Posts in Website Talks
Interview with Simon Akhrameev: website versions walk-through

For all translators interested in making their websites bring in more clients: tips on increasing engagement and winning at SEO from Simon Akhrameev 

Simon’s website: how it changed, how he continuously optimizes for SEO and his current website improvement plans

Links mentioned in the interview:

Interview transcript

Ekaterina:            Thank you for joining, Simon. Glad you found the time, even though we have a huge time difference.

Simon:                  Yes, we have about 10-hour difference.

Ekaterina:            Yeah. I'm not going to do the math right now, 'cause I'll get it wrong anyway, but thank you.

Simon:                  My pleasure.

Ekaterina:            Can you introduce yourself for the listeners?

Simon:                  Okay. My name is Simon. I'm an English-Russian translator from the Kyrgyz Republic. It is the former Soviet Union republic, and now we've been independent for about 26 or 27 years. I started translation career in 2007, when I was a third year student at the local linguistic university. Linguistic department in the local university. And gradually, I've been moving to my freelance career. I also have about four years of experience in a mining company, as an in-house translator. Then I shifted back to freelancing, and now, maybe for two years, I am the owner of a local, so-called, boutique translation agency. We offer specialized translations only in two-language pairs. Like, English-Russian and Russian-English. So, that's a short introduction about me.

Ekaterina:            Okay. What I really like about your website is that it seems to be very targeted, and you are ... You have decided to speak to a particular audience. But what I would like to is go back to 2015 on Wayback Machine and talk through how you started working on the website, and ... Tell us more about your starting point.

Simon:                  Okay. As you can see, there is something wrong with this web archive. It looks like… It displays the initial HTML version, and the actual way it looked back in 2015 was a bit more pleasant for viewers than you can see right now. But, anyway.

Simon:                  When I start this website in 2015, I already had about one year of experience in, let's say web development. I finished a couple of courses dedicated to WordPress website development. It was just basic courses where I learned how to register a domain name, how to install WordPress, and how to use it. How to create pages, how to create blog posts, and so on. And I had a one-year background when I started this website, so I already know what to do. At least, I thought that I knew what to do.

Ekaterina:            Right.

Simon:                  Initially, the purpose of this website was to attract the attention of translators, and then to catch the attention of potential translation clients. It was really hard to understand what my clients really need, and what they were searching for on the Web. But I actually knew what translators are searching for on the Web. That's why I started blogging with ... By covering the main topics which are of the most interest for translators.

Simon:                  So I prepared several blog posts about freelancing, about creating a personal curriculum vitae or resume. How to make it more appealing for clients. Also, I described several mistakes translators usually make when preparing this CV. And so on. And at some point in time, I understood that I have ranked for several highly competitive keywords, because I've been using ‘Russian Translator’ keyword in several posts. And I really only started to climb up on the first page of Google Search. And I decided to split this website into two parts, and I created the separate website for translators where I still post some useful tips and tricks about freelance translation business.

Simon:                  And now this website is dedicated purely to attract direct clients. Especially in English-Russian language pair. So, it was actually a long way. Currently, this website is live for about three and a half years, maybe almost for four years. It will be four years in September, I believe. In September 2019.

Simon:                  It brings me several good leads, as marketers call them. So, potential clients, potential customers, they call them leads. About two, three leads per month, which actually pay off all the online marketing efforts I apply to this website.

Ekaterina:            So, it's a good result.

Simon:                  Yeah. I think it's a good result. Though I am not on the first page of Google right now ... But if you live in certain parts of the world, for instance in Europe, it's highly likely that when you type in "professional Russian translator," you will see my website on the first page. And also, there are several more keywords that my website ranks for on the first page, like "specialized Russian translation" and "English-Russian translation services."

Simon:                  In particular, I focus on those keywords that are called ‘long-tail keywords’. So it's not that hard to rank high using these long-tail keywords.

Ekaterina:            Right. So, when you were trying to optimize your websites were searched, we're looking at intents? Search intent, or you were just trying to see what works out?

Simon:                  I tried to learn as much theory as possible about website optimization and actually about Search Engine Optimization. There are two parts. There is SEO for the back-end of your website, and also there is Search Engine Optimization for the front-end, or ... Let's say inbound and outbound Search Engine Optimization practices.

Simon:                  So, I started from inside, or let's say on-site optimization practices. I've installed one of the most popular WordPress plugin for Search Engine Optimization, it is called Yoast. And I read a couple of comprehensive guides on how to set up this plugin. I'm not a real professional in this, but actually, when you master the very basic things about inside Search Engine Optimization, it is quite enough to start ranking on Google.

Simon:                  I believe that you will be posting this video on YouTube, and if you'd like your viewers to take a look at some useful resources about Search Engine Optimization, I will provide you with the links.

Ekaterina:            Sure, that'll be great. Yeah, [inaudible 00:08:08].

Simon:                  The outbound part of Search Engine Optimization is a really huge topic, and there are so many different features and different pitfalls that you may stumble upon when you're trying to optimize your website from the outer position. It's really hard to squeeze it into a short video.

Simon:                  As you may know, there are about 200 ranking factors that, for example, Google uses to identify the authority of your website. And it is really hard to keep everything in mind and to optimize everything within these 200 ranking factors. So we can choose, for example, 20 or 30 factors that are of the highest importance for Google, and focus on them.

