Marketing plan for translators
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How I built my marketing plan

Last week my colleague Emeline Jamoul from In Touch Translations asked me whether I had a marketing plan. Since I do have one, I thought it might be interesting to share my experience with others who are just starting out and are uncertain of how to go about making it.


As you probably know, I mainly specialize in translation of marketing texts. This is why it’s somewhat ironic that I hardly did any marketing until last April.


And then I came across a book called Stop Thinking Like a Freelancer by Liam Veitch. I recommend reading this book to anyone struggling with marketing their services, finding dream clients or increasing rates. It’s extremely easy to read and packed with useful tips.


One of the ideas expressed in the book is that even though most freelancers are a one-man (or one-woman) show, we are still businesses. Whether we like it or not, we’ve got to do the same things as big companies do. If we want to be successful, we have to promote ourselves. And we do need a plan for that.


Liam provides a great template called One Page of Intent, which was one of the instruments that I used to come up with my own marketing plan. After you fill out the template by answering questions about your vision (where you want to get), goals (specific changes you need to make to implement your vision), commitments, dream clients, your unique selling point and other important things, you get a much clearer picture of what you want. This is an important foundation for everything you will do.


The second instrument I used to build my marketing plan was Tess Whitty’s e-book. The e-book is a collection of check lists that Tess had sent to her newsletter subscribers over the past year.


While Liam’s One Page of Intent helps you get a bigger picture, Tess’s work-sheets are great when it comes to determining what exactly you should do.


You’re getting a list of marketing tools, tips on what to include into your CV, a template for defining your target market, services and marketing activities, a marketing calendar and much more. If you’re new to marketing your translation business and don’t have this e-book, you can get it here.


So, what were the steps that I took to make my marketing plan and what does it include?


The first and most important step was to determine my vision. This might sound daunting and you may want to skip it, but I urge you not to.


Your marketing activity will bring results only if you are consistent with it. Consistency is doing something even if you don’t feel like doing it sometimes. And this can only be achieved if you understand why you have started doing it. That’s why you need a vision. It’s easier to get somewhere, when you know where you are going.


My vision includes not only my long-term goals, but also an answer to the question why I want to make the change. I find that material goals like having x clients or earning y dollars per month sometimes fail to provide motivation, because without the why they are just numbers.


Your vision might be as ambitious or even as unrealistic as you like, you don’t have to share it with anyone. But it must be something that will make you dust yourself off in case of failure and continue doing what it takes to achieve your goals.


Next I determined where I was in terms of marketing. I didn’t have a website. I wasn’t writing a blog. I wasn’t active on social media, although I did have accounts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. I was in a great position, because I was free to choose, what I wanted to begin with.


Then I picked the tools I was going to try out first. I used one of the checklists provided by Tess. She divides the tools into three groups: basic, pro and extra. I chose my tools based on my situation and I suggest you do the same.


For example, I don’t need business cards at the moment, because my dream clients are based in Europe and the US, and I’m not planning to go there at the moment. I will probably get some business cards next spring, when we go on vacation, because I’d like to take some time to meet potential clients or colleagues in person.


Here’s the list of tools that I chose in the order that I’ve started using them:




It turned out to be an awesome tool for networking with colleagues and potential clients. I started using it in June. I didn’t have any goals in terms of getting followers, but I did have a daily goal for the number of tweets.


I’m sure, you know that Twitter is not about selling, but rather about making connections. It’s also a place to get support from your colleagues or pick some ideas while talking to them (like the idea for this post). And yes, I also got a couple of leads from Twitter.




I decided to make a website to have a hub for all my communications. Everyone who’s doing business online, has to have a place where their customers can find them.


If you don’t know where to start, I recommend you the series of posts on making a website by my colleague Dmitry Kornyukhov (Check out his other posts, too. He’s great at motivating others to take action!).




I’m not a very active LinkedIn user. I have a profile there (here’s the link if you’d like to connect). Recently I’ve started publishing posts from my blog there once a week. And that’s about it. Perhaps, I should use it more actively. A couple of days ago I found this article on strategies to use on LinkedIn, which look like a fun thing to try.




A blog is a great way to gain visibility and attract visitors to a site. At the moment I have a goal of blogging once a week.


I use the free version of a Yoast SEO (it’s a WordPress plugin) to optimize my posts for search engines.


