Top of the Blogs

In the world of professional translation we’re extremely fortunate to have a whole range of excellent bloggers out there constantly producing innovative, interesting posts to keep us entertained during our down time and today I want to pay tribute to ten of my personal favourites.

With the Top 25 Language Professional Blogs section of bab.la’s annual Top 100 Language Lovers competition already providing a great (and somewhat more objectively ranked) opportunity to discover blogs you weren’t previously familiar with, I decided to add a few constraints to make compiling a list of my own a more valuable exercise:

 – I’ve included no blogs that feature in the 2014 Top 25 Language Professional Blogs: Looking beyond this list not only allows me to include ‘hidden gems’ so to speak but also demonstrates the strength in depth of blogging in the translation industry.

 – The blogs I’ve chosen are written by an individual rather than on behalf of a larger company: As an individual blogger myself I guess this is partly driven by a desire to be a champion of the ‘little guy’ but more importantly it made it a lot easier to narrow my list down to just ten selections!

 – The primary language of all of the blogs is English: Once again, this was purely to make the list a little easier to compile. I regularly read excellent translation blogs written in French, Italian and even Spanish (check out En la luna de Babel and Traducir es descubrir in particular) and it would have been a nightmare to choose between them all.

Ultimately, all of the blogs chosen consistently produce compelling posts that I just can’t resist sharing. As well as including a short overview of what each blog offers, I’ve also added a Recommended post for each entry that is typical of the unique treats provided by that particular blogger.

Of course, it almost goes without saying that there are so many other blogs that I would have loved to feature and I found it extremely tough to stop at just ten (in fact, I think that another post is already on the cards to feature those that I couldn’t squeeze in this time around). As it is, however, the chosen ten have caught my attention in recent weeks and months and I feel that they provide a strong account of what is on offer in the world of translation blogging. (Note: the blogs are in no particular order, this order simply worked well with the formatting of the post)

So go on, read a new blog today, and why not share your favourites in the comments section or on your own blog? Enjoy!

 


 

Balance your words: Taking a close look at the best ways to market yourself as a translator, the ever-increasing importance of social media in our profession, methods of maximising productivity and ultimately how to achieve balance in your career, Sara always produces top quality posts drawn from her wealth of experience in the industry.

Recommended post: 7 social media tips to help the busy translator

 


 

In Touch Translations: Emeline’s blog strikes a perfect balance between a range of topics with posts touching on everything from branding to personal reflections on life as a freelance translator. Be sure to check out her ‘What’s in a brand?’ series in particular (in which a different translation professional discusses their approach to branding in each post).

Recommended post: 4 ways you can reconnect to your business

 


 

Carol’s Adventures in Translation: Blogging in both English and Portuguese, Caroline’s blog offers a range of tips from personal experience as well as an impressive array of guest posts from professionals working throughout all areas of the translation industry. Her tips for newcomers to the industry are particularly handy.

Recommended post: Dear beginner

 


 

Which Translates To…: ‘Translation is embedded into life, art, emotions, actions. For everything we do, there’s a translation.’

With its personal, engaging posts providing you with a glimpse into the inner workings of life as a freelance translator and the world of writing, Magda’s blog is always a source of information and inspiration.

Recommended post: Why are freelance translators so good at branding?

 


 

Tranix Translations: With tips, reviews, resources and recommendations, Nikki’s blog is a veritable treasure trove of goodies! I could spend hours going through the links gathered on her regular ‘Posts of the day’ entries and I recommend that you do just that.

Recommended post: Warning about Google Translate

 


 

Your Professional Translator Blog: Olga puts it better than I ever could: “I blog about translation, marketing for translators, foreign language learning or teaching, Russian culture and traditions, my native city Vladimir and sometimes about my fam or me.” Be sure to keep up to date with her ‘Meet the linguist’ series.

Recommended post: 10 worst mistakes I made as a freelancer

 


 

Translation Wordshop: ‘Shoptalk about language, business and culture’.

The Translation Wordshop represents a recent discovery for me but it is already blog that I count among my favourites. Marie’s incisive explorations of important topics in the industry are packed with valuable, authoritative advice and the fact that I’ve only recently discovered her blog goes to show that there’s always more great content for us to find online.

Recommended post: Rebranding the translation profession

 


 

Patenttranslator’s Blog: Billed as the ‘diary of a mad patent translator’, Steve Vitek’s blog is the place to go if you’re looking for an entertaining read on a whole host of translation-related topics and beyond. Expect everything from neurotic rants to eternal truths and much, much more!

