Starting out as a freelance translator

Hello everyone, hope you’re all well out there in translation land and have some exciting plans to round off the year!

Today’s post is something a little different. I recently gave a talk to the Translation Studies MA students at the University of Hull and thought I’d share my presentation with you here.

As the title of this post suggests, the seminar was all about getting started as a freelance translator, with me sharing tips and advice based on my own experiences within the wonderful world of freelancing.

Hopefully there will be plenty of useful information in there for those of you interested in a career in freelance translation and perhaps there will even be one or two handy snippets for more experienced freelancers.

The presentation touches upon everything from finding and completing your first translation job to a few different ways of developing an online presence using social media.

Public speaking and presentation skills aren’t my strongest areas but they are skills that I’m keen to develop, especially with conference papers, teaching and further presentations on the horizon. As such, any feedback or handy links for developing these areas would be greatly appreciated!

Anyway, here’s the recording of the presentation and the accompanying slides. (Click the images to get the full screen, slideshow version)

Enjoy!

 

P.S. If you’re having trouble with the SoundCloud player, here’s a direct link to the recording: https://soundcloud.com/jaltranslation/starting-out-as-a-freelance-translator

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


 

One year down: What blogging has to offer

After being spoiled with a brilliant guest post on LinkedIn last time out, this post is something a little different.

I was recently made aware (by the fairies at WordPress) that my blog had turned one and thought that now would be the perfect opportunity to reflect on what has been an exciting year and consider how valuable a tool blogging has proven to be in the process.

So what does a blog offer you? Why should you consider making the leap if you’re not already among the league of bloggers? Maintaining a blog is certainly a considerable commitment but I believe that the rewards far outweigh the potential drawbacks and here are a few of my own thoughts on the merits of translation blogging:

1) Developing relevant skills

When I started out with my blog, I had little idea of the direction I wanted to head in and it was primarily a place to write about something I love. I was full to the brim with translation-y goodness and needed somewhere to share it. Beyond this, however, it was also a means through which I could work on my writing ability within a context of my choosing and has allowed me to increase my familiarity with different styles of content and work on different way of making topics more dynamic and appealing. While it may not seem instantly relevant, all of these skills are key aspects of a translators’ continuing development.

2) Demonstrating your know-how to potential clients and contacts

While not all of my posts are technical essays on complicated subject matter, far from it, I hope that they at least demonstrate that I know my subject well and this is one of the most valuable tools that a blog can offer. If you’re an expert in your field, then why not show it? With so many translators out there – many of them sharing the same specialist areas as you – a blog provides a platform to show off your knowledge and show that you know how to get that information across. What’s more, while you can’t encapsulate all of your knowledge into the few pages deemed acceptable in an application, a link to and a mention of your blog in your CV allows you to direct potential clients to a wealth of additional information and clients will certainly be interested in having a look at what you’ve been writing about.

3) Expanding your horizons

While at first it may prove difficult to get your content out there and get noticed, you’ll quickly find that there’s always an appetite for interesting/informative/different content. I’m a strong believer in the value of social media for freelancers and it is here that you will find the best paths to expansion. Sharing content has really helped me to integrate and interact with the Twitter translation community and this in turn has led to the development of strong ties with new contacts and clients alike. Furthermore, as your content finds its way further afield, you will see improved visibility on other platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn, even without a concerted personal effort, and this can only be a good thing for your business.

4) Letting people know a little bit about yourself

While my blog is by no means a personal sound board, the very topics that I choose, the way that I try to get information across and the manner in which information is presented all serve to give a strong representation of the person that I am. In an industry where people want to work with people, and not nameless machines, this is a valuable asset. As Sara discussed in her guest post last time out, this is vital to your growth as a business and blogging represents an invaluable means of demonstrating that personal touch.

5) Giving something back

Ultimately, one of the main things that I want to achieve when writing a post is for people to enjoy the content and take something (however little) away from it. The translation community is filled with excellent blogs and articles that help no end in your professional endeavours and it is great to be a small part of that and give a little something back.

Finally, I just want to thank everyone who has read and shared content during this exciting first year and I hope that there will be plenty more for you to enjoy in the coming years. Ciao!

