Woohoo! Have I just called you…? LOL, negative. In fact, I'm quite lazy myself (in the head too), when it comes to marketing and other such penny-pinching pencil-pushing boringness, but the point is: this is something anybody could do. And his dog, probably. In fact, dogs are quite good at it.
Even if you actually were a bit on the slow side, such as me before my fourth coffee of the morning (which usually happens around two o'clock in the afternoon), you still could. Right? So stop worrying that you can't. Because you can. Because, again, it's so simple anyone could do it — even though experience teaches that, ultimately, not everyone can, or will. More advantage for you if you will and they won't.
Enough of my babbling on what in fact has only been one or two coffees this morning (actually, I've just made a third, so by all estimates I should be coming round soon). What you need is:
1. People getting that translation from you and paying you for it.
2. People coming back for more, or more people coming.
Point two is actually simpler than point one, so let's start from there:
1. They need good translation (even if they don't know the difference), which they came to you for in the first place.
2. Like everyone, they'd also prefer minimum fuss and maximum comfort, safety, reliability and so on. They're probably appreciate you being an all-round agreeable fellow (of either sex).
3.While there are no guarantees, as long as you satisfy #1 and #2 there's still a strong chance they'll be coming back, referring their friends or leaving you nice testimonials. Any of which will help you keeping moving forward.
This means the best marketing you can get — and the cheapest — is just simply doing what you're paid for and not being a jerk about it. Don't let this truth be diluted in all the talk about formalized QA/QC and client-service standards and routines. This is precisely the common-sense alternative to those complicated and not necessarily helpful things.
Now on to point one:
The best source of new clients is happy old clients. Either directly, by referrals, or indirectly, by testimonials. Try to get both.
You also need to look credible and project confidence and inspire trust. You're toiling hard for a living and not loitering about like someone who has developed an aversion to honest work, so suit up and get a real photo. Proofread the CV. Run in through someone who has actual experience hiring or preparing candidates, to make sure it's relevant and well organized. Find more places to plant you CV in, both online and offline. The more you sow, the more you will reap. It doesn't have to be 20 different places, at least not right off the bat, but don't skip important channels or put them off for later. Mind your website: It's about the only place on the Internet where you can present yourself totally on your own terms, so use it. Nobody's going to be telling you what can be included and what can't, or what has to be there, or what the character limit is. None of that, zero, nil. So use the freedom.
Perhaps you feel you aren't the greatest writer humanity has to offer. Statistically speaking, that's probably right. Still, it doesn't take an award-winning storyteller to just answer a couple of questions your clients might be interested in. If you have an arts degree, your writing can't be too awful, so at worse you'll deliver something that looks like an actual piece of communication between human beings and not a contest entry for critics to dote on (or slaughter mercilessly as they see fit, as if your clients give a rat's breath).
Do you know how much work it takes to sound natural once you've lost the ability? Thousands of writers try to sound less experienced at their craft than they really are. So you don't really have to worry so much. Just put in some effort and make it matter, because it matters to you. If it doesn't, then don't complain about not getting the results without putting in the work.
So, work hard on your jobs and work hard on your clients, or rather your communication with them, and you'll see results.
Hard work alone will probably not make you a rockstar, but given the current state of the market and of the profession even getting the basics right will net you a sizeable advantage — and will get things done for you.
1. The reason I didn't want to say 'buying' is a long story for a different day.