As a freelance translator, should you say: “I offer translation services” or “we offer translation services”? This topic has been hotly discussed on different forums and social media platforms. As can be expected, both solutions have their pros and cons. But then if you try to not do either, you appear to be, well… not human. So what should you do?
I have recently been contacted about this issue by someone who found my post on choosing the name for your translation business. Here are his questions and my answers to them.
How do you introduce yourself when bidding for new customers? Do you give them the illusion that you are a small company or do you make them understand that [you are] a one person business?
There is a lot of debate around this but I think being honest and having a face (your face!) behind your business is crucial.
I normally introduce myself to my clients as Anna Lycett, an English-Polish freelance translator or, if I want to make my job title sound a bit more “serious”, an independent translation and localisation professional working in English and Polish (or any such like).
However, my business name, KeyCheck Translation, is included in everything I send to clients or prospective clients, either as text like in my email signature, or as my logo in a header on invoices/CVs/samples/any other documents. (The header I use is always the same and contains my name, contact details and the logo).
Also, if I speak to anyone over the phone, I introduce myself as Anna Lycett from KeyCheck Translation.
By using this approach what I hope I’m achieving is that my clients consider me a freelancer (i.e., a one man show) but someone professional and business-minded (i.e., a business with a business sounding name), if that makes sense.
Do you use the “We” or the “I”? And doesn’t it sound awkward to prospective clients if you use the “I” despite having a “business name”?
This is a tough one. For quite some time I couldn’t decide whether to use “I” or “we” but in the end what I decided is this: if possible, avoid it (so, instead of: “I/we provide services …”, use “KeyCheck Translation provides services …” or simply “Services provided…”).
Where not avoidable or it just sounds silly, I tend to use “I” – simply because I’m not the Queen 😉
By using professional language, showing the right attitude and that you have the right set of skills, you do not need to pretend to be someone you aren’t, and you aren’t more than one person, are you?
Moreover, I know lots and lots of very successful freelancers, whose business name is anything but catchy or interesting – they are simply very good at what they do. It may be of interest to you that my own father has been a highly specialised translator for donkey’s years and his business name is anything but interesting (Processing of Scientific and Technical Data – in Polish) – and to the best of my knowledge, he never pretended his business was anyone but himself.
The “about” section on your website makes me think that you use the “I”, but was it also the case when you started?
As I mentioned, for some time I couldn’t make up my mind but I’ve decided that I am my business, therefore I present it as myself.
Another thing to bear in mind is that some companies prefer working with freelancers who know their stuff – and would therefore be on the lookout for us.
By the way, I recently had some unpleasant communications with a company that was initially interested in using my services. The reason I mention this is that when I looked into who they actually were, it turned out it was a two-man show (the company founder and his PA). The bloke was calling himself “the managing director” and when I looked him up, the picture I got was of someone with an ego the size of Africa. As this is most definitely not an image I would ever like to create in someone’s eyes, I present myself as “I”.
Moreover, I was once contacted by an individual who needed a small translation of her wedding vows into Polish. I felt very lucky to work on this sweet project; the client informed me that she chose me because my website had a personal touch and she didn’t want a soul-less agency to take it on. It was a great compliment for me.
For these reasons, I am KeyCheck Translation and KeyCheck Translation is me.
Do you agree with my somewhat altruistic approach? Did “I” or “we” work for you better? Have you ever had a client turn you down/choose you because of it? Please share your thoughts!