Recommended post: A Gaping Hole in the Curriculum for Translation Studies

 


 

Translation Matters: ‘Life, business, family – a blog about having it all.’

In Marion’s excellent blog you can expect insightful tips and a refreshing take on the translation industry from someone simply sharing their experiences in the profession.

Recommended post: Is Translator a Good Career? You Bet!

 


 

Transgalator: Introduced with the famous George Steiner quote “Every language is a world. Without translation, we would inhabit countries bordering on silence”, Gala’s blog goes about breaking that silence in its own unique way. Unlike the text-based blog’s above, Gala offers up a video blog in which she provides tips, advice, interviews and more. The innovative format only serves to demonstrate the range of options available to translation enthusiasts.

Recommended post: Video blogs for translators and interpreters


 

Guest Post: Mastering LinkedIn with Sara Colombo

HOW TO BE YOURSELF, ATTRACT THE RIGHT PEOPLE AND USE LINKEDIN EFFECTIVELY

Hello all and thank you for having me here today. How are you? Joseph invited me to write a guest post for his blog and I am glad today we’ll be talking about LinkedIn. Yes, the once professional network that became a social utility and is now functioning as a professional social network… a sort of in-between platform.

“But social media are a waste of time for freelancers!” you might think. And you are right. Social media won’t lead you far if used only to play games, share selfies and chat about cats, soups, cars etc.

However, if used for business purposes, social media can really help you to get in touch with potential clients (agencies as well as direct clients), discover new niches, turn followers into customers and establish yourself as a leader.

The only thing you have to do is clarify who you are to attract the right people – the people you get on with who will be happy to work with you (and will also benefit from your translation services) –  which, to be honest, is not exactly an easy task.

Keep in mind that people work with people, not nice brands. They want to see the human behind the digital surface. And when I say this, I mean that they want to connect with a nice human, someone they like, find interesting, someone they would hire because they understand their business and can help them. In other words, when you create a LinkedIn profile, you have to be human, personal, find out what your values are and who might benefit from those values/skills.

Why? Well, because (a) you don’t want to attract all the random bonkers annoyingly hanging out around your contacts and (b) why the heck would you waste time to create a very general and anonymous profile, a universal washout, when you could spend the same amount of time on a clear, effective, specific profile? You tell me.

We need to understand this: creating general profiles to please the whole world and attract all the damn clients we can think of is tiring, pointless, useless. You need to attract the perfect client for you, not thousands of pests.

Think about it: isn’t it better to be a business that solves problems rather than being just another business? And who can you help if not the people experiencing the problems your skills and expertise can solve?

The solution? Be yourself, learn to value your skills, know who you want to talk to, understand what they want to hear from you, and create a specific, clear, effective, LinkedIn profile.

Let’s put it this way: use LinkedIn to attract the right people.

IF I HAVE TO BE SPECIFIC, HOW CAN I DO IT?

Many people think that specialization is something that comes with their brand, as if colours and logos could tell the whole story of your life at first glance. Failures and milestones included.

Wrong. As I say in my book: you are your brand. A brand might be cool and definitely an important part of your business, but this is the time to show your personality and talent to the world. Because this is how you will build your career and attract the right people.

So, to create a great LinkedIn profile, forget rules and fixed CV standards and learn to interact, be true and tell your story. Here are some ideas:

  1. Use your picture, not your logo. People want to work with real people, and unless you come from Mars, you should be one nice, interesting person.
  2. When writing your summary, be focused, clear and personal. Use your creativity to link all the steps and create a compelling presentation: show your love, motivation and share your areas of interest or your specialisations. As I have said, being specific helps you attract the right client, but it is also the only way to tell people more about your values, opinions and, as a consequence, stand out from the crowd. Because you don’t want to be just ‘another translator’…right? Great. Then ‘neutral’ should not be in your vocabulary, especially when it comes to describing your career. On the contrary highlight your skills, specify the important milestones or steps that led you to where you are now, charm people with your lovely wink and (finally!) close the deal. Use that damn ‘call to action’ to bring people to your blog, website, to contact you… to work with you!
  3. Add multimedia content to personalise the profile and give more details about you as a freelancer. Specifically, there are two elements that could work for you: an infographic and a presentation of your company. Visual content is really popular these days because it can help you shrink a lot into a tiny digital surface. Create a fun, personal, memorable infographic to show your CV or skills. Alternatively, and especially if you run a blog related to your field of specialisation or simply a blog about translation, link it to the profile to attract traffic and let potential clients explore your website.
  4. Don’t link Twitter to LinkedIn and don’t spam people with posts and updates that have nothing to do with your profile. Yes, I have told you to be yourself, but I meant the best professional version of you (who said professional can’t be fun, witty or interesting?!). Despite being a social platform, LinkedIn is still a professional network. If you really want to share a post on all of your social media, make sure the content is right and it won’t damage your reputation or make your prospects run away from your initial promise.
  5. Connect properly: when sending a message to someone, specify why you want to connect with them and add a couple of details about yourself as well. I keep on receiving invitations from people I have never heard of and sometimes find myself declining them as the profile looks incomplete, unclear or simply unprofessional. Why should your ideal client work with you if you don’t even know how to introduce yourself in a catchy way?

