When Bad Translations Happen to Good People

I received an assignment from a long-standing client last week that made my Spidey-sense tingle as soon as I read the instructions. It was billed as a super easy review of a translation done in-house at a hospital which should take no more than half an hour. Uh-huh. A quick glance at the translation told me that this was going to take a lot more than thirty minutes, especially since they also wanted me to explain every change I made and check the terminology against a reference document. I explained I’d only be able to scratch the surface in that time, so the agency agreed to pay me for an hour and asked me to do what I could within that time frame.

It was a textbook case of You Get What You Pay for and Why the #&!! Did You Not Hire a Professional in the First Place. Continue reading

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Blogs – What Are They Good For

Blogging, what is it good for

Image by Mike Licht on Flickr

If your response to this title is “Absolutely nothing, HUH! (say it again y’all),” to the tune of War, What is it Good For, you are probably thinking in terms of how effective blogs are as marketing tools. A common complaint is that blogs do nothing to bring in new clients and are therefore a waste of time.

It’s an interesting debate which surely does not just apply to the translation industry, so out of curiosity I decided to look at a few other professions to see how their practitioners use blogs. Continue reading

Christmas Gifts for Clients: Strategies and Pitfalls

business giftsIt’s almost December, and that means it’s time to start thinking about business Christmas gifts. Gift-giving can get complicated fast. There are thousands of websites and stores that offer gift ideas for businesses, but just because you can give your clients a tub of tootsie rolls with your logo on them, does that mean you should? Here are some thoughts on the why, the who and the what of giving. 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

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