or are there other reasons why an interpreter would want to have a work-related home page? Almost all businesses, small and large, have their own website, even if it's only an address and a phone number. But interpreters seem not to. Is that because we get our work through other channels, or have we just not caught up yet? I don't have a website, but I'm seriously considering setting one up. Is it worth the effort? And what are the do's and don't's?
Will a home page get you more work? It depends...
It depends on how you present yourself and your services, and very much on how easily your page is going to be found by someone searching the internet.
If the page is easily found (to make sure of that, a lot of effort and money is involved!) and looks professional, it will probably get you more work in the sense that you may receive a growing number of requests for all sorts of things: translations, quotes for interpretation in all sorts of language combinations, people asking for community interpreting services, people asking you for work and offering their services, young students asking for an internship...
Nowadays, everyone wants to compare prices, so you get more and more requests for quotes from people who collect anything between 2 and 10 different quotations for a service they might or might not hire in the end. Oftentimes, an inquiry is not nearly specific enough to submit a cost estimate and much less a proper quote, so you need to write back and forth several times or call the potential client and invest some time before you are even able to make up your mind whether it is worth while to pursue the matter.
So having a website definitely can increase your workload - but not necessarily the number of paid working days as an interpreter.
Today, a very large part of work on the freelance market is between a country's language (Spanish in Spain, German in Germany etc.) and English, so a large proportion of inquries from people looking on the Internet are going to be about that. If your active working languages do not correspond to that combination, you might find it too frustrating and time-consuming to respond to many inquiries that don't fit your profile and will not give you work as an interpreter, but as a consultant. Of course you may decide to provide other interpreters for the client's event in the hopes that one day they may need your language combination, but that is usually a long shot.
Also, if you are already established on the market and get your work from existing clients and/or from colleagues who act as consultants and organise teams of interpreters, you might not need a home page of your own.
However, if you have the right language combination or if you are willing either deal with an increasing number of inquries or even to set up a somehow larger operation and become a full-fledged consultant interpreter, a home page is definitely the way to go.
And even if this is not the case, I know there are interpreters who feel that in this day and age, every freelance service provider needs to be present on the Internet even if their page is not much more than a brief presentation of themselves and their services towards which you might point existing or prospective clients (e.g. someone you meet at a conference and exchange business cards with). So they take you seriously. However, I am personally not convinced this is a sufficient reason to set up and run a website.
I hope this helps.
You also asked for the do's and don't's - so here are two points worth considering - I think:
I have seen websites of interpreters listing many if not all of their clients: That might be all nice and well but imagine what a potential client browsing your website would think if he saw the name of his fiercest competitor on your list? It is wonderful to be able to mention the names of clients who were happy with our services, but I think it is best to do so after a potential client has contacted us. This gives us the opportunity to think about which clients to mention - or not to mention - under the circumstances. We also must not forget that some of our clients might not want us to mention their name on a website - for reasons of confidentiality for example.
Since Danielle so kindly mentioned the possibility of putting one's CV an a website, I am sorry I must issue a word of warning here as well. As incredible and outrageous as it might seem, but there have been cases where agencies used the CVs of accomplished interpreters claiming they were working with them in order to win a major contract. Once the contract was awarded they claimed the nterpreters they had wanted to hire were no longer available and they would send some colleagues who would be just as good....need I write more? In a nutshell: We must be careful about publishing or sending out our CVs. And actually it makes me feel good to send my CV and a list of clients we can be happy to mention to someone who asked for it and with whom we have already had a pleasant telephone conversation simply because they wanted to know more than what could be seen on the website.
I believe Oliver presented his case in a very convincing manner and I fully agree with him. A website may be one of the many channels to get work or it may be just a way of presenting yourself and an intangible service. Remember that on paper an interpreter (whose language combination, training or experience are not necessarily known to the client) is as good as any other interpreter. So, any way of differentiating yourself or of explaining what your service will involve (university training, relevant experience, continuous education, careful preparation, etc.) is crucial.
