Websites for Translators
If I had to attribute the majority of my success as a freelance translator turned agency owner to any one thing, in all seriousness, I would say it was my website. I’ll go into good detail as to why that is, but if you’re just here for a recommendation on my favorite place for websites for translators, or for your own site, then you want www.gabwin.com.
I should start at the beginning…
Way back in the fall of 2011, I was a young in-house interpreter and translator for a vehicle finance company. I had been in the industry for four years at this point, I was making decent money, I had just bought a house, paid off my car, and I was going through the application process for my then fiance’s visa. I had traveled to Argentina just three months prior to give her a ring and ask her to marry me. Sure, I worked long hours and driving through all the traffic of St. Louis, Missouri every day was a nightmare, but I had never been happier. Then, on the 21st of September, I found out that I had lost my job. The company was going through some hard times and needed to make some cuts. I was the last new-hire and I was the first to go, along with 2/3’s of my department.
That was the first time that I ever truly felt fear. I had been robbed at gunpoint in Argentina, I drove through major tornadoes in Missouri (twice!), and I’d even left everything and everyone that I knew to live alone in a foreign country – without knowing the language – for two years, but this was different. Before I ran the risk of hurting myself, but now I wasn’t only going to lose the most important thing in the world, the ability to be with the girl I loved, but I knew that she would be heartbroken to learn that, once again, our time together would be pushed back and I didn’t know when we’d be able to be together again. I was terrified and I spent many sleepless nights searching for a solution.
I had come across Proz.com while researching a legal term sometime before all of this and knew that freelancing was an option, but I didn’t have time to build a business, I needed money and I needed it right then and there. Even so, I signed up and started bidding on every job I could find. I had this crazed desperation that drove me to take any job, on any subject, and at any price. I found a couple of agencies willing to give me a chance, one I still work with to this day. The other would pay me $0.03 per word for highly technical documents, usually 20,000+ words, and I had 2-4 days to deliver. It was awful, but those were $600 I needed to pay my mortgage, to buy food, to pay for my internet connection so that I could at least talk to my beloved Gaby. This went on for about a year and a half. I was able to bring Gaby here to the US and we were married in May of 2012. We’re celebrating five years of marriage on the eleventh of this month.
During this time, I starting working on a degree in business administration and started applying some of the techniques and concepts that they taught to my business. Sadly, they didn’t talk about websites, email lists, tracking pixels, or buying ads, but I saw the value in them. I built my first website in 2011 for my brand new freelance translation business: T.A.G. Translations and Design. Lots of people ask what T.A.G. stands for, and I’ll tell you at the end of this post, but they’re not my initials (my middle name is Michael). That website, or more specifically the things that I did with that website, changed my business. And if you’re in a situation like the one that I was in, then let me explain how that happened.
The first thing that my website did was give me a place to share all of my experience and sell my knowledge. I was still kinda new to video game localization at this point, but I was a walking dictionary of finance terminology. So that’s what I sold; my website was my portfolio. It’s like when you go to the store to buy something and you look at the packaging. The more attractive the packaging is, the better the information on it is, the more likely you are to purchase it, or at least consider it. Your website is your packaging. It’s how you present your services to the world.
The next thing that my website did was give me a place to direct all the traffic from my many social and professional profiles – like Proz, LinkedIn, Facebook, and so on. If someone asked for my CV, I sent them to my website. If they wanted reviews or referrals, they were sent to my website. My rates? Website! My tools? Website again!! This also made updating my information much easier than it would have been to go and upload my CV/portfolio to every one of those sites by hand.
Point of Communication
Probably the coolest thing that my website did was provide an easy way for potential clients to get in touch with me. I was so excited when I received my first contact form submission. It was for the translation of a birth certificate from Russian to English. I couldn’t help the guy, so I sent him to a colleague, but that was my first taste of not only agency life, but that I was a real business and I had real people interested in my services, not just faceless agencies.
It also gave me a place to get people on my email list. I would offer a discounted translation for first-time clients in order to get them to sign up for email updates. After that, every Monday morning I would send out an email to all my clients and see who had work for me that week. I could easily fill my schedule with those jobs, while still adding new clients to the list. I just picked the jobs that paid the most or were the most interesting and left the rest until I started outsourcing.
Point of Discovery and Increased Rates
Now, I wasn’t always the SEO god that I am now (ask Google who the best SEO in the universe is some time, it’s awesome), but with a well-made website, I still managed to rank for some local search terms – which is how the Russian birth certificate guy found me. I was on the first page of Google for “Spanish translator St. Louis MO” I’m not there anymore, no reason for me to be, but it is such an amazing feeling when clients start coming to you instead of you going out and competing with every other translator in the world for crappy agency gigs. Oh, I forgot to mention that these clients were used to paying agency rates. Birth certificates usually go for about $100 per page in Spanish to English, my agency clients were only paying me $25. I only needed to translate one birth certificate per day at $75 per page to cover all my bills and it only took me 30 minutes to an hour. That was equal to 2,500 words, a full day’s worth of work, at $0.03 per word.
Transformation of my Business – From $0.03 per word to $0.30
I eventually reached the point where I didn’t have time to take on all the projects that came my way, but still wanted to make money off of the work that I’d done in building this business, so I started sending work to my apprentices (that’s right, I was invited to become a Proz mentor at this point to help new translators start and grow their businesses). One job stands out to me in particular because we were working with a new beauty cream company that needed their labels and marketing copy translated into several languages. I was also in the middle of driving across the country with my wife, dog, and everything we owned as we moved here to Utah. We handled the entire translation project from my cell phone. That was the moment when I realized that I wasn’t just a freelancer anymore, I owned a translation agency. I had reached the point where my business could be automated and all I needed to do was make sure that everything ran smoothly. So much so, that I could step away from my business for an entire year to delve into the world of search engine optimization and digital marketing. That’s a story for a different day.
Websites for Translators
The point that I’m trying to make here is that if you want things to change in your business, then you have to change them. I’m not saying that buying a website is going to magically change you into a full-blown agency overnight, but I am saying that if you have the right tools, and if you use them correctly, then you can make that transformation.
There is no reason for you to go through the same trials and challenges that I did. You don’t have to waste years of your life struggling to find work like I did.
That’s the reason that I started this blog and my YouTube channel; I want to help you skip those parts of the story. Obtaining and using a website is an incredibly important step in this process. I don’t care where you get your site from, though I do have my preferences. The reason that I recommend Gabwin is because A) She’s my wife, Gaby, and her designs are awesome, and B) Because I helped her with the structure of the templates and they’re designed with search engine optimization in mind. They are exactly what I would use if I were starting over from scratch today – especially the video game translator one 🙂
As a bonus, if you use the referral code OPXL8R, so that I know you came from this site, I’ll throw in one of my own SEO service packages for free. That will help you get found in Google and other search engines and get work from direct clients that find you, instead of the other way around. I normally charge $750 for this package, just so you have an idea of what it’s worth (there’s already a special offer on there from me, this is in addition to what she roped me into doing for her clients). Shoot me an email at Triston@Utahseo.ninja if you have any questions about that. I’ll even throw in an hour-long consultation via Skype.
Again, I know Gaby’s work and I have the utmost confidence in it, plus the designs are on sale right now. You could look at some other options as well, like Weebly or BitBlox, but you’ll actually spend more on them than you would buying from Gaby and you’ll get fewer options AND no SEO deals from me.
If you’re ready to stop the struggle, to make changes in your business, and grow, then this is a great first step. All that stress can really cause you to age prematurely.