How To Develop A Freelance Translator Strategy

A crucial element of any business is a marketing strategy. Many small businesses, freelance translators in particular, may not give the marketing strategy development the time, analysis and consideration it deserves. That’s quite obvious, as most of freelancers inaccurately assume that they know their customers.

Specific marketing techniques and strategies have been much discussed in a freelance translator hub created by Tess Witty and in a FB group “Internet Marketing in the Translation Industry”. In this article I will talk about a comprehensive and detailed approach to setting a marketing translation strategy which can reveal goals and provide a road map for how those goals will be achieved. This map will point your marketing in the right direction. To locate your road, your strategy must be all about the how, where, what, when and why.

Rudyard Kipling’s marketing map

The Five Ws with how, or simply the “Kipling Method”, have long been practiced as critical guiding principles in journalism, research, and police investigations. Today it is used as a formula in marketing which locate a road to any business success.

I keep six honest serving-men
They taught me all I knew;
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
“Just So Stories” (Rudyard Kipling)

According to the “5 W’s and 1 H” method, these six interrogative pronouns are the source of all questions. If you answer the significant questions that can be originated from these pronouns, your analysis will be more complete and you will evolve smart decisions and better solutions.
The six questions can serve as the basis for information gathering and problem solving. This fact-based formula will help you identify the most important factors in planning your freelance translator marketing strategy.

5 Ws on a map to a freelance translator’s success

With Rudyard Kipling’s marketing map as a solid foundation for your freelance translation business, let’s look at how to apply this method with an example. Let’s say, you are a freelance translator specialized in medical fields. A defining feature of your language services is the translation of healthcare documents. Your ultimate business objective is, of course, to enlarge the number of customers. Let’s take a closer look at what works best when, why, how as well as who is engaged.

While the last one could seem like a simple answer, it actually has many layers. You have to define who you are going to engage – translation companies / agencies, or direct customers: b2b or b2c. With your target audience in place, it is necessary to state what medical fields you are going to promote and what types of documents your target audience might want to translate. For example, your target audience is b2b – clinical research companies specializing in oncology. These organizations mostly need clinical protocols and trials, pharmacological studies, scientific journal articles to be translated.

With who and what in place, let’s look at the most important element in your freelance translation strategy “why”. You have to concisely define why you are doing this, what goals you are looking to have an impact on. Within our example the goal could be to increase the translation of clinical protocols and trials, pharmacological studies, scientific journal articles by 15% over the next three months.

It is first and foremost to focus on specific documents that might be in demand to translate. A good example of developed translation strategies can be found at Jayne Fox Medical Translation, Language Scientific – Medical and Scientific Translation Services, Marcos Fleury Medical Translation Services, Translational Research Institute, Emma Goldsmith, MPR Medical Translator.

You should also define how you are going to measure your success (there are quite a lot of options depending on your goal: invoices, Twitter followers, Facebook likes, website traffic) within a specific timeline. Make sure your goal is realistic and achievable. According to marketing statistics it should be no more than 15% sale increase within three-month window.
Get a complete table with a developed marketing strategy for a freelance translator (medical field) which includes all the six serving-men. The table is a good example of how to use Rudyard Kipling’s formula to shape your brand as a freelancer in the translation market.

How to implement a freelance translator marketing strategy

We have defined 5 Ws in freelance translator marketing strategy. Let’s see how this strategy is implemented. Today digital marketing tools provide us with a powerful opportunity to create conversations, content, and community that connect, engage, educate, and inform your customers. Among them are social media tools and content marketing. The most popular social media nowadays are Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat. As for content marketing, it is blogging, podcasts, videos, newsletters.

But it is important to find the network that will work best for your language services and your target audience. I would like to give you my own example of implementing my marketing strategy. The key elements of the strategy are:

Who: App localization developers
What: Android Apps
Why: To increase App localization projects to Russian by 15% over the next six months.
When: My website – 1 static page per week
Blog – 1 post per week
Twitter- once a day
Where: Online: website, Twitter
How: Posts on issues how to localize Apps to Russian
Twitter messages: tweets about posts, inspiration tweets, question-tweets

I have tried different social media channels to implement the strategy. But it turned out that Twitter works best to promote App localization services. Due to this I focused my attention on my Twitter account. I tweeted about my posts, inspiration images and asked questions. Within two months the number of followers has increased from 140 to 520.

The described approach of marketing strategy development more closely resembles a loop. The steps you take are steps you will retake. You can always change your road to a successful translation business in response to previous results, customers’ demands, business environment and other factors.