9 Useful Questions by New Professional Translators

Training and earning credentials in translation are a massive part of becoming a successful professional translator. But once you’ve finished your training course, then what? In this article, I’ll share nine of the most popular questions that budding professional translators ask me when they complete my Spanish-to-English translation course.

  1. Should I Think about Working In-house?

If you like the idea of being an employee and you’re in a suitable location, this option is worth considering. By working in-house you get solid experience, guaranteed work from the get-go, and ongoing technology training. You learn methods for dealing with clients and managing projects, not to mention how to perform proper quality control.

  1. Do People Actually Make it as Freelance Translators?

Yes. After singing the praises of in-house, I should disclose that I’ve never actually done it. I went into freelancing from TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) in 2009, and am still a freelance translator today. You have to work hard and be self-disciplined. You also have to learn to run a business. So, besides your translation, specialization, and technology skills, you’ll need training on digital marketing, selling, negotiating, customer service, accounting, and time management.

  1. How Do I Choose a Specialization?

Three words: follow the money. If you have a degree or work experience in another subject, then that may be a good place to start. It’s essential to make sure that there’s market demand for your chosen subject. Look for industries where you know the end clients are profitable. That means they’ll have the budget to work with professional translators.

  1. Should I Join a Translation Association?

Yes. As I wrote about in this article on how accredited translators get more work, being a member of a translation association, like the ATA, is a great way of showing your dedication to the profession. It’ll also help you network with other translators, which can result in new projects.

  1. How Do You Get Your First Clients?

Start by making a great CV and building strong online profiles on ProZ.com, LinkedIn, and your translation association. Most freelance translators begin by looking for work with translation agencies. It’s best to go after a client who has a job in hand. So, if they’re putting out ads on translation sites like ProZ.com, or advertising on LinkedIn, you know they need somebody right now.

If you can’t find any immediate opportunities, send out your CV while you keep looking. You must have a good cover letter, realistic prices, and a CV that contains the information the agency needs. For guidance on this, read How Do Translators Showcase Their Talent to Translation Agencies?, which was reblogged on The Savvy Newcomer.

  1. How Much Should I Charge?

Translation agencies will have price brackets they accept for each language combination. They pay at the lower end of the bracket for less-experienced translators and non-specialists, and at the higher end for specialists with more experience. You can get pricing guidance by asking a sample of agencies you would consider working with what they pay freelancers in your combination. You could also try asking a sample of professional translators working in your combination.

Remember that when you set your rates you need to consider all your business costs and the time you spend working. That way you can make sure you offer prices that are competitive and sustainable.

  1. How Do I Learn How to Quote and Invoice?

If you’re talking to good translation agencies, they won’t mind guiding you. Before you quote, read the agency’s terms and conditions, to make sure you’re happy to work under them.

The project manager will normally agree prices with you by email. Mention whether your price includes sales tax, and any other details you want to state, e.g. USD X.XX per source word + sales tax.

There will be official requirements in your country of residence on what an invoice has to contain. You could consult the tax authorities, or visit freelancer forums to find out the requirements. The agency will probably check your invoice to make sure it’s legal for tax purposes, and ask you to make amendments if necessary.

  1. Can I Start Sending Out My CV Without a Translation Qualification?

If you’ve not yet completed your translation qualification exam or program, you can still start marketing yourself. Include your translation studies on your CV and say the results are pending. That’ll give you an excuse to follow up with the potential client a few months later when the results come out, hopefully with good news. I help translators prepare for the UK’s IoLET DipTrans exam, which has three papers. Sometimes candidates fail to get the qualification, but get a letter of credit. Include anything like that on your CV, as it will differentiate you from unqualified translators.

  1. Do I Need to Buy a CAT Tool and Learn About Machine Translation?

CAT (computer-assisted translation) tools are the norm in the industry and serious professional translators own at least one. You may like to read this CAT tool digest published on The Savvy Newcomer for more details.

Machine translation is growing and is set to get bigger. So, it’s definitely worth learning about it. My guest post 10 Things Translators Need to Know About Machine Translation on ProZ.com is a good place to start.

