Social media for translation. Four words that aren’t used very often in the freelance translation world.
The reason, I think, is that translators, along with the general public, don’t realize the power that social media sites have for building a business, getting customers, maintaining those customers, and delivering quality customer service.
But in reality, social media sites have the power to do just that.
There are hundreds of thousands of businesses built every day on the backbone of social media.
The trick, then, is for you to use those same social media sites as a translator to build your own freelance translation business.
It might not be the “traditional” way that you’re used to when it comes to working on your business, especially if you’ve been involved in the freelance translation business for 20+ years like I have. However, social media is here to stay.
If you want to evolve with the times and use every tool to your advantage, you need to understand social media.
And, more importantly, you need to understand how to make it work for you as a freelance translator.
Social Media For Translations: The Platforms
There are a ton of social media platforms out there.
And more and more keep popping up every single day it seems. However, not all are meant as social media for translation.
Here are just a few:
Right now, there are hundreds of social media platforms. Many of these will not go anywhere. Others will stick with a small niche of core users. And a couple will go mainstream.
As a freelance translator, you don’t have time to master, let alone manage, your presence on every single social media site.
In fact, I would say that you don’t have time to do that on 4-5 social media sites.
You have a business to run.
One that can use social media but that shouldn’t depend on social media.
You want to focus on the activities in your business that are going to bring about the biggest change. Managing 27 different social media platforms is not going to do that.
Purpose Of Social Media For Translation
As a freelance translator, you have to understand why you’re using social media in your business.
Now, I’m not talking about your personal social media usage.
If you want to post videos on Tik Tok of your cat drinking out of a straw, that’s fine.
That’s not your business use of social media.
This is not social media for translation.
In terms of using your social media for translation business, though, you have to have a purpose.
And that purpose is to bring in new clients.
As I’ve said before, actually translating is probably the easiest part of being a freelance translator.
The hardest part, or the part that freelance translators spend the most time on, is client acquisition. Finding clients.
So, anything you can do to find more clients is an important task.
And that’s the way you should treat your social media as a translator.
So what does the client acquisition process look like?
Well, it involves a few steps:
A potential client needs to know that you exist. For that, you need to put yourself in front of these potential clients.
The potential client needs to feel comfortable with you, either when you reach out to the client or when the client reaches out to you. And that comfortableness often is a result of familiarity.
The potential client needs to trust you enough to hire you. To give you money in exchange for work.
You need to cultivate these initial contacts into a client-provider long-term relationship. (As you probably know, it’s much easier and cheaper to keep a current customer than it is to acquire a new one.)
So, you want your social media platform of choice to allow you to do all those steps.
Now, some social media platforms can do some of these. But not many can help you with all of them.
Social Media For Translation: LinkedIn
Now, I have nothing against other social media platforms.
In fact, I have an Instagram account and use Twitter fairly frequently (follow me at @langrules if you want).
But as a freelancer, I’ve found that the best platform for going through the client acquisition process is LinkedIn.
Let’s go over what LinkedIn is, in case this platform is new to you.
LinkedIn was primarily developed as a social media site for business people.
It was meant as a way for business owners, freelancers, entrepreneurs, and employees to connect with people outside their job or business.
Networking has always been a major part of business and LinkedIn was meant as an extension to in-person networking. It allows people from different sectors the ability to connect with each other all online.
The way it does this in a general sense is by providing users with the ability to “build their networks” by essentially following one another.
When you get in someone else’s network, you can then start seeing their posts and interacting with them through direct messages.
And the same thing happens when someone joins your network.
As you can imagine, the bigger your network, the more potential opportunities you have to find clients for your business.
LinkedIn Best Practices
As I mentioned before, as a freelance translator, you likely don’t have a lot of time.
You’re trying to find clients, manage your existing clients, doing your accounting, looking for new ways to market your services, and actually translating.
That doesn’t leave a lot of time to mess around on social media sites, LinkedIn included.
That’s why it’s important to know how to maximize your time and efficiency on this social media platform.
In order to do that, there are some best practices that will help you get the most out of the time you spend on LinkedIn.
Find Your Niche
The first thing you need to know about using LinkedIn to your advantage is to make sure that you find your niche.
This is where having a specialization comes in handy.
I’ve talked many times before about how it’s beneficial for a translator to focus their work by being specialized.
Not only does it help you get more clients in general, but it will help you on LinkedIn as well.
When you start on LinkedIn, you don’t want to use a shotgun approach. This would entail you just following anyone and everyone.
While that might work to get your follower count up, that’s not what you’re after on LinkedIn as a freelance translator. You’re looking to connect with potential clients.
So you need to be more surgical in your approach.
So narrow down your focus.
What is your specialization?
Are you a patent translator?
