Why we recommend “blogging” for translators Spoiler: it's not actually blogging like writing about your cat(s)!




  • Greater than 6 minutes, my friend!

    Let’s talk about blogs for a bit. I came across a post where some folks were, essentially, saying “hahaha, people still suggest that you create a blog in order to find translation work, what bobos, hahaha.”

    Now, I can’t fault them for having this belief, I think that the concepts and goals behind content marketing aren’t usually communicated, or at least not communicated clearly, and that makes it seem silly. However, and before I get too far into this, I would like to say that we’re not blogging in the typical sense of the word. We’re not writing about our daily lives, our pets, or anything like that, we’re writing professional articles with specific audiences in mind and giving them a clear call to action. So, in an effort to explain why you should have a website and blog if you want to grow your business online, I present the following:

    What the frack is Content Marketing?!

    Content Marketing is the idea of creating a relationship with your client by creating articles, videos, or whatever that contains information that they consider valuable and helps to establish you as an expert, or at least someone that has a good idea of what they’re talking about.

    Pro Tip: it helps if you really are an expert or have some idea of what you’re talking about.

    This content is then presented or made available to your target audience, typically on a website, where they can engage with it, comment on it, and, most importantly, complete the Call to Action. The call to action, or CTA, is the task that you want your reader to perform after interacting with your content.

    A good example would be a video game trailer. Think about it, they show you this cool video with scenes from the game, maybe a voice over telling you all about it, trying to make it look cool, and at the end, they say something like “pre-order now at GameStop” or whatever. They’re showing you content that you find interesting, the game footage, which they’ve adapted for a specific audience, like, imagine a CoD style video for a game like Candy Crush, with the call to action at the end “give us money now!” That’s a very simple example, but you could also look at something like an AMA with the devs, a behind-the-scenes interview or something, as long as it has that call to action.

    So, how do we do that with translation? The easiest path would be to create something about how companies in your industry are benefiting from translation and then invite the reader to contact you for a consultation where you offer them translation services. However, you can write about challenges in your industry, new tools, techniques, or trends, or even people. Just remember what your website’s goal is and focus your content on that goal.

    SEO 101

    Now, let’s talk about Google for a minute (most search engines work in the same way, it’s just easier to type “Google” than “most search engines”). The first thing that you should know about Google is that people use it to find things by performing what we in the industry call a “search.” These “searches” usually denote some sort of intent on the part of the “searcher” to acquire information provided by the “searchee” … maybe I’ve been translating too many legal documents lately.

    So, your customer, a game developer, hops on Google and does a search for “video game translator” (180 average searches per month). Google then goes to its index, which is a list of all the websites on the internet, or at least the public ones, and tries to determine which of those websites provides the best information about “video game translator.” I like to compare this to a robot trying to find the best can of corn in a pantry full of tin cans. There are 1,220,000 results for “video game translator,” so we’re talking about over 1.2 million cans of corn. Robots can’t eat corn (that I’m aware of), and so it can’t really judge on its own which corn is the best. What it can do is read the label, the ingredients, look at the picture, open it up and look inside, and see what other people that ordered the same thing have done in the past.

    Your article and your entire website are a can of corn. Make sure that your article title is the main keyword (search term) that you want to target, that any tags you use are relevant to your content and that your post is actually about corn! If Google places your post in its search results and people click on it and then spend time reading it, Google will notice and think, “Hey! This is great stuff! People really like this! I’m going to recommend it again the next time someone uses that search term.” And your post will start to appear higher and higher in the search results. Higher rankings mean more traffic, and more traffic means more clients. If your content is really good then people will share it, they’ll mention it on their own websites, and argue about it on Twitter. Every time a link to your post is placed on another website or shared on certain social media platforms it creates something called a backlink. Google sees it and goes, “whoa, people really like this, I need to promote it even more!”

    Don’t be fooled, Google is a Synth

    And that’s basically how Google works. If you pick a good search term, people will be able to find your content and clients will find you. You can do the same thing with videos, images, and even maps. For more competitive search terms, you’re going to need some extra help. It’s a bit more complicated and you’re probably going to benefit most from simply hiring an SEO Ninja to work on your site.

