How to find YOUR niche market as a translator… ...using the DIP technique

Greater than 3 minutes, my friend!

First of all, happy New Year to everyone here at Open Mic!

Today I would like to share one of the latest developments in my translation and interpreting business. For those of you attending BP17, this is just a small taste of the 50-minute talk I will be giving at the Hotel Aréna in Budapest on Saturday, May 6.

Throughout 2016, I began to realize that even though I love translating as well as the translation process and the intellectual challenges that go with it I can hardly spend a whole day translating. After 4–5 hours spent at my desk – as ergonomic as it may be – I feel the need to get some fresh air, see people and do some networking or anything else that does not strain my eyes or my brain.

This helped me become aware that I might need to do more of the things I love. In other words, I should translate more texts that appeal to me personally. That’s when I decided to bring some focus to my freelance translation business. Up to now, I had always pitched myself as a “marketing translator”. But this was much too broad. I sharpened my area of expertise to include only marketing copy for the food, fashion and lifestyle industry. However, even that was somehow too broad and I felt the need to narrow down the field further.

I remembered having read in The Wealthy Freelancer by Ed Gandia, Steve Slaunwhite and Pete Savage that freelancers should specialize in something they’re passionate about. More easily said than done I thought (which is pretty much always my first thought when reading advice by super gurus), but definitely worth trying. According to the authors, all you need to do is apply the Discover, Identify and Position (short “DIP”) technique to pursue YOUR niche.


The first step involves discovering what you have to offer. If your hobby can be easily turned into a specialization – say, if you love horse riding, travelling or outdoor sports – well, lucky you, go ahead! However, this might not be the case for many of us.

I myself had to get more creative. I started by brainstorming about my education, passions, beliefs, political views and – (don’t laugh!) – what I wanted to be when I was growing up. I started writing down that I’ve always been interested in natural, healthy and sustainable foods and that I wanted to become a nutritionist when I was younger. I even caught myself thinking that I had always wanted to make the world a better and greener place. And then everything started falling into place. After this huge brainstorming session, it seemed somehow logical that I should specialize in marketing copy for organic food and natural cosmetics companies – a field in which Germany is a pioneer.


According to the book, the second step is about identifying if there’s a market for your specialization and finding your ideal client. At this point I should tell you that I spent hours, even days, at my desk doing painstaking market research, looking up my target companies on the internet and collecting all sort of data such as company size, the number of employees, contact details. I highly recommend doing this!

To be honest, though, I didn’t want to spend too much time on this. So I looked for trade shows and attended the SANA fair (an international exhibition of natural products) in Bologna, assuming that German companies exhibiting there might be at least interested in selling their products in Italy. Of course I did some homework before going to the fair and approaching my dream clients: I tried to find out more about their products (some of which I tried out myself), services, sales structure and philosophy, stalking them on social media etc.

For the record: my visit to the SANA earned me two new great clients!


Once you’ve found out what you have to offer and have assessed if there’s a market for it, you need to position yourself within that market. Besides visiting trade fairs and other industry events to get my name out there, I started trying out inbound and outbound marketing techniques, which include creating dedicated social media profiles and a blog as well as updating my website. I will go into more detail about this is at BP17. Of course I will also tell you which marketing efforts have paid off so far.

In my talk, I will explain what I do on a daily basis to make sure I stay on top of my game in my specialization, i.e. how I manage to find time to read industry publications and cultivate my genuine interest for the niche I’m specializing in.

Have I made you curious? I would love to see at BP17 in Budapest!! (Don’t worry! There will be a few other awesome speakers, too). Otherwise, check out my new website or my Twitter account. Also feel free to add your two cents to what I’ve written!

Looking forward to your comments.

Caterina Saccani - Saccani Translations

About Caterina Saccani - Saccani Translations

Italian freelance Conference Interpreter & Translator, living and working in Belgium and Germany. Languages: Italian, German, English, Dutch

11 thoughts on “How to find YOUR niche market as a translator… ...using the DIP technique

  1. Very intersting post Caterina!
    ” freelancers should specialize in something they’re passionate about…” This is very true. We have to specialize in something we like (or at least we have an interes into) and we will keep on following in future years, so that our investment in it can make sense in the long run and offer good return.

