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The Elements of a Translator’s Website

by bruck | August 25th, 2018


Uri Bruck



Loosely based on a talk given at Tzviya and Stephen Rifkind‘s place at a translators’ gathering.

A freelancer’s web presence is an important part of one’s marketing. Freelance translators are no different. Sure, there are translator directories, and social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Medium, however, your own website is where you hang your shingle. It’s where you get to tell about yourself, whatever you want, however you want. All the other parts of your web presence are useful, but they should come in addition to your site, not in its stead.

The most important thing your site should tell the world is what you can do for clients. Writing about your education and experience is nice and important, but what the client really wants to know is what you can do for him.

In addition it’s a good idea to flesh out your site with a little more content. That could be pages with something interesting about your fields of expertise. It could something about the business of translation, some information that you feel is useful to a potential client. The additional content could also be a blog. You can  have both. The point is that it should look like the person behind the site knows what they’re talking about. Most translator blogs I’ve seen tend to have content aimed mainly at translators. That’s also fine. Other translators who read your blog may end up referring clients to you, or may even become clients themselves. If you have a blog about language or translation, let me know and I’ll add it to the Planet Translation Israel, an aggregation of language & translation blogs.

Get your clients to write short recommendations for you that you can put on you website. Also include short samples from your translations. Make sure your site is readable on mobile devices.

Nowadays social media is also a very important part of your online presence. On Facebook you can have a profile, usually associated with a person, and you can have fan pages (aka business pages). The common wisdom used to be that your business presence on Facebook should be on a page, rather than a profile. However, recently Facebook decreased the visibility of page postings, according to them, to make it more social again, in practice, to encourage page owners to pay for paid advertising. Another option is to have two separate profiles, one personal, and one business. That is, one for the translator John Smith, and one for the person John Smith.

If you do choose to have a fan/biz page, make sure you avoid some common mistakes. Lots of likes are a good thing, right? Not necessarily. Only a handful of followers see any given post, so if you have a lot of likes from people who won’t share your post, and won’t engage with it, then the followers who will engage, see fewer posts. That is why trading likes between businesses “if you like my page, I’ll like yours”, especially completely unrelated businesses doesn’t help a page. Quite the opposite. The practice of buying likes is even worse – you pay for a bunch of deadbeat followers.

The decision whether you need a separate business profile depends in part on what kind of stuff you normally share. Look at your recent posts – if this is the sort of stuff more suitable just for friends and family, then you should consider a separate business profile. If it’s mostly stuff that reflects well on you and on your expertise, then perhaps you don’t need this separation.

If you’re on twitter, follow relevant users, create lists, reply to tweets in your fields of interest and expertise. Tweet 3-4 times a day something relevant to your work. Include a link to your website at least once a day as a relevant part of your tweet. Get a widget of the lists relevant to your work, and add them to your site. You can see an example of this on the main page of the Translation Israel Project . Look for “Language” and below that “A twitter list” – that’s a widget for a list I created of twitter users who usually tweet about language and translation. It includes translators, linguists, official twitter accounts of some online dictionaries, etc.

Large content sites are also a form of social media. You can post articles on the site. Follow other users, respond to their texts. You can even imports content from your site or blog to Medium. Some advice lists may warn you that Google penalizes duplicate content. A couple of duplicated pages don’t really matter to Google. If you post the same thing dozens of times on multiple sites within a few hours – that’s noticed, and might be considered the kind of duplicate content Google penalizes. Furthermore, there’s an html tag that tells Google that a page is actually a copy of another page elsewhere, and that Google should index the canonical page. The tag is called the canonical tag. When you import content to Medium from another site, the canonical tag is added automatically, pointing to the original site. If you use WordPress, there’s a plugin that puts your posts automatically on Medium, as drafts, and with the canonical tag.

Due to the importance of social media, you should make your site easy to share. You can do this with Share This . It provides ready-made code to paste into your site  that displays share buttons. The default buttons are for the most common social media sites. They have a large selection of buttons for other sites.

Make your site more interesting and appealing with images. Even with a good graphic design, done either by a professional graphic designer, one from an existing theme – pictures catch the eye. Try to make them relevant to the text. Laptops, dictionaries, typewriters are all somewhat relevant to translators. Microphones can be relevant to narrators and interpreters. There are plenty sites with free stock images. Recently I found Pexels  and used an image from it on a story I posted on steem .  That’s also where I got the featured image for this post. Make sure you read the terms of use carefully. Some images are free only for personal use. Some require attribution. There are also plenty of non-free stock images sites. Some cheap, some not so cheap.