Finally, two more tips you might find useful:

  1. Update your profile regularly and remember to check LinkedIn updates too. Social media change quickly; keeping your profile updated and fresh is the only way to stand out.
  2. Use keywords all around your profile: from the tag line to the summary, the description of your educational background and your interests. If you want your prospects to find you, you need to be clear about what you do.

PUTTING IT INTO PRACTICE: YOUR DAILY SOCIAL MEDIA WORKOUT

Apologies for the fitness reminder, but the subtle connection is easily understandable: just like training regularly, you also need to use social media on regular basis. That is, on a daily basis. First of all because engaging people often enhances your visibility and, secondly, because if you want to find clients, establish a connection and lead them to your website or even close a deal, then you will have to take steps, connect and be present. Ultimately, it will take time to negotiate the deal, just as it would offline.

So, here are some things you can do every day:

  1. Research LinkedIn to find potential clients. Or do some online/offline market research and then go to LinkedIn to find those people/companies.
  2. Connect with two-three new people and do it in a pleasant way (aka: see point 5 above!)
  3. Update your profile: tell people what you are working on, share an interesting business story, ask a question, post a valuable blog post/video.
  4. Follow one or more companies. Weren’t you looking for potential clients?! Then stalk freely. Which brings us to the next point…
  5. Turn your LinkedIn contacts into potential clients and do market research to examine their websites, services, reputation… Anything you might need before contacting them and introducing your services as a freelance translator. How? Well, that’s a different story!
  6. Join a group/conversation and contribute by giving your opinion or asking a question. This, I’ll be honest, is something I used to do a lot in the past but that I have recently dropped because my schedule doesn’t allow me to do so anymore. It worked though. Or at least it helped me to get noticed within certain marketing groups. I am not saying chatting brought me clients, but it did garner a few connections and, eventually, a couple of projects as well.

Heres another of my tiny secrets: if you want to be noticed, engaged and contacted, you have to be personal, clear and engaging rather than screaming to the whole world about your slogan and spamming people with annoying stuff like self-promoting posts, it’s-all-about-me updates and very low comments based on your personal frustration. People hate haters and they find your obsessive advertising vain and arrogant.

If you’ve recently contacted a potential client through LinkedIn but he/she never replied after accepting your request, then start asking yourself what went wrong and how you could introduce yourself properly, rather than persistently posting your CV, the link to your ‘services’ page or showing off how great you are. This is not a TV commercial, this is a social platform based on conversations, engaging people and using your positive skills to attract and connect with the right people.

If that person simply ignored your request or you are still waiting for him/her to call you, then take the first step and send another message, let them know that there is a reason why you connected with them (which is not just because you were desperate to share your new CV). Make them feel like a valuable connection.

Do you want me to be honest? Alright then, let’s face it: not everyone is interested in working with you and repeatedly sharing your CV is of NO use whatsoever. Believe me. I mean, I am happy to know you’re a great professional, someone always available to help with a new project, but stop it because after the fifth time we all know that you are.

You have to work your ass off and put your motivation on the table to overcome the digital surface and bring your negotiation to the next level. This is why being specific and choosing the right people is mandatory. Because they are the clients who will be happy to work with you, they will find your profile interesting, your projects an example of your skills and your values similar to theirs.

Want to know more? Get in touch? Of course!

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Oh, and remember to #balanceyourwords!

Joseph: All that remains is to thank Sara for such a brilliant post. I myself have been looking for ways to make LinkedIn more effective recently but didn’t know where to start. As such, I hugely enjoyed reading such expert insight into the topic and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did! Ciao.