how to run a translation business_translation clients
marketing,  translation business

How to Run a Translation Business PART 3: Clients

This part covers translation clients—where to find them, how to get them, and how to work with them to build a successful and long-term relationship—as well as what to pay attention to when it comes to accepting projects.

As you requested, I have gathered my tips for running a translation business in one place and created the How to Run a Translation Business Series. It’s divided into five parts, each of which touches on a different aspect: online presence, content, clients, finances, and mindset. As you will see, some of them alternate with the others; for example, online presence mentions content and clients; finances are connected with clients and mindset; and mindset is connected with all of them. In the first part of the series, I touched on online presence. The second one was about content.


As I mentioned in the first part of the series (point no. 5), you should be where your ideal potential clients are. This refers not only to social media platforms where they hang out but also events they go to (conferences, trade shows, industry events) and associations they belong to.

You can also find clients by searching the web.


Getting translation clients is a process. Once you know where your clients are, you should start showing up there. If you don’t tell the world (including your friends and family) about what you do, no one will know.

  • On social media and your website, post valuable content for your clients. It should be interesting, insightful, and reply to their questions. Also, showcase your expertise by sharing clients’ testimonials, case studies, what you can offer your clients, etc.
  • You can also follow your potential client’s LinkedIn company page, engage with their posts, and subscribe to their newsletter.
  • Another way to get clients is to reach out to them directly through email or their social media channels.
  • Don’t forget to be present offline as well. Go to events your clients attend to get to know them in person.
  • It’s also worth it to follow up with potential clients you’ve contacted in the past but who didn’t get back to you to remind them about yourself and turn them into your clients.
  • Also, notify the clients you haven’t worked with for a while about your recent achievements, an industry event you attended, your new service, etc. It’s a great way to remind them of yourself and increase your chances of getting new projects.
  • Apart from all of that, you should also focus on what differentiates you from the others and highlight it.

    It can be the fact that you’re living in a country where your source language is spoken or that you have a degree or previous experience in a field in which you specialize.

    Being a native speaker of the language you’re translating or interpreting into goes without saying, but you should also mention it so your client knows it.

💡 Learn from my mistakes and don’t reject a potential project you’d like to work on just because you’ve already discussed a few others with other clients and they overlap. You never know which one you’ll get in the end, and you may lose your chance.


  • First of all, keep in mind to treat your potential clients how you want to be treated. Be kind, but don’t exaggerate. You don’t want them to think you’re toadying. Use polite expressions, such as Hello, Good morning, Thank you, Could you please…?

    Be kind, in particular when your client and you can’t reach an agreement on something. You should also give yourself time to pick the right words before sending an email or answering them by phone.

    Always listen to the client and try to find the best solution for both of you.

  • Don’t be afraid of negotiating.

    When it’s about the deadline—a client needs a large volume translated in a short time and can’t extend it—you can increase your rate or provide them with translation only instead of translation and proofreading, for example.

    When it’s about your rates—a client says they don’t have such a budget—you have a few options.
  1. You ask for an extended deadline.
  2. You decide whether to accept or reject a project with a lower rate.
  3. You charge a rate between the rate a client proposed and your rate, but it all depends on your own preferences(!) and a specific project. If it’s complex and specialized, there’s no reason for you to charge less than what you usually charge for such projects. (I’ll expand on it in the next part of the series.)

    You’re a FREElance translator, after all, which means it’s YOU who sets the rates and the working hours, decides whether or not to accept a specific project, when to go on holiday, when to get your invoices paid, etc.

    💡 Remember to inform your clients in advance about your vacation plans or taking a few days off. It’s also good to have a trusted fellow translator that will take over projects for your clients during that time.
  • Always get clear on your client’s needs, i.e., a language pair, a service, and a preferred deadline.

    A list of what to pay attention to before accepting a project may come in useful for you.

    💡 Some clients come to you because they don’t have the right idea of what they need. They think it’s a translator, when what they really need is an interpreter. Or vice versa. Or they ask you for a quote for translating a legal or technical document while you only do marketing materials and content (it’s happened to me a few times).

    It’s OK that clients don’t know it—it’s our industry terminology. Just explain the difference to them and refer them to a person who can help them.

  • Regarding projects, don’t accept those in fields you don’t know or aren’t specialized in. Absolutely never. It will do harm to both your client and you. You’ll stress yourself out and spend dozens of hours diving deep into the field to understand one single term, and your client will most probably receive a poor-quality translation.

  • Don’t be afraid of asking whether to translate a term or leave it in the original. Or how a client wants to translate a particular term when it comes to style, inclusive language, etc.

    Only then will you be sure that your translation complies with the client’s needs, and your client will appreciate your professional approach.


  • When a new client contacts you, ask them how they learned about you and your services.

    Was it via your website, your LinkedIn profile, or a referral? Knowing where your clients come from helps you know where to focus your actions.
  • Ask for recommendations (after a few small projects and right after delivering a big project).

    How to do it? Create a feedback form (use Google Forms) where your client can share their feedback on different project aspects, such as delivery, quality, and value. At the end, include a question about whether you can use the client’s words as a testimonial.

    Once you have it, simply add a feedback form link to an email with the translated file.

    💡 You can also turn your client’s email or message—in which they share how happy they are with your service—into a testimonial. Always remember to ask them for permission.
  • Share your clients’ testimonials, case studies, and portfolio on your website and LinkedIn to increase your chances of landing new clients.
  • Add your photo to your email signature.

    We, freelance translators, usually work remotely and don’t have face-to-face contact with our clients. Adding a photo to your email signature is another trick for letting people know the human side of you. This will also make it easier for your clients to remember and trust you.

Linguist and translator with 4 years of experience. A passionate photographer and traveler. I like meeting new people from all around the world and knowing their culture. I graduated from 3 different universities in Poland and one in Spain. At przeTŁUMACZ Dorota Oleś, I offer into-Polish translation services of English and Spanish marketing content, mainly related to sports and fashion. I also run a blog on which I share my insights and knowledge as a translator and linguist.