Writing is a career that keeps on giving. From its fierce independence and inherent creativity, to the warm community of other writers — there are plenty of reasons to love your job. As a bilingual writer, you have DOUBLE the opportunity to make a success of your writing career, but you might also find it harder to focus and specialise. Here are some tips for bilingual writers who want to make the most of their language skills and have a positive impact on their careers.
If you are looking for some tips on how to make more money as a freelance writer — check this out.
Harness Your Cultural Knowledge
A bilingual writer is also a multicultural writer — you are in a unique position that you need to capitalise on. Take advantage of your cultural knowledge in your writing work. Here’s how:
- Start taking on advisory and project management roles, helping brands and businesses better cater to their international clients. Emphasise the importance of cultural knowledge and transcreation, rather than just direct translation.
- Use your cultural knowledge and flexibility to inform your own writing — it will help you write better stories, and give a more balanced view of world events.
- Get involved in your country’s cultural landscape as a writer, and see whether you can benefit from sharing your country with the world.
Build up a Personal Brand
People hire people — so give potential clients a good idea of who you are. Every freelance writer needs a solid personal brand that spans across different social channels and platforms.
- Make sure all your writer listings are consistent, so that clients aren’t stumbling across conflicting statements or different rates.
- Design a logo (doesn’t need to be anything fancy), and create your own website as a place to share your personality and client portfolio with the world. It’s a good place to start blogging or Vlogging as well.
- Make an effort to guest post, commentate, and contribute to any relevant online conversations happening around you. Nikki Graham (Spanish-English translator & writer), has some pertinent points on why blogging works (and why it may not work) for some writers. It’s worth thinking about what you can realistically commit to.
- Try to land speaking and networking gigs in your local area to build up your offline brand.
A community like TBS is great at bringing a wide range of travel bloggers together — everyone with their own unique experiences as writers and marketers.
Plenty of travel bloggers use their personal brands to engage with their readers, and their blogs are as much about themselves and their experiences, as about the countries they visit. Try to add your own slant on your daily work and the industry — it’s not always about where you are, but about the lens that you’re looking through.
Find Multinational Clients
It’s great to have clients who speak the same language as you — literally. You can add a huge amount of value to a company that operates in the same core languages as you.
Multinational businesses have a more complex organisational structure, and they’ll probably be grateful to have a writer who can communicate with a wide variety of internal teams and departments.You may also get to collaborate with other bilingual writers.
Big clients can be great, but they will expect a lot from you in terms of professionalism. This is very different to blogging for your local sports club or cafe — make sure that you maintain high standards throughout your dealings with them.
Top tip — Multinationals spend a lot of time on social media sites like LinkedIn, so start engaging with organisations, individuals, and their content on there. You may also want to court a few key features in relevant industry publications to raise your profile.
Use Freelancers to Take the Pressure Off
Sometimes you might need a little extra support, especially if you have just been handed a complex multilingual project. Collaborate with other freelancers to help you take on bigger projects and scale effectively. It’s worth spending a bit of money on freelancer fees — rather than risking delivering a subpar project.
Just make sure that you work with people you can trust!
A simple freelancer splash page like the one above can be a quick and simple way of capturing the interest of available writers. You should also try LinkedIn ads.
Publish in Both Languages
If you want to be recognised for your multilingual talents, it’s a good idea to be published in both languages. This way, you’ll have a wider pool of clients and be chosen for more prestigious work.
Multilingualism is highly valued in the business world, so don’t be shy when it comes to putting your name to your writing work. Official endorsements from government organisations or charities will especially help boost your professional writer profile.
Get Involved in the Local Community
There are loads of useful expat and international groups to join, no matter where you are in the world. Take advantage of the power of community and stay connected with interesting peers, mentors, and potential clients.
- Find niche and writer groups — Facebook is a good place to start. These groups are full of amazing resources for writers who are new to the industry.
- Get clued up on freelance writing rights so that you don’t get short-changed by the taxman, banks, or clients. As a freelancer, you are going to have to take responsibility for many things like invoicing and tax returns.
Gengo do a great job of highlighting their people — why not suggest that your company and clients do the same? It’s a great way to embrace today’s multilingual and global workforce.
You could even start your own freelance writing blog, interviewing and featuring interesting writers from around the world…
Diversify Your Content & Income Streams
Writing for other people is fun, but what if you were also able to build up some supplementary income as well? There are plenty of ways that writers can make the leap from client work to more self-sufficient ways of making money.
Here are some common routes writers take:
- Setting up an online course or learning portal
- Running your own content website and monetising it
- Selling content assets and resources
- Making videos on YouTube and monetising them
- Running your own e-commerce business is something you can fit around freelance clients if you take a few well-judged shortcuts.
You may also want to pool resources with a few writers and set up a business, or market yourself as a niche (technical, web etc) specialist so that you can command higher rates.
Embrace your enviable position as a bilingual writer and build up a solid personal brand backed by a diverse portfolio. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and seek advice where relevant. Cultivate a network of clients and other writers with whom you can share best practices and work.
Victoria Greene is a content strategist and freelance writer, blogging at Victoriaecommerce. She loves to share her knowledge of writing and securing high value projects and clients.