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Sharpen these 7 skills to boost your freelance translation career

Freelance Balance

Sharpen these 7 skills to boost your freelance translation career

The greatest asset of being a freelance translator? 

Besides skipping the daily commute and getting to work from the comfort of your own home … you have no boss to answer to! No one to tell you what to do, what time to start or that you need to work weekends this week. As soon as you enter the land of freelancing, you are free to work the way you choose.

There is one slight disadvantage, though – especially if you’re new to freelancing. Without that guidance you’re used to, you may fall back on things like time management, customer service and client/customer boundaries.

We compiled a useful summary of what skills to sharpen as a freelance translator or interpreter to improve your overall business results – and we have some tips on how to do it too!

Strengthen your marketing skills 

You might not have thought about this when you embarked on a freelance journey, but the truth is that as a freelancer, you should be consistently honing your marketing skills if you want to win new customers and expand your clientele. 

You may be the best translator out there, but if you’re not actively promoting yourself, nobody will get to hear about you, and they won’t even know that they can hire you. That a person like you exists and is exactly who they need for the project. 

Take action:

  • Sharpen your SEO skills – take a course, watch YouTube tutorials, read about it online. SEO helps you get found on search engines and is crucial for boosting your online presence.
  • Connect with potential clients on social media – follow people who are of interest to your business, post interesting content, comment on posts, retweet, take part in group chats and always reply to comments. Get to know them, their likes and dislikes, and it will help you create content they will be interested in. 
  • Start emailing potential clients – email marketing is still an effective marketing tool, so craft an engaging sales letter and start reaching more customers.
  • Add a blog to your website – content marketing remains a popular strategy. It’s an easy way to interest, inform and engage your audience so that they see you as an authority in the field. You can also post those articles on LinkedIn and Medium to expand your reach. Make the most of it!

Brush up your customer service etiquette

52% of consumers say they have purchased more from a company after a positive customer service experience.

Etiquette in customer service should be integrated into every facet of your company because excellent customer service inspires trust and cultivates long-term relationships with clients. 

Take action:

  • Ensure calls and emails are answered promptly.
  • Listen actively to be responsive to your clients’ needs.
  • Always aim to resolve the client’s problem.
  • Demonstrate good manners.
  • Be available to answer questions, provide solutions and discuss projects.
  • Go the extra mile by meeting up with a client who lives close by for a hot beverage. 
  • Be friendly and personable! Sometimes this can really affect the project and the client’s perception of you. 

Steadily improve timekeeping & time management

People who spend 10-12 minutes planning their day save up to two hours of time that would have otherwise been used unproductively.  

Incorporating time management techniques can boost your productivity and revenue. It’s surprising how much of your day can go to waste if you’re mindlessly checking emails, social media, etc. By implementing a few time management strategies, you’ll be able to achieve much more every day and ensure all deadlines are met. 

Take action:

  • Create a to-do list every day to provide focus and help you to complete tasks.
  • Avoid interruptions and distractions – keep your phone in another room if you have to.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to complete a project – instead of waiting until the day before a deadline, do it three days ahead.
  • Prioritise and group tasks – if you can, get the first 5 short, similar tasks off your list first thing in the morning, and optimise your time so you can complete everything you need to.

Some days will be better than others, but this particular skill comes with time – trust me!

Take charge of your financials

Financial management refers to the strategic organising, planning and controlling of your monetary undertakings. It’s really important as a freelance translator or interpreter to set goals with your budget and be aware of how your finances are being used. To know what’s coming in and going out and plan your budget around that.

Take action:

  • Invest in accounting software – it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it helps sooo much!
  • Analyse accounting reports to gain insight into your business’s performance.
  • Take a close look at all your business expenses and monitor them regularly to ensure you’re using your finances wisely.
  • Set aside a certain amount of money each month to invest back into your business on marketing, continuous professional development, networking events, etc.
  • Create a “safety net” of a comfortable amount of savings that would take you through unexpected events, such as a period of illness, etc. 

Master negotiation techniques

As a freelance language provider, you make negotiations daily. Some are small, like securing the price on business cards, while others are far bigger that can make or break your authority as a business owner. It pays to improve your negotiation skills. 

Take action:

  • Learn to listen carefully – the best negotiators are the ones who pay attention and understand what is important to the other side.
  • Be prepared – review the business or client prior to negotiating with them so that you can learn more about them beforehand. 
  • Always remain professional and respectful when negotiating and making demands.
  • Know what to ask for and what your limits are – give a little, take a little and be prepared to compromise.

Introduce added value for your customers

Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable than non-customer-centric companies.

To earn the trust and loyalty of your customers, it’s definitely worth investing time into providing extra value for them. Show them that they matter.

Take action:

  • Consider your customers’ perspective – what’s important to your target audience, and how can you improve their experience working with you?
  • Provide discounts and special offers – everybody loves to save! Use this technique sparingly. 
  • Offer freebies – 11-30% of people who use a trial later become customers. 
  • Remember that added value is an essential part of every business – don’t expect gratitude every time you add something extra!
  • Don’t go overboard with added value – excessiveness will only lower the value of your services. You still want those additions to mean something.

Set and respect boundaries

Setting boundaries allows you to clearly communicate expectations with clients so they will respect you and your business. It’s imperative to know the difference between being friendly and oversharing, establishing rules and being downright rude. 

Take action:

  • Set working hours visible for clients – and stick to them! Make them known by putting them on your website contact page, email signature and social media pages. 
  • Establish email & phone boundaries – don’t answer outside your specified timeframe. Again, make your hours clear to customers.
  • Learn to say no – you only have a certain daily capacity. Know that you can only provide your best work when you are well-rested.

Invest in your freelance translation career …

Enroll in our Starter Masterclass: Your Business in Review. Do Your Research & Set New Goals to examine how well your freelance translation business is doing so far.