Copywriting tips for translators

Simple Copywriting Tips for Freelance Translators

There’s no getting around it. These are tough times. Many of us self-employed are eyeing our inboxes and Excel spreadsheets anxiously, wondering how on earth this is going to all play out.

Whilst some of us translators will be up to our eyeballs in C-word related translations, some of us have found that translation work is suddenly a little thin on the ground.

You are, of course, quite within your rights to do whatever you damn well please with this time. We should feel under no pressure to be productive or make this all about our businesses. There’s a lot to process right now.

But if you do find yourself with some available time and mental capacity, then you might want to spend some time on your website or marketing copy to help boost your chances of landing new clients further down the line.

But writing about yourself is never easy

As translators, we’re pretty good with words. So good, we make a living out of them.

But a lot of us struggle to find the right words to sell our own services. When it comes to writing about ourselves or our business, we get a serious case of writer’s block.

As both a copywriter and a translator, I often help translation agencies and freelance translators with their website copy or their blog posts.

I either create it for them from scratch, or just tweak the copy they’ve already written to make it sound more natural or perfect the tone of voice they’re aiming for.

The fact that I know the translation industry means I’m able to make sure that they’re hitting the nail on the head with their content.

I see the same issues cropping up again and again, both in native speakers of English and those who speak incredible English, but not as their mother tongue.

So, if you need to create content for your translation website or blog and you’re struggling to get it right, then these simple copywriting tips for freelance translators should help get you started.

I really hope you find them useful.

Copywriting quotes Mark Twain

Figure out your USP

Before you can write fantastic copy for your website, you need to be clear on exactly what it is you have to offer, and what sets you apart from the crowd.

There are a lot of freelance translators out there, so you need to let prospective clients know why you, specifically, are the one they should be working with.

  • What are your specialisms? What are your strengths?
  • Who are your main clients?
  • What makes your business different? What do you have to offer that others can’t?
  • What’s it like to work with you?

It can be extremely helpful to come up with two sentences that succinctly express who you are, what you do and why people should care, that you can refer back to whenever you need to.

Here’s mine for a little inspiration:

“Katie Uniacke is a friendly, location-independent copywriter and translator, creating, editing and translating flawless copy for sustainable travel brands.
When it comes to copywriting, she sticks to her native English, but she translates from both Spanish and Portuguese.”

P.S I nailed my USP thanks to Kate Toon’s brilliant Recipe for SEO Success course that I did last year. I’d highly recommend it to anyone wanting to work on their SEO knowledge and get a clearer idea of their business’s identity into the bargain.

Write like you talk

I don’t know about you, but when I was at school it was drilled into me that written language always had to be a world apart from spoken language.

Figuring out that it doesn’t can be a hard lesson to learn, but once you’ve cracked it you’ll find writing your own copy so much easier.

Think about how you would describe your business to a friend, or to a prospective client on the phone. Try and write your copy using that same style and tone of voice, as if you were having a conversation with your reader.

Make sure you show your personality

As a freelancer, you are your business, and your copy needs to reflect that. You shouldn’t feel need to the hide behind a corporate veneer, pretending you’re just one of a big team or standing on ceremony.

This post on how to write with personality by Sophie Livingston of Kickstart Content (a guest post on Lemon&Birch‘s blog – check out her amazing brand design services) sums this one up beautifully.

It gives you some great tips on how to define your brand personality and talks about why it’s helpful to write with your dream client in mind.

Don’t be afraid of abbreviations

Remember what I mentioned above, about writing how you speak?

Using abbreviations will make that an awful lot easier. I know your English teacher probably did their best to tell you NOT to use abbreviations in your writing, but I’m here to tell you you can.

In fact, you really should.

Abbreviations (e.g do not > don’t, we will > we’ll) can transform a text, turning it from something that sounds a bit wooden and forced into something that flows far better.

That makes a text more engaging and easier to read. Even if you work in a more formal field like medical or legal, this still applies, as you’re still talking to people who will respond better to more readable copy.

…or white space

White space is all the space on a page that’s not taken up by text, and it’s very important for making your text easy to digest.

I know, we were all told that a paragraph has to end when you’ve finished each point.

It doesn’t.

A paragraph can be as short as this.

Yes, really.

Breaking up your copy can help the eye skim through the text and pick out the important information, so think about the space around your copy as well as the words themselves.

…or breaking the ‘rules’

Yes, you can start a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’. And you can do lots of other things besides.

Of course, there are certain grammar rules you can’t get around, but if you don’t feel a certain convention works for you or want to express yourself a certain way, then go for it.

As long as your copy is clear and understandable, then language is a tool for you to use as you please to communicate with your particular audience.

Copywriting quotes Jodi Picoult

Get a native speaker to check your work

If you’re writing in a language that’s not your own, then you may well need to turn to a native speaker to make sure that your texts are error-free and as well expressed as they can be.

I, for example, know that no matter how good my Spanish or Portuguese might be, I’ll always need a native speaker to check my work before I publish it.

It’s not just about grammar. It’s about tone of voice, cultural references and making sure that your copy really connects with your potential customers.

Investing in a native editor could be what takes your copy from good to fantastic.

Need help with your copy? Just get in touch to find out more about my copywriting and editing services. It’d be lovely to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “Simple Copywriting Tips for Freelance Translators

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    […] been offering some free reviews of website copy for translators recently, and a common theme that’s come up is how they’d all like to have a blog, and […]

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    […] shared some copywriting tips for translators in a previous blog. If you’re struggling with your website copy (we all do!), then they might […]

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