For years, interpreters have considered they did not need to advertise or even to have a business card. Some felt almost offended when asked to submit a CV. On the contrary, I think it is very good news when a client asks for a CV: it means he cares. I also think it is important to have a professionally-looking business card, and if you can afford it, a website. Alternatively, posting a CV on the AIIC new website may be a good solution to have a presence on the Internet- which you absolutely need nowadays.
answered 12 May '12, 08:42
I have, so far, not received one single job through my website. Neither the formal webpage in Swedish (aimed more directly at potential costumers), nor my English blog (with a more informal and educational approach). I have had a few demands for quotes over the years (maybe 2 or 3 since 2008) but nothing that lead to an assigment. And I do get assignments, but through "traditional" channels (agencies, aiic-webpage, colleague-referral, and freelance lists). What I have found though is that clients (and colleagues) search my name after they have hired me (or been hired together with me), and at that point I find it very important to have a professional presence on the web. And if I don't create that professional presence myself, it will simply not be there. So, to conclude, websites are important, but not for increasing the number of assignments, at least not for me.
answered 19 Oct '12, 02:43
Hi all, I am strongly in support of having a homepage to support one's own profile. Please note that I am a buyer of interpreter services, not an interpreter myself.
It is extremely easy to create professionally looking websites for interpreters. For example, Squarespace (www.squarespace.com) is a platform to build websites that requires no programming or HTML knowledge. Prices are quite reasonably too - I think $12/month for the starter package. It is very easy to update and is visually quite beautiful. Works best obviously when combined with a professional domain name and a well-maintained LinkedIn profile.
As for posting your CV and/or prices, I am also in favor of this but I recognize this is not yet common practice. For CI / escort assignments where client confidentiality may be an issue, I'm accustomed to seeing, for example, "SoftDrinksCo" listed instead of "Coca-Cola", so that the viewer sees the industry but not the specific company.
Lastly, some of the Chinese interpreters I work with have adopted their profile page from SeekPanda as their "home page" (disclosure: I'm SeekPanda's co-founder). They print their SeekPanda URL on their business cards and include it in their email signature. Each interpreter's profile on SeekPanda is filled out with their CV and contact information, and profiles are free to create. SeekPanda isn't an agency, we're a marketplace that directly connects interpreters and customers. For interpreters with Chinese as a working language, I'd welcome your thoughts. Would you use a SeekPanda profile page (example - www.seekpanda.com/jaffee-beijing) as your homepage?
answered 16 Aug, 20:55
I think that having a home page is a lot like a listing in the yellow pages - it will get you noticed more, but not necessarily by the people who would give you work.
On the other hand, what Danielle says is hugely true (if a truth can be huge...) - anything you can do to make yourself look like someone a potential direct client already understands (a consultant, etc.) is only good. So while it may not get you that first contact, the fact that you have it may cement a contact you've already made. And of course, for agencies, as Matt says, it can be useful.
So far, I have found that having a LinkedIn profile is enough of a home page for me - it means I have an online presence; I can choose how detailed to make my CV (see Oliver's and Almute's excellent posts); and it shows a potential client that I am valued within my network (through endorsements and recommendations) and that I am present where his/her lawyer/accountant/consultant is too. And while it generates a bit of extra work, I don't have many questions outside my field directed at me because people ask them in the groups, where they can find an answer.
answered 25 Aug, 08:06
I share some opions with Tulkur, that whether my home page will bring me job opportunities is unknown, but it ensures my online presence and provides more information/ details about me. For sure, the side effect factors mentioned by Almute should also be considered.
Taking myself as an example, I recently made my first personal home page telling my job experiences. Because I am looking for a job as an Chinese/English interpreter/translator. So I sent my home page together with my CV, and I advertised my intention of job-hunting in my groups of linkedin.
The same day (yesterday), I received 3 messages. The first one is asking for advice on learning English to be an interpreter; the second one is telling me an US Embassy website to find a good job; the third one is from a senior translator, who editted my CV, and mentioned of possible recruitment of me for part-time job in the future.
But for sure, the website building and maintenance is time-consuming.
I do not know what my website will bring me later. But for sure, I "exist" online there, and "being there" is the seed of opportunities, am I right?
Whether my example can be of some help for CI professional practitioner is beyond my knowledge, but maybe it works in a more general sense.