Apr 26

7 sources of translation clients

Let your business flourish
We all want our businesses to grow, and for this we continuously need to be expanding our client base. “Continuously” roughly means spending one day a week on marketing activities, so that with time you can work less for more. Sources of prospects can be different depending on your target which in the case of freelance translators can either be translation agencies or direct clients. For now, let’s have a look at 7 sources of translation agencies’ names and details.

Source no. 1: On-line portals and directories
We all probably start in the same place: ProZ.com or TranslatorsCafe.com. They offer online directories where you can filter companies by location (or else), so that you can focus on clients from a particular country to give your marketing efforts some structure.
If you have a subscription, you can also review how other translators rate given companies and their score will surely determine which agencies you decide to approach.
A somewhat similar, though not industry-specific, are Yellow pages and their various counterparts in different countries. They can be great when you are targeting your local clients so make sure to check them out.

Source no. 2: Associations of translation companies
Another very good resource of potential clients is various associations for translation agencies. There are many of them and you can easily find them via a web search. They include, amongst others: the Institute of Translation and Interpreting, the Association of Translation Companies, the European Union of Associations of Translation Companies, the European Language Industry Association, the Association of Language Companies, Polskie Stowarzyszenie Biur Tłumaczeń, and the American Translators Association. This isn’t an exhaustive list as every country will have an association of some sort, and the countries you decide to focus on will probably depend on the languages you work in.
While we could assume that associated companies represent a certain level of professionalism, it’s best not to take it for granted and still verify them in some other sources of information such as Payment Practices or national registers of businesses.
You can also find more associations here.

Source no. 3: Industry journals
I’m a subscriber of the MultiLingual magazine and the ITI Bulletin as they help me stay abreast of the latest developments in our industry and they’re also good sources of clients. This isn’t only because they include directories or job adverts, but also because often directors or employees of translation firms write features or articles for these publications which can be a good reason to send them an email with a comment or an opinion on the subject they touched upon.
I did exactly that about a month ago and it was a good starting point in establishing a relationship with a particular company. So that’s industry journals covered.

Source no. 4: Google search
If you’re a medical translator and you want to target translation agencies who offer this specialisation, you can go to Google and type in the search box “clinical trials translation services” or any variation of this phrase. You will then receive a list of search results with companies that position themselves with this particular keyword. It can work well because your marketing efforts will then be targeted and that’s exactly what you want. On the other hand, the list will include some of the biggest translation companies, and working with some of them can be a difficult experience.

Source no. 5: Social media platforms
I couldn’t forget about social media. There’re many platforms, but personally I pursue three: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. With social media you can do both: search for clients using each platform’s search engines, connect or follow them or just be visible so that your prospects can find you.
Out of the three, perhaps majority of you will agree that LinkedIn is the most useful. It has a powerful search engine where you can look for translation companies and refine your search by location, industry (translation industry, of course) and company size. Not only do you find companies, but you can also check names of their employees and thus target your offer to relevant people in a given agency.

Source no. 6: Events
Any kind of a translation conference or a similar event gives you a unique opportunity to meet your prospects in person where it’s much easier to present yourself both as a personality and a pro. Often, at such events representatives of translation companies will come up to YOU, if they are currently recruiting. That was the case at the Translation and Localization Conference 2013 in Warsaw where I met one project manager from a Warsaw-based agency.

Source no. 7: Referrals
You already have a solid client base? Great! You can use this as a source of referrals. Simply, each time you have an opportunity to interact with your clients, mention that you’re happy for them to pass on your details to other prospects who might need your services. Chances are someone will give you a call and say “I got your details from Merry who you work for and I also need a translation.” Result!

Mix and match
Out of these 7 sources of translation clients there isn’t one I’d say is the BEST. They can all do the work and provide you with names of prospects. I suggest to mix and match so that you reach out to a wide spectrum of potential clients in various ways. This maximises the impact of your marketing efforts and helps bring desired outcomes.