for freelance translators and interpreters
A weblog, also known as a blog, is a frequently updated website consisting of dated comments arranged in a reverse chronological order so that the reader sees the most recent post first. In the past few years, blogs have become increasingly popular. First used as personal online journals, they have developed into powerful communication tools. By using a blog anyone can publish their thoughts and opinions on the web with minimum effort. A plethora of free and easy-to-use blog building tools are currently available online.
This article will give you some insight on how freelance translators and interpreters can use a blog as a powerful marketing tool. Having your own blog will help you develop your reputation as a professional and therefore improve your marketing strategy.
Step 1. Look out for what your competitors are doing. An easy way to start is to read what your competitors are writing about. There are hundreds of translation blogs around. You can use BlogPulse to start searching.
Step 2. Choose your blog’s main topic. Here rule number one is: the more specific the better. Your aim is to turn your blog into THE place to go for people needing information on your specific niche. You can choose from a number of topics which will vary according to your interests and skills. For example, your blog could cover information about your main language combination within your field of expertise; translation courses and degrees; subtitling tools; free online resources available for translators; the translation industry in your country of residence; tips on how to get direct clients and many more. The aim is to increase your online visibility as well as your credibility; therefore, your blog must clearly demonstrate your expertise.
Step 3. Choose your blog host service. I generally recommend blogger.com as it is free and very easy to use. You could also host it yourself by choosing a new domain name for your blog or incorporating it into your existing website as a sub-domain. Hosting it yourself will give you more control over your blog. Hosted systems like blogger.com work within a template which might present some limitations.
Step 4. Start posting. First of all, quality is the main reason why your visitors will come back to your blog. Make your blog interesting and relevant to your target audience. It is also important that your blog is well written (please don’t forget to run a spell check, after all we are language professionals) and well presented. Most blog host services have basic formatting tools available, but you can increment your blog’s style by using some simple HTML coding – See Gianfranco Manca’s tutorial. Secondly, you must update your blog on a regular basis. You don’t want your visitors to come back and notice that the information is still the same a month later. Thirdly, make your blog comment-friendly. Encourage readers to leave comments by posting challenging questions and topics which inspire debate. You can enable the comment moderation feature which will give you more control over the comments posted. Last but not least, don’t forget to include your contact details with links to your own website and Proz profile page.
Step 5. Get content. Since regularly updated content is your blog’s most valuable asset you must be in tune with what goes on in your field of expertise. A very handy way of doing this is to sign up for an RSS feed (Rich Site Summary), which will keep you updated on information you select by having it delivered to you directly. You can use Bloglines, Newsgator and Google Reader amongst many others. If you are going to publish information gathered from another colleague’s blog, newsletter and/or article you must let your reader know the source. Spread the word but don’t forget to name and link the source.
Step 6. Let people know your blog exists. There are two main ways of promoting your blog. The first one is to tell colleagues, clients and friends about it and include its address on your email signature. You should also submit your blog to blog-specific search engines such as Technorati, and Feedster. Secondly, you can resort to some Search Engine Optimisation SEO techniques. Search engines index a blog the same way they index a website. In order to have a good ranking with the main search engines you must make good use of content and keywords, which must be relevant to the subject, placed at the top of the page and also spread throughout the blog. Search engines also love new content, another very good reason to update your blog on a regular basis.
To sum up, a blog can be a powerful business tool if you spend time and effort turning it into a shop window for your skills. If colleagues and prospective clients read interesting and knowledgeable information on your blog they are much more likely to recommend or buy your professional services. With a successful blog you can market yourself as leading player in your field.
If you would like more information about Business Blogging I recommend a visit to www.betterbusinessblogging.com
English into Portuguese Translator and Managing Partner of hí-fen translation solutions.