The Biggest Mistake Translators Make in Their First Email To Potential Clients – and How to Fix It

Email is still the most effective tool you can use to promote your freelance translation business. 

But many freelance translators make a major mistake when they use email as a marketing tool.

Their first email is not worth opening!

I have sent 1000s of marketing emails over the last 15 years of my career as a translator.

Some of these emails failed to bring me any clients, and some of them brought in clients I have been working with for years.

There was one major mistake that I made for many years – and after it was fixed, email became my primary marketing strategy.

Want to know it to avoid that mistake?

Here you go!

The major mistake is to sell your translation services in the first email

When sending emails to offer translation services for the first time to potential clients, most freelance translators write long emails with their CV and qualifications attached.

I did that, too!

This is not a successful strategy in this crazy and busy world.

Emails written this way are usually ignored, deleted, or go straight to spam! Let me tell you why this is not a smart or effective strategy.

Email is still the most effective tool you can use to promote your freelance translation business. 

This doesn’t work because you don’t know the job of the first email

Freelance translators who try to sell in the first email they send to clients give everything away in that email.

They mention their work history, education, specialization, prices, and previous clients, and attach their CV.

By doing this, they try to convince the client that they’re a qualified translator and are a good fit for them. But as the clients are often busy, they may forget about that email or ignore it.

The Solution

Please remember this: The job of the first email to a potential client is to “open a conversation with the potential client”.

You first need the potential client to reply to your email and talk with you.

Keep your first email short – just 3-4 lines, so they can read it all.

Ask them one question in that email to encourage them to reply.

The simplest question is to ask them if they need to review your CV, but that doesn’t mean you do have to attach your CV in that first email.

Try it – it really works!

Please remember this: The job of the first email to a potential client is to “open a conversation with the potential client”.

Selling in the first email doesn’t work because you need to qualify the client

Maybe you did your homework by looking at the potential client’s website, checked their LinkedIn profile, and found their contact information.

But are you sure they need your translation or interpretation services?

Do they have enough work volume in your language pair to justify the time you will spend chasing them?

Do you think they can afford your prices?

Do they have appropriate payment terms? You need to find the answers to many questions before you start offering your services to a client.

Solution

Follow up with these potential clients for as long as you can. Always remember that they are busy and do not have much time for you.

Send them reminders about your CV or the email you sent them. My pattern is to follow up once a week. Sometimes, I may follow up after 3 months if the potential client replies and tells me that they’re already working with another translator or language service provider.

My pattern is to follow up once a week. Sometimes, I may follow up after 3 months if the potential client replies and tells me that they’re already working with another translator or language service provider.

Selling in the first email doesn’t work because you don’t follow up

Usually, when a translator tries to email a potential client for the first time, they get in touch with the vendor manager, the HR department, the marketing manager, or some other decision- maker.

Can you imagine how many tasks this person handles every day?

Do you think they have an urgent need for your language pair?

Do you think they need the language services you provide now?

Look at yourself. What do you do when you receive a message about a service you may need later? You may just add that message to your future tasks, or even ignore it, right? The same happens with the decision-makers inside translation agencies or direct client offices. They just add your CV or email to their tasks list or ignore it. Or they delete the email.

Solution

Follow up with these potential clients for as long as you can. Always remember that they are busy and do not have much time for you.

Send them reminders about your CV or the email you sent them. My pattern is to follow up once a week.

Sometimes, I may follow up after 3 months if the potential client replies and tells me that they’re already working with another translator or language service provider.

What do you do when you receive a message about a service you may need later? You may just add that message to your future tasks, or even ignore it, right?

Conclusion

Your first email should be the key to open the potential client’s door. You need to start a conversation first, then take it to the next level.

Do not overwhelm your potential client with an endless email the first time you contact them.

Don’t give them everything about you – leave something for your next email! I hope you enjoyed reading this article. Feel free to leave me a comment describing your thoughts about these strategies.

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  • Mahmoud Ashour says:

    Great advice

  • Bushra says:

    Very interesting! Thank you for sharing what you learned.