Thursday, 23 February 2012

What to expect when working with direct clients

Guest post by Rebekka Wellmanns
Helen Robertson is a very experienced translator who has run her own translation business since 1992. In this webinar, she shared some great advice for translators and interpreters considering working with direct clients.

She covered a lot of the most frequently-asked questions in this area. Specifically:
  • Current industry developments driving translators and interpreters to change their client base
  • Pros and cons of different types of clients
  • Playing to your own aims and strengths
  • How to find direct clients
  • Tips on keeping direct clients happy and pitfalls to watch out for

Helen pointed out that although working with direct clients seem to have more appeal than working with translation companies, each have their advantages and disadvantages. She explained how important it is to be aware of the typical problems and pitfalls we may encounter when working with direct clients, who can come in all shapes and sizes.

Helen also discussed two ways in which to find direct clients, which she calls active and passive approaches.

The passive approach involves public advertising, having a website and being on professional registers such as the ITI Directory.

The active approach involves scanning articles and websites for opportunities, networking, being active on social media and then keeping in touch after contacts are made.

Helen also provided a creative list of sources of direct clients, from Chambers’ of Commerce to large multinational companies with translation departments.

She stressed that personal contacts and face-to-face meetings are crucial, as people are more likely to remember you if they meet you in person. Although this may be scary for introverts, taking a long-term view can help you get on with it. She advised never giving up, because finding and keeping direct clients takes hard work, perseverance and confidence.

In summary, direct clients expect:
  • a business-like approach
  • industry advice (you’re the expert and you may have to help educate the client)

When starting to think of working with direct clients, you need to:
  • have a goal in mind
  • use active and passive approaches
  • be business-like in your contact with the client

The webinar ended with an extremely informative question-and-answer session where everything was discussed, from references, CVs and brochures, to contracts.

See our online shop to access this and other past webinars.


Our guest author is Rebekka Wellmanns, a Spanish to English translator with a background in music, linguistics and education. She is also the author of a widely-read translation blog, and tweets at @WellRebekka.