Simon:                  So if you are talking about the most important Search Engine Optimization factors, these are, of course, the side-loading speed. So, the faster your website loads, the higher you will be ranked by Google, because it is very important for user experience, for smoother user experience. Of course, you should have clean HTML code, so if you are using a free WordPress theme, it is highly likely that it is not very good optimized. And if you are using a premium one, there are better chances that you will not ruin your website with bad code.

Simon:                  You should also consider the reliability of your web hosting provider. It should offer at least 98% uptime. So your website should be always available for visitors. Also, now, one of the most important factors that helps you to rank higher is the use of safe protocol. Safe HTTPS protocol, SSL certificate. It is not very expensive, you can even use a free version of SSL protocols, but it is highly recommended to use it. My website ranking improved drastically when I installed this SSL Certificate on my website.

Simon:                  So this is just the very basics. Also ... So, in the very beginning of the Google company, the main ranking factor was the number of links leading to your website. And surprisingly, this factor is still one of the leading factors. The more good links you have to your website, the better you are ranked on Google. But now, of course, Google has many other criteria to check the back-links to your website, and you shouldn't even try to purchase links from some scammers on the Web. These back-links should look natural and they actually should be built in a natural way. People should be linking to your website as a resource that brings value to their visitors. So, if you provide valuable information on your website, and you spread it via social media, people will start linking to a website naturally.

Simon:                  I guess these are the most important factors to rank higher.

Ekaterina:            Right. I can see that working for blogging about translation. But does it also work for your website that targets direct clients? Is there enough interest for them to share your stuff? At all?

Simon:                  Excuse me, I couldn't hear you.

Ekaterina:            Okay. Let's try again. I can see how this can work as a strategy for a blog targeting translators, but what about a website targeting direct clients? Do you get back-links for that website?

Simon:                  Actually, it doesn't matter from which websites these back-links come from. The main criteria here is that the linking website should be also a quality resource, and it should have at least some authority on Google. So if you receive back-links from website of prominent translation bloggers, Google understands that bloggers who are also talking about translation are linking to your website and it will show your website higher.

Simon:                  Of course, you should be trying to get back-links from more authoritative websites like, for example, websites of official governmental authority, which ends with .org or .gov, or something like this. If you have any clients from the governmental sector, it would be really cool if you ask them to put a link to your website in their blogs, or something like this. For instance, if you're working for a mining and exploration agency, like I do here in Kyrgyzstan, you may ask them to provide a kind of review of your services and say that, "This website was translated by this translator, and here is the link to his website." And when you get these links from governmental websites, Google decides that your website is really credible.

Ekaterina:            Right.

Simon:                  Actually, there are many link-building tactics. So if we have time, I can tell you a couple of things about these tactics.

Ekaterina:            No, let's talk about the copy. That okay with you? Alright, let's see.

Simon:                  About the copy of the homepage?

Ekaterina:            Yeah, yeah. You wanna talk through this as I scroll, or ...

Simon:                  Oh, maybe I will talk about the copy of the homepage of website in general?

Ekaterina:            Sure.

Simon:                  Your homepage, homepage of your website is one of the most important and one of the key pages on your website. It can be called a landing page, where almost 80% of your website visitors come to. And then they are redirected to a kind of sales funnel to learn more about your services and to make an informed decision about purchasing your services.

Simon:                  It is really important to provide enough information on this landing page, and to provide it in a more appealing way and make it as useful as it is possible. You shouldn't overload it with heavy images, like I did here.

Ekaterina:            Wait, back when ... Yes.

Simon:                  [crosstalk 00:15:58]. Back in 2015. It should be very concise. It should be very informative and provide the exact type of information your clients expect to find here.

Simon:                  So, if you go to my website right now, you will see that currently, I am focusing on business services, and also on individuals, but the main message is targeted at businesses, at companies. And also, I optimized this page, so when the company representatives come to your [website], he or she will see that that's what I'm doing. I'm providing comprehensive translation services and covering everything a company needs if they're going to extend to the Russian-speaking markets.

Simon:                  So, of course, you ... In the very beginning of the webpage, before you scroll down, you should grab the attention with a comprehensive message. It should be also short, and describing your services in a very short form so that a person who is loading this page understand what it is about straight away.

Simon:                  So usually, it takes about three, four seconds before a person leaves your website. If he or she doesn't see the answers. So, if someone is looking for translation, English-Russian translation services, it should be talking about English-Russian translation services, as you can see here. There should not be some big pieces of text or sentences or something else, or a single picture. There should be a short line of text, it is usually called a "call to action." And it actually should be based on your unique selling point. Here, as you can see, a part of my unique sales proposition is translation, specialized translation for businesses.

Simon:                  Next, you should also place a button, which helps people to start communication. Here, they can get in touch. And actually, I will be trying to improve the wording [crosstalk 00:18:26].

Ekaterina:            The call to action?

Simon:                  Yes, I will try to improve the call to action by using A/B testing, so I will use some words here to see how people react in it, and if it doesn't work, I will replace [button text] with another words, and so on.

Simon:                  If you grab the interest of a person, of a potential client, he or she will just scroll down and see the next part of my [crosstalk 00:18:52]-

Ekaterina:            Can I ask two questions, before we move down?

Simon:                  Yeah, yeah. Sure.

Ekaterina:            Okay. First, do you have enough traffic to A/B test? That's really cool.

Simon:                  Actually, I've ... I didn't attract much traffic for the last three months, because I had so much translation tasks that I didn't have time to work on this website. But actually, before, when I've been very active with this website, weekly visitors reached about one and a half thousand people per week. So, I have enough data to run the test, and I am sure when I get back, and I'm actually getting back to work with this website, I will have enough visitors.