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  2. Hi Caterina,

    Great to learn from you that visiting a fair offered new clients to you. But how do you do that in practice? What’s your approach?
    “Hello, I am a translator using your products, how can I help you”?

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    1. That’s actually a great question, Pieter!
      I prefer not to mention that I’m a translator straight away. I usually ask several questions about the company, their philosophy, manufacturing process, USPs etc. Then I usually aks how their products are doing in Italy, what their sales structure looks like there (if they already have one at all). After keeping an interesting conversation going for a few minutes I ask for their contact details/name card and give them mine “for future references” or “in case you want to expand in Italy” etc. At this point I usually also mention that I have a blog where I share interesting updates that could be interesting for them.
      This approach has worked out well for me so far, but I recognize that it might not be suitable to approach clients in other industries.

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  3. Great post, Caterina! Glad to have you back on The Open Mic! Really missed your stories! It’s a very simple yet highly effective approach. I think the hardest part is identifying the need for your services in your chosen niche. Most translators don’t know where to start, they have no idea who their clients are or where to find them. Can you give them any advice?

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Dmitry! I have been quiet on the Open Mic recently, as I was very busy and … had run a bit out of ideas for stories to share 😉
      I agree with you that identifying companies that might need your services is definitely the toughest part. What seems to work out for me is attending INTERNATIONAL trade fairs and events as most companies who exhibit are interested in selling their products abroad and have at least the critical mass to go international. And not all of them are so big that they all have a regular supplier for translation services.
      I recommend that you start by attending the leading fair of your target industry in the country of your target language and visit exhibitors from the countries of your source language.
      Of course trade shows are not the only option. Other places where you could find clients in your niche include:
      -chambers of commerce: many of them organize networking and CPD events; you might also want to buy a directory with companies selling to your target language country, maybe also in your niche.
      -professional associations of your target industry: browse their member directories, attend their events if they’re open to non members as well. Take a membership into consideration if you qualify for it.
      -Business oriented Social Media platforms allow you to look up companies in a specific industry and identify who’s in charge of international sales/marketing/PR in the company. Why not drop them a line directly on the social media platform?
      -CPD and networking events in your niche. For instance, I’m planning to attend a natural skin care bar camp (informal workshop) next June 😉
      Of course this all involves leaving your comfort zone, but if you specialize in a field that appeals you also personally and not only professionally you will also have a lot of fun.
      Should you reach the conclusion that this is not your cup of cake after all, you might decide to focus on inbound marketing efforts instead, which means that you will try to be found by your customers instead of looking for them. In this case you should position yourself cleverly in the industry, which involves:
      -creating a strong dedicated web presence, optimizing it for the search engines (don’t forget to mention your niche in the keywords!)
      -writing articles and/or blog posts that offer valuable information for your target audience
      -create dedicated social media profiles and keep them up to date.
      -consider placing an advertisement in a magazine that your target audience reads.

      If you are looking for detailed advice on how to FIND your clients and approach them, I would like to recommend these two books:
      -The Wealthy Freelancer (which I mentioned in the article), which is not about translation though
      – The Prosperous Translator — Advice from Fire Ant & Worker Bee, compiled and edited by Chris Durban.

      Dmitry, did I forget anything important? Please feel free to add anything!

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  4. I really regret the time I was away form Theopenmic. Though I am a late comer 🙂 trying as much as I can to benefit from all the articles and thoughts shared by all these wonderful translators.
    very interesting article Caterina, thank you .
    I find myself in literature and literary translation, this is what I am quite passionate about. But, the last time I received a work on this adorable niche of mine was 3 months. so sad 🙂
    I will really consider these precious advice.
    thank you

  5. Hi Caterina! I came across your article by chance and, to tell you the truth, I think it was exactly what I needed to read. I felt you were talking to me. Lately I have been thinking about how to identify my own niche and what I find interesting about your article is that you suggest a set of actions, which are very useful. Thank you!


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