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Chapter 2: Your first translation assignment.


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Learn how to deal with your very first translation assignment. From the first step on how to get your business ready until the last stage on post-purchase phase. A guide full of tips that can be implemented from the beginning of your professional career.

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Chapter 2: Your first translation assignment.

  1. 1. David Miralles Pérez Mind your words and achieve success 28/10/2014
  2. 2. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success”  Chapter 2.1: Getting your translation business ready.  Chapter 2.2: Pre-purchase phase and how to reach your first client.  Chapter 2.3: Purchase phase and how to sell your services.  Chapter 2.4: Post-purchase phase and how to keep your clients.
  3. 3. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success” Chapter 2.1. Getting your translation business ready Step by step Firstly, I wanted to thank you all for the support and comments during my first series of blog posts about logos. This month, I am going to talk about how you can get that so-valued first translation assignment. In this post, we are going to analyse what things we need to get done before facing our first client. During the next posts, we will study how we can succeed during the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase phases. If there is something I have learnt during my first year as a freelancer is the fact that you have to be ready to face every unexpected situation. The more you have planned beforehand, the more chances you will have to get things done properly. There are three main aspects that we should considering when looking for our first client: marketing materials, our business from inside and the translation-related materials. 1. Marketing material and marketing plan.  CV. You need to elaborate a CV focused on your translation/interpreting skills. It’s one of the first documents that you will be required in certain situations (i.e. if you contact a
  4. 4. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success” translation company or apply for an internship). Here you can find a good guide on how to create a good CV by Marta Stelmaszak.  Portfolio. If we want to work with direct clients, maybe this would be more useful, as they always want to know what you can do instead of what have you studied or how many courses have you taken. Advice: Be sure that you choose pieces of work that are relevant for a specific client. We will see in next posts that you should not offer the same services to all your clients and the concept of client segmentation.  Business cards. They are essential to promote or business. Hand them over and keep some of them always with you. You never know when you are going to need them. Advice: Maybe you will need the help of a designer so they can look professional. The Websites for Translators Team has great offers. I can also give you my -10% code if you are about to get some with MOO.  Website. Your website must be the pillar of your on line marketing strategy. Here you can include everything we have mentioned so far. Maybe you should consider investing in getting a professional website done, or you can start creating one for free and, as your business evolves, getting your own domain. Wix could be a good start.  Blog. Blogging is a good way to attract potential clients to your website and show them your expertise. Maybe it’s not that essential if you want to win that first client, but consider adding a blog to your website as your business evolves.  Social Media Networks. This is a good backup that will make your clients trust you. Try to make a social media plan and be visible on the Internet. 2. Getting your business ready.  Terms of business. Every translator must know under which terms and condition are we selling our products, and we have to inform our clients about them. I have mines displayed on my website, but you can always email them together with the first quote you send them, for example, and ask them to read them and let you know if there is something unclear or if they disagree on any of them. You must tell your clients that these terms of business are set to protect both, your business and your clients. Here you can find the ITI’s model of Terms of business.  Pricing. It’s one of the first things that you are going to be asked for. I decided to create a simple table with all the prices of the different services I provide. Make sure that you also include any surcharges that may arise of any assignment (i.e. urgent assignments, assignments that you decided to undertake during weekends or holidays, or any assignment that will need to be processed with special tools, such as OCR tools, etc.) I
  5. 5. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success” am not going to tell you how much you should charge for your services. I would need a whole series of blog posts for this topic. The only apiece of advice I can give you is “make sure that every hour that you work is worthy”. This calculator may be very useful.  Professional insurance. Maybe if you are going to work on sensitive issues such as medical or legal translation, you should consider getting this type of insurance so you can be covered in case anything goes wrong.  Memberships. You should consider joining a professional association as your business evolves.  Quote layout. This type of layouts can be very helpful and will save you a lot of time. The sooner you can send your quote over, the better, and the client will appreciate it. Remember that a quote of a specific assignment is one of the first things you will be asked for. And the same applies for your invoices.  Benefits for the clients. Take your time to make a list of the benefits that your clients will gain by using your services and send it together with your quote. This way, you will justify the pricing of your services and your clients will be aware of how valuable our services are and they will be more likely to accept your offer.  Pay your taxes. Depending on the country where you are currently working, you will have to look for any legal requirements to work as a freelance translator/interpreter. 3. Translation-related needs.  CAT tools.  Glossaries and dictionaries.  Collaborations. Maybe you should consider collaborating with some client when dealing with certain assignments.  Suppliers. How are you going to deliver your products? Sometimes just an email will be enough, but not always. Think about this. Maybe you should add a surcharge to you pricing table when you will have to send your translations by means of certain delivery services. Would you add something more to these lists? Do not hesitate to leave a comment below or email me at
  6. 6. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success” Chapter 2.2. Pre-purchase phase and how to reach a first client Now that we have our businesses ready to face our very first client, we will have to focus on who are we going to address our products to and where can we find our first client and how to attract his attention.  Explore your Ideal Customer Avatar (ICA). We have to get to know our clients if we really want to understand what they are looking for, what their needs are and where we can find them. Without this avatar, our marketing material and business strategies won’t be adapted to our public, will be generic and won’t be as effective as they could be. As much as you get to know this avatar, you will learn how to address every message to your clients and how to write to attract their attention. What should we include in our ICA research? 1. Personal details: Name, age, marital status, address, occupation… 2. Emotions and believes: Fears, ambitions, hobbies (does he like reading? what does he read? which magazines/books?)