Ekaterina:            Okay. And second question is about the button in here ... So, do a lot of people click on it instead of scrolling down? Kind enough more?

Simon:                  Get in touch, do you mean?

Ekaterina:            Yeah.

Simon:                  A lot of people are attracted by this web chat icon. [you can see it] blinking here. If you click on it, you will see a web chat where people can ask a question and I will immediately receive a notification on my phone. On my ... Excuse me. On my smartphone and also on my PC. Many people are using exactly this method of communication. [crosstalk 00:20:51].

Ekaterina:            What kind of questions do they ask?

Simon:                  Something is wrong with my throat.

Ekaterina:            You can mute yourself and cough. That works.

Simon:                  Now it's okay. I hope.

Ekaterina:            Good. I hope so too.

Simon:                  So currently, the main communication channel on the website is this web chat. Probably, I will even remove this button and leave only this chat in order to not make it confusing for visitors. Where should they click, here or here?

Ekaterina:            Right. And this one'll take them to ... Oh, that's just mail, too. Cool.

Simon:                  Yes, that’s just email.

Ekaterina:            Yeah, so you're not making an extra step with a form that they need to fill out.

Simon:                  Probably, I will put a link to another webpage with more explanation about the services. I'm not sure yet. So maybe I will remove it at all. Potentially.

Ekaterina:            We'll see.

Simon:                  Yes, we'll see [inaudible 00:21:57].

Ekaterina:            Alright. About you. And breakdown for the business versus individual services.

Simon:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative). There will be additional sub-pages about these kind of services explaining how to work with us, like for businesses and for individuals. These pages are not ready yet, but they are in the process of development.

Ekaterina:            Sure.

Simon:                  Also, this part is very important. It's testimonials, and actually, when people are trying to find something on the Web, especially when they're trying to search for specific services, very specialized services, intellectual services, they need to be sure that you are a reliable provider of such services. Probably the only way to show them that they can trust you is to provide them with the testimonials of people you already worked for or with.

Simon:                  And here, you can see some of my clients and their reviews.

Ekaterina:            So do you ask all of your clients for testimonials at the end of a project?

Simon:                  Yes. I'm trying to ask for testimonials, so a kind of feedback. If they don't want to be displayed, of course due to some contractual limitations, they don't want or cannot be disclosed, of course I ask just for feedback, and I'm using it for my internal purposes to improve some processes or maybe some services, and so on.

Simon:                  But as a rule, people who are open and who are not bound by legal things, they are ready to provide this kind of public testimonials.

Ekaterina:            Mm-hmm (affirmative). Then you list your services.

Simon:                  Yes, this is the list of services.

Ekaterina:            Oh, yeah. And no links yet. You're gonna add the links.

Simon:                  Yes. There will be links to additional landing pages, so if a person is looking for a particular service, like English-Russian marketing translation, I will redirect them to this page. And also, they will be able to find exactly this page via search engines. So ... It takes time to rank for such specific things.

Simon:                  Also, there are some benefits, additional benefits we can offer to our clients, and also relevant testimonials proving these benefits.

Ekaterina:            Mm-hmm (affirmative). Do you track how people scroll through your homepage? 'Cause I find it hard to go back and forth between the benefits and the testimonials.

Simon:                  Actually, you can use the upper menu, and if you are not interested in testimonials, you're interested in services, you will be redirected straight to the section. So, if you need something special, you can use the above ... The menu in the upper part of the website.

Ekaterina:            So most of the people just go to the menu and click through it?

Simon:                  Yes.

Ekaterina:            Makes sense. Okay.

Simon:                  I found out that a lot of people want to get personal assistance, and actually, the average scroll rate is about 60%. They are just scrolling a half of page, and then they understand that they need personal communication, or they want to ask a certain, specific question they couldn't find here, or they just want to make sure that I'm a real person. Then they click on this web chat icon, and I'm here to answer all their questions.

Ekaterina:            Makes sense. Okay. So, lots of people scroll to about here? Or ...

Simon:                  Yes. Approximately, yes approximately 60%.

Ekaterina:            Interesting.

Simon:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ekaterina:            So, lots of people don't even get to the prices. They're like, "No, just tell me how to work with you."

Simon:                  Yes, yes.

Ekaterina:            Cool.

Simon:                  Then, when they establish personal communication, they start asking for prices.

Ekaterina:            Mm-hmm (affirmative). So, relationship first, prices later.

Simon:                  Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ekaterina:            Cool. And the process, and finally the footer. Hm? [inaudible 00:26:49]?

Simon:                  I have added a section about my team. I also ... I have already prepared their personal pages, and we'll be publishing that soon. And also [crosstalk 00:27:03].

Ekaterina:            And you have the social media links, too, so that people can make sure that this is real people.

Simon:                  Yes. [crosstalk 00:27:07]. I'm not sure if I have added actual links, so ...

Ekaterina:            No, no.

Simon:                  Not yet.

Ekaterina:            Not yet.

Simon:                  As I told you, it's still in the process, but I've updated the website maybe about a week ago. About nine days. So there are still some sections that need to be completed. And also, the process. How a client can start working with us, from the very first contact to payment for the translation order and becoming our loyal customer.

Ekaterina:            And there you have a small contact form. This one will also go to your email, right?

Simon:                  Excuse me, what?

Ekaterina:            There's also a contact form in the footer. And this will be an email message for you.

Simon:                  Yes, this will be an email message.

Ekaterina:            Mm-hmm (affirmative). Okay.

