I probably don’t need to say it, but there’s more opportunity than ever to work with remote clients. (I guess that’s one small bright side to a pandemic, though the trend was definitely on the upswing before 2020.)
And that means that not only can you write for clients on the other side of your country from you, you can also write for clients on the other side of the world. And today’s post is all about how to do just that.
One quick thing before I dive in, though: We don’t generally recommend trying to write in languages other than your native language. Why? Well, there are so many nuances, idiosyncrasies, and constantly evolving slang terms in each language that even some native speakers have a hard time keeping up.
Now, you are in charge of your own career and if you feel that you utterly and completely mastered another language then we’ll leave it to you to decide, but just please note that you’ve been warned.
Writing for international clients could mean writing for a company in another country that wants copy in English. Alternatively, it could mean writing for a company in a country that uses an alternate version of the language you speak. (Think: US versus UK English.)
In the case of UK versus US English, it’s good to know some of the differences between the two (favourite versus favorite, etc.) but you don’t need to know every single difference. The company you write for will be able to help with that.
But there are a few things that you do want to keep in mind. First, especially since there may be a slight language barrier and there will at least be a slight cultural barrier, you want to be extra thorough in your input call.
Don’t hesitate to ask any questions about the company, the project, the target audience, or any key elements. You should record any input call, but this is an instance when it will be especially helpful.
If your client uses certain terms, be sure to ask if they’re company terms or if they’re terms that would be used by the target audience. Beyond that, too, of course, ask about any and all terms and phrases in general that the target audience is likely to use in relation to the project.
Be sure to get any other materials (in your language) that the company has used and is happy with. You need to allow ample time for research and input.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions throughout the project, too. You could even set up “progress calls” in the middle of the project to review pieces of copy and make sure you’re on the right track.
As you’re writing, be sure to keep the language straightforward—especially if your copy is going to be translated to other languages after the fact! Even though, presumably, you’re writing in your language for other speakers of your language, the culture and word usage may be different. Be careful to use turns of phrase (like turns of phrase!) that are common for you but may not be common in other countries that speak your language.
And finally, this isn’t a copy tip but still an important one: Be aware of your time zones! Many a global freelancer has been tripped up by time zone confusion and ended up missing a call or inadvertently scheduling them for the middle of the night.
Writing for international clients is a big opportunity that’s only going to get bigger both as people get more used to working remotely and as the world develops even more of a global economy. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll be starting out on the right foot.
Your turn! Would you be interested in writing for international clients? Or are you more interested in (writing for your native country but living internationally? (Or both!) Let me know in the comments below.