Daniel Freedman, web strategist for LinguaLinx, writes today’s guest blog post, the first in a series on web marketing for translators:
Do you hate marketing? Are you overwhelmed with contradictory advice from so-called Web experts, none of which seems to have much to do with translation? If so, this blog post is for you.
I’ll offer some surprising advice on a few of the highest priority, do-it-yourself things you can act on right away to get more business – without spending much money.
I’m going to advise you to disregard generic advice that doesn’t apply to you and to focus instead on just two key things:
- Establishing yourself as a translation expert
- Making sure you have a website that proves your expert status
Is your priority doing great work? Does marketing feel like a burden that gets in the way of that? If so, you’re in good company.
In my web consulting business, I work with many top fitness authors, educators and trainers. I recently edited an e-book of web marketing for fitness professionals. The book quoted JC Deen of JCD Fitness as saying many trainers “are afraid of marketing.” Tony Gentilcore, co-owner of Cressey Performance, said: “I’ve never really thought of myself as a ‘marketing’ type of guy. I see the word ‘marketing’ and automatically think of those cheesy infomercials that everyone watches when they’re up late and can’t fall asleep.”
I’m Daniel Freedman, a Web Strategist for LinguaLinx, an international language services provider. And I also happen to be a Canadian who speaks English, French, Spanish and Hebrew, has lived in Montreal, Toronto, Boston, New York, Washington, DC and London, England, and spent a lot of time in Silicon Valley. In previous lives, I have been a TV producer, magazine editor, news executive, and non-profit executive.
First, some advice on pitfalls to avoid. We’ll then move on to how you can establish yourself as a translation expert with a focused web presence.
Forget about Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the art and science of ranking highly in search engines. Many consider me a top expert in the field of ethical, white hat SEO, and I am well paid for my services. But my advice to almost all translators about SEO is, comme on dit en Brooklyn: “Fah-ged-abouddit!” The translation industry is highly fragmented, with tens of thousands of providers. A few top players have invested heavily in SEO. Your chances of ranking highly on a term like “Chinese translation” are slim to none. Your time and money would be better spent on other strategies. (The only exception might be if your practice is restricted to a particular location and specialty, eg. “Brighton Beach, N.Y. Russian Translator.”) Above all, be mindful of the Hippocratic Oath: “First do no harm.” Under no circumstances hire a shady SEO Consultant who promises the moon. At best, you will get no benefit and waste your money. At worst, your site may actually be punished for using the dubious tactics such consultants employ.
Forget about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media
Social media is great and can help many businesses. But not yours, in all likelihood. Social media works best for consumer products or passion-driven pursuits like chess or medieval festivals. It is much less effective in the business-to-business sector. If you enjoy playing on Facebook, please feel free to continue doing so. But I seriously doubt anyone is going to hire you because you have 327 “likes” instead of 84. Again, your time and money is best spent elsewhere. And the same thing applies to paid Google ads.
It’s all about credibility
Your perceived credibility and professionalism are everything. Before you do anything on the Web, ask yourself: “Does this enhance my stature as a highly competent professional who can help solve business problems?” If you can’t answer “Yes!” don’t do it.
What you really need is a great website that clearly establishes your expert credentials and value at a glance. Take a look at www.Louschuler.com for an example.
What should be on your website?
Think of your website as a portfolio of your best work, structured in such a way as to get you more work because it establishes your value. On his Viralnomics blog my friend and former client Jon Goodman says the “About” page of your website is the most important page. Among other things, he suggests you include your story, social proof, testimonials, and a call to action. My client Jon-Erik Kawamoto, an up-and-coming fitness writer, does a pretty good job on the about page of his website, though translators would probably prefer more formal language.
Elsewhere on the site, I would also suggest translators include a full resume, extensive work samples, and case studies of the type found on the home page of www.lingualinx.com. The case studies should demonstrate how your work fit into the big picture of solving the client’s business problems. If you have written articles or blog posts yourself, you should link to them or reproduce them on your site (Advanced tip: implement the rel=author tag, explained here).
Note that Lou had the benefit of using a professional design firm, but Jon-Erik did all the design and production himself (He’s a starving graduate student).
Which brings me to my next point….
How do you get all this done?
Don’t spend a fortune on a designer. You could end up with a pretty site with the wrong content. But you do need to be able to update the site with new testimonials or case studies yourself, without relying on your “web guy” for every little tweak. For many translators on a tight budget, a low-cost, do-it-yourself platform like www.squarespace.com is a good option. You won’t win any design awards, but you will get the job done.
Another option is a bit farther up the food chain. Barter your translation services with a designer or developer who uses the WordPress platform. Insist that training you on how to update the site be part of the deal.
Once you have your site up and running, you can turn to more advanced strategies like guest blogging and getting testimonials on third-party sites. More about all that in a future post. Meantime, feel free to comment below or email me directly.
Former everything Daniel Freedman has been a television news executive and a PBS Online guy. A late onset athlete, Daniel has also edited The CrossFit Journal and done web strategy for The Personal Trainer Development Center and Precision Nutrition. These days, he selects clients who match his passions, including a coffee company that sends free samples! He is trying to talk a travel client into a free trekking trip for (ahem!) “research” purposes. Currently Web Strategist for LinguaLinx.
Thanks Daniel! Stay tuned for future installations in this series.