  7. 7. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success” 3. Dreams: What are his dreams? What obstacles can he find? How can we help our client to overcome these obstacles? You can find more information in this worksheet.  Do your market research. Knowledge is power. Now that we have our own Ideal Customer Avatar, we have to get to know our market place, our competitors and our clients before focusing on finding the first one. 1. Research your competitors: What are their strengths, weaknesses and fears? How can your competitors have an influence in your business? How could you overcome this obstacle? 2. Research your market place: How are the offer and the demand working in your market place? Where can you find your clients? (Think about events related to your fields of expertise where you can get to know some clients, directories, specialised magazines that may admit any type of collaborations, guest blogging, etc.) What business opportunities can you find in your city/country? 3. Research your clients: Now that we have a clear idea of what type of clients we want for our business, it is time to know where are there and how can we reach them. Explore any type of events that they are likely to attend. You should have a look at the Chamber of Commerce’s website of your country/region, they normally organise different types of events and they are normally at good price. If you bear in mind your Ideal Customer Avatar when you first introduce yourself to a prospective client, you will have a lot of chances of winning a new customer for your business. You can also explore translation-related platforms such as Proz and Translators Café. I don’t really like them because of the high competition, but you can find some good applications there, such as the blue board of Proz. Besides, you never know when your first client is going to appear, don’t close any door yet! 4. Research your own business: Get to know your strengths, weaknesses and fairs. What can your do to get rid of those fairs? What can you do to strengthen your weaknesses? What opportunities can you find to improve or add value to your business? (CPD, university studies, conferences, professional associations, etc.) Here you can find a worksheet that will help you out to do your market research.
  8. 8. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success”  Communicate with your clients. After all, we are communicators, so we have to be able to get our messages across. Let’s see what tips we can use to make our messages more effective. 1. Face-to-face: I think that this is the most effective way to transmit our message. Prepare some business cards and a good sales pitch. Do not talk about how good you and your business are; talk about how your business can help your client to succeed. 2. Cold emailing/phoning: I don’t think it is as effective as the face-to-face communication. However, it could effective if we approach our clients with emails and calls personalised and addressed to each of them. Take your time to gather some information about your client. (At least, try to figure out the name of the person who you are going to talk to!) Don’t send dozens of emails with your CV attached, direct clients prefer evidences of how good our services are, try to send a well-crafted email with your portfolio instead and remark how your clients can take advantage of your services. 3. Market your message: Think about places where your clients will be likely to read your any message that you want to transmit. Consider printing leaflets or publish an article or an ad in any magazine related to your fields of expertise. Now it is up to you! Explore every possibility and find the first client for your translation and interpreting business.
  9. 9. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success” Chapter 2.3. Purchase phase and how to sell your services Our business is already set up and we finally reached that first client. However, this client is likely to refuse buying our services if we do not know how to sell them properly.  Educate your client And do it nicely! You have to be aware that most of your clients probably haven’t worked with a translator before. If you explain things without getting out of your nerves and explain the reasons of every question, your clients will trust you and will appreciate the way you work on their documents. For example, if any of your clients send you a mobile picture with the document that must be translated, explain him that you need a proper file in which you can see clearly the text so that there will be no mistakes or misunderstandings during the translation process as you don’t want to put in risk the quality of his assignment. You can also say to them that if they send you a word file, you will be able to work faster and send the translation sooner than expected. If you explain to your clients the benefits of working on your terms, they will be more likely to understand our needs and help us as much as they will be able to.
