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November 12, 2020 |

How Translators Can Remain Competitive During a Pandemic

The pandemic has had a significant impact on freelance language service providers. While some niches have been hit harder than others, overall, the entire industry had to adjust to new rules. Translators can remain competitive during a pandemic by reinventing their business model to keep up with the demand. 

According to CSA research, COVID-19 led to an income decrease for 56 percent of freelance linguists, the most dramatic reduction being registered for spoken language services. If you saw your work volume going down or had to reevaluate rates to help your existing clients, you’ll know that it’s time to take action to reach your business goals. 

Here are some tips and tricks to help you remain competitive and get clients during the pandemic and beyond.

1. Contact Translation Agencies

Many freelance translators don’t feel comfortable working with agencies, as they’re afraid they could lose their freedom. However, translation agencies come with a series of advantages, especially during a crisis. 

When you collaborate with a reputable language service provider, you can access a vast pool of clients, complex translation projects, and a team of experts you can learn from. Depending on your translation niche and language pair, you might even find out that you can continue to do what you like for the usual prices and without having to stress about finding new clients every other week. 

The trick is to find a translation agency that values its translators and is interested in delivering quality, not quantity. Luckily, online research can help you identify the right partners for your business. 

2. Pick a Niche

If you haven’t considered specializing before the pandemic, now is the perfect time to choose a translation niche and become an expert in a narrow area. The main benefits of this are: 

  • General translators get paid less than translators who have a specialization. 
  • When you focus on a specific industry, you get to know your clients’ needs better, and it becomes easier to identify the right companies to work with. 
  • You can market yourself as an authority in your niche, reach out to new clients, and convince them to hire you.  

3. Revamp Your Online Presence

Another way translators can remain competitive during a pandemic is by consolidating their online reputation. If you have less work on your plate, use the free time to rebrand your business and enhance your online presence. 

Depending on your abilities and resources, you can try different strategies: 

  • Update your website. Rewrite your content to reflect your professional growth, ensure contact information is up-to-date, and rework landing pages to speak to your potential clients’ current needs. Make it easy for clients to get in touch by scheduling a meeting with you directly from your website or connecting via social media. 
  • Be active on LinkedIn. People have been spending more time than ever before on LinkedIn during the quarantine. Try to find companies that could use your services and content with decision-makers. Follow them, listen to their pain points, and try to help them overcome challenges. You never know when these connections can turn into work opportunities. 
  • Start a translation blog. If you feel like you can help people understand better how translation can benefit their companies, start writing about it. It’s never been easier to build a blog and share your knowledge. If you publish valuable content and promote it where your potential clients are looking, you can quickly get new jobs. Consistency is crucial when blogging. You need to post regularly to build trust.    
  • Collaborate with industry publications. Get your content published in magazines and online journals to improve your online reputation and build authority in your niche.    

4. Attend Online Translation Events

Networking during a pandemic is possible. Many professional organizations are holding online conferences and round tables where anyone can participate. Online networking is less appealing than being in the same room with your fellow translators and attending after-parties, but it also comes with benefits. With no traveling expenses and cheaper tickets, it’s easy to participate in several industry events and get in touch with translators. 

You can learn how to navigate the pandemic, find reliable language service providers to collaborate with, and even get contact information from potential clients. 

5. Learn New Tools

Keep yourself busy by practicing with new translation tools. Being familiar with several CAT tools can become useful if you decide to join complex projects that imply working with multiple translators across various time zones. 

At the same time, you might discover innovative tools to help you work faster and deliver better results than what you’re currently using. You’ll increase productivity, which means you can earn the same income in fewer working hours, leaving you with more time to network and find new clients.  

6. Expand Your Services

If you feel like your current niche isn’t profitable anymore, you can learn new skills and expand to a new translation area to remain competitive during the pandemic. 

Suppose your clients were all concentrated in the travel and leisure industry, for example. In that case, it’s a good idea to explore new opportunities in niches where the demand for translation services wasn’t affected by the pandemic–such as the gaming industry, for example. Sure, it’s almost like starting over, but the results will pay off. 

Final Thoughts

According to the CSA study mentioned above, a quarter of freelance linguists are considering changing their career after the pandemic. If you want to stay competitive and save your translation business, you need to take action. 

Get in touch with your clients often, keep networking, and invest in your marketing to make sure people don’t forget about you and keep sending you translation jobs.