Tips and tricks for freelance translators that want to get more business online
The online translation business has become a very competitive marketplace. Some translation companies are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on PPC (Pay per Click) and SEO (Search Engine Optimization). According to iSpionage.com, onehourtranslation.com spends as much as $75,000 in a single month on PPC advertising alone.
Translation companies are spending the big bucks because the rewards are high: lots of people and companies are ordering translation services online. As a freelance translator, you can’t afford to be sitting on the sidelines and idly watch as your competition reels in the money. You have to be a player.
The first thing you must do is open your store. No excuses because the expense is tiny. Buying a domain costs about $10 and hosting will set you back about $60 or so per year. As a freelance translator, investing $100 in establishing an online presence is a no-brainer. I recommend GoDaddy.com for purchasing your domain and hosting it, but there are many other alternatives.
Yearly CPC Budget for onehourtranslation.com (courtesy of iSpionage.com)
Get your own domain. I recommend setting up your own domain rather than jumping on a free publishing platform like wix.com or wordpress.com. Having your own domain indicates that you are serious about your online presence and shows that you are a professional. When selecting your domain name, try and incorporate your language combination into it. For example, if you are a German translator then use the word ‘German’ in your domain name. Search engines will rank your site higher in relevant keyword searches. In recent years, the domain name choices have expanded dramatically with all of the new TLD extensions (e.g. dot biz, dot us, etc.).
Make your site look smart. My advice is to spend extra money and get your site designed by a professional. Not to say that your site needs to look like a Las Vegas neon sign, but even a simple design can be done with taste and elegance. Don’t get tempted to DIY and use a WordPress theme that is being used by 10,000 other websites. You don’t want to look tacky.
Write clear, relevant content. As a freelance translator, you have a specific set of skills (e.g., certification, language pairs, subject matter expertise). Be thorough in explaining your skills and what sets you apart from the field. Try and write content which incorporates the keywords you are advertising. So if you are selling English to French medical translation services, spell it out in your website content and detail all the types of documents and content you can translate.
Research best SEO practices. Go online and read the submission guidelines published by the large search engines. Don’t put too much faith in the millions of pages written by so-called ‘SEO experts.’ Most of them don’t know any more than you do.
Don’t hold back. Don’t keep your best content to yourself. If you have valuable information to share, publish it. People are looking for information from industry experts like you. Remember that the more quality content you publish to your site, the more likely it is that customers will find you online. Consider publishing your own blog and post to it frequently. People want to hear what you have to say.
Link it up! Just publishing your website and submitting it to the search engines will not be enough to get you good ranking. You will need to build backlinks to your website. One of the easiest ways is to list your website on reputable industry directories like yahoo.com. Some of these directories cost money but there are many that provide free links. Writing guest posts or articles on other leading online publications is another good way to gain industry recognition. If you write killer content, other sites and blogs will link to it without your asking.
Establish a social media presence. Set up pages on Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter that link to your website. Interact with your social networks and don’t be shy about telling people what you are doing. If you update your website or publish a new blog post, broadcast the information to all of your social network contacts. Comment on other blogs using your name and website address.
Don’t sit around and wait. Did you ever walk by a store and see the owner sulking because she or he has no customers? That store will be out of business soon. A successful store owner always has things to do: replenish stock, change the storefront, do paperwork, talk to suppliers. As an online store owner, you should also be busy at all times. So when you are not working on your translation projects, you should be busy writing new content and blog posts, building new links, running PPC campaigns. Having your own online shop is a never-ending task, but one that will prove to be lucrative if you persevere. From my own experience, getting unsolicited orders online can be highly rewarding. And not just financially.
David Grunwald is the founder and owner of GTS Global Translation Services, a leading translation company. GTS has been doing business online since 2003 and has top rankings on the leading search engines for many highly competitive keywords. David can be found on LinkedIn and on Twitter (@davegrun).