Lesson 122: What is a USP for translators?

Lesson 122: What is a USP for translators?

The one piece of advice for freelancers you’ll find everywhere is as follows: you need to find your USP, something that makes you different from others.

USP, Unique Selling Proposition, is your differentiator, the quality that makes your offering different from others. It doesn’t mean you’re trying to be better or get rid of competitors, but that you’re providing something of a different value.

But hey, how am I supposed to find something unique when I’m surrounded by other translators in my language pair?! What makes me unique if we’re all striving to provide the best, highest-quality translation, therefore the least visible translation of all? I know these thoughts very well. I’ve been trying to hack this USP for translators thing for years, and here’s my take on it.

Try to complete the following sentences to your best knowledge.

  1. All translation service providers (agencies and freelancers) offer translations that are…
  2. All freelance translators offer translations that are…
  3. Some translators offer translations that are…
  4. Few translators offer translations that are…
  5. My translation services are different because….

I know that the last question is the most difficult one. When answering, think about the following aspects. What is that you’re adding to the service you’re delivering? What’s individual about your work, style, business? What comes from your personality, education, experience in the translations that you provide?

Here’s how I tackled this for myself.

  1. All translation service providers offer translations that are good quality and on time.
  2. All freelance translators offer translations that are often better quality than translation agencies, more polished and with more style.
  3. Some translators offer translations that are really good because they specialise in a few areas only, so they can really master the topic.
  4. Few translators offer translations that are value-adding for specific industries because they’re linked with more comprehensive services.
  5. My translation services are different because I provide complex communication services from content authoring to distribution.

Of course, this is just the first attempt and you can see that it needs work, but it’s the first step to developing a USP focusing on my added value. How can this help you? Do you want to have a go at these questions? Try them in comments below.

6 Comments

  1. Carmen Rodika , on Mar 7, 2015 at 21:58 Reply

    Thank you for your interesting comments. I have quoted you and USP in the book that I am currently writing about translation, in the chapter about translators’ personal branding. Good luck with all your projects!

  2. arthur lowe , on Apr 2, 2015 at 11:37 Reply

    Good article. I like your last point, which I modifying for my own use, and namely:

    My translation services are different because I provide complex communication services from content authoring to distribution., from the wildly difficult to the almost impossible. Only challenging jobs taken. No discounts!

  3. Svetlana Belova , on Apr 2, 2015 at 11:57 Reply

    Dear Marta, thank you for your advice. It`s always good to know how to be competitive. I think that unprofessional translators or the ones who have no experience, tackle this problem by simply lowering their rates. Finding its own value is difficult, as you said, and it needs time and experience. Maybe it could be some additional service that is not provided by other translators. So we need to examine and familiarize with clients’needs and know our market well. I think also that individual approach to every client is crucial for freelance translators.

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