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Ten Tips to Help You Land Your First Client

2 September 2022

For every freelancer, it is not an easy task to find new clients. However, it is way more challenging to find the first customer. A person who just makes the first steps in the industry faces a dilemma: on the one hand, everyone is looking for experienced professionals, on the other hand, working on real projects is the only way to gain experience.

Freelanly has prepared 10 recommendations for beginners that help to win the first customer:

1. Be honest

Do not be afraid to tell customers, that you have no experience. We all started with something, your clients too. Demonstrate your desire to become a professional, to learn and master new skills. Some LSPs and regular direct customers of language services have programs for beginners. Use these opportunities to practice and gain experience. The first client may offer not the best conditions, but such collaboration is a basement for further business development. Though you do not have experience, your desire to become a professional may be your key to success.

2. Analyse your background

To be a beginner does not mean to be a newborn. Analyse your educational background, previous jobs, and projects in which you took part in the past. Such thing as a useless experience does not exist. A part-time job during student times may be an advantage for certain clients. Also, do not forget about your hobbies and interests. If a freelancer spends all free time riding a bicycle, is not he or she the right person to translate texts related to this sport? If there are people (e.g., teachers) who can recommend you, ask for references.

3. Create a portfolio

The best way to demonstrate our skills is to provide examples of our work. In the public domain, one may find a lot of texts from various subject fields that are not protected by copyrights, such as laws and legislation, classic works of literature, some industrial standards, and religious texts. Take some pieces to translate them and include them in your portfolio. If you cannot find suitable content that corresponds to your specialisation, you may write some articles in one language and translate them into another one by yourself. For example, your blog in several languages can be your best advertisement.

4. Register on various platforms for freelancers

There are many portals and websites for language professionals. Many clients use them to publish freelance translator jobs online. Create your profiles to let more customers find you. The more the better. It is essential for increasing your online presence. Become visible to new clients, and keep applying to new projects. Remember: there are always customers who are ready to start cooperation with freelancers who have no experience. Use Freelanly to monitor resources for freelance translators and interpreters. Our service helps language professionals to stay informed about new opportunities. Do not forget about the 3 rules for language professionals on how to use such freelance resources.

5. Use social media

Social media play an important role in our life. These platforms help to spread information between people. Some customers of language services use them to find vendors. Freelanly also monitors social media and collects information about new projects. Create a good professional profile on LinkedIn and/or Facebook. It increases your searchability and lets more customers find you. Make it a habit to make posts and publications on professional topics regularly, and share updates. And do not forget, that networking is one of the keys to success for every freelancer.

6. Focus on LSPs/agencies

Language services providers (LSPs) and various companies providing language services are your default customers. Their needs depend on their clients. Today, most agencies work globally cooperating with customers from all over the world. You may work with any language combinations and specialise in any subject fields one day every LSP may need your services. The approach to LSPs is quite simple: as more of them have information about you and your services, as there are more chances to receive new projects. Keep contacting agencies located in various countries. It is an extensive approach, but still, it brings fruits. Also, check the article «How to Find and Apply to Translation Agencies» on our blog.

7. Invest in CPD

To be a translator or interpreter means to keep learning throughout your career. Educational background is a good basement, but it is crucial to continue developing skills and gain new experience. Those freelancers who invest in their continuing professional development (CPD) get competitive advantages that allow them to expand their client base. Most customers consider freelancers' CPD when they choose vendors for their projects. Use this opportunity to stand out.

8. Word-of-mouth

When you start your career as a freelance language professional, never hesitate to tell people about it. All your family members, friends, ex-colleagues and former classmates should be informed about the languages and services that you offer. Do not forget about neighbours and people you meet regularly (e.g., in local cafes, shops, etc.) Prepare a short oral presentation of 3–5 sentences and make it a habit to use it to introduce yourself and tell about your services. Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool.

9. Community

Become a part of the professional community. There are experienced language professionals who are happy to help beginners. Ask for advice, tell about yourself, collaborate and participate. To do so, one can join various groups for language professionals on social media, and use networking features on platforms and websites for translators and interpreters such as forums and quizzes. Also, beginners can become members of local and international associations of language professionals. Community support can be hardly overestimated.

10. Be ready to try

Often beginners can win projects that are rejected by experienced language professionals. For example, some clients request to make translations using special tools and customised solutions (e.g., online CAT tools). Do not deny such requests! Yes, such projects can be complicated, but you need to start with something. Your willingness to try something new and to take projects rejected by others may assure a smooth start to your freelance career.

Independent language professionals should also remember that customers are not employers, and freelancers are not employees. One client is never enough to develop a freelance business and look ahead with confidence. Thus, it is important to keep searching for new customers by investing time and resources in marketing and personal brand development.

Pavel Elin for Freelanly

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