All this may feel overwhelming when you’re starting out. But if you break it down into a to-do list and work through your priorities, you’ll be surprised how quickly you get a handle on it all. None of these issues are worth worrying about. Enjoy the challenges of climbing the learning curve.

Image source: Unsplash

Author bio

Gwenydd Jones is a freelance Spanish-to-English translator and translator trainer. She has two MAs, the first in translation studies and the second in legal translation, and the IoLET DipTrans. A freelance translator since 2009, Gwenydd specializes in legal, business, and marketing translation. She is also a copywriter. You can read her blog and discover her Advanced Spanish-to-English Translation Course, which includes DipTrans exam preparation, at translatorstudio.co.uk. Twitter: @Gwenydd_Jones.

Dear Savvy: I Want to Work in Culinary Translation

Recently, our inbox has seen a number of thoughtful questions from readers. In lieu of shipping off worthy advice to lone recipients, we decided these exchanges could benefit a broader audience. Without further ado, we are pleased to inaugurate our new question-and-answer series à la “Dear Abby,” titled “Dear Savvy” (get it?).

Our first reader question is on how to break into the culinary translation sector. To answer the question, we recruited Claire Cox, a fellow translation blogger who counts food-and-drink translation among her specializations, and who also happens to be the creator of the bustling Foodie Translators Facebook group. Read on for some fresh-baked advice!

Dear Savvy,

I keep hearing that translators should specialize. I was thinking of going into medical translation, which I heard is in demand and pays well, but after reading your blog post titled “How (Not) to Be a Professional Translator” and “Specialisation according to Rose Newell,” I realized I’m actually interested in culinary translation. I haven’t been able to find any resources on this specialization online. Is there demand for culinary translation? Where do I start?

– Hungry for a Specialization

Dear Hungry,

There is definitely considerable demand for translation in the field of food and drink. The problem is, as you will realize from the countless examples of poorly translated menus, that everyone and their cousin thinks they can do it! Translating menus, recipes and cookbooks often involves a great deal of research, so it can take a long time to translate just a couple hundred words and it’s hard to get clients to understand that charging on an hourly, rather than per-word, basis is fairer in such cases.

That said, it can be a very rewarding field to work in, especially if, like me, food is one of your personal passions. There are good, decent-paying opportunities out there: the problem is finding them! You need to make sure that food is listed on your CV/résumé/directory listings/agency forms. If you use sites such as ProZ, make sure that food is mentioned under various keywords—gastronomy, food, cooking, nutrition, restaurants, catering, etc., in your source and target languages, to make you more searchable. You could always write to restaurants if you feel their menus are particularly bad, although in my experience that rarely pays off—I suspect the person who opens the letter may well be the person responsible for the inadequate translation (or at the very least their best friend!). Writing to publishers is another option, although again it can be difficult to get a foot in the door from a standing start.

For me, the best option is networking. There are translation groups out there: the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) in the UK has a Food & Drink Network, although it doesn’t see a lot of traffic, just the occasional food query. I heard an excellent talk about food translation at the ATA Conference in San Francisco in 2016 by the very entertaining Joe Mazza , entitled “Arugula by Any Other Name: Coping with Translation in the Culinary Arts” (see link to my brief summary here), so I’m sure there must be similar groups in the US.

I set up the Foodie Translators group on Facebook just over two years ago, and it’s now grown to a lively and supportive group of over 2,600 colleagues with an interest in all things food-related. Not all of us translate in the field all the time, but we do share a passion for food, so you will see recipes, fabulous food pictures, questions about ingredients or culinary equipment, cries for help, and requests for recipe and restaurant suggestions from across the world. We’re also happy to accept food translation queries and related job postings. Most of all, we’ve become a real community, and members even arrange to meet up in person at translation events worldwide. This, in turn, gives you a very good feel for colleagues you can trust if you suddenly need to pass on a request for translation in this field. I personally ended up being offered a very large project to translate recipes and related material for a new restaurant opening precisely because a colleague had seen that I’d set up the group and knew that I was interested in food translation. You never know what may come of the smallest pebble you throw…

Good luck—and do come and join us online!