Twittering Translators

While today’s post perhaps represents a departure from my usual blog articles which revolve around exploring a certain part of the translation act with accompanying examples, it is probably a more conventional use of a blogging space in that it more closely resembles the form of an opinion piece.

That said, however, it is something that still ties in very closely with the translation profession and helps to give a more well-rounded view of what it takes to be a translator. The topic of address for today is the use of Twitter as part of the professional translator’s working life.

In what was the biggest coincidence of my Monday, while I was thinking this post over I discovered that our friends over at Inbox Translation had actually covered the exact same topic in their latest blog and, while initially considering dropping the post all together, upon reading the post and seeing the different approach they had adopted as well as the different opinions held, I decided that it would actually be even more interesting to write this post in order for it to be read in tandem with the views of another fairly recently initiated twitterer. (Their article – ‘A Few Thoughts on Twitter’ – obviously shares some common ground but tackles interesting issues surrounding followers rather than the points I want to address)

Initially, despite the many recommendations I was given to create a professional twitter account, I was skeptical about what value it could offer – I was happily getting on with translation tasks without the aid of social media and (largely thanks to Facebook) I thought that it would perhaps prove more of a distraction than anything else. I was completely wrong.

While the translation act is obviously key for a professional translator, one cannot underestimate the importance of the translator as a human being and the importance of their mentality in a profession which can often leave members feeling lost in what can be a daunting and isolated role. Of course being alone, especially while working, is not a synonym for being lonely or isolated and for many people the benefits of being their own boss and not having to deal with annoying colleagues on a daily basis far outweighs this negative aspects, but it is important to get the balance right and this is where Twitter plays one of its trump cards.

Upon getting started you quickly discover a ready-made network of welcoming, professional and knowledgeable translators working in any number of language pairs who are going through or have dealt with the problems that you will undoubtedly face. While I am still fairly new to the freelancing game, it is now hard to imagine a time when I wasn’t involved in this network and the use of Twitter has greatly eased the transition into this new mode of working.

Yet beyond just a way of gathering reassurances while finding your way into an often unforgiving profession and fighting potential solitude, Twitter represents a site of opportunity for continual development for the already-established translator – I could honestly fill an entire day reading the fascinating articles shared on translation, linguistics and languages every day, and the discovery of many excellent translation blogs has opened up a new world of translation resources that I otherwise would have completely missed. Add to this an endless stream of humourous posts and pictures and the constant sharing of more traditional resources (tutorials, glossaries, termbanks etc.) and you really have a great tool.

While I am not going to address questions of how to use twitter or social media (many excellent articles are out there such as this ‘Practical Guide to Social Media for Translators’ or ‘Getting started with Twitter – A Translator’s Journey’) as I feel that it is a very personal topic based upon an individual’s desire to seek out additional information or connect with other like-minded professionals and their amount time free to invest, I personally feel that regular interaction within the professional group has greatly developed my understanding of the profession as well as providing a base to recharge when a five-minute break is sorely needed.

And what about it doing nothing more than adding yet another distraction to your working day? There is certainly the potential for this to be the case with the array of bits and pieces on offer, but this is true with just about everything on the internet – it just offers the same challenges of self-discipline as anything else and I have not found it to be a problem so far…

On a final note, I realise that a fair chunk of my blog traffic does indeed come from Twitter and as such I am preaching to the choir in many cases, but I would love to hear some different takes on this issue – whether sharing my opinions or in total opposition – and hopefully my views will convince a few of you out there to either take the Twitter plunge or dust off that hashtag key and give it another shot.

Before I head off here are ten of my favourite translation-based twitter accounts posting in a variety of languages; I have gained so much useful information from these guys over the course of the last few months, with regular blog updates and a constant stream of interesting articles being shared, and this is the least I can do to thank them. Here’s to you!

(edit – I have to add that there were so many other accounts that I could’ve easily included in this list and keeping it down to just ten was a real trial. In the end I pretty much went for the ten accounts that I seem to retweet most often)

@LinguaGreca                                                                      @InboxTranslate

@Smart_Translate                                                                 @qctranslator

@translartisan                                                                       @ALTA_USA

@sc_translations                                                                   @earthlang

@Scheherezade_SL                                                              @estrans

And finally, you definitely can’t go wrong in checking out each and every one of the Top 25 Language Twitterers 2013 if you’re looking for a few new faces to follow. Happy tweeting!