If you want to work with a translation agency, and are looking for ways to distinguish yourself, here are five strategies that can help you shine.
1) DO Market Yourself As a Business.
Yes, translation is an art form and yes, translators are artists, but if you want to be profitable, you must start thinking of yourself as a business—or more specifically, a product. Hone in on exactly what you offer that a translation agency doesn't have, but needs. If you can find a way to be a solution in the problem/solution-based paradigm, you are on your way to a job. Ask yourself the following questions:
- How will you save them money?
- How will you make them more money?
- How are your abilities going to strengthen a weak link in their services and/or product(s)?
- Ultimately, how will you benefit them?
Unfortunately, the hiring process isn't about you anymore. It's about how you, The Product, are going to help their company.
2) DON'T Blather On About Your Amazing Capabilities.
As a professional, you are supposed to be presenting a translation agency with a quality product. So talking about your unprecedented skill and the pedigree of your work is not only redundant, but not a differentiator. If you waste time talking about your process or method, prepare yourself for glazed eyes.
3) DO Start Designing Your Brand & Logo
We all know which brands of products we prefer for certain experiences or desired outcomes. Once you view yourself as a product, it's time to brand yourself for easy recognition from a translation agency. That's a lot to process, but here are some ideas to get you started:
- What's your niche? Are you a Spanish translator? What region? Do you understand the nuances of Quichua words and phrases that have become a part of Ecuadorian and Columbian Spanish? These are all things to consider as you go about the business of defining who you are, what your product does, and how it will help niche markets of translation.
- How do you see yourself and how do others see you? Are these consistent? If you are in the market to sell yourself (a.k.a. "your product") then you need to make sure these are the same persona to ensure brand consistency.
- Identify your competitors and see what you have that they don't, then sell it to the right market.
4) Don't Be Inflexible.
Like all of us, translators need to eat, which means that you’ll need to be earning money on a steady basis. That said, you’ll need to be flexible when setting your rates and wooing translation agencies.
Translators are usually paid by the word and the going rate is about 7 to 10 cents a word for translating a foreign language into English and 8 to 12 cents a word for translating English into a foreign language. This doesn’t sound like much, but if you maintain a strict adherence to deadlines, do good work and slightly undercharge clients the first few times, you will be pleasantly surprised when the same client comes back, this time with another job and an urgent deadline.
This is the time to charge a higher rate. It may sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many translators don’t do this.
5) DO Become Fluent in Social Media
You're a language star so this should be your next language to learn. Social media is used everywhere and for everything. The more you know how to use it to your advantage, the more attractive you will be to a translation agency. Start a blog, Twitter away and connect to the world via Facebook, all the while be a living example of your brand.
Invest the time now honing in on who you are and what you do best, and you will be rewarded with the right translation job for you.
Like any profession, translation takes practice, experience and proper training—and if you were to ask ten translators how they got into the translation profession, you’d hear ten different stories.There’s no one way to do it, but something that will give you the necessary experience and help distinguish you from all the other freelance translators is Marygrove College’s online Modern Language Translation Certificate Program. In our program, students will not only study the linguistic and cultural aspects of language transfer, but they will take a hands-on approach to translating journalistic, commercial, legal, and scientific texts.