  10. 10. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success”  The offer Once you have received the documents that must be translated, you have to be ready to prepare a quote or an estimate. This quote must be addressed to the needs of your clients. For example, if you have been contacted by a student who wants his transcript translated in order to apply for a university in Spain/UK, do not offer him a glossary with all the terms that appear in his document. He simply doesn’t need it and he is not going to pay for it. If you can offer extra services, be sure that your clients need them or may be interested in them. My advice here is to think about two or three offers. You can vary the prize of the assignment depending on the deadline, on the need of working extra hours, on any extra services that your client may need, etc. For example, if your client needs a contract to be translated, you can offer your standard rate with a standard deadline. Then you can tell him that if it’s an urgent assignment, you can do it for a surcharge of X%. And in case the first offer it is too expensive for your client, you can also offer him a discount of X% if the deadline is extended, which will allow you to undertake another assignment while working on the translation of the contract. You have to explain the client why are you charging X, and the value that is being added to his business that anyone, apart from you, can add.  Negotiation When we negotiate, we try to reach the best term for us and for our clients. Do not forget it and try to explain this to your client too. Negotiation is not about saying yes or saying no. It’s about saying “no, but I can’t offer this instead”. Both, you and your clients, have to benefit from this phase. I will probably talk about negotiations later on in this blog as it is a very dense and interesting topic. Now I need your opinions. How do you do to sell your services within the purchase phase of your businesses?
  11. 11. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success” Chapter 2.4. Post-purchase phase and how to succeed in your first translation assignment It is high time to learn how to maintain a relationship with your clients. Once that we have talked about how to reach a first client and sell your services, I wanted to talked about how to keep your clients happy so they want to keep buying from you. It seems very easy, right? You just have to fulfil every single requirement of the assignment and that is it. Well, I am afraid that I am about to demystify this concept. Here you have some ideas to offer the best user experience to your client within your business. 1. Do not miss a deadline Of course, one of the aspects you have to take care of is fulfilling every single requirement that you agreed with your client. Missing a deadline may be a sign of
  12. 12. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success” unreliability, and cam make your clients doubt about going for you next time. Sometimes I even send some assignments a day or a couple of days before the deadline. Why? To impress my clients and avoid IT problems that may arise the last day. Obviously, I only do this if I know I can finish the project a couple of days before without risking the output quality. 2. Offer more than your clients expect Do not get me wrong. You can offer "something else" only if that will not make you work on something that you clients have not paid for. For example, if you are working for a bilingual legal consultant office and you are translating a substantial contract for them, you are probably creating your own glossary as you go through the project. At the end of the translation, you will end up with a good glossary of terms. Then, you will be able to provide a short list with some key words that will facilitate your client communication with their clients. They will appreciate that and will bear you in mind for next projects. Sometimes you just have to send a thank you letter for their loyalty and for the excellent relationship that you both have kept for X years. Just think about something that your client would appreciate and some other translators out there would not provide. 3. Ask for feedback The opinion of your clients is one of the most valuable things for your business. Listen carefully to what they have to tell you and act accordingly. If you receive positive feedback, you know that you are doing great and have to keep that client experience. If you receive negative feedback or your clients remark that there is something that could be improved, do not panic, tell them that you are going to bear that in mind for future projects and you are going to pay special attention to it. At the end of the day, we are all humans, right? 4. Follow-up If you do not want your clients to forget your business, you do not have to forget them. That is why a good follow-up strategy is needed.
  13. 13. David Miralles Pérez “Mind your words and achieve success” Think about offering new services. For example, if you are translating a website for a law firm, maybe they are interested in some market research, key words analysis within the industry or SEO positioning service. Maybe you should consider add any of these services to your business and discuss with your client if they are interested in this added value. Maybe you have recently signed up for a webinar on contractual law which may be of interest of a previous client. Do not hesitate to get back to them and let them know that, somehow, your business is offering X service that may be useful for their businesses or that your business is specialising in X area of expertise that would add new value to their businesses. What about you? What techniques do you use in your post-purchase phase of an assignment? Let’s keep in touch! w p l f T G