I am a big advocate of translators investing in just two things when they first start freelancing: professionally printed business cards, and a website with professional domain name. But before you do that, you’ve got to face a creative challenge: choosing a name for your business.
If you go the easy (though no less credible) route, you simply use your name and your profession together. For instance, I might choose CarolynTranslates or TranslationsByCarolyn. (As a complete aside, I recently read an interesting piece that touched on personal domain names as a future sign of old age. You can find it here.)
Another route for choosing your business name involves brainstorming a bit. When I worked for a branding company, the way the pros did this was to create a few lists of single words, then mix and match until something stuck. Draft a bunch of adjectives you want associated with your name and services. You can also make a similar list of nouns.
Aim for 10–15 words on each list, so you are forced to go beyond the really obvious (i.e., overused) choices. Say I wanted a simple Hungarian domain name to market myself to my source-language audience. Part of my list might look like this:
This is just scraping the surface, so the words look a bit boring at first. But even with this limited list, you can expand your options. Play with the words a little: precision English, thoroughly translated, write American, etc. It’s OK to get creative, goofy, and downright awful in your suggestions. Sometimes the “mistakes” grow on you.
I wanted to emphasize the English variant I specialize in (American), since British English is a frequent request from new Hungarian customers, and one I can’t really accommodate. This way, even before clicking on the link to my site, my potential customer already has a general idea whether I can help or not. I’ve had amerikaifordito.com (American translator) up and running for about a month now. We’ll see how it does with the Hungarian market!
A final word of advice: be sure to check with a company that sells domain names, such as GoDaddy, to make sure your final contenders are available! If you’re worried that your awesome new name(s) will be snapped up quickly, go ahead and purchase it/them now. (Do a little price shopping if you like; GoDaddy doesn’t have to be the last word.) Otherwise, sleep on it for a few days. I guarantee one option will stick in your head—a sure sign you have your winner.
How did you pick your business name? What are you favorites that you’ve come across? If you’re having trouble picking one out, let us help!