I recently attended two training sessions run by the West Midlands Group of the ITI – one by Nick Rosenthal from Salford Translations on Sustainable Customer Relationships, and the other by Vernon Blackmore from Ambit New Media on Websites for Translators. Excellent stuff, even if I did miss a very exciting rugby match on Saturday when my radio couldn’t get reception on the train home…
Vernon gave us an excellent run down on what exactly is involved in getting a website up and running. As the second session of the day, I didn’t envy Vernon his task – it was already clear that we were a bit of a motley crew of participants with varying degrees of internet knowledge, from those who had already established professional websites to those who hadn’t yet mastered the features of a Google search. However, he really managed to hit the nail on the head.
Vernon offered practical advice and useful tips, stressing, for example, the importance of retaining control of content on your site so you can still use the text and images if you ever decide to host it somewhere else. He also touched on how to get your hands on good quality, royalty-free images and outlined the pros and cons of buying a CMS outright vs licensing it. Vernon was refreshingly upfront about cost on all the options he discussed, and despite being in the business of web design himself, his advice was admirably impartial, not at all salesy and very valuable as a result.
I especially liked the way Vernon described a “spectrum” of options available to freelance translators interested in establishing their web presence. He explained that where you stand on this spectrum depends on the resources you are willing and/or able to commit (i.e. time, money and knowledge of web design). This was such a realistic assessment of the differing circumstances that us freelancers find ourselves in, and each person in that room could have had a professional website up and running by Monday as a result. (In fact, WMG are thinking of running a follow up session for participants to discuss the progress they’ve made following the day, testimony to the power of both speakers)
Vernon reenforced Nick’s message when he reminded us that the aim of a website should not be to bring in new business, but to authenticate your other marketing efforts. Like Nick, he also thought it valuable to use images of yourself on your site, to add “warmth” and to help your clients visualise the person behind the HTML. Now, while I agree that clients are attracted by a relationship and not just a service, the jury is still out on the value of personal pics as far as I’m concerned. I think I’ve been scarred by hearing the amount of ridicule that was heaped onto translators who dared show their face on their marketing material. (It wasn’t unheard of to have those pictures attached to the office notice board for an impromptu game of darts or pin the moustache on the translator…)
Knowledge is power, but only if we can see a way to apply it in our daily lives. Many techies pitch training sessions to impress rather than to enable, maybe with the notion that this will spur us on to research the area a bit more (or give up and call in the professionals). I’ve left many sessions more painfully aware of what I don’t know rather than what I do, but not this one. Now if that’s not a great way to build client loyalty, I don’t know what is!