How Your Personality Affects Your Business – Part 2

Didn’t recognize yourself in any of the types in Part 1? You might identify with one of these. Read on to find out more about types six through nine (If you missed Part 1, check out my previous post to read about the first five types).

6. The need for security

sixSixes are easy-going, hard-working, witty, and their special talent is a fine-tuned situational awareness. Continue reading

Take a Number: How your Personality Type Affects your Business – Part 1

eggsContrary to popular opinion, not all translators are introverted bookworms, and if we could ever tear ourselves away from the page we would totally speak up and prove it to you. But seriously though, while some of us certainly fit that description, the profession attracts a wide variety of strange and wonderful people, and this week I thought I’d take a stab at categorizing them for your enlightenment and convenience. Continue reading

Deal With it: Developing Thicker Skin as a Translator

feedbackAs translators we spend a lot of time in the safety and comfort of our office, and those of us who are also introverts are just fine with that. (If you agree that e-mail is the best invention since the answering machine you know what I’m talking about.) So while we’re not exactly out there putting our fragile selves on the line like stand-up comics in front of a tough crowd, there are some aspects of our profession that do require thick skin. Here are two I’ve had to deal with. Continue reading

Patriotism and the Power of Words – an Immigrant Perspective on the 4th of July

I was born and raised in the Netherlands but I have lived in the US for over 20 years and got dual citizenship a few years ago. I love my birth country and my adopted country, and my ideal self is fully Dutch and fully American. The reality of straddling two cultures, however, is that you are no longer one and never fully the other. It manifests itself in countless small ways. When I meet new people, for example, they invariably ask me where I’m from because I immigrated too late in life to shake my accent. Yet when I visit family in Holland, sooner or later someone will poke fun at my alleged American accent. I don’t believe it but then who am I to judge anymore? I don’t hear my Dutch accent either.

Because of this dual perspective, though, I think I’m qualified to offer a few comments on this most American of all holidays, the Fourth of July, aka Independence Day, which celebrates America’s hard-fought transformation from colony to sovereign nation. Continue reading

Know What You’re Worth (and Work It)

confidenceIf you want to make more money you only have to do three things: deliver the goods, charge accordingly, and convince your clients that it’s a good investment.

It may seem like the first two should go without saying, but it’s amazing how many aspiring translators never get to step two. I almost got stuck at step one myself. I stumbled into the profession years ago when I discovered this intriguing site called I know now that the rates most agencies pay there are a tad on the stingy side, shall we say, but I am still thankful because this platform taught me a lot and enabled me to gain the experience I needed to build what is now a thriving business. (Note to agencies on who offer subpar rates: if you’re lucky you’ll get a fledgling top translator at the start of his/her career or an experienced translator with poor business skills, but more often than not you’ll get what you pay for.)

But at some point you have to do more than just deliver the goods, or your clients will be happy to keep you working weekends at ridiculous rates. So here  is a simply two-step plan to get higher rates: Continue reading

It’s Not About You — Pitching to Clients

“Your sales pitch should focus on the client’s needs, not on you.”

It’s not like I’d never heard this before, and in fact some of you have given similar advice on your own blogs. But you know how it is, sometimes you need to be told ten times before you do anything about it. So after attending a webinar by a consultant named Brennan Dunn in which he also hammered home the fact that clients are interested in your solution to their problem, not the boring details of your life, I finally decided to take a good, objective look at the text of my website.

BoringWhat an eye-opener that was.

What I thought was an interesting, solid spiel, was, in fact, a showroom display of every mistake in the book. Continue reading

Rants and raves from the translation desk

aggravationDo you ever have one of those weeks that is filled with small setbacks whose power to aggravate is completely out of proportion to their significance? It’s been one of those for me.

One project was a series of transcripts for a nurse who wants to work in California. The translations had to be printed, certified, notarized and sent by registered mail. I had several deadlines looming over me and all these steps were eating up precious time, and of course every. single. time I printed out one page I would find a tiny error, or an inconsistency, or a better term I could have used. After about the fifth time I just about lost it and the only reason the printer didn’t go sailing out the window is because I didn’t want to pay for another one. Continue reading

Rebranding the translation profession

I got a recruiting email this week from a group called “My Translation”, which bills itself as “A Revolution in Translation”. Naturally I was curious, thinking it might be a new type of collaborative platform for professionals, so I checked out their website. This is what is says on the home page:

Translators: a new way to make money from home. Take a test, get online translation projects and start earning money now.

The only people whom this might strike as a “new” and “revolutionary” approach would be non-translators. This is just as well, since they appear to be the target audience of this spiel, which presents translation like just another no-qualifications-required, work-at-home opportunity. Call this number, start earning $$$ right away!

It looks to me like some entrepreneur smelled a money-making opportunity and suckered some sincere people into signing up. I checked out some of the translator profiles and most of them registered in 2013 and have not been active since then, so they probably moved on, hopefully to bigger and better things. Continue reading

Reclaiming our Voice

speak up2A strong media presence is essential if you want to succeed as a freelancer. About a year ago I decided to get serious about growing my business, and that meant taking some very intentional marketing steps. I Got my ATA certification, picked a business name, hired professional designers for a logo and website, started a blog, joined Twitter and LinkedIn and started engaging with colleagues on professional platforms.

It took a lot of effort, time and money, but it’s finally starting to pay off. My average income right now is 150% of what it was before my media campaign. Plus, I’m getting to know people in the larger translation community which is a lot of fun when you mostly work alone.

But this is not a how-to-promote-yourself post. Most of you know how to do all this and have been at it longer than me. My point is this: The health of the translation industry as a whole depends as much on PR and marketing as our individual businesses do. Unless we are content to have our profession defined by groups who have a vested interest in pushing MT and crowdsourcing as tools that render human translation obsolete, we will need to counter this offensive with an intentional, assertive media presence of our own. Continue reading

“We’re Very Sorry to Hear about Your Problem ….” – Retaining Your Sanity in a 24/7 Economy

clockI’m starting to feel like I’ve wandered into some sort of Customer Service Bermuda Triangle. I place orders, submit my payment, and the item inexplicably disappears. Last week I wrote about a run-in with a local company. Yesterday I checked on an online order I placed with a different company two weeks ago, only to discover that unbeknownst to me, it had been cancelled because the order form was apparently incomplete.

Fair enough, but my question to them is: you had my email, so why did no one bother to tell me that the order had been cancelled, or better yet, ask me for the missing information so the order could be completed? Their only response was that they were very sorry to hear about my problem, and that next time perhaps I should order by phone so a representative can place the order for me. Translation: “You are clearly an idiot who should not be using a computer. Next time pick up the phone. Can you handle that?” Thank you, but I don’t think there will be a next time. Continue reading