Ekaterina:            Well, thank you so much for taking the time and walking us through your homepage.

Simon:                  It was my pleasure to tell you about my website, and I hope it will help somehow, those translators who are watching your show, watching your videos. It will be cool. So, do you have anything else? Any other questions?

Ekaterina:            No, but I will ask you about the links you mentioned. About the SEOs. I'll add them to the links. Right. Thank you.

Simon:                  Thank you, too.


Ekaterina Howard, Pinwheel Translations: translating your business ideas into impactful website and email copy

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.

Luna Jungblut on adding a personal touch to website copy

In this interview, Luna Jungblut of Artlife Translations talks about adding personal touches to her website copy



Ekaterina Howard:           Hello everybody, and today I'm speaking with Luna Jungblut of Artlife Translations about her website. So Luna, thank you for joining me.

Luna Jungblut:                   Thanks for having me!

Ekaterina Howard:           Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Luna Jungblut:                   Yeah, sure. First of all, hi everybody. Thank you Ekaterina for having me and for suggesting this little webinar. I'm a translator, copy editor, and interpreter for creatives. I mean by that, I mostly help UK and US professionals in the arts, museum, and music industries to appeal to the French-speaking people.

Luna Jungblut:                   Sort of goes from the large field of visual arts like writing for museums, but I also do artist websites, subtitling. I've done some literary translations, I worked with music instrument manufacturers and as an interpreter I do sometimes general assemblies for festival committees or press conferences, artist masterclasses. So you know, everything that's arty and indie entertainment industry basically.

Luna Jungblut:                   What my mission is basically is to help them avoid cross-language awkwardness because as linguists we all know what that means. So yeah, that's it.

Ekaterina Howard:           All right. So, when did your website go live and why did you decide to set it up?

Luna Jungblut:                   It went live last March, 2018, and I decided to have a website last October because I realized that my name that I had before, Luna Translations, was already taken, that domain name. So I was like, "Oh my God, no!" So I had a few months of brainstorming to try and find a name that really represented what I wanted to do, and also that the domain was free because you need to check that your company name is free with the .com at the end because that's what most people look for. Somehow it looks more professional.

Luna Jungblut:                   I ended up finding my company name, Artlife Translations, and I rebranded myself completely. From then on, I decided it was time for me to have a professional-looking website 'cause I think it's really important to find an identity that represents you. Having a website is basically your address online, it's where you live, it's where people are going to look for to find you. You can pick your own color codes and have your pictures and just decide on the whole design, and that's going to represent you more than I think a Facebook page or a ProZ profile, for example.

Luna Jungblut:                   So that's why I decided to do it.

Ekaterina Howard:           How long would you say it took you to go from "It's time to have a website," to actually having a website?

Luna Jungblut:                   November, December, yeah five months. Five months, but I made it in one month because I said this time for myself I said, "I have one month to do this." It was okay, so if I did it, everybody can.

Ekaterina Howard:           As long as you have a deadline it's easier, right?

Luna Jungblut:                   Yeah, absolutely, yeah.

Ekaterina Howard:           What was the hardest part for you when you were working?

Luna Jungblut:                   The hardest of the website, I would say because I was a complete beginner and anything Wordpress, domain, hosting, all of those words, it was just Chinese to me. So getting the hang of Wordpress, I guess. It is doable, absolutely doable because there's a lot of help out there online with a lot of people able to help you with any issue. But I think it was just getting acquainted with the terminology and the actual web design. Yes, definitely.

Luna Jungblut:                   I was using a site builder. So site builder I think is Wordpress. Then there's a theme builder as well called Elementor. It's a free one, and that's what I was using.

Ekaterina Howard:           So you just went and learned everything and created your website?

Luna Jungblut:                   Yeah, I researched it. Basically, maybe you know about Jenae Spry? She's a translator and she's on Facebook quite a lot as well. She has a program called Success By RX, and I was part of it until last December. She has a really good step-by-step sort of method. So I researched with her help, did the steps that I needed to do. Once I knew what I needed to do, I went on and picked my own hosting service and everything went from then on. Yes.

Ekaterina Howard:           Thank you. What I really like about your website is that it does have a lot of personal touches and it doesn't sound corporate-y at all.

Luna Jungblut:                   Oh, good. That's good to hear!

Ekaterina Howard:           When you were writing copy for your website, did you have some kind of a process? Or you just wrote the way you felt you would like to be seen online?

Luna Jungblut:                   Well, I feel like as translators and linguists, we have to pitch our services quite often, whether it is when you reply to an email or whatever is written on your LinkedIn and your ProZ profile. Everything that you set up at the beginning, I think has some sort of a personal touch, personal vibe. So I took what I had done before and I made it better. I took all the copy that was out there about me and I picked the bits I liked best and I rewrote the rest.

Luna Jungblut:                   I think once you start, you try and be faithful to what you're doing, and basically to yourself and your vocabulary. And because I specialize in arts, I tried to put a lot of little words that would remind my audience that this is what I was doing. So quite flowery language, musical touches, et cetera.

Ekaterina Howard:           But you didn't create spreadsheets with a list of words, as in “This is what I want to do, and I'm going to start with this”? It was sort of subconscious, “this is what I want it to look like”?