Claire

In search of more resources for culinary translation? Savvy stumbled upon this upcoming AulaSIC course on culinary translation for English-Spanish and English-French translators (site in Spanish; contact cursos@aulasic.org for more information). Comment if you are familiar with any other resources of interest. Now, time to get your hands dirty cooking up your résumé!

Do you have a question of your own ripe for an answer? We would love to hear from you! Leave a comment below or shoot us an email: atasavvynewcomer@atanet.org.

Image source: Pixabay

Author bio

Claire Cox is a UK-based translator from French and German into English. She works primarily in the fields of energy, nuclear technology and health & safety, but has a soft spot for translations in the fields of food and horticulture too, as these reflect her own private passions. She has been translating professionally for over 30 years and is a qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting.

Website: http://www.cctranslations.co.uk/
E-mail: claire@cctranslations.co.uk
Twitter: Claire_Cox16
Blog: http://www.clairecoxtranslations.wordpress.com/

Year-one chronicle: My first twelve months as a professional translator

A few days before Christmas I got a thick, imposing envelope in the mail from the Washington State Department of Revenue.

“ACTION REQUIRED: Business Tax Return due January 31” it shouted in bold, red font across the front. Yikes! What have I gotten myself into?

Inauspicious beginnings

Two years ago, I didn’t even know that document translation was a real profession. I still remember where I was in late August 2016—surfing the web in a friend’s living room in Manaus, Brazil—when I stumbled across a blog post describing the qualities of a successful translator. I thought, People actually make a living doing this? From then on things kind of snowballed.

I immediately began digging deeper. It didn’t take long to discover Corinne McKay’s award-winning blog about all things translation, and the podcast she co-hosts with Eve Bodeux. I soaked it all in.

By mid-November I was back in the U.S. and taking Corinne’s course, Getting Started as a Freelance Translator. I had found my calling and I wasn’t looking back.

Baby steps

I formalized my business, Language of the Americas, in Washington State in January 2017.

Aside from a one-off gig for a neighbor when I lived in Colombia, I had never translated for pay before. I felt like a high school freshman on the first day of class all over again. Undaunted, and with Corinne’s counsel, I began prospecting for work by:

  • verifying potential agency clients on Payment Practices;
  • sending out warm emails or—my favorite—paper letters to those prospects, including a polished resume;
  • fine-tuning my LinkedIn profile; and
  • creating a business website.

I also started a blog about trends in Latin American agriculture, thinking that would attract clients while keeping me current on terminology in my niche of agriculture. It was a fun exercise, but it wasn’t catching anyone’s attention, or so I thought. But more on that later.

Peaks and valleys

Initial email and snail mail prospecting was overwhelmingly successful—at least in terms of engaging prospective clients. My response rate was around 50%. This was starting to look easy!

But nobody wanted to send me work. A few “saved my resume for future reference,” but, as the days stretched into weeks and the weeks into months, my inbox was still empty. My problem seemed to be a lack of experience. But how do I get that experience?

I had been knocking on the virtual door of one of the larger agencies out there, as I knew they had loads of work and a lower bar of entry. I finally heard back from them after my third application in as many months, and tested onto their roster as a translation editor in the life sciences department. This was my chance to get the experience I needed. I thought of it as an apprenticeship.

As time went by, I learned how to communicate with project managers, how to negotiate bids, how to make tight deadlines, and how to invoice. Everything was so new.

As an editor, I also learned how to research hard terminology, and I found out a lot about the mistakes translators are prone to make, and how to catch them. As a bonus, I was being exposed to Spanish from all over the world, and that, along with floods of technical terminology unique to the life sciences, kept my language skills moving forward. I worked my way up the pay scale within the agency by doing thorough work and being dependable.

Work was steady (by jerks) and interesting, and I was learning lots. That’s when I decided to revisit South America.

