Marketing translation services

Most language translators know very little about marketing translation services. Therefore they tend to concentrate their marketing efforts on finding agencies to work for. They scour the internet for “translation jobs”, “career opportunities”, “translators’ vacancies” and the like and hope for the best.

Then they fire off lots of emails. Often these are sent off without properly researching the companies receiving these emails. Iolante knows of freelance translators who regularly receive job applications from fellow translators. It is relatively rare that an individual translator has enough work to pass on to fellow translators. Concentrate on translation companies, not individual translators.

Marketing translation skills by printed media

In the pre-internet days, the first port of call for marketing translation services would be to get listed in the telephone directory, Yellow Pages (yell) or Thomson Local, or any number of smaller local business guides. Advertising like that is a) expensive and b) only reaches a very restricted number of potential clients, c) has the disadvantage of being out of date quickly. You move house, immediately clients can’t find you anymore unless you pay exorbitant telephone fees to have your line transferred to the new address.

If you live in a conurbation AND you are not planning to move house in a hurry, yes, it may be useful for you.

Online marketing tools

There are numerous internet marketing tools out there.

  • Join large translators’ websites. Downside: lots of competition and fierce downward pressure on prices.
  • Get included in any number of online directories. Make sure they are translation relevant and/or can be found by a vast number of people.
  • Start your own website. Having started a few myself, I can tell you one thing: an individual website is not a quick fix. It takes a lot of time, money and expertise before websites bring in clients!
  • Become a member of a franchise.

If you move house a lot or live in the country, with few local customers requiring translation services, you stand much more chance to be found by getting listed on the Internet than being listed in the local telephone directory.


Another quite effective tool for marketing translation services is networking. Yes, I did say in the first paragraph that fellow translators may not have work for you. Yet again, some of them do have more work than they can cope with at times. So it can be a useful marketing tool to make yourself and your skills known to other translators. However, don’t just send them a one-fits-all mail. That won’t impress them much. Spend time looking at their website and show in your mail that you know what they do (or don’t do). You may be able to complement their services with your own unique niche.

You can also get known in the industry by actively participating in translators’ forums. The Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), for example, encourages networking and joining groups. The Chartered Institute of Linguists encourages networking between their members in their three divisions and overseas societies.

Providing answers to other people’s questions, showing that you are knowledgeable and always including your contact details, language pairs and specialisations in the footer of the mail, may well land you a few jobs in the long-term. It will also get your name out there. So, making yourself known amongst colleagues may well be a helpful tool in marketing your services as an independent language translator.

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