Luna Jungblut:                   I think at the beginning, you usually write a lot, so I had a really really long sort of presentation starting with "I do this and I do that." Then by talking as well with other translators, they tell you keep it as concise as possible, don't say "I," try to keep it out of the conversation and talk to your clients and talk about them more than about yourself. All of this advice made me cut down so much from my first version and then try and find a few sentences that you really want to put everywhere on your online presence. I think that's what really works because it's also part of your identity. Just key phrases, so I kept those key phrases and I put these on my website, the ones that resonated with me the most. It's quite important as well to have it reviewed, so I had a few people look at my copy afterwards and telling me, "Oh, this comma here doesn't work," because we are linguists, we write all the time. But it's always better to work with a proofreader, we know that.

Ekaterina Howard:           Sure, yeah. Your website has been live for a little over six months.

Luna Jungblut:                   Yeah.

Ekaterina Howard:           I'm trying to do the math ...

Luna Jungblut:                   We can't do math. Yeah, nine months.

Ekaterina Howard:           Yeah. Do you feel like it was worth the pain?

Luna Jungblut:                   Absolutely. Basically I don't think you can do anything if you don't have the website. So my website, I started as a complete beginner, and to be honest, I haven't really made it work for me, so it's still quite far away in Google searches. But regardless of the results I get, I will get from the website once I start really trying to work on it.

Luna Jungblut:                   Regardless of that, it's where you live on the Internet, and people need to have that. As soon as you have your domain name, so mine is, you can then have your email address. And that's the end, it's after the at, it's This also makes you, I think, look more professional to clients rather than having your Gmail address, for example. Or I had an Outlook before. Bad.

Luna Jungblut:                   All of this comes together to make you look more professional. In terms of the returns I've had from the website itself, I don't think now I've really maximized it as much as I should, but it will come. And it's just good to have that online now already. So even if it's not perfect, it's good to have something, I think. That's what it did for me. Also, it changes the way you see yourself as well.

Luna Jungblut:                   Going from a Gmail email address to a .com, your domain .com, I think that clients see that you grow, you're changing. I think it's important.

Ekaterina Howard:           Yeah, I know it makes you feel like you're professional.

Luna Jungblut:                   A big deal.

Ekaterina Howard:           Yes, big deal hopefully. If you were to give a piece of advice to somebody who does not have a website yet, a translator or an interpreter, and is just thinking about having one, what would you tell them?

Luna Jungblut:                   I made a mistake at the beginning. I didn't get the SSL certificates. The SSL certificate is a way of protecting your data that people enter on your website. Most of the time, when you're selling a product for example, it's compulsory to have an SSL certificate to keep the data that your customers are putting on the website. For example, card details, it's important that all of this is encrypted and protected.

Luna Jungblut:                   But because I wasn't selling a product yet, I said, "Oh, I'll just get it later." But I think it's about 40 to 50 dollars, I'm not sure exactly. I didn't get it, and so Google doesn't like websites that don't have that. It goes behind on the ranking as well, the page. All of this SEO optimization I need to look into as well, is what makes your website stand out in Google and appear on the first page. 'Cause nobody's looking at page four!

Ekaterina Howard:           They might be.

Luna Jungblut:                   Yeah. If I were to do it again, I would definitely get the SSL certificates because now it's actually harder to get to change my website to have it. I didn't know that before.

Ekaterina Howard:           Right. So you're in the UK, so you need to be compliant with GDPR.

Luna Jungblut:                   GDPR, yeah of course. I recently also did my cookie banner and my privacy policy that are compulsory on websites now.

Ekaterina Howard:           Yeah, I see your cookie pop-up thingy when I go to your website. [crosstalk 00:11:53] Yeah, I have one, too. The question is, I feel like just having to do that kind of doesn't let you track as much information as you can. Do you track who comes to your website and what happens next? And if yes, does being in the UK affect it?

Luna Jungblut:                   I know how to do it, but I haven't really used that tool. I really want to have a blog at some point eventually, maybe next year. I want to make it work for me and have a click funnel. Ultimately I want to make it work for me. Until now, I haven't really put in the time, so I know how to track the people who are coming to my website, but for now I don't have anything to either sell them or present to them by means of a blog. Until now I can see who comes to my website, but I don't know how to really target.

Luna Jungblut:                   About the GDPR, I don't think there's a lot of ... Because people can opt out. The whole idea of the cookies is that you can opt out, that your details won't be used for marketing purposes or for list building. So if they click that, then they won't be on my system, for example. So it's quite automated now.

Ekaterina Howard:           Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Luna Jungblut:                   It's not a problem.

Ekaterina Howard:           A year from now, you want your website to bring in more traffic, be on page one of Google search, and to attract new clients through the blog.

Luna Jungblut:                   Yes, that's the plan.

Ekaterina Howard:           That's the plan. All right, we need to check in in a year and see how your website has developed.

Luna Jungblut:                   Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, yeah of course. But I keep changing it. The copy itself just keeps changing. It's a work in progress, is what I'm trying to say.

Ekaterina Howard:           Yeah. Well, it always is, isn't it?

Luna Jungblut:                   Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Ekaterina Howard:           Well, thank you so much for taking the time.

Luna Jungblut:                   Thank you for having me, no problem. If anybody has any questions or if I can help them in any way, just let me know. I'd be glad to help.

Ekaterina Howard:           Thank you.

Luna Jungblut:                   Thank

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.

Sébastien Adhikari on creating a portfolio for his T&I website (T&I Website Talks series)

In this interview Sébastien Adhikari talks about working with a copywriter and a web designer to create a website just in time for an ATA conference, why he could not imagine not having a portfolio of his work on his website, how he chose portfolio pieces, and why his English and French website versions are different.

Interview Transcript

Sébastien Adhikari:         All right.

Ekaterina Howard:           So it all works.

