How To Stop Getting Bad Translation Clients Once And For All
We’ve all heard the horror stories.
Many of us have been victims of the said horror stories.
The variety of bad client stories is endless:
❌The “Dear Vendors” that make you feel like another cog in the wheel,
❌The “best rate” requestors, strewed with unfulfilled promises of future work,
❌The clients who have their “bilingual” staff review & destroy your work,
❌The ones who need a 10,000-word annual report translated yesterday, at premium quality, for €0.02/word…
We could go on, but we won’t.
Because for every bad client out there, there are just as many good clients.
In this article, we’re going to tell you how to stop getting bad translation clients.
Change your market positioning
Bad positioning attracts bad clients.
Good positioning attracts good clients.
The formula may sound unrealistically simple. The concept is simple, but achieving it isn’t.
Positioning means establishing your brand (your reputation) as an expert. Ideally, as a go-to resource in your field. You’ve heard it before, we’re certain, but we’ll try to explain this more thoroughly.
This goes beyond pure marketing - your positioning is built by both your online (or word-of-mouth) presence and reputation, but also the experience that current and past clients have with you.
In the translation world, we may sound like a broken record by telling you to specialise, but it remains the #1 most important aspect of market positioning.
The first step to positioning is to choose a niche. Go deeper than just “business” - that isn’t a niche. That’s the overall umbrella that your niche falls under.
A niche within business could be:
- Press releases that get published
- Pitch decks that please investors
- Employee handbooks that actually get read and respected by employees
Get really good at translating one thing. Then help people with that. Get feedback.
If you don’t like marketing, you need a strong network and word-of-mouth strategy. That means encouraging your clients to talk about you and your niche expertise (phenomenal work will do that for you).
If you do like marketing, you still need a strong network. But you can influence it more by publishing content around your niche and its translation issues.
Positioning yourself in the market as the go-to for a narrow niche will attract people who want specific results - and will invest for it.
Work with a reviser
As long as your translations are bad or mediocre, you’ll keep getting bad clients.
No marketing or positioning will be able to change that.
If you got a good client once, your bad translations will make them run away.
So to make sure you’re worth your salt, get a partner to help you.
There is no premium translator in the industry that will tell you not to work with a reviser.
Premium rates offer no room for awkward phrasing, factual errors, mistranslations or worse - putting the client at risk. High-priced translations are that way for a reason.
Find someone you trust and make a pact to yourself to always use a reviser in your translation work from now on.
Always do your best
Even when you have bad clients, always do your best.
Think about it. Project managers don’t always stay at the same company.
Years later, they might move to another company that could become a direct client. Maybe they’ll start their own company. They’ll remember your excellent work and want you back.
Doing bad work when you feel the money isn’t worth it is a bad habit. One that’s hard to shake off. And it’ll be harder to do good work when you get good clients.
Every time you deliver anything, ask yourself the following questions:
- Am I proud of this work?
- Could this be improved in any way?
- Does this truly provide the value and purpose it was meant to?
- Did I do my very best?
As long as you are saying no to some of these questions, you will continue to attract bad clients.
Offer added value
As long as you offer a commodity, you will be treated like a commodity.
One way to ensure you’re giving value is to ask deeper questions.
Instead of just taking an English document and making it a French one, why not ask for the goals of doing so in the first place?
What will happen once this document is available in French? What can you do to make sure that goal is achieved?
This isn’t added value, it’s just general value that premium translators offer their clients.
Added value is going beyond the translation service.
For example, added value for marketing translations is understanding SEO - knowing how to research keywords and make sure they’re translated correctly.
Added value can also be having the qualifications to certify a translation or working with a reviser. You may know about conversion optimization and give recommendations on how to increase sales with your translation. Maybe you know how to use InDesign and save your clients a step in the translation process.
Think of ways you can help your clients get closer to their goals, and the bad clients will start to disappear.
What do you think of your clients today? Is there room for improvement?