Olga Arakelyan is a freelance translator, teacher, and ProZ.com professional trainer. The courses she offers are centered around the power of social media marketing for freelance language professionals, and are geared specifically towards her Russian-speaking colleagues.
In this interview, Olga shares a little bit about herself, explains how social media marketing has worked for her, and tells us why you should be using Google Plus to promote your business.
MK: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you decide to become a translator, and what lead you to become a professional trainer?
OA: Hi Maria! First of all, thank you for inviting me for this interview! As you already know, I am a freelance translator and ESL teacher. I am married and have a 9 year old daughter. Since I was about my daughter’s age, I wanted to become an English teacher. It was my dream. So I pursued this dream and went to study at the foreign languages department of our local teachers’ training university. But during my second year in the university I also started working as a translator and interpreter at a local non-profit organization and I just never stopped translating (though I eventually stopped interpreting). I still like both teaching and translating and would never be able to choose one of them above the other. So I guess becoming a trainer was a natural step for me because I love teaching. Besides, I believe that with time I have gained valuable experience in the subjects I teach, and I am happy to help my students promote their businesses through blogging and social media marketing. There are quite a few social media courses and webinars for English-speaking translators, but there’s a definite lack of information in Russian about SMM specifically tailored for translators (our business is unique, so we have to test everything those SMM experts teach to see what works and what doesn’t, and adapt their recommendations to our reality and way of doing things). I thought my 4 years of SMM experience could be helpful to the Russian-speaking colleagues and the encouraging feedback I get from my students proves that I was right.
MK: The themes of your training sessions revolve around social media marketing for translators. Why should language professionals use social media to promote their services?
OA: When I was preparing for my first webinar on social media marketing for freelance translators, I came across some interesting statistics:
- 81% of companies in the USA and Canada use social media.
- In 94% of cases, the company managers consider their social media marketing a success.
- 60% of entrepreneurs confirm that they find clients through social media.
And guess which businesses are the most active in social media? Exactly: it’s small and medium sized companies experiencing fast growth. Those are perfect clients for us freelancers! Large companies mainly work with translation agencies, but smaller businesses often prefer to work with individuals. So if they spend a big chunk of their time in social media, shouldn’t we? You know, to make it easier for them to find us? I’ve been promoting my translation services mainly through social media and blogging since 2010, made tons of mistakes and learned a lot of valuable lessons in the process. Social media marketing is now an inseparable part of my marketing and I am impressed with its results.
MK: Which social media platforms have you found most effective in promoting your business?
OA: My absolute favorites are Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn (I put them in this order based on their effectiveness for me. The situation can be different for others). I am also learning to use Pinterest and especially Google Plus and I can say that I like the latter network more and more each day.
MK: Anyone can use social networking sites to market their services. How can clients distinguish if these translators are actually suitable?
OA: Thank you for the question! Actually, that’s one of the concerns I hear over and over again from colleagues, especially experienced translators who have been marketing their services for a long time. Many of them think that social media marketing is evil because bad translators can turn out to be good marketers and can end up getting new clients. They think that our great work should be our best marketing tool. And I agree! I always say that we should all work like crazy on the quality of our work and never ever stop! But at the same time I want to ask my experienced colleagues: Do you know any good translators who hardly make ends meet because they don’t have enough work? I do, quite a few. So if my courses can help these great colleagues to make more money and build long-term relationships with new clients, I will be very happy. That’s why I am providing the training.
As for the concern that bad translators can also start marketing themselves and get jobs, I don’t worry about that. It’s not hard to spot a bad translator in social media by the content they curate and by their grammar and spelling. And vice versa, true expertise always shows itself by the content the person publishes in social media and by the way he or she writes. Oh, and by the way, even if a bad translator markets him or herself well and wins a project, I don’t think it should bother good translators. It won’t take long for a client to figure out that he or she was the wrong choice. Yes, these translators can use social media to win isolated projects, but they would never be able to build a long-term relationship with their clients. And how long can a person stay in the translation business if he or she is a bad translator? Maybe they can stay there for a long time, but I doubt that their business will flourish.
MK: In one of your upcoming training sessions, you’ll be discussing how translators can use Google Plus to promote their services. Why is Google Plus an effective tool for translators?
- First of all, anything under the umbrella of Google should interest us. It’s a search giant and everything it does reflects on the search rankings. So if you aren’t on Google Plus, it’s high time to register! It’s more than just another social network, it’s also a platform, as well as the basis for all other Google products (or at least the majority). So your Google Plus activity impacts your search engine ranking. Which is surely good for you!
- Google has developed useful tools for authors, like Google Authorship. It’s not hard to make your photo appear in Google next to your content, but it adds credibility and a personal touch to the search results, which can often help you win the trust of your colleagues and potential clients (that is, if you publish great content of course).
- There are Google Plus Communities! It’s the service similar to groups on LinkedIn, with their own notifications and events, and forums to discuss different issues. I am a member of a couple translation-related communities and I like the level of activity I see there, so I am planning to become more active there, too.
- There are Google Plus pages for brands and companies. So if you have established your own personal brand, setting up a page on Google Plus would be your next logical step! It allows you to post content not as a private person, but as a business entity. Plus your Google Plus page can have a physical address that is added to Google Maps! I think it is really neat.
- The most obvious thing I haven’t touched upon yet is Google Plus circles. You can build many different circles and share your content with everybody, with all of your circles, or with specific circles of your choice. Thus you can be sure you share the right content with the right people. And the better content you share, the more people will add you to their circles because they will want to read what you post!
So yes, if you ask me, I’d say that Google Plus is surely worth our attention as freelance professionals. It is definitely a helpful tool in building our businesses, growing professionally and building relationships with colleagues and potential clients. And that’s what I am going to share at the upcoming webinar for Russian-speaking colleagues.
For Russian-speaking professionals, Olga will be offering an upcoming course on Google Plus for translators. You can learn more about this session and register to attend here: http://www.proz.com/translator-training/course/10094. This training course is scheduled to take place on May 22nd.