principles of marketing: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.
In this case, the Product is the translator. You should therefore try to “sell” yourself or better said your services. It all depends on your client’s perception. Someone associated this with a bank account: “when you communicate correctly, you have a deposit, when you fail to communicate you will have a withdrawal. If, on balance they get "insufficient funds," that client is gone. Always ask, "Am I providing value that creates a deposit?"
The Price is another important element but I think we all know how to handle this issue; always adapt the price but pay much attention to this. If you are “selling” your services too cheap one might think that the price is directly proportional to the services provided. Most of the times, the price reflects your value as a translator. So keep up your standards but be flexible when the situation requires it. You must establish a price taking into account the costs, the competition, your relationship with your client and the demand.
The Place has a double meaning in this case. The first one puts you in front of your clients, while the second one refers to your image, i.e. a reference or opinion: your clients’ opinion about you, the image you have left behind. It stands for your place in their minds.
As for the Promotion, there are many ways to do this. As mentioned above, the Internet is a very good tool in this respect. For the providers of services, such as translators, the most important thing is communication and advertising. Please mind that a translator does not have all the advantages of someone who is selling a product. For instance if a seller can advertise the product by means of a tombola or in an online shop we cannot say the same about a translator. A translator must use the above mentioned techniques to promote the services he/she provides and most important to create an image. A product can be presented and advertised by means of photos whereas we cannot do the same for the services. Professionalism, quality and the client-oriented approach can add value to the services provided.
The difference between YOU and another translator relies on the value you add to your services.