It’s also important to share them on social media. My experience shows that you don’t really have to share them on all social media yourself: my posts are mostly shared on Facebook (I look it up using BuzzSumo), although I’m not using my Facebook profile for marketing purposes.




I have a list of clients I’d like to work with and I’m looking for ways to connect with them (by the way, here is a great article about making such a list). I might ask them a question or offer a free sample of my work. I’ve just realized that I don’t have any specific goals for this activity, and this is probably why I haven’t been consistent with this.


To sum it all up, here’s what you need to do to come up with a marketing plan:


Define your vision and your long-term goals. They will help you be consistent with your marketing activities.


Understand where you are now. This will allow you to see your progress.


Define the tools you’re going to use. Pick the ones that you like first and don’t try to do everything at once. Start small. It will help you to build momentum.


Define your goals for each of the instruments you use. Usually it’s recommended to define a specific number of customers you want to get or the increase of income you want to reach. I prefer a different approach.


I do have goals for the number of customers (and who these customers have to be) and income increase, but these are my long-term goals. I tend to focus on what needs to be done in order to get me where I want to be. I set goals for the things I need to do (number of tweets per day, number of posts per week, updates to my site etc.) and try to be consistent for a certain amount of time between a month and three months without expecting anything.


Many things need time to take off so it doesn’t make sense to stop if you don’t see immediate results. However doing something that doesn’t move the needle for you is a waste of time. So it’s important to keep your long-term goals in mind, but without obsessing about them too much.


Another advantage of this approach is that reaching my short-term goals is completely in my control, because they are about me doing certain things. And we all know how nice it feels to cross those items off the to-do list and what a boost of confidence it brings. This creates a sort of positive reinforcement and helps me stay on track.


I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you liked it, your might also want to read this article about the lessons I learned since I started to market my translation business.


Please feel free to share this post, if you know someone who might find it useful. And, as always, I’m looking forward to your comments.


Image courtesy of Sylwia Bartyzel


  • Dmitry Kornyukhov

    01.10.2015 at 17:07 Reply

    Hi Lena!
    Thank you so much for mentioning my series of blog posts with web-design tips for translators. I gotta admit that I need to write more of those because building your own website is probably the best form of marketing. Well, this and writing a blog of course. Congrats on embracing marketing, more translators should follow your example! High-five from Toronto!
    Completely agree with you point on non-obsessing over your marketing goals – that’s the biggest mistake people makes. Marketing should be fun (because it is), and not a drag. Don’t overthink it and you’ll be just fine 🙂

    • Elena

      01.10.2015 at 19:45 Reply

      Hey, Dmitry!

      Thank you for writing it! It was exactly this series of posts that made me realize, that I really can and should make a website. And yes, I agree that you should write more about it, because you make it sound much less intimidating.

      As for overthinking it’s the sure way to procrastination. Small steps are way better than doing nothing and they add up over time. 🙂

  • Caitlin Jones

    01.10.2015 at 20:28 Reply

    Hi Elena! Thanks for this great blog post. Marketing is a challenge for me as well, and it’s always helpful to see how someone else goes about it. Breaking long-term marketing goals into small, achievable steps is so important, since the idea of “marketing” encompasses a lot and can be overwhelming. Oh, and thanks for all the links to other articles and tools as well. A really useful post!

    • Elena

      01.10.2015 at 20:39 Reply

      Hi Caitlin! I’m so glad you found it useful!

      This is exactly why I wrote this post: I wanted to show, that marketing doesn’t have to be scary. 🙂 Whether I like it or not, it’s something I need to do, if I want to work for my dream clients, take part in interesting translation projects and earn more.

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  • Natalie Soper

    18.10.2015 at 17:39 Reply

    This is some good motivation, Elena! I’ve been putting off doing a real marketing strategy and I think it’s because I fear making too-ambitious goals and not being able to attain them – though of course I know deep down that I’ll be worse off if I don’t just grit my teeth and do it! Thanks for breaking it down and making it feel a bit less like a mountainous task! 🙂

    • Elena

      19.10.2015 at 18:07 Reply

      I guess, we all have similar problems. Big tasks are scary! That’s why I decided to share my approach in the firs place: if it helped me, it can help someone else, too. Glad you found my post useful, Natalie. 🙂

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