Remote (im)possibility

Twice in prior months I had successfully travelled with my office on working vacations, visiting family on the other side of the state. On these trips, I had a nice table to work at in a relatively quiet setting. I was digging the ‘free’ in ‘freelance’.

Soon, I had visions of doing the same in South America. In July 2017, I flew to Peru and began what would become a two-month stay in the southern hemisphere. But I soon found I couldn’t work reliably.

I needed at least a full day of preparation to get in the ‘zone’ and a space to call my own, with minimal distractions. During those two months spent in Peru and Brazil, I was simply on the road too much and too often to be able to buckle down and do quality work. And, except in bigger cities, internet was sparse.

Thankfully, my project managers at the large agency (almost) didn’t bat an eye when I came back online two months later, and work picked up faster than ever. But it started feeling like time for a change.

The time is write

The Latin American agriculture blog languished while I was away. In a lull after my return, I hammered out a new post about the need for collaboration between the world’s agricultural researchers.

As I sometimes do (to ensure that somebody reads my blog!), I emailed the post’s URL to the sources whose work I had used to write it. This time, I was in for a surprise.

One of these sources shared the post with his colleagues, one of whom happened to be a communications coordinator for a large, international organization. She read the post, liked my style and grasp of the subject, and asked if I’d like to write freelance for them on an ongoing basis. I thought, People actually make a living doing this?

Ah yes. And so it’s back to the freshman books for me.

Goals for year two

In 2018, I’d like to achieve the following:

  • Secure at least two additional quality clients, both for translation and writing. Diversity in work activities and revenue stream is always a good thing.
  • Develop a better portfolio of translations that I can share with potential clients to prove that I know what I’m doing, even though I’ve only been doing it for one year.
  • Keep learning and keep improving! I’ve got some good books to read, in addition to staying current on the top blogs and podcasts out there on writing and translation. (I have benefited much from Carol Tice’s blog for freelance writers.)

Over to you…

What were some of the notable highs and lows in your first year of translating or interpreting? Do you have any tips to share with readers (and me!) for making that second year a bang-up success? Please comment below!

Image source: Pixabay

Author bio

Paul Froese is a freelance Spanish to English translator and writer specializing in agricultural and life sciences content. A native of Walla Walla, Washington, he holds an undergraduate degree in plant science and biotechnology and a graduate degree in crop science focused on plant breeding and genetics. He enjoyed the challenges of his first year (2017) as a freelance translator and writer and is looking forward to continued growth in 2018!

You can visit Paul’s website at www.lotamtranslations.com and his blog about trends in Latin American agriculture at www.latinagtrends.com. E-mail him with any thoughts at paul@lotamtranslations.com.

ATA’s First Virtual Conference Has Arrived

Did you miss out on ATA’s 58th Annual Conference in Washington, D.C.? Or maybe you attended but weren’t able to make it to as many sessions you would have liked. Don’t fear! The ATA Virtual Conference is here.

What is the Virtual Conference?

The Virtual Conference is a collection of 49 sessions given at ATA58 in Washington, D.C. There are sessions for both translators and interpreters, covering a wide range of topics in finance, law, medicine, science, technology, and more. All 49 sessions are available on-demand, and the recordings are accompanied by the speakers’ original PowerPoint presentations in video format. You can view the full list of sessions offered here https://www.atanet.org/conf/2017/virtual.

How Much Does It Cost?

3-day attendees of ATA58 have free access to the Virtual Conference. To access the sessions, go to https://www.atanet.org/conf/conf_login.php and log in with the same username and password provided to access the ATA58 App and Certificate of Attendance. All 3-day attendees were sent their usernames and passwords in an email with the subject line “ATA58 Virtual Conference is Now Available for Attendees.” If you are able to search your email, you can find your username and password there. If you cannot find your username and password, please contact ATA at webmaster@atanet.org. ATA members can also access the Virtual Conference by simply logging into their account at atanet.org and clicking on “ATA58 – Access Virtual Conference” under “Membership Information.”

