Many freelance translators are overthinkers. Wanting to get it just right turns into lots of obsessing over 37 ways the idea could go wrong, soliciting the opinions of 93 colleagues, burning the project to the ground and starting from scratch, etc. Overthinking gets in the way of lots of things, but most of all it hinders effective marketing. Why? Because one of the keys to effective marketing is simply to market. Many freelancers are failing at marketing. Not (not) because they market in ineffective ways, but because they don’t market at all.
Here’s one way around the overthinking trap. Note that I said “one way.” Not “the best way” or “the only way,” but one way. Write really short marketing e-mails that leave very little room for overthinking. Like this:
“Dear Mr. Lewis, I am a German to English medical translator and recently came across your website while researching medical device companies. Would you be the right person to speak to about offering my translation services?”
“Dear Ms. Thomas, I am an Italian to English medical translator and recently came across your agency’s website. I live in the San Diego area and enjoy working with local agencies. Are you currently recruiting translators in my language and specialization?”
“Dear Ms. Phillips, I am an English to Spanish translator specializing in education. I’m interested in offering my translation services to your textbook company. Would you be the right person to speak to about that?”
These e-mails are not:
- intended to create a connection with the recipient
- intended to show that you researched the potential client, other than their basic line of business
However, they have a few advantages:
- They’re short, to the point, and they respect the recipient’s time. When you write a) a long e-mail, to b) someone you don’t know, and you’re c) trying to sell something, the chances of the recipient reading to the end are near zero. This kind of e-mail avoids that problem.
- They take very little time to write, but they show that you know something about the potential client; they’re much better than a “Dear Sir or Madam” e-mail.
- They don’t demand an extensive response from the recipient. Again, a “can you please give me your take on my life story” e-mail will almost certainly be deleted by anyone who doesn’t know you. But this type of e-mail invites the recipient to respond in a similarly concise way. “Sure!” “Try contacting the marketing department at…” or “We have someone right now, but I’ll save your contact info” would all be acceptable responses, and all take about 30 seconds to write.
So again, this is not an artisanal approach to marketing. It’s kind of the antithesis of the free sample translation pitch, where you’re investing a lot of time before you even contact the client. But if you just need to do something to avoid overthinking your marketing efforts, you could try this.