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yes.

Ekaterina Howard:           Alright, let's just jump right in then.

Sébastien Adhikari:         Alright. Let's see, okay.

Ekaterina Howard:           Your turn, tell us a little more about yourself.

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yes, yes. So I've been translating for ... well, since 2000. So almost, 19 years now. So yeah, so I started off for the first 5 years translating for a big insurance company here in Canada, and it was mostly medical reports. It was interesting, but not completely my cup of tea. About 2 years after I started that work, I started moonlighting as a freelancer on evenings and weekends. So that's what got me started in dealing with the advertising industry, because it was an ad agency that was my first client. So they sent me a lot of very interesting stuff. Tended to be kind of small, like they were dealing a lot with magazines and newspapers, so it was like one-page ads in magazines, or stuff like that, for a very wide variety of clients.

                                So I had fashion stuff, makeup, cars, air conditioners. But yeah, I really liked it. Then after my stint at the insurance company, I was hired by a very large grocery chain here in Canada called Loblaws. But not for their food division or their grocery division. 'Cause Loblaws is a little bit like Walmart, so they have a very wide array of products and services. So they have home goods, and in the rest of Canada, they actually had a bank. So you could open a checking account, you could get a mortgage, and they were just starting to get into insurance. So yeah, so I went to work for that division of that grocery chain. Mainly because they were launching the insurance product in Quebec, so they needed someone that was familiar with insurance terminology and also with the Quebec market.

                                So yeah, so I was their first translator for that division. I was their first translator. They had never used a translator before, so I was able to set up basically what tools I wanted to use, how I wanted to work, and it was a great, great time in my career. Even though it was a very large company, the division, because it was a bank, had to have a separate budget and a separate administration and board. So it was like a small startup. In all, I think we were about maybe 150, 200 people. So yeah, so you had the small startup mentality, but with the financial means of a large national retailer. So it was really the best of both worlds, and I really flourished there. I absolutely loved it. I was part of the marketing department, so that was exactly the line of work I was very comfortable with.

                                So yeah, so I learned a lot working there. Unfortunately, the financial crisis in 2008, the CEO at the time kinda got scared about what was happening in the US and he was worried that the Canadian banks would get contaminated by the turmoil in the US market. So he decided to make drastic cuts across the business. So he laid off the whole marketing department, like, rather suddenly. So I was based in Montreal at that time and the rest of the division was in Toronto. So I actually learned about the layoffs after the fact, because I was calling my team leader one morning, and I couldn't reach her, and finally the reception desk called me back about an hour later and said, "Oh, something's happened. Please stand by, the VP will contact you in about an hour."

                                That's when he told me that the whole marketing team had been laid off but I still had the job, so I think they probably forgot that I was part of the marketing department, because I wasn't on location. So they kinda forgot about me. So yeah, so they didn't know exactly what to do with me. Because they just outsourced all the translation, or most of the translation, so they put me with the legal department. Basically, reviewing and coordinating the translation projects that they had going. So yeah, that wasn't very interesting to me. It was kind of a step down from what I was doing before. So after about a month or two, I left. I said, "Okay, well, this is no longer the workplace that I knew." Everyone that I knew, everyone I was in contact with on a regular basis, they were all gone. So I felt a little bit orphaned.

                                So I got another job. First, I worked as a maternity leave replacement for one year for a university here in Montreal. But after the year was up, they didn't renew my contract. The translator that I was replacing, she came back to work, so yeah, they didn't have a place for me. So then I started working for about a year and a half for a small advertising agency here in Montreal. That was really also very interesting, 'cause now I could see the other side of what I was doing. So first, I was from like, the clients' side, if you will. Now, I was on the agency and executing side. So yeah, that was very interesting. I made a lot of contacts within the ad industry, and about a year after I started working there, I got three freelance projects. 'Cause all throughout that time, I was still continuing to freelance on the side.

                                So yeah, so I got contacted ... within like a one month period, I got contacted by an ad agency in Toronto specializing in marketing for Quebec. Also, my former team leader at the grocery chain, she had moved to a rival grocery chain, and were working well together. She was heading a new division for that grocery chain operating mostly in Ontario, but also a little bit in Quebec. So she needed a translator for that. Finally, McGill University, which was probably the largest university in ... well, the largest English university in Montreal. The student society, the postgraduate student society, wanted to reach a greater proportion of francophone students, so they needed a part-time translator to translate all their communications. So when I had these three long term contracts, all within like a month's span, I said, "Okay, well I don't really need to work full-time any more. I can go freelance full-time."

                                So that's when I started working freelance full-time. So I've been freelancing since 2012. So it's gonna be seven years. Yeah. So during that time, I'm still continuing to work with the agency from Toronto, the McGill contract, that's lasted about two years. The grocery chain division, that lasted until last year. So yeah, so I continued working for them, and also I expanded my contacts within the ad industry here in Montreal, so I have a few ad agencies that use my services. Not super regularly, but you know, like once every few months I get a request from them, they have a new campaign, and yeah. That's my background as a translator.

Ekaterina Howard:           Sounds really cool.

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yeah.

Ekaterina Howard:           So at which point did you get a website? Was it way, way back, or is it recent?

Sébastien Adhikari:         It's fairly recent. I started about ... I launched it four years ago? Yeah, four years ago. It was right about the time when I discovered the existence of the ATA, because yeah, here in Canada, or especially in Quebec, I would say the vast majority of translators don't even know the ATA exists. So there's a whole pool of translators. So we're very insular, I mean most of the translation work done in Canada is done in Quebec, obviously, for obvious reasons. So we tend to stay together, and they don't look outside very much. I mean, they talk about what's happening in Ontario a little bit, once in a while we hear about something happening in BC or in New Brunswick, but yeah. So it's a very tight-knit world.

