The translation sales handbook

The translation sales handbook

A roadmap to higher rates, better clients




By Luke Spear

2014 edition

A note on the online version

This version of the book, freely available for all to read in its entirety, is the 2014 edition. I must say a big thank you to those who have purchased this and the previous edition since November 2011. Your interest and feedback has been, and continues to be, much appreciated. I will continue to update the book, releasing new versions for download via the site. I have moved platforms since releasing the book online so buyers’ old accounts used to download the book in the past no longer exist. I will send out a mailshot and provide instructions for creating a new account on this site when the updates are ready. New buyers will be able to access those updates automatically. New editions will not be released for public reading until at least 12 months after their initial release.

For more information on why I released the book in this way, see the blog!

Reader comments:

“A valuable addition to the literature.”
Oliver Lawrence, DipTrans, MCIL, freelance Italian translator

“A very well-written and super interesting book. I’ve read some of the popular books focused on translators but yours is clearly something that was missing from the translation publications market. A sales, marketing and pricing book appropriate (finally!) mainly for seasoned translators. Most (if not all) of the books out there focus on new translators with only a few useful parts for the experienced ones.

I particularly loved the sales and marketing parts of the book. You’d think these would be a bit boring for translators, but they are so well adapted to us and offer so much food for thought.”
Catherine Christaki,  translating blogger/blogging translator, @linguagreca

“[…] I would also just like to say that your book was probably one of the most practically useful of all the translation/business books I have read, and I now have so many ideas to revamp my site content, restructure my rates and have more confidence to go out there and hook some direct clients.”
Nicola Hawkesford, Awendan Translation Services , @awendantrans

“The book is written in a very practical, no-nonsense way and includes a lot of practical advice that’s easy to relate to and use right away. Many of the tips were new to me, and I have read quite a few business books and translator books already.  I highly recommend all translators to take a look at it.”
Tess Whitty, Swedish Translation Services, from this book review

“I downloaded your sales handbook yesterday and have read through it twice since then. I’ve read many of the books available on freelance translation from a business perspective, and yours is by far the best that I have come across. I feel that many of the others out there offer basic start up information which is easily accessible elsewhere. Yours has a completely different take on approaching the industry, and I found that your book came up with some really interesting sales and marketing techniques. I completely buy into the majority of your techniques for enhancing business and rates.

I have a degree in Business and a few years’ experience in sales account management. When I set out to start up as a translator, I had a certain level of background knowledge on sales and marketing and spent quite a bit of time researching and reading business start-up books, marketing books, social media, SEO etc. to try and prepare for setting up a business. I felt that the translation books which I read before the translation sales handbook were essentially a really basic guide for readers who had done very little research into the industry. They had some useful elements, but on the whole there is a lot of information in them which is easily accessible on-line or which highlight basic business principles. Your book on the other hand offered a completely different insight into how to conduct your business as a translator/consultant and was very specific to the sales process of translation, linking it to good practice in similar professions.”
Liam Curley,

“The interviews [..] are lively and illuminating, not least about the sheer variety of career paths for translators […] CIoL members will wholeheartedly agree with the key theme […] a helpful input to research”

The Linguist issue 52.1, Chartered Institute of Linguists


Introduction. 6

Welcome. 6

Updates for 2014. 8

Earning potential in freelance translation. 9

Thinking laterally: how other professions can help. 11

Sales and marketing overhaul12

New perspective: a case for value pricing. 12

Boost your income immediately – with direct clients. 16

Boost your income immediately – with agencies. 19

A freelancer’s approach to health and wealth. 21

A general approach to selling. 25

Positioning your business for the best clients. 34

The client cycle –  lowering risk, raising rates. 50

Gain direct clients online. 53

Gain direct clients offline. 60

Repeat business – lest we forget63

Tools for growth. 64

Translation tools. 64

Productivity tools. 67

Backing up. 74

A note on business security practices. 75

Passwords. 75

Protecting sensitive information. 78

Using public networks. 81

Optimising your website. 85

Websites and their basic structure. 85

Basic SEO (for initial traffic)87

Advanced SEO (for long-term traffic)96

Copywriting to convert those new visitors. 101

Testimonials and case-studies. 111

How to do A/B testing. 111

Measuring website success. 112

Building a client mailing list113

A note on Adwords. 113

From inspiration to action. 115

Interviews. 115

Lucy Brooks - eCPD Webinars, CIoL Fellow.. 116

Michael Roberts – Vivtek: translation, programming. 121

Céline Graciet - Naked Translations: no ordinary blogger125

Gaetano Fabozzi – Video-games FTW129

Oliver Lawrence – Efficiency in Italian. 132

Anne Diamantidis – #Marketer, client educator136

Catherine Christaki – Influential blogger, translator140

Elaine Farrell – Networking legal translator146

Marta Stelmaszak – Social medialite. 149

Erik Hansson – Technical freelancer and outsourcer154

Eric Bullington – Medical, code translator157

Corinne McKay, ATA Director, author, translator161

The calculator165

Signing off169

The roadmap. 170

Appendix. 171

Translation brief172

Terms of business. 173

Resources. 174

Thanks. 176

About the author


Thanks for reading. I do translation from French and Swedish to English, so if that's useful to you, feel free to connect and message me on LinkedIn or Twitter.