Successfully Marketing Translation Skills

Translation Skills

When you contact a new client, or they contact you, a portfolio of work samples along with a CV is usually a key requirement.  Whether you are new to the industry or a veteran, you will still have to prove your skills and abilities and this is your chance to ensure you demonstrate your capabilities to maximum effect.  Here are some basic rules to help you ensure that you make the most of your portfolio:

  1. Get the basics right – When you are writing your portfolio, first of all, ensure you are using a professional font like Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial not Comic Sans MS.  Even if you are specializing in a more creative industry such as marketing, it will be better to demonstrate your creative flair through the texts you choose than garish colors or clip art.
  2. Check it, check it and then check it again – It should go without saying that any work included in your portfolio should have been proofread multiple times for any possible errors.  Ideally, get one or more fresh pairs of eyes to also read through it and check for errors as there will always come a point where it is hard to spot new ones.
  3. Consider your target audience – Like any marketing material, think about who your target market is and focus the pieces you include on that kind of reader, e.g., are you focusing on the financial services sector, or the retail sector or maybe the legal sector?  This isn’t necessarily about excluding other types of client but is about demonstrating a flair for the field you wish to specialize in.
  4. Decide your goals – If you are offering a range of services, e.g., copy editing and proofreading as well as translating, will you include samples of these too?  Where you are offering multiple languages you will presumably wish to include pieces in each language.  Then there is different industries as well as different specializations.  A possible solution to this conundrum is to create a few different versions of your portfolio designed with different target clients in mind.
  5. Be careful with copyright – The last thing you want to do is upset a former client, so always ensure you have their permission before sharing any work you have done.  Most clients are happy for work to be used as a sample if it is written anonymously, and they may be happy for you to use their name provided you discuss it first.  Obviously, it is also very important to ensure you are complying with any confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements that you may have signed too.
  6. Select your material with care – You want to provide a broad range of your professional skills and expertise so make sure that you are focusing on quality rather than quantity.  Look for texts that demonstrate a high level of complexity, and if you are targeting a specific niche market, e.g., the financial services sector look for some technical jargon that demonstrates your familiarity with current topics.  Try to include some examples that will demonstrate your awareness of local culture, idioms, similies etc.
  7. Portfolio design, layout, and use – Ensure you have designed your portfolio carefully to look professional. The word count for each sample should not exceed 300 words or it simply won’t be read.  It needs to have a header section to cover key points such as:
  • Project scope and time spent
  • Client name (if applicable)
  • Subject area
  • Document type
  • Target audience

You will need a printed version to take to client meetings and an online version to send to prospective clients along with a CV, or to upload to freelance job boards such as Proz.  You may even want to consider building a website for your company and making it available there.


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