As some of you may have experienced, going freelance first means spending money before earning any.
My biggest expenditure so far, or Capex as the jargon puts it, has been my website. As I had neither the skills to do it nor a web designer among my friends, I did exactly what I would like my clients to do: I turned towards a professional who did… a professional job.
Since I was living at the time in a remote part of Wales, having a website seemed the only way to make myself known to the rest of the world and diversify my market as I did not want to work solely for translation agencies. Having moved in the meantime to a bigger city, I still feel having a website is an asset. Not only does it give you some credibility in the eyes of potential clients but it is also a carefully planned way to give them the opportunity to have a look at your writing, translating and proofreading skills.
Yet, once the website is up and running then the real work starts: making sure that it can now be found on the web. My web designer gave me a couple of tips and wrote a small feature article on his own website but what I found most useful was the Cobweb information fact sheets such as An Introduction to Getting Listed in Search Engines and Online Directories and An Introduction to Increasing Traffic to your Website that are available for free at local Business Link centres Business Link.
I decided I would register with search engines such as Google and go for free online directories at first before using pay per click advertisements. Here are a number of free directories, but be warned some take time to process your form: the Open Directory which is used by leading search engines, the Yellow Pages, Kellysearch, Translation directory, 4translators, Go Translators, l’annuaire des traducteurs francophones, Big annuaire. I thought choosing specialists’ directories might help to offset Google’s inexplicable workings at times. Indeed, I still do not understand why when I google "English to French freelance translator", my website does not appear at all on any page, despite putting these words in my headers but also in the contents of the site, whereas some English to Spanish translators or some other irrelevant results are mentioned on page 4. Strangely enough, my proof-reading listing is quite good in comparison.
Moreover, I registered as a full member with Proz last June hoping the $141 membership would give me more visibility.
After having lived in a small town for some time, I really want to make the most of the professional advantages of living in a city. Therefore I have started exploring the local business directories, whether they are online or not. I have just registered with my local Chamber of Commerce. Being a member of this organisation will hopefully not only provide me with information of potential clients to target but also give me some exposure.
Once I started enquiring about local opportunities, networking came up naturally. My business advisor mentioned the local Women into Business networking sessions. I went there for the opening meeting and really enjoyed the atmosphere. Even if the results are not immediate, it is a pleasant way of socialising and exchanging ideas.
The good thing about networking is that you feel in charge with your business rather than just waiting for customers to find you. The only problem is that one networking session leads to more networking opportunities and that you can quickly find yourself in the situation where "net" has become more important than "working".
Talking of which, I think it is high time I went back to it so as to be able to focus on the subject in part 5!
To be continued
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