Fact: Clients rarely go looking for good all-around translators.
They almost always search for translators whose skills match perfectly with the job they have in hand.
Example: Imagine you run a translation agency, and you have just received an automotive patent from an important Spanish client. It is important that the job be done right...and as usual, time is a factor. Which of these pros would catch your eye?
Most clients would contact Maria before Jose.
"Well," you might say, "Maria is reducing her chances of picking up medical or literary jobs." That's true. But by being too general, Jose is reducing his chances of winning jobs of all types.
What does this mean to you? If you are looking to pick up jobs online, you need to market yourself as a specialist.
Here are some tips for becoming--and standing out as--a specialist:
Limit the number of languages and fields in your profile to a maximum of five to seven. (Even if you can work in more--plan on getting general jobs offline; online you need to target!)
Highlight your experience in your chosen field in your profile page. Be sure your tagline reflects your specific expertise.
Share your expertise by publishing online articles in the areas in which you have special knowledge. People will contact you to discuss, or when they need help and/or your services.
Subscribe to, and answer, KudoZ in your specific niche (you will find the KudoZ traffic is manageable when you target). Over time, you will not only earn points, you will also get to know the other experts in the field.
Publish a glossary of your own in your field. Make it available to the general public.
Build a field-specific translation memory. This will give you a competitive advantage, increasing your speed, consistency and profitability. (You may want to swap TMs with others whom you trust in order to grow your resource.)
Over time, gather a team of top experts in your niche. You'll have them to go to when you land large jobs (and they'll have you when they do.)
Read books and periodicals, attend trade shows, and otherwise get to know the key people and companies in your niche. End clients will recognize immediately that you know your (their) stuff.
Buy the ProZ.com directory text ads in your specializations, being sure to write text that highlights your expertise.
Go Platinum! Taking out a ProZ.com platinum membership significantly increases your chances of being noticed online. (Writing a howto on your specialty will earn browniz that can reduce the cost of platinum membership.)
Contact key clients in your field directly with well-written, professional cover letters, resumes, portfolios, (opt-in) client lists.
Create a website, at your own domain. On it, make your specialization clear. Register with the major search engines, and give your URL to clients when applying or delivering work. ProZ.com provides comprehensive web hosting services to full platinum members.
Follow these guidelines and you will find that the reach of the Internet is your friend; clients worldwide who truly need your unique expertise and are willing to pay for it
(and not a commodity service) are now just a mouseclick away from you. This has never in the past been possible.