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Tips for Managing Your Translation Business During COVID-19

The impact that COVID-19 has had on our lives is hard to quantify. Millions of people are unemployed. Others, tragically, have lost friends and family members to the virus. To combat this growing uncertainty, many companies are pausing their international expansion efforts. This might mean less work for freelance translators. 

Recently, my students and subscribers have reached out to me with the following questions:

  • Should I be marketing right now?
  • Is there anything I can do to help my business weather the storm?

The answer to the first question is a resounding “yes.” Though you might want to pivot away from direct selling, there are still plenty of people out there in need of a qualified translator. If you work in a more resilient niche, you need to leave the guilt at the door. You’re not an opportunistic vulture. You’re providing solutions they need.

Whether you’re drowning in job offers right now, or your work has slowed to a trickle, there are things you can do to help fortify your business against the virus.

Shift Your Focus and Tone

While there’s nothing wrong with marketing in a crisis, you’ll need to do so thoughtfully. Many large projects are on hold, and a lot of people are shying away from untested waters. That means that cold calling and other outbound techniques are less effective. People who come across as tone-deaf will pay the price down the road.

In that same vein, you’ll also want to update your pitches and emails so that they sound more like they’re coming from a point of service. Be empathetic. Be supportive. Now’s also not the time to try and ignore the elephant in the room. Make mention of COVID-19, and how it’s altering your plans. In this time of crisis, your clients will appreciate the vulnerability. So, read your typical pitches and ensure that they’re needed, relevant, and timely.

Use Your Downtime Productively

If work has dried up and you’ve sent out proposals to everyone you know, there are other things you can do to set your business up for future success.

Here are some non-salesy tasks you can work on during your downtime:

  • Market research
  • Blog and article writing
  • Engaging on social media
  • Uncovering new client sources
  • Answering questions on forums
  • Updating your website and optimizing your SEO

If you want some tips on how to optimize your website and online profiles, plus how to use content marketing to attract your ideal clients to you, I have an upcoming free webinar on online marketing that you can check out here:


How to transform your website and online presence into client-generating machinesREGISTER HEREDo Some Good

If you are looking for a way to help make life easier for your clients during these challenging times, you can consider the following:

  • Offer TEMPORARY discounts to your loyal clients (if they’re struggling)
  • Give COVID-19 charities free work
  • Write and translate virus-related letters for your clients
  • Donate a portion of your proceeds to relevant charities
  • Make your payment terms a little more flexible (if needed)

Now, these do-good initiatives need to be approached intelligently. For example, you don’t want to give customers half off your services. This erodes your perceived value and can result in negative feelings for your clients. Similarly, you should avoid making your resources too narrowly targeted. All these initiatives should also come with a well-defined deadline and verifiable tracking method.

Network in a Different Way

Live networking with prospective clients and colleagues may have come to a standstill. But that doesn’t mean that you cannot network at all. You just have to move it online.

Start by joining some social media groups relevant to your target market and subscribing to relevant magazines. Become an active part of their communities and prove you can provide real solutions. Don’t forget to attend the online versions of your favorite event.

Reach Out to Current Clients

All our inboxes have been flooded with messages about how our favorite businesses are weathering the COVID-19 crisis. If you haven’t yet, it’s time for you to send one of your own. A simple, empathetic email will let your clients know that you’re thinking of them. You just have to be sure to personalize it. Here’s something you can use as a base:

Dear [Client Name]:

I wanted to touch base about COVID-19, and what I’m doing to ensure my client’s continued success throughout the crisis.

First, my heart goes out to everyone impacted by the virus. This includes the diagnosed, the deceased, and those experiencing educational or employment changes.

During this time of upheaval, I will prioritize projects relating to the virus. So, whether you need a press release or employee announcement translated, I’m here.

To assist customers dealing with sudden changes, I am also providing (resources, a discount, extended payment terms, etc.)

Stay healthy and safe!



Are You a Freelance Translator Feeling the Effects of Covid-19 in Your Business?

Whether COVID-19 has dwindled your lead pipeline to nothing or you’re in an industry with increased translation needs, now’s not the time to slow down. That’s not to say shouldn’t make changes, however. Swap out aggressive marketing tactics for human ones. Engage your community and offer what help you can. Also, focus on ensuring your current clients have everything they need to weather this virus storm.

I hope these tips are helpful to you. Remember, this too shall pass and it is important to move forward in order to weather this storm successfully.

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