Once preliminary financial matters are in order (such as Setting your Rate and Planning for Tax Season), some freelance interpreters report that getting assignments can be difficult. Here are a couple of tips about how to market your services as a freelance interpreter. They have been organized from most effective to least effective based on my personal experience.
Many of us heard about the language industry from a third party, be it the academic institution that trained us, a colleague or friend, a business associate, or current or former employer. Regardless of how you heard about the industry, chances are that the person or institution you heard it from either has a need or knows who has a need for interpreters. In my experience, this is the best way to start marketing your services, by reaching out to your network and asking to be introduced to potential clients (Language Services Companies, courts, institutions, organizations, etc.). Even if you are referred to an organization that cannot contract you directly, they will be able to provide you with information about who provides the service to them and maybe even refer you to that organization.
If you have any existing clients who are looking for additional resources, try recommending some of your colleagues who you know will provide great service. They may refer you in return to some of their clients as well, especially when they are unable to accept a project.
Although not all domains of language services require certification, obtaining it could help you market your services. Many prospective clients look at registries and membership lists for certifying bodies such as CCHI, ATA, NBCMI, RID, BEI, State Court Certification registries, etc. to find qualified/certified language professionals.
Many language professionals choose to keep their contact information private on these sites, however, if you are looking for new opportunities, you may want to ensure your email address and phone number are accessible to potential clients.
Post your Resume
I have found that the next source of job opportunities has come from forums and job search engines where I have posted my resume. Although finding a project or opportunity by searching on these forums and sites may not be as productive, devoting a few minutes to setting-up and maintaining your online profiles and resumes may prove more fruitful than expected. Language services needs are often time sensitive and prospective clients do not always have enough time to post projects and solicit bids, instead, they go to forums and job posting sites in search of existing resumes.
A few sites that have provided me with opportunities include: LinkedIn, Indeed, ProZ. Although these practices have helped me market my freelancing language support services, you may find that interpreters in your area are more successful using other platforms, forums, and/or strategies. If you have found something that works for you, please share in the comments below.