Do you do translations for people in the nuclear industry?
Is your niche podcasters interested in offering episodes in written format in another language?
Once you figure out your niche or specialization, then you can go to the next step.
Build Your Network
The next step in the process to using LinkedIn to improve your translation business and find more clients is to build your network.
Building your network on LinkedIn is a matter of reaching out to those people in your niche or specialization that you identified previously and asking them to be a part of your network.
You do that by a simple click on the person’s profile.
Now, not everyone that you reach out to will react favorably to your request.
Some people will ignore you.
A small percentage might even get angry at you (this happens much less frequently on LinkedIn than on other social media sites like Twitter).
And in my experience, a good number of people will readily add you to their network and want to be a part of yours.
One of the good things about LinkedIn is that most people are on LinkedIn in the first place to get to know other people in their community of interest.
Whereas Facebook and Twitter are ripe with trolls and people that just want to get in verbal fights with other people, LinkedIn is full of people who (mostly) want to improve and become more successful.
It is few the number of people who get on LinkedIn just to be troublemakers.
Interact (Comments and Messages)
Once you start building your network, the next step is to engage with your network.
Interact with the people that are interested in you and that you are interested in.
On LinkedIn, you do this through direct messages and comments.
Direct messages are what they sound like. A way to directly contact another person in your network privately.
Comments are just that; reactions that you post beneath other people’s posts.
Both of these are great ways to interact and engage with your network.
When you interact with others, there is one major thing to keep in mind.
This can be hard to understand for some that are just starting online but what it comes down to is to comment and message things that are relevant to other people and that can help them in their own businesses.
For example, let’s say that you are a patent translator and you have started adding patent attorneys and others interested in patents to your network.
Your network has started to grow.
One day, a patent attorney in your network posts something about the importance of finding the right lawyer for working with a patent.
You could respond to this attorney’s post by saying something like, “Great article!”
But think about it. Does this add any value to that person or to anyone reading the comments on that post?
No, it doesn’t.
But what if, instead, you added a comment about your experience dealing with the right lawyer who also knew the importance of translating patents the right way.
Do you think that adds value?
Of course it does!
Not only does it add value to the post and the person that wrote it, but it also provides value to all the readers of that post (and those who read the comments).
And guess what.
When you add value like this, more people will see AND appreciate the value you add and want to know more about you.
This will lead to more people wanting to be in your network, which means a lot more potential clients for your own business.
That is what it means to add value.
Reach Out Directly To Potential Clients
Once you’ve started to build your network and have added value to your own network, it’s time to start pitching potential clients.
Now, it can be a little scary to start doing this.
But one thing to remember is that most people are on LinkedIn because they want to become more successful.
They are most people interested in improving their businesses, making more money, and increasing their network (and net worth).
So to some degree, these people expect to be pitched at some point.
Now, if you decided to open a LinkedIn account and start pitching people right away, you won’t have as much success.
The reason is because people want to know you, be familiar with you, and have a reason to trust you.
This only comes as you provide value and show your network (and others) that you are more interested in helping them than making a quick buck.
Once you’ve done that, it’s only natural that you’d want to continue helping them by offering your paid services.
As a freelance translator, your ultimate selling point is that you can help your client solve their problem.
And that problem could be:
- a need for more money
- wanting more clients
- increasing engagement
- expanding their reach
Along with a host of others.
Let’s bring back the patent translator example.
How can proving translation services to a patent attorney improve their business?
Stop thinking about earning money for your own business and instead think of how the service you provide can help someone else solve one of those problems I mentioned above.
A patent attorney might be able to earn more money (and increase the number of clients) by providing a translation of patent applications in another language. However, the attorney doesn’t speak another language so she needs a freelance translator that specializes in patents.
That’s where you come in.
You can help solve her problem, giving her the solutions that she needs, as well as any that she might not have thought of.
When you pitch your services to a potential client on LinkedIn (or in general), that’s what you need to do.
Now, one thing to keep in mind is something that I mentioned previously.
Not everyone will jump on your offer.
Some people will ignore you.
Others will tell you no.
But a few will take you up on your offer or at least engage with you to see if you are a good fit with them.
Reaching out to a couple of people every month isn’t going to cut it.
You will increase your chances of finding a “yes” by reaching out to more people.
So, to recap, here are the four things to focus on when using LinkedIn to build your freelance translation business:
So, there you have it.
Social media for translation.
If you’re a freelance translator and are thinking about using social media to build your client base, start with LinkedIn.
If you use it the right way, taking your time to build your network and then providing value to that network, you will be able to attract more clients, find more work, and become that much more successful.
P.S. If you want to learn more on how to become a successful freelance translator, be sure to check out my free and paid books and courses.
P.S.S. To get your free guide on becoming a highly paid translator, click here.