Focus first on your local community, city or state. Many of those who engage in the certified translations business often act like schoolchildren who are released into their first day of summer vacation—they are eager to spread their wings and fly as far and wide as possible. That is why they often do the shotgun approach—looking for clients practically everywhere without regard of country or location. What many of them don’t realize is that there may be organizations or individuals in their local area that may need a language translator on a periodic basis—this means a steady stream of repeat business. If you live in a city, there is a high likelihood that there are many local businesses that may in fact need you—why should they hire that freelance certified translator they met only on the internet when here you are, someone they could meet personally and with whom they can discuss their concerns in detail.
There is gold in volunteer work. This may sound opportunistic, but it is true: volunteer organizations (those that can be found online or in your local community) often need someone who can competently provide certified translations services for free, and doing free work for them is not actually a one-way deal. Your service will return to benefit you in manifold ways: start the word of mouth buzzing, help build up your portfolio, create some positive publicity, and the volunteer organization’s affiliates or contacts (that may potentially become paying customers) will get to know the work you provide.
Maintain a website or blog. Talk about your certified translations business, but keep the discussion positive, constructive and friendly. Maintaining a blog is best as, over time, you will be able to gain a steadily increasing number of followers (each of whom may be a potential client) and also enhance your web presence. Having your own website also projects a good image of you as a reliable, honest professional. After all, in this day and age, who doesn’t have a website, anyway?
Ask current clients for referrals. Each time you complete a job, you should politely ask your client if they can refer you to anyone that may need the services of a certified translations professional. You should also make it a point to finish a job by sending the client a satisfaction survey—this can help you stay “aware” of where you currently are in terms of skills. Also, knowing that each client can be your “ambassador” for future jobs is more than enough motivation for you to constantly ensure that your work is nothing less than impeccable.