The two most important tips for finding translation clients
Basic and magnetic marketing tools for your freelance translation or interpretation business
January 23, 2017
Episode119 : 101 ways to convince your client – Interview with Ian Hinchliffe
February 6, 2017

The Most Important Tip for Finding Clients

Many freelance translators want to know how to find more and/or better clients. That is the most common question I receive. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or solution, but I think there are two important ingredients for succeeding in finding clients:

  1. Your mindset
  2. Hard work

What do I mean by mindset?

We need to believe in success and in our own value, we need to have a mindset of success. How can we nurture a success mindset?

Stop complaining about everyone and everything, from low rates and bad clients to weird colleagues, and start focusing on how you can develop your business and get better rates and better clients. Don’t spread negativity around you. This only attracts negative people, and these aren’t the kind of people that are good for you or your business. 

Instead, make a point of expanding your network and seek out positive, proactive people who inspire you. If you want to create a successful business, mix with like-minded entrepreneurs. If you can’t find them where you live or among the people you spend most of your time with, look for them online. Some examples of where to find them are podcasts, courses, and blogs.

You can have great skills in translation, language, and networking, but if you don’t believe in yourself and your success, you most likely won’t achieve it.

Here are some mindsets to change or avoid to create more successful marketing and get more clients.

1.    Thinking that selling is bad

Instead of thinking that selling is bad, try to change your thinking. Instead of thinking that you are selling, think that you are offering solutions that people need. You are not forcing anything on anyone, you are helping them solve problems.

2.       Not believing in your value

We also have to understand our value – What value do we bring to our clients? What sets us apart from other translators?  Clarity about the solution we offer for our clients and customers is essential to appreciate and recognize our value. Go beyond the tools, processes, and systems that help you to bring about the solution, and focus on the outcome/benefits your clients and customers experience as a result of working with you!

3.       Staying in your comfort zone

Your comfort zone is never your growth zone. So, as a translator, you have to push yourself to grow. Try something new and uncomfortable. If you’ve never had a translator website, maybe it’s time to get one. Maybe you’ve only worked with agencies until now. Go out and find some direct clients. It’ll be uncomfortable at first because it’s something you haven’t done. Once you do it, and do it more, pretty soon you’ll feel more comfortable doing it, and it will be a great addition to your translation business.

What do I mean by hard work?

The other great ingredient for finding new and better client is hard work. If you think that the strategy or method you are attempting seems easy, it’s probably too easy to be successful. For example, if you buy a mass emailing list of clients and send out a standardized email with your standardized resume to everyone on that list, perhaps even starting the email with “Dear sir/madam”, the results will likely be poor.

To get good results, you have to put in the effort. It is OK to get a list of contacts to start with, but then you have to do the research. Look up each agency or direct client online. Do they have a website? Do they have a good reputation? Do they pay on time? Who are their clients? Once you have checked that the company is legit, you can start narrowing down your search. Does this company need the services you offer? If it is an agency, do they work with your language combination and your specialization? If it is a direct client, do they do business with the countries where your target language is used? Do they do business in your area of specialization? Do they have a need for your services?

Once you have established a need, you can create a personalized email or letter to them, if you want to contact them directly. If it is a direct client you might opt to get to know them through local networking or online networking first.

Remember that 10 applications are not enough. You need to send hundreds of applications before you will get enough clients to support a sustainable business. When it comes to prospecting direct clients, you also need to set aside time and money to go to networking events. The networking events are also the first step in that type of sales process. It can take 7-12 points of “contact” before someone is ready to buy. Your job is to get to know them, and to get them to like know and trust you.

Now, if you are like me, you might think that you simply don’t have the time. There has been many times when my intention to market has been put on the back burner due to work, but with time, I have learned that a little bit goes a long way. We can’t complain that we do not have enough clients if we do not take the time to try and reach them. Make a plan, set aside some time every day or every week to work on your marketing. It will pay off long term. Don’t get discouraged by no response or negative responses. To borrow a line from sales gurus “Remember that every no brings you closer to a yes.” If you have been using a technique for a long time and you do not see results, tweak it or use some other technique. Switch from emailing to prospecting on LinkedIn, or from local networking to online networking, or any combination of these.

In my opinion, these are two very important ingredients to find more or better clients. What do you think? Do you agree?

Here are some more resources on the topic:

Episode 112 – Ask Me Anything – Where and How to Find Clients

Episode 41: How to get your first 3 direct clients: Interview with Joy Mo

How to communicate your value to your clients so you don’t have to sell

Episode 71: Success Mindset for Translators – Interview with Christelle Maignan


  1. Cristian says:

    I’m sure you’ve already mentioned this is earlier articles (which I’m going through right now), but I think there are 2 other important things to do in order to get more clients:
    – establishing an online presence (through social media, own website, etc)
    – have older clients leave reviews for your work on your media channels
    The above will give new clients more confidence in your skills and expertise but may also bring new clients (as some would actively search in social media, and trends show more and more people use social media as a search engine when browsing from mobile devices).

    • Tess says:

      Hi Cristian,
      You are very correct on the two tips. I have discussed them in various forms earlier, especially in podcast episodes, but it is nice to have them as addition to this post.

  2. […] The Most Important Tip for Finding Clients – How changing your approach and mindset can help you find new clients as a freelancer. […]

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