Basic and magnetic marketing tools for freelance translators

This guest blog post by Tess Whitty was originally posted on Marketing Tips for Translators.

One of the biggest challenges that any business faces is how to find and attract clients. You cannot help people or attract clients if they do not know your business exists. Sounds simple, but you would be surprised at just how many translators struggle to show up on their ideal clients’ radar. In order to show up, we need to market ourselves. In this article, I talk about the basic marketing tools for freelance translators, plus what I call magnetic marketing tools, with which we can make clients come to us, instead of us contacting them.

The basic marketing tools


Though the resumé may sound like an antique marketing tool, it is still quite important and chances are that many agency clients will ask you to send one in. You will also need to upload your resumé to a variety of online databases including directories, websites. It is the easiest way for clients to evaluate your skills and today more and more people rely on online profiles to help them make hires.

Direct clients (end clients), on the other hand, are usually not interested in resumés. They are likely to search for freelance translators online or find you through networking, or direct marketing of some kind. They are more interested in your website or brochure, which should provide them with the same information regarding your background and skills, but presented in a different format.

Here are some reasons why prospective translation clients might ask you for a resumé/CV. Your resumé:

  • Facilitates the decision process
  • Presents your qualifications in a familiar, professional format
  • May be required for quality processes or procedures

Learn some tips on writing the ideal translator’s CV.

Cover letter

A resumé/CV is usually accompanied by a cover letter, which is a one-page introduction to the resume that follows. If you are applying to an agency or company directly via e-mail, you should include a proper cover letter. It should be concise, but it should still resemble more an actual letter you’d send via snail mail than an elevator speech. The difference is that rather than attaching the letter in a PDF format, you simply write it in the body of the email.

Business card

Even if your business is conducted primarily online, you don’t want to be caught without a business card on hand. Networking opportunities tend to happen when you least expect them and you never know when you will stumble upon someone who could potentially benefit from your translation services.

The magnetic marketing tools

Now let’s talk about marketing tools that you should use to attract clients, making them find you, instead of the other way around. That is why I call them magnetic. These tools will help you make potential clients more aware of you and the services you provide. With these tools you can also inform and educate them, creating a relationship that can make them know, like and trust you.


One of my favorite magnetic marketing tools is a website, which should be the hub for all your marketing efforts. It’s the place you want potential clients or current clients to go for more information or to take action. A website is one of the best ways to maximize your online marketing and presence. When we want to find something these days, what do we do? We Google it! Make sure your potential clients can easily find information about your professional translation services by having an optimized website and a strong online presence.

Social media

Do freelance translators need to use social media? Quite frankly, social media marketing can either be a phenomenal waste of time or it can be an excellent source of contacts and insights, depending on how you use it. I see social media as a great tool for freelance translators to connect with colleagues and potential clients, and it is totally free. All it requires is time.

Social media networks offer a variety of business benefits, such as:

  • Give you direct access to decision makers in your target industries
  • Increase your exposure and build your online reputation as an expert
  • Improve your visibility and SEO
  • Give you an opportunity to expand into new business areas
  • Help you network with colleagues and clients all over the world
  • Stay informed about industry news and trends

Don’t feel that you have to dive into social media and create 50 profiles overnight. In the game of social networks, strategy wins out every time. Take a moment early on to determine what you hope to gain from using social media. By establishing a clear goal from the very beginning, you will be able to identify the tools and actions that will help you achieve your aims. Are you hoping to find new client leads, and if so, what kind of clients would you most prefer to work with? Are you hoping to build relationships with other translators who you can collaborate with, and if so, who are they? Or, would you just like an efficient way to share and gather information online?

Once you have identified and clarified what you would like to get out of social media, every subsequent action becomes much easier to take. Knowing your ideal outcome will help you identify which platforms to use, what content to post, who to connect with, and how to measure your impact.

There are literally thousands of social media networks available for business owners to choose from, so it’s no wonder that many entrepreneurs find the options overwhelming. Though the most popular social media tools vary greatly from country to country, I recommend looking into the following networks and considering how they can be useful for your business:


This business-oriented social network is a powerful resource for connecting with other businesses, translators, and for recruiting new hires.


In 140 characters or less, Twitter allows you to upload timely news and updates to followers in your network.


Perhaps the world’s most popular social network, Facebook allows a forum for multimedia, long-form postings. On Facebook you can have both a personal profile and a business page.


Google’s social network is steadily gaining ground and allows you to connect with clients as they search online, all the while boosting your SEO.

Referrals and testimonials

Referrals and testimonials are among the most powerful marketing tools you can put to use for your translation services. Testimonials (written statements from customers) are a great marketing tool because they give past customers the opportunity to tell potential customers what they found most beneficial about you and your services. An endorsement from a third party gives you and your business the credibility you need to build a larger client base. In essence, they get a chance to do the marketing for you. Use testimonials in marketing by gathering praise from current customers and sharing that information in a variety of ways.


To get the word out about your business and your expertise, you can use publicity to help gain positioning within the marketplace. Publicity is something someone else writes or says about you and your company when you do something noteworthy and interesting. There are many business benefits from good publicity, but the most important is that it is much more effective than advertising when it comes to visibility.

Here are ways to create publicity about your services:

  • Write articles for publications and other blogs
  • Write and publish press releases
  • Speak at local or national events such as conferences, chamber of commerce meetings etc.

This was an overview, or a short summary, of the marketing tools you can use to make your ideal clients aware of your company and the services you offer. More in-depth information about these tools and how to use them can be found in The Marketing Cookbook for Translators.

Want to become a Gengo translator?


Tess Whitty

The author

Tess Whitty

Tess Whitty is an English-Swedish freelance translator specializing in corporate communications, software and IT. She has a M.Sc. in Economics and a M.A. in marketing and previously worked as a marketing manager. She shares her knowledge and experience in marketing and business as an award-winning speaker, trainer, consultant, author and podcaster. For more information, or to connect, go to

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