Writing e-mails to translation agencies

The scenario is simple: a translator spots an offer, considers the requirements, and starts writing an e-mail, hoping that he or she will get this project. This way of making sales (can’t call it differently) is still one of the most popular in the translation industry. Read our short guide today to learn how to structure your e-mail so that your chances of being considered are higher.


Subject lines

Translation companies very often ask suppliers to put a certain phrase, or simply a job number in the subject line. There is a reason for that. Translation agencies usually receive dozens of CVs regarding different projects, or no projects at all. The only way to sort incoming mail is to label it with the appropriate symbols. Now, if you don’t include the requested phrase in your subject line, your e-mail may very well be not even read.
If your client doesn’t insist on any particular phrase, try to be nice and helpful and use their offer title as your subject line. You can add your language if the offer relates to various combinations. Anything that helps that poor Project Manager will be appreciated.
If you’re sending an unsolicited e-mail, it may be a good idea to come up with a creative subject line to catch the reader’s attention and stand out.

Addressing the reader

There’s one golden rule here: if you’re replying to the offer where the person in charge is named, you write your reply to this person. Making the effort to look it up and paste into your e-mail, instead of a dated “Dear Sir/Madam”, is well worth it. If no names are mentioned, you can start with “Dear Project Manager”.

Mentioning the source

Stating where you found the information is crucial, as it explains to your reader why you’re writing to them at all. It is also a way of “justifying” your message: you’re not just a time-waster, but you wrote to this agency because they need you.

Showing interest

If you want to win the reader and get this project, show a little bit of interest. It can be anything business-related, even such a small thing as congratulating them on their website works! Don’t just go straight on to talking about yourself.

Best experience

Project Managers don’t spend too much time on reading cover e-mails, so try to make it as relevant as possible. Mention only that experience and these qualifications that fit the project best and refer the reader to your CV for more information.

Follow the instructions

It’s a good idea to list down all instructions you’re given in the offer to make sure you follow them all. This is essential for professionalism. You may be asked to send your CV, give your rates per different units, give details of your policies, etc. Some offers are more helpful and list all instructions point by point, but with others you have to use your analytical thinking skills.

E-mail signature

Every mailing application or system gives you the possibility to set your personal e-mail signature. Add all essentials there: your name and surname, phone number, website address, Twitter, LinkedIn, and skype nickname. If your business has a slogan, add it there!

Check spelling

Read your e-mail before sending. In translation, more than in any other business, spelling mistakes influence your chances on getting the project. Make sure that spellchecker is on and set to the correct language. It’s also worth checking if you got all the names right.

And one last thing:

Project Managers spend on average about 20 seconds on reading your e-mail. Make sure that you use that time in the best way possible!

What were your most embarrassing e-mail mistakes?

Written by Marta

A Polish English translator and interpreter, she helps freelance translators kick off their careers and she also assists companies in growing their translation businesses. Visit her at http://www.wantwords.co.uk

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