DIY for Translators: Creating your own website Part I

Many people have asked me about the easiest way to create a promotional website, as opposed to an eCommerce website, to precisely promote their products or services. I would say that the most effortless way to establish a web presence is going to Google (the most popular search engine) and type in “website designers.” Of course, the search results will be overwhelmingly extensive and most likely, you will have neither the time nor the drive to go through such a long list of technical, often unfamiliar information. Then you would pick the designer that is either closest to you or the one that promises that your website will come out on the first page of a search result. The second way that comes to mind would be to set up a blog (short for web log) on one of the many free sites that offer this service, such as WordPress or Blogger, or why not a simple Facebook page? However, there are several important factors to ponder when deciding how to set up a website of your own –a place on the World Wide Web where your current and potential clients can see who you are and what you have to offer.

I often compare a website to a brochure, where potential clients can see our values, services, educational background, and the like. A translator’s website should have basically the same content that a services brochure might contain, but the advantage is that the website is a digital version that can potentially reach a much wider audience. Because we are the only ones who know the details about our services and background and can also educate visitors to our website on the basics of translation and interpreting (including the difference between a translator and an interpreter).

I am an avid advocate of the DIY method. The easiest, least painful way to create a website yourself is to use standard web and database tools. Once we take care of the following items, we will be able to get down to work on the design:

Domain Name. This is the most important element of our website creation process. The domain name is the extension of our business name, and has to be chosen carefully. The main point in our case is to always include the word “translation” or “interpreting” (since it must say something about the services we provide). We should avoid using our personal name (unless it is included in the name of the business or DBA), make our domain name short and interesting, and reserve it for at least two years. Most hosting providers offer a free domain name with the purchase of a hosting package. The domain name may have to be renewed after the first year. It usually ranges from $9.99 to $14.99 a year, depending on the provider. The last component in a domain name, also called the top-level domain, is a three-letter word which basically communicates the business affiliation. The most common ones are .com, used by U.S. companies and businesses, .net for network providers or ISPs, .gov for U.S. government agencies, .edu for U.S. educational institutions, .org for non-profit organizations, and .biz for businesses (usually an alternative to .com when the domain name is already taken).

Hosting Provider. Most hosting providers offer hosting packages for less than $100 a year. We have to make sure we get a user-friendly control panel, unlimited bandwidth usage/monthly transfer, at least 99% uptime, e-mail hosting with unlimited storage, at least 10 email addresses, and POP/IMAP access, additional sub domains, unlimited disk space, at least 2 MySQL databases (to be able to install content management system programs like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal), e-commerce features, FTP (File Transfer Protocol) accounts for safely transferring large files to our clients, visitor analytics, and 24/7 customer service. It is advisable to choose a well-renowned provider who has been in business for several years, but beware of those that overpublicize their services and end up not providing 100% reliability and uptime.

E-mail on Own Domain. Many businesses that have a website do not use their domain name in their email addresses, which keeps them from having a professional email solution. So instead of using Gmail, Yahoo!, or the like, we should use our own domain name in the email addresses we provide to our clients (e.g., Using an email client (Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express) is also very advisable once we set up our email addresses (remember the POP/IMAP access we have to make sure we get from the hosting provider). This type of software downloads the email messages we get in our inbox to our computer, allowing us to have all the messages from all our email addresses in one place, so that we don’t have to open an Internet browser to check our inbox. These programs also have contacts, calendars and to-do lists, which prove very useful for neatly organizing everything in one place.

Keep tuned to watch the second part of this post!


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