                                So yeah, in 2007 I actually did a certificate in localization at the University of Montreal. So the head of that program was an American living in Montreal, and she was great. So she knew a whole lot about translation, she had been a translator in the US, in Europe, and now she was living in Montreal. Basically, we became friends, so she recommended ... you know, "There's an ATA conference every year in November, you really should go. This year it's in Boston, you should go. It's like an hour's flight from Montreal. You won't have anything to lose, and I think you're going to have a great time." And she was right. I mean, it really opened my eyes, I absolutely loved the atmosphere, the diversity of language, of viewpoints, of backgrounds. So my first ATA conference was in Boston, in 2009 I think it was? Anyways.

                                Then I went back for Chicago, and I said to myself, "Okay, well, I need to have a website ready before the conference, so that when I meet with recruiters and agencies I can present my business card and my website. It's gonna be more professional and more attractive, I think, to them." So yeah, so that was my decision. It was kind of a little bit rushed, because I didn't do the website myself. I contacted a freelance designer for the actual technical setup, and the content was actually a copywriter that I knew at the ad agency I worked at for one and a half years. So she did the French copywriting, I translated it into English, and then it was all put up on the web by the freelance designer. So it went online the Wednesday, just in time for the start of the conference in Chicago.

Ekaterina Howard:           Right. Last possible minute: boom!

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yeah, exactly. It was very frantic, at the last minute I was on the plane and calling the freelance designers, so it's you know, "Do you have everything?" And it's "Oh no, I'm still missing this", or "I still have to resolve this", "Okay, well try to do what you can and then I'll call you back once I land in Toronto", and all that stuff. So that was ... yeah. Adventures in translation and web design. So that's when I put it up, and yeah, I didn't have any comments about it during the conference, but I did hear from some potential clients afterwards, clients that were following up. So I made a few adjustments based on their feedback, and that's the way it's been pretty much ever since. Now I would say it's a little bit long in the tooth.

                                I mean, the case studies are many years old by now, so yeah, they need an update. In general, I think I would like to refresh a little bit, the website. Put that little bit more current content. So that's my planning for the end of the year, and beginning of next year. To do a small overhaul of the website.

Ekaterina Howard:           So I find this very interesting, 'cause a lot of conversations of sites focus on SEO and how you've really supposed to update it every day, ideally. Right? But in your experience, in the years you've had it, have people been finding you through search engines? Or is it mostly people who met you personally, or have heard of you?

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yes. Mostly the latter. I think I've had ... like in the four years I've had it, had maybe four or five clients that found me through the website. Yeah, one of the things that I've realized fairly recently is that my website is definitely not optimized for search engines. So that was part of the reason for the site to do an overhaul, trying to maybe fit a little bit better the whole SEO business. Which is a little bit arcane to me. I don't quite understand how it works. I know there's a whole thing with key words and all that stuff. I actually even contacted a specialized web agency for SEO about two months ago, and I asked them, "Okay, so what would I need to do to fit the whole SEO paradigm?" And they said, "Oh, we can do it for about $2000." So I said, "Okay." Well, you know, the website initially cost me about $1500.

                                So I said, "Okay, well basically, you're asking me to redo the whole site." Well, yes, they told me that's what I need to do. So I'm not exactly sure ... I said, "Okay, well, I'll think about it but I don't think I will pay." It seems expensive to me, and I don't know the results. There's no guarantee for the results, so I don't know if it's really worth it that much. I'd prefer to go gradually, just trying to update a little bit, the website, maybe try to contract a copywriter who knows about SEO and see what they recommend to do to improve SEO results. But yeah, so that's where I am right now. Most of my clients, I get either through colleagues that I know of, or either current clients or former clients that refer my name.

Ekaterina Howard:           Right. So do you know if those people check out your website before they get in touch with you?

Sébastien Adhikari:         I believe so. Like one of the clients is another advertising agency in Ottawa. They looked at my website, they commented on it and said they really liked it. They liked the clean design, and the fact that I put case studies and the portfolio, basically. They were very impressed by that. They said most translators don't even think about doing that, and they think it was a shame, and I completely agreed with that. I mean, the main reason I put them there is ... I mean, I consider myself a creative professional, and all the other creative professionals, they all use portfolios as part of getting work. And so I said, "Okay, well, if they're doing that, I should do that too."

                                I think it makes a lot of sense, because I know the standard in the translation industry is going through tests, and I hate those tests.

Ekaterina Howard:           Oh really? You hate those tests?

Sébastien Adhikari:         It's just that to me, it doesn't tell you anything. I mean, it fits you into a box, but it doesn't really relay your knowledge, your experience, your point of view, your approach. Particularly, it's trying to fit the translator into the box of the translation agency rather than trying to see if there's an actual connection and long-term potential relationship that can be done. Trying to see if you're dealing with similar clients, or similar industries. So okay, well, okay I think there's a future for you so let's try you out with a small sample project and go from there. I think it's a much more organic and durable way of dealing with language providers.

Ekaterina Howard:           So you created a portfolio.

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yes.

Ekaterina Howard:           Can you tell me more about how you went about getting client permissions, and how you chose the pieces?

