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 in the hopes 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 that this was NOT the right way for me to get started. I needed to reach out to people that knew me, people who already 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.