On the importance of branding

I’ve finished reading an article entitled « Freelancer or Independent Professional » by Herman Boel. I thought his piece was extremely relevant to translators in today’s globalised world. It actually tackles a topic which is of significance for any self-employed individual: branding and image.

Can you hear the difference between « freelance » and « independent professional »? It turns out I had asked myself the question a while ago. I had come to the conclusion that I preferred calling myself an « independent translator » rather than a « freelancer », without really being able to explain why precisely. The article worded the nuance perfectly well.

You have a boss (or you behave as if you have a boss)


Independent professional:
You are your own boss

Technically speaking you are still a self-employed individual. However, unconsciously your approach differs. It seems that « freelancer » bears a slight negative connotation. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that we should stop using it altogether