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yeah. Well, first thing, as you noticed probably on the website, I have different categories for the services that I do. So I want to have at least one example for each category. That was the point number one. Point number two, I wanted something where I had a meaningful contribution to the work. So I see, well, here is something where I was the lead or I did extensive work or it was a long-term campaign, not just like a one-shot kind of project. Also, I wanted different media, so I had a video, I had print, I had a website, just to show the breadth of services and knowledge that I have. Also, again, I was especially focused on having a video because I know that's very attractive to people.

                                Most people, if you present them with a long PDF, they won't read it. They'll maybe just look at the header and the first two paragraphs and that's it. But video, that's engaging. So I was really happy I had a small video to include, so I made sure to have it prominently in my examples so that it would attract people and hopefully incite them to look at the rest of the stuff after that.

                                For getting permission, I tried to use fairly recent campaigns, but not current campaigns. So all the campaigns that I selected that were at least a year old when I contacted the clients, so yeah. I knew there weren't any conf ... confident ... sorry. Confidentiality.

Ekaterina Howard:           Tongue twister.

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yeah. It's easier in French. Confidentialité. But anyway, so yeah, so there are no privacy issues. So yeah, they all said, "Yeah, no, that's fine. Thank you very much for asking permission, but you have it, so feel free to use whatever you have." In some cases, I didn't have the final version, so I asked for the final output, whatever it is, and they all provided to me within a few weeks.

Ekaterina Howard:           That's so cool. I also wanted to ask about the length. You said that you specifically wanted to keep it short because people won't read a long PDF anyway?

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yes. So yeah, I mean, especially people on the web. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, and people don't focus on ... and especially, I'm putting myself in the shoes of someone trying to find a translator. What are they interested in knowing? What language combination? What's their previous experience, and yeah. So all the big details. I don't think price is super important in most clients' eyes, they just want someone that knows their stuff and that can deliver on time and is easy to deal with. So that's what I tried to convey with my website. So I kept it simple, so that it's easy to read, easy to see exactly the highlights, the important points to describe myself and the services that I offer. Yeah, and hopefully that would engage with them and incite them to contact me.

Ekaterina Howard:           Thank you. I really like your website.

Sébastien Adhikari:         Thank you very much.

Ekaterina Howard:           Especially because it's so clean.

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yeah. Well, that was actually ... 'cause initially I said, "Okay, maybe we need like a central homepage and then separate pages for each of the different services", but the web designer that I contacted said, "Oh, yeah, you could do that but that's a little bit old-fashioned. Nowadays, especially for mobile, you tend to keep everything on one page." So I said, "Okay. Okay, well I can do that, as long as it's easy to parse and we can present the case studies cleanly." He said, "I'm fine with that. I'm sure I can create something that can easily fit within those parameters." So yeah, basically it was his input that kind of influenced me.

                                Said, "Okay, well, yeah, that makes a lot of sense." So I adapted my writing process, copywriting process, along those lines.

Ekaterina Howard:           Talk about the copywriter.

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yes. Well, like I said, the website was a French copywriter, she was very good. She was no longer working at the agency when I contacted her, so I didn't feel too much like I was poaching. So basically it was a collaboration between both of us. She would lay out a few paragraphs, and I'd say, "Okay, well I like this, I like this. I don't really like this, and I don't think that's relevant." So we kind of shaped it together. Once that was done in French, then I did the translation into English. Made a few small modifications also, because my French and English websites are slightly different. Like the case studies are slightly different, the services that I offer are all slightly different.

                                So yeah, I made those little adjustments. But basically it was pretty much a straightforward adaptation of the French version.

Ekaterina Howard:           Then why the differences?

Sébastien Adhikari:         Well, because my mother tongue is French, but I am certified into English and into French. I'm one of the few translators out of Quebec that's actually certified in both language pairs. So yeah, so I said "Okay, well I need to" ... that's one of the, how do you call it, distinguishing features for me. So I said, "Okay, well, it's important that I present that, especially in English, so that" ... 'cause I'm aiming at slightly different markets for either into French, or into English. So basically, that's the main reason for why there's those slight differences.

Ekaterina Howard:           Okay. Thank you so much for your time. Can I ask you one last question?

Sébastien Adhikari:         Yeah, absolutely.

Ekaterina Howard:           Okay. So if you were to give a piece of advice to somebody who's only thinking of getting a website, what would you advise?

Sébastien Adhikari:         Try to make it personal, as much as possible. To reflect your personality. And also, keep it simple, 'cause like I said, people are ... especially clients, they're in a hurry. They don't want to slog through tons of ... I mean, that's the main reason why agencies, they use standardized tests. Basically, it enables them to go to what they find important, even though I disagree about the nature of that. But still, in their eyes the important thing is okay, well, can they read instructions, follow instructions, and deliver something [inaudible 00:34:51]. So yeah, keep it simple, but also keep it personal. 'Cause you're one of thousands, possibly millions of translators, so what's unique about you? What makes you different than anyone else? So I think that's my main piece of advice for translators or interpreters that want to create a website.

Ekaterina Howard:           Thank you.

Sébastien Adhikari:         Alright, no problem! That's fine. So yeah, is that it, or ...

Ekaterina Howard:           Yup. That's it.

Sébastien Adhikari:         Okay. Excellent. So okay, I think we can ...

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.

Ekaterina Howard is a bilingual copywriter, the current Administrator of the ATA’s Slavic Languages Division, and a Copy School Graduate. She believes that both freelance translators and interpreters and T&I companies can do better than “great quality at a reasonable price” and blogs about the ways in which they can make their copy more relevant and more persuasive.