As promised last week, today I’ll talk about my presentation at the XXXIV Semana do Tradutor (Translator’s Week) & I SIT (International Translation Syposium) at UNESP São José do Rio Preto, SP, Brazil. I was invited by my former Italian teacher at the same university to present at the event. It goes without saying that it was a fantastic and unforgettable experience to be a presenter at an event I was once a student attendee. Being on the other side, on the spotlight, serving (somehow) as an example is something every professional dreams of.
The idea of the topic arised from the fact that translation courses everywhere lack subjects oriented at the practical side of the profession. However, they are extremely important to following a successful career as a freelancer. I learned how to be a freelance practicing, living and learning, but it would be great if I could guide students on the dos and don’ts so they are better prepared when they graduate.
‘Cheshire Puss,’ she began, rather timidly […]. ‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Do you know the definition of branding? Well, we all certainly know what brand is, right? However, brand, in the context of branding, is not only a name, symbol or logo that identifies a company. It is not limited to a graphic form. It represents the company’s identity and its values and products/services developed and sold. From the point of view of the consumer, brand is a perception that results from experiences, impressions and feelings regarding a certain company, product or service. It’s its internal structure, principles, products/services, relationship with clients, means of communication, and all actions that directly or indirectly interfere on the image.
Branding, therefore, means brand management. It comprises the strategies to add value to the brand. It aims at making the potential consumer believe that your brand is the only solution to what they need. It envolves passion – the most visible external part of your brand. Branding is a simple mental model that collectively represents what people feel, think and say about a brand, where the meaning is established throughout time by experiences and consistent positive engagement.
As a freelancer, you are your brand, so you should know how to manage it accordingly.
Steps to creating a brand:
- Choose a name.
- Choose a logo.
- Have your own domain.
Have your client in mind when following the steps above and be authentic. Don’t try to be something you are not nor show an image that does not resonate with you. The idea is to differentiate your brand from all the others available in the market and to highlight it.
In order to find out what your brand identity (values and attributes you want to pass on to the market) is, try answering the following questions:
- What gives you pleasure? (What do you really like doing?)
- How do you like working? (At home? At an office?)
- In which way? (Try to remember how you accomplished that project you are so proud of. Was it working late at night? Was it following a strict routine?)
- Why? (What values you definitely do not give up on? For example, quality of life, safety, challenges, visibility.)
This last question is essential to finding your meaning in life. It requires a deep personal thinking and helps you find what inspires you to get out of bed at 5 a.m. every morning or to work late or even around the clock. As the Cat, in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, said, you need to know where you are going to in order to know which way to take, otherwise, any way will do, and you may find yourself completely lost further down the road.
Marketing, as the name says, is how you market your branding. Marketing that does not add value is simply ignored.
The first and most important marketing tool is the website. As a translator, you should pay careful attention to grammar and punctuation. Carefully proofread your content or have someone you trust do it for you. Also, have it translated to all the languages you work with. Again, proofread the translation or have someone do it for you. You can’t afford a mistranslation or a typo.
There are also other physical and online marketing materials, such as business cards, freebies (calendars, pens, notepads, etc.), leaflets, online sweepstakes/giveaways, etc.
Social media is where you apply your marketing. They are channels of interaction with the client and provide exposure. The most common are Facebook (fan page, not personal profile), Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram, about.me.
According to Al Ries, a person’s day is essentially divided into three parts: work, sleep and media. Work and sleep together do not take as much of our time as media does.
The average mind consumes 40 thousand words per day. That’s a lot of information! We have to make infinite choices every day to decide what deserves our attention or not. In order to be chosen by your client, you need to caught their attention, be visible.
The more you are active online, the more “searchable” you become. You publish something interesting on the blog, people like and share, Google recognizes your blog as something important, because people are talking about it, so you are better ranked. When someone googles your name, there you are, on the first page.
If you do not like social media that much, choose at least one and dedicate some of your time every day to it.
- Be extremely careful when choosing your profile picture! If possible, do some professional photoshooting. If not, choose a clean, professionaly-looking picture where your face is clearly visible and recognizable.
- Take some time to write a full description of yourself and your services.
- When requesting to add people to your network, if you are not sure the person knows/remembers you, write a personalized request, explaining where you know them from and why you want to connect with them. Do not randomly add people just for the sake of having as many people on your network as possible.
- Be careful with the content you publish and with the words you chose to write on social media.
I’ll sum up this rather long post telling you the supermarket metaphor. Brands at the supermarket are logistically placed on shelves, right? Some of them are in a prominent position, easily found, no need to look much to find them; others are on the bottom shelves and you need to make a certain effort to find them; others, still, are piled up with other random brands in a basket where it reads “ON SALE”. What type of brand do you want to be?
Here’s the Keynote presentation saved as PDF for your reference (in Portuguese): Mídias sociais, branding e marketing. On Slide 8 you can find suggestions of influential people to follow. On Slide 10 you can find some references (in English). And finally, on Slide 11 you can find all the places where to find me online.
Please feel free to add any comments or ask any questions.