Even though becoming a freelance translator is synonymous with freedom, it also involves somewhat of an instability. Every freelance translator fears not having (enough) clients. This fear is even more present when one has just graduated from school and is faced with diving into the working world.
So what should you do ?
The answer is simple : canvassing.
Messages in a bottle
Even though it seems like a basic thing, the first step of canvassing is sending emails.
The issue lies in this method’s rate of success : for every 25 emails sent, how many will be read at all ? How many of them will be saved ? How many will lead to employment ?
The answer fluctuates between hearing back from possible clients and nothing at all.
In her book The Freelance Content Marketing Writer, Jennifer Goforth Gregory tries to answer these questions to help translators approach canvassing calmly : they shouldn’t be afraid of quantity. If the number of answers is low, they just need to send more emails. According to her own experience, getting at least one positive answer for every 50 emails and at least one client for every 100 emails is doable. As such, it can lead to a pretty astounding number of emails. However, translators should remember that this is only a point of reference : it is possible to find clients quickly but they shouldn’t give up and keep at it, even if a good number of their emails remain unanswered.
How many clients ?
Many translators think that anywhere between 20 to 30 clients is enough, but they shouldn’t stop there. Given the nature of the job, it is crucial that translators keep canvassing at the pace of one or two emails a day in order to maintain some leeway. Building up their client base takes time and for every client lost translators should double their efforts with canvassing. This holds even more true for newcomers : the first few weeks of being freelance should mostly revolve around establishing contact.
Managing their image
There can be several reasons as to why your emails remain unanswered. It is very important to check their content and the way the email, the resume, or cover letter was written. Despite how tedious it might be, systematically tailoring your emails to each client can prove to be effective. Translators should also remain aware of what is possible for them : limiting themselves to only a few domains can be another reason why they find few clients.
To conclude, to be a freelance translator is to be a driving force in your own success, or at least, your visibility. Even if the main goal is getting clients, becoming an « option for a future translation » is just as important. Canvassing is a crucial phase for any freelance translator and can be a source of anxiety. There aren’t any risks at offering your services, so dive in !
Revissed by Fanchon Morin
Translated by Céline ECHILLEY