How to Become a Freelance Translator – Part 6: Website, Portfolio, Testimonials, and More

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Online visibility, website, portfolio, business cards, and elevator pitch

Now, this is for real: the last part of the series! This is a continuation of the previous post on marketing. In it I wrote about creating a brand and using social networks, among other topics. Today I’m going to jump straight into a powerful marketing tool: your own website.


I already wrote about WordPress under IT, in part 4, but regardless of whether you choose to pay a web designer or go through the learning curve yourself, a website is one of your best marketing tools. Basically, this allows you to speak in your own voice, which might not be so clear on sites like LinkedIn, where everything seems homogeneous.

This is your platform to show clients’ testimonials, your USPs, a detailed description of your services, and your portfolio or samples of your work. This can also host your blog, like in my case. Don’t think that a website is like a philosopher’s stone; it won’t turn your empty jobs log into gold – not straight away, in any case. But it is your shop window, and you should refer prospects there every chance you get.             

And speaking of websites… Let me introduce you to SEO. Search Engine Optimisation is a buzzword in the digital business world, and it is important to learn a little about it if you’re building your own website. What’s the point of having one if no one can find it? Luckily, WordPress offers no shortage of SEO plugins you can add to your website. I’ve got Yoast SEO, which has a traffic-light system based on the readability of your content and tells you which aspects you should improve to enhance your chances of being found – for example, ‘you’ve used too much passive voice’ or ‘all your sentences begin with X word.’

I watched a free SDL Trados webinar in English about website optimisation and one in Spanish. In them, I learned the importance of working backstage. This behind-the-scenes magic means adding ‘hidden’ keywords to your pages that the user can’t see. Guess who can, though… Search engines! It is also essential that the meta description (the summary that shows under the page title in search engines) be clear, just like the first couple of lines of your description in LinkedIn, and fewer than 156 characters. In theory, it doesn’t affect how you’re positioned in the search, but if it’s appealing and it includes a call to action (CAT), it may encourage users to click on your page. Having images, videos, and links on your site also helps rank higher on search results. Once your website is live, you can link it to Google Analytics or a similar tool to view the traffic reports.

Meta description shown on Google

GDPR compliant website: WordPress offers many plugins for this, too. Make sure you know what’s happening regarding analytics and cookies. What info do you store on your site? Whatever it is, third parties like WordPress and your host will also have access to it, thus becoming data processors. You must have a privacy notice written in plain language (maybe not as plain as this one, although it’s without a doubt the best one I’ve come across!) and ask users for positive consent before they send messages via a contact form or comments to your blog posts.

Business cards and merchandise

Having business cards on you at all times is now a must. Put a few in all your bags and backpacks, or in your wallet if you take it with you everywhere. This might sound a bit stale, but it is still the most businessy way to do business face to face. Sites like moo and vistaprint offer excellent options at affordable prices. You can design your own card or have them do it for you. If you want to design your own, Canva is another option with tons of templates, and you can order prints from them, too.

As for merchandise, I mean stickers, bookmarks, mugs, tote bags… There are all types of things you can order as Christmas presents for your clients, for example. Make sure your designs match ‘your voice’: use your logo and brand colours if you have some. Brochures are also a good idea if you’re going to networking events with prospects. It’s true that, in this digital era, something tangible can make a difference. It can turn out to be memorable!

Paper-based documents

As a freelance translator, most of your correspondence and document exchange will be virtual, but it’s still worthwhile having a letterhead in case you ever send a business letter using snail mail, or even a covering letter as an attachment and not in the body of an email. Mine – which I designed with MS Word – has the hot-air balloon from my logo washed out in the background and my full logo, name, website and contact details on the top. The colours are also orange and blue, in accordance with my brand. If you plan on sending letters often or paper invoices, it might be a good idea to get a rubber stamp with your logo or the name of your company to make your paper-based documents look more professional. You can order stamps from the websites I mentioned above.


When you deliver a translation and the client shows satisfaction, ask them for a testimonial for your website. If you don’t have one and you are both on LinkedIn, they can also recommend you there. Unless there’s been a tense relationship for some reason, most clients are more than happy to help you out, so don’t be afraid to ask!


This might make you think of an artist, but we can also have portfolios, or in other words, samples of our work. Translators are also writers, so I do believe it’s acceptable to include samples of your writing, not only of your translations. In my case, I’ve written articles for a couple of magazines and one newsletter, so I’ve also included those in my portfolio.

These samples can be on your website or on LinkedIn. If you’d rather keep it more private, you can send the samples to those clients who ask to see them. If your portfolio is public, encourage prospects to visit it when you approach them hoping to work with them; if not, let them know you have samples available upon request. You can also have this written on your website, like many people do about the full CV.

Make sure it’s okay for you to show the work you want to include; sometimes you need written authorisation from agencies, for example. In any case, it’s always nice to ask beforehandIf you don’t have much to show yet, just wait until you do. Not every translator has a portfolio ready to show, so don’t worry!

Online visibility

It’s important to be ‘findable’ in the virtual cosmos. Being active on social networks, your profiles on sites like ProZ  and Translators’ Café, and your website will definitely help. However, there’s more you can do. If you like writing, try to find magazines, journals or newsletters to publish articles, short stories, or anything you enjoy writing. You can also use them as samples!

Writing comments in other people’s blogs (use your (Gr)avatar!) can also make you more visible: this allows you to engage in interesting discussions, and it might attract some clicks to your profile/website. This holds true for social networks, too. Another thing you can do is write a guest post in someone else’s blog, as well as inviting people to write on your blog.

Although I haven’t tried this one yet, I’ve read about it and I’m giving it some thought: press releases. You can write a short article about your business, usually on the occasion of some event (anniversary, some big change or project…), and send it to a press release service, or contact your local paper directly, and try your luck. Just do a search and you’ll find plenty of options.

Elevator pitch

This is a brief introduction of yourself and what you do, and as you can imagine; the more memorable, the better. As Ed Gandía says, ‘the purpose of your elevator pitch isn’t to make a sale; it’s to start a conversation.’ Ideally, it’ll be an interaction, and not a monologue, despite how brief it is. Have a look at his full article for some great advice.

Be nice!

The last tip is the most important of all. Be nice to potential and current clients, colleagues, vendors, project managers… and they’ll be nice to you. Life is a mirror, and the business world is no exception. Being nasty to others requires more effort than being friendly, helpful and approachable, doesn’t it?

And this is it for now! I really hope my personal experience can be of help in your own journey to the wonderful world of translation, and to any other area, too. At the end of the day, certain aspects of a freelancer’s path look very similar regardless of the industry. Please comment below if you’d like to share your own marketing tips!

Spread the word!