If you did not attend the conference and would like to purchase access, go to https://www.atanet.org/conf/2017/virtual/ and click on “Purchase It Now.” The Virtual Conference costs $79 for ATA members and $129 for non-members. You can watch a free sample session from the Virtual Conference on ATA’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyHqh-PBoeE

How Did ATA Decide Which Sessions to Include?

Presenters did not apply to participate in the Virtual Conference. This year, ATA was limited to recording in just 4-5 rooms at a time. Their strategy was to pick the 4-5 rooms that contained session topics with the widest appeal for translators and interpreters. Therefore, the session topic and the room where the session was given were the only two items used to determine what was included in the Virtual Conference. Presenters whose sessions were chosen to be included in the Virtual Conference received no form of compensation.

What Happened to the eConference?

ATA has been selling some form of conference session recordings since 2005 (except in 2016). Below is a list of all recording packages and pricing; they are available for purchase at https://www.atarecordings.com/ under the tab “All.”

  • 2005-2009: ATA Annual Conference DVD-ROM $69.00
  • 2010-2011: ATA eConference $69.00 / ATA eConference + DVD-ROM $99.00
  • 2012-2013: Recordings are no longer available for purchase
  • 2014: ATA eConference $149.00 / ATA eConference + DVD-ROM $179.00
  • 2015: ATA eConference $149.00 / ATA eConference + USB Drive $179.00
  • 2017: ATA Virtual Conference / Free for 3-Day Attendees / ATA Members $79 / Non-Members $129

Please note that ATA plans to discontinue all sales of past recordings in the near future.

What Can We Expect for ATA59?

ATA’s 59th Annual Conference will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana from October 24-27, 2018. ATA expects to receive approximately 1,800 attendees from more than 60 countries and at this time has not determined whether or not the Virtual Conference will be offered again.

About the author

Molly YurickMolly Yurick is a Spanish to English translator specialized in the tourism, hospitality and airline industries. In the past she has worked as a medical interpreter in Minnesota and as a cultural ambassador for the Ministry of Education in Spain. She has a B.A. in Spanish and Global Studies and a Certificate in Medical Interpreting from the University of Minnesota. She is currently living in northern Spain. You can visit her website at: http://yuricktranslations.com/

Are You Using LinkedIn to Get High-Paying Clients?

If you are spending all or most of your social media time on Facebook, you are missing out on the chance to meet and impress high-paying clients. While it may be fun and comfortable to network with colleagues on Facebook, the clients you want to attract are spending their time on LinkedIn—the #1 business social network.

LinkedIn Helps Freelancers Get Clients

About half of freelancers who use social networks for business (51%) said LinkedIn was “important” or “very important” in finding clients in How Freelancers Market Their Services: 2017 Survey. But only 7% of freelancers said Facebook helped them get clients.

Freelancers who get clients through LinkedIn:

  1. Have a client-focused profile
  2. Have a large network
  3. Are active on LinkedIn

With increased competition for translating and interpreting work, LinkedIn is more important than ever before. Fortunately, it does not take a lot of time or effort to develop a strong LinkedIn presence. But you do need to know what to do, and you need to understand the massive changes LinkedIn made in early 2017.

Attract High-Paying Clients with Your Profile

Want to be near the top of the search results when clients search for freelance translators and interpreters? Focus on the needs of your target clients and how you meet those needs. A client-focused profile can help you attract the high-paying companies you want to work with, instead of relying on agencies.

Write a Clear, Compelling Headline

Your headline is the most important part of your profile. Clearly describe:

  • What you do
  • How you help your clients.

Headlines like “translator,” “interpreter,” or “translator and interpreter” are generic and boring. But you will stand out—and attract more high-paying clients—with a headline like these:

ATA-certified Spanish to English freelance translator delivering accurate and readable translations

OR

ATA-Certified Japanese to English translator • I help life sciences companies engage key audiences

OR

Bilingual (English/Spanish) freelance translator who partners with large companies, small businesses, and entrepreneurs

 

LinkedIn gives you 120 characters for your headline. Use them to write a compelling description and make clients want to learn more about you. You also want to include the keywords that clients will search for in your headline, like: “freelance,” “translator” and/or “interpreter,” and your languages. Certification is a big benefit to clients, so if you are certified, put this in your headline. Include any industry specialties too.

