Just recently I decided to jump in the entrepreneur bandwagon and become a freelance Spanish Translator. I created a logo, a Facebook page, and set up a website. I was pumped! I couldn’t wait to share my language skills with businesses in my community and in the online world. I was so ready.
However, I was pretty much clueless when it came down to marketing my new agency. I shared my website with friends and family hoping that they would actually forward it to a potential client, but the process seemed really slow and nonproductive. I started to get a bit discouraged, thinking that maybe I was too inexperienced to make all of this work. But after much reading about the translation field and gaining insights through other translators’ experiences, I realized that if I sat and waited for any potential clients to come to me, I’d probably be waiting for a very long time.
So, the solution–or so I thought–was simple. I needed to go seek for those jobs out there myself, instead of waiting for potential clients to somehow find me. Well, was I in for a big surprise!
I registered in several translation websites where it seemed like translation jobs where posted by the minute. Because of the number of postings, I didn’t think I would have to wait long before someone hired me. After all, I had a Master’s degree in Spanish Linguistics and felt confident about my education and my language skills. But I soon learned that potential clients, more often than not, want someone with experience. My resume did not stand a chance next to the 30-40 experienced translators who were too wanting to get their hands on many of these projects. Again, I got a bit discouraged, but more than anything, I was starting to get annoyed. How can I gain experience if I’m not given a chance?
After trying this approach for less than a week (I know, I’m not very patient, am I?), I realized this was NOT the right way for me to get started. I needed to reach out to people who already knew me and had a glimpse of what I was like as a person, people who would actually take a chance and trust that I would do an excellent job, even without the experience. But, who? Where was I to find THE person that would give me that chance?
And then that night, while lying in bed, I thought of this person’s name. His agency was very well-known in the adoption/social work field, and I started thinking that maybe the idea of translating his website into Spanish would really interest him. But, what if he had already done this?
The next morning, I logged into his webpage, crossing my fingers that I wouldn’t find a link to a Spanish version of his site. I looked all over, and I couldn’t find one. Could it be possible? His online competitors—which I took the time to check—had theirs translated into Spanish, but they were clearly done by machine translation. I started feeling that maybe I was coming close to finding my first client!
After contacting him via email, I got a response that completely blew my mind. He shared with me how they had actually talked about doing this for years –they even had their Spanish domain name registered—but because of budget reasons it had not become a priority. Talk about following your gut feeling!
After exchanging a few more emails and a visit to his office, he hired me to translate his entire website! Honestly, the process was much simpler than trying to land a project on upwork.com or freelancer.com. I have nothing against these websites; for the experienced translator these may be great niches to find clients for the long term, but for someone with no experience, they are simply time wasters.
Finding that first client is kind of a big deal for anyone in this competitive field. Being new at anything is not easy, but we all have to start somewhere. Landing my first direct client was a miracle; but I also know that had I not acted upon the thought and followed my gut instinct, I wouldn’t be working on my first translation job today.
So, remember, next time a thought or an idea is keeping you up at night, don’t dismiss it so fast. Pursue it. Don’t be afraid. It may be worth giving it a try.
About the author:
Beverly Hayes specializes in social, adoption-related topics, medical, travel and tourism, and marketing translations from English into Spanish. A mother of five, Beverly is the founder/owner of Spanish Connect Translations, a translation agency based in Rexburg, Idaho. She graduated from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah with a Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Laboratory Science, and this last December she finished her Master’s degree in Spanish Linguistics from New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Being a stay-at-home mom for most of her life, Beverly has now taken upon herself a new goal–to contribute to the world in a different way by jumping on the entrepreneurship bandwagon. She has the education, the cultural background, and the writing skills that are necessary to succeed in this competitive field and provide a quality product that’ll stand out among the rest. You may visit her website at spctranslations.com, or contact her via Twitter: MySpanConnect and email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great story! And so true. The same happend to me when I became a freelancer after 20 years of working for bosses.
What we often tend to forget, the days, weeks or months with low or no income, is this: it is easier (but maybe also more work) to get projects than to win the competition for an open position in a company. Also important, I learned, is to learn new stuff on every occasion you get. I know a translator who, in between 2 projects, decided to learn some FrameMaker. Just this one tool made it easier for him to find translation jobs. And then he earned XML (in FrameMaker), and now most of his translation work is FrameMaker related. Our off-time can be as important as the time we can invoice.
That is very true, Gert! The idea of working for an agency doesn’t really appeal to me, but I may have to go that route sooner than later. And yes, improving ourselves in between jobs is crucial to our development and to become more marketable with time. Thank you so much for your comment!