    Other Website Benefits

    • While the main idea behind building a website, and adding a steady stream of new content to it is to capture that organic traffic, there are some side benefits to it as well.
    • You can use your website as an online business card and portfolio.
    • If you handle any type of document that’s fairly consistent, you can have clients pay you in advance for those translations. I do this for immigration paperwork.
    • As backlinks are created for one of your articles, it strengthens your site’s overall metrics so that other articles will rank higher by default. You can also include links to those other articles and promote them as well.
    • You get your own professional emails! No more tristongoodwinspanishtranslatorandtotallynotaspammer@gmail.com!
    • Email lists! I’ll dedicate a whole post to email lists for translators. In short, it was one of the easiest ways to fill my schedule with new projects. Your CTA can be to sign up for a newsletter and you can capture emails addresses that way.

    My CTA

    I hope that clarifies why we recommend blogging. It’s simply another way to help clients find you by creating valuable, shareable, and searchable content. You may notice that this blog is very similar to what I’ve talked about here. My target audience is the freelance translator that’s trying to find more work, especially those in video game localization. My CTA is typically for you to sign up for the email list, or in this case, I want you guys to start thinking about creating a blog. I have some follow-up posts that will explore the technical aspects in a bit more detail, but I want you to be able to make your own website or have someone make it for you, and find clients.

    Here’s your call to action, folks. I have three options for you:

    If you want a professional to build your website for you, sign up for my wife’s Websites for Translators beta tester program by clicking here: http://eepurl.com/cLj73v

    If you want a super simple blog to see if you like it, check out my tutorial on Blogger here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fxbC4h01QeU

    Or if you want an easy to use, drag and drop, website builder like what I used for my first blog, check out Weebly and my tutorials here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLgAqFoQC3_lOfabdwJOrGleLDH2ETm8Vz

    I also have a review of HostGator, my favorite website hosting provider, that you can check out.

    Ok, you now know what to do, why you should do it, and how. Get to work.

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    Triston Goodwin

    About Triston Goodwin

    4 thoughts on “Why we recommend “blogging” for translators

    1. Hey Triston! Awesome post! Here’s to hoping people won’t frown upon shameless self-promotion in the end. 😉

      As someone who has built an entire blogging platform for translators I couldn’t agree more that content marketing is essential if you want to get targeted, high-quality leads on your website. The main problem many translators face however, is that they don’t have much of experience writing targeted content.

      In order to get there you need to fully understand who’s your audience (aka your ideal client). What do they need? What problems do they have? What solutions can you offer? What’s your USP?

      All of that needs to be figured out BEFORE writing your first blog post, otherwise you’ll be generating content for the sake of generating content (and this is why some translation blogs receive some bad rep).

      The other problem is that we don’t have many examples of what’s a good client-targeted blog should look like. Even here, on The Open Mic we have a ton of blog posts for translators and only a tiny fraction of blogs for clients.

      I’m all in favor of writing excellent content for clients, but from my experience, it’s much harder than talking about the problems of your profession. I mean, I could write 10 Tips for Newbie Translators in a matter of seconds (even handcuffed and blindfolded), but writing a piece of content for client requires deep understanding of your niche and more importantly the ability to offer solutions to their problems.

      This is something that starting freelancers simply cannot have due to lack of experience and understanding of who their clients are.

      Here’s the funny thing, though (puts his SEO hat on): even if you write the “easy” content targeted at fellow translators, Google would still think that your website is somewhat relevant when someone performs a search for translators (stupid Google).

      So, in a way, writing content about translation, but not specifically targeted at clients, can still be beneficial in terms of SEO and even bring good leads.

      Just the other day I got a new client from my website who just found me on Google (even though I don’t write targeted content for clients).

      I guess, it can be summed up in a following way:

      a) Want to increases your Internet fame and a quick SEO boost – write for translators.
      b) Want to establish yourself as an expert translator who knows his/her niche, which will pay off in a long run – write for clients
      c) Or don’t write at all if you’re satisfied with everything you have right now, after all blogging is just a tool. Some people need it. Some people don’t. 🙂

      1. I totally agree! One of my first posts was a game review. The game was from a small publisher, but they liked it so much that they put it on their site and I even found a link to it in one of the developers CV. I found some great clients after that. But you’re right, it’s a lot easier to write about translation than Mexican asset forfeiture law. You’re also right about the boost from translation related posts for the rest of the site. Going back to the cab of corn thing, it’s like the Google robot seeing that people really like a particular brand, so they recommend it more in general. Your site here, for example, still out ranks me for a few keywords I’m going after 😉

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