If you’re a freelance translator, you need to have a website. Let me repeat that: Every translator needs a website.
There’s really no way around that.
It used to be that translators didn’t need their own website. Advertising in the local Yellow Pages or by word of mouth was enough to bring in business for the majority of translators.
However, times have changed.
Number of Freelance Translators
For one, there are a lot more freelance translators now compared to twenty years ago.
Concrete numbers are hard to nail down. However, there are some numbers we can look at.
One source (the Translators Association of China) claims that currently (as of 2018) there are 640,000 translators worldwide and that of that number, about 160,000 are freelancers translators.
The U.S. Department of Labor, on the other hand, claims that as of 2016, there were 68,200 interpreters and translators working in the United States. In addition, the Department of Labor estimates that as of 2026, there will be more than 80,000 translators and interpreters, a growth of 18%, which is “much faster than the average for all occupations.”
Now, I as I said before, it’s difficult to nail down how many translators there were twenty years ago. But, to get an estimate, let’s say that the employment rate for translators has grown by 6% per year (the average growth rate for media and communication workers) from 1996 to 2016.
That would give us an estimate of about 19,785 translators and interpreters in the U.S. in 1996.
That’s a raw number increase of 48,415 translators and interpreters in the industry! And that’s just within the United States.
Avenues for Finding Work
Second, freelance translators have a lot more avenues for finding translation work.
As I mentioned earlier, a good number of freelance translators and translation agencies used to concentrate on providing translation services to local companies and organizations.
And the way that they did that was through word of mouth and through local advertising means, such as the yellow pages telephone directories.
Translation businesses would pay for ad space in the telephone directory with the idea that when a potential translation client needed a translator, he or she would skim through this telephone directory, find a translation provider, and call the provider directly.
This is a thing of the past.
Nowadays, with the Internet, clients have a lot more ways to find translation providers.
And that’s why it’s so important that you have your own freelance translation website.
Every Translator Needs a Website
OK, now that we’ve looked at a couple of reasons why websites weren’t as necessary for freelance translators twenty years ago, it’s time to lay out why having a website is a necessity for your translation business.
Your website is the cornerstone of your brand
If you don’t think of yourself or your translation business as a brand, you’re making a mistake.
Because whether or not you think that, you have a brand as a freelance translator. If you haven’t done anything about your brand, it’s probably not doing you or your business any favors.
And why is branding important? This is what brandingmag.com has to say about the importance of branding:
Having your own website allows you to easily distinguish yourself from the competition. You have competition all over the place. We all know that the translation provider market is fairly saturated, depending on your language combination and specialization.
But just because you say that you’re a translator and that you like to translate doesn’t mean that you are automatically going to have clients clamor over you for your language and translation services.
Branding helps solve that problem by helping your potential clients understand why they should pick you over someone else.
You control your content (short, long, videos, pictures)
Now, you might say that you can easily brand yourself and your translation business using free online tools and platforms, like social media.
You’d be right, to an extent.
Sure, those things are free and many people do use them for their own businesses. A lot of people, in fact, use them very effectively to build their clientele and make more money.
But just because some people do it does not necessarily mean that it’s the best approach for you.
Only you can know what works for you and what doesn’t.
But what I will tell you is that while social media platforms can provided an online environment for your business, they are incomplete when compared to having your own online platform.
The reason is because with social media platforms, you are not really in control.
You have to follow the rules laid out by the social media platforms, especially in terms of the type of content you produce to draw in potential clients.
YouTube is great for what it does: video.
But if you want to post pictures, you have to go somewhere else, like Instagram.
And what if you want to write more long-form posts that describe what you do and why people should hire you? Then you have to move over to yet another social media platform, like Facebook.
Question is, which of the many do you choose in terms of where you focus your effort?
Instead of focusing on video for YouTube, pictures for Instagram, posts for Facebook, build your own website and you can include all of those (and more) on your own platform.
You control the infrastructure
And speaking of having your own platform, one of the most important reasons for you to build a website as a freelance translator is because with your own website, you can control your own infrastructure.
What do I mean by that?
Basically, I mean that for the most part, if you’re using free hosting providers for a free website, or just using social media to promote your business, you’re automatically putting a lot of faith in that company that essentially owns the platform you’re using to post your content.
That company can essentially decide for any reason to drop you and your content. Maybe they don’t like what you post. They can kick you out. Maybe they get bought out by another company and that company decides to move its services in another direction. You’re out.
You are essentially left with nothing and have to start all over.
Take a look at some of these recent headlines:
Who’s to decide that your social media doesn’t fit into any category that a social media considers “fake” or “suspicious?”
Now sure, there are instances of web hosting providers dropping content producers for different reasons. But if that happens, at least you have the chance to go to another web hosting provider and migrate your content.
However, if YouTube decides to drop your channel (along with all your subscribers), where are you going to go? There really isn’t another option out there that can compete with the likes of YouTube in terms of its reach and popularity.
(By the way, I recommend Bluehost for anyone thinking of staring up a website.)
Your website is a hub
Now, I’m not saying that social media is bad or that you shouldn’t use it.
Quite the contrary.
Social media can be a great addition to your online strategy. What I’m saying is that you should consider whether or not you should make it your sole strategy.
When you have your own translation website, your social media can act as spokes around the hub that is your website.
Each social media account has the ability to strengthen your brand that originates directly from your main website.
Plus, when you use your website as the center of your branding “wheel,” you don’t have to wonder as much what your strategy is for your social media accounts because the strategy for those accounts should mirror and strengthen your central branding message coming from your website.
Your website is your business card
How many translators do you know that have business cards?
I’ll be honest. I don’t know any.
Maybe you do. But my guess is that most freelance translators out there don’t bother with physical business cards.
Instead, your website is what acts as your business card.
It’s where people can figure out how to contact you.
But it’s more than that.
A website can help paint a picture of who you are and what kind of business you run. And not only can you give out the URL to people interested in getting in touch with you, people can still find you independent of whether you reach out to them or not.
Try that with a regular business card.
For example, here’s a screenshot I just took of the first page of Google search results for the term “certified translator”:
Take a look at the last entry in the image above.
That article on this website is number 5 out of over 16 million web pages!
That’s a pretty good reach for a webpage. Much better than you could get with a normal, physical business card.
All right, so hopefully you understand the importance of having a website as a freelance translator.
Remember, every translator needs a website because:
- Your website is the cornerstone of your brand
- You can control your content
- You control the infrastructure
- Your website is your online hub
- You website is your business card
Now, if you’re interested in finally getting your website up and running, one of the best places to do that is through Bluehost.com. I recommend them completely.
Once you have your website, buy my book for some additional things you can do to improve your translation business.