Write a Conversational, Concise, Client-Focused Summary

Your summary is the second most important part of your LinkedIn profile. Remember that it is a marketing tool, not a resume. So make it conversational and concise.

Only the first 201 characters (45 in mobile) in your summary show before people need to click “See more.” In 201 characters, you can write about the first two sentences. These sentences should flow with your headline and offer a client-focused (benefit-oriented) message.

Think about what clients need from translators and interpreters. General needs include:

  • Accuracy
  • Attention to detail
  • Ability to translate the message from one language to another without altering the original meaning or tone
  • Ability to communicate clearly with the specific audience
  • Collaborative working style

In your first two sentences and throughout your summary, focus on general needs and needs specific to the type of clients you work with or projects you work on. State how you meet client needs.

Include just enough key content so that clients know that you are the right choice for them:

  • Relevant experience and background
  • Services
  • Education and certification

“Relevant” means what your clients care about, not what is important to you. Concisely describe your work, and use a bulleted list for your services. Include bulleted lists for the industries you work in and the type of projects you work on too.

If you work in a specific industry, include this too. Industries are no longer shown on profiles, but they are still there behind the scenes, and are used by LinkedIn’s search algorithm.

At the end of your summary, include a call to action and your contact information. The call to action is what you want prospective clients to do (e.g., call, email, or visit your website). Include your contact information and your website in your summary and also in the section on contact information to the right of your profile.

Check Your Photo and Background Image

Profile photos and background images are different now. Your profile photo is smaller and round, and in the center of the intro section, Make sure that part of your head has not been cropped out.

The size of the background image is now 1536 x 768 pixels. Simple, generic background images that look great on smart phones, tablets, laptops, and desktops work best.

Use my free Ultimate LinkedIn Profile Checklist for Freelancers to make sure your profile will stand out from those of other freelance translators and/or interpreters.

Build a Large Network and Be Active

LinkedIn’s 2017 changes made your network and activity much more important in search results. If you want to be near the top of the search results, you need to have a large network and engage with your connections—clients and other freelancers.

Make other freelance translators and interpreters a big part of your LinkedIn network. Building relationships with them will help you get more referrals.

Connect with Clients and Freelancers Personally

Use personal invitations to connect with clients and other freelancers. Most clients do not seem to be very active on LinkedIn, unless they are searching for freelancers. But you still want to connect with them to get access to some of their connections and expand your network.

Plus, you will get notices from LinkedIn when a client changes jobs, gets a promotion, posts an update, etc. Congratulating the client on a professional achievement or commenting on the client’s post is an easy way to stay in touch and help ensure that the client thinks of you first for freelance work.

Share Useful Content and Engage with Your Network

Share your own updates about 1-3 times a week. Most updates should provide useful content, like a blurb about an article, blog post, or report related to your work, with a link. Respond to all comments on your updates, and comment on other people’s updates.

Once in a while, you can post a more promotional update. But make sure your connections will benefit from reading your update. For example, if you publish a post on The Savvy Newcomer, you could do a post with a brief overview of the post and a link to it.

Grow your network quickly by inviting relevant people to join your LinkedIn network. Check out the profiles of people who comment on or like your updates, and the people whose updates you comment on. Invite anyone who could be a good connection to be part of your network. I doubled my LinkedIn network in a few months by doing this. Since then, the number of profile searches and views of my posts has grown exponentially.

You can do all of this in about two hours a week, and you can use the work you do to develop a client-focused LinkedIn profile on your website and in other marketing efforts too.

Image source: Pixabay

Author bio

Lori De Milto is a freelance writer, online teacher/coach for freelancers, and author of 7 Steps to High-Income Freelancing: Get the clients you deserve.

Lori helps freelancers find and reach high-paying clients through her 6-week course, Finding the Freelance Clients You Deserve.