how to run a translation business series _ 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 before 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.


You should be where your ideal potential clients are (the first part of the series, point no. 5). By this, I mean social media platforms they hang out on, events they go to (conferences, trade shows, and industry events), and associations they belong to.

You can also find clients by searching the web.


Getting translation clients is a process. It doesn’t happen overnight.

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.


  • Post valuable content for your clients on social media and your website. It should be interesting, insightful, and reply to their questions. Also, showcase your expertise by sharing testimonials, case studies, what you offer to your clients, etc.

  • You can 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.
  • Also, contact the clients you haven’t worked with for a while. Tell them about your recent achievements, an industry event you attended, your new service, etc. It’s a great way to increase your chances of getting new projects.
  • It’s also worth following up with potential clients you contacted in the past who didn’t get back to you. You should remind them about yourself and try to turn them into your clients.

Apart from all of that, you should also focus on what differentiates you from the others and highlight it. Do you live in a country where your source language is spoken? Do you have a degree or valuable previous experience in a field in which you specialize? Being a native speaker of the language you’re translating / interpreting into goes without saying, but you should also mention it to your client.

💡 Learn from my mistake and don’t reject a 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, treat your potential clients how you want to be treated. Be kind, in particular when your client and you can’t reach an agreement on something. But don’t exaggerate—you don’t want them to think you’re toadying.

    If you expect quick replies from a client, you should reply quickly too.

    Before sending them an email or answering them by phone, you should also give yourself time to pick the right words.

    Always listen to the client.

    In case your client and you can’t reach an agreement, try to find the best solution for both of you.

  • 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 they need 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 (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.


  • 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:

    A. You ask to extend the deadline.

    B. You reject a project with a lower rate.

    C. You charge between the rate a client proposes and your rate. But it all depends on your own preferences(!) and a specific project. If it’s complex and specialized, why 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. It’s YOU who sets the rates and the working hours, decides whether or not to accept a specific project, when you want 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.


  • Don’t accept projects 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 to ask. No matter whether it’s about translating a term or leaving it as is. Or how a client wants to translate a particular term when it comes to style, inclusive language, etc. It’s the only way you can be sure that your translation will comply with the client’s needs. Not to mention that your client will appreciate your professional approach.


  • When a new client contacts you, ask them how they learned about you and your services. Your website? your LinkedIn profile? A referral? Knowing where your clients come from helps you know where to focus your actions.

  • Ask clients for recommendations (after a few small projects and right after delivering a big project).

    💡 Use your client’s email or message in which they share how happy they are with your service. Remember to always ask them for permission.

A linguist, translator with 4 years of experience, and passionate photographer and traveler. I like meeting new people from all around the world and getting to know 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, fashion, tourism, and hospitality. I also run a blog on which I share my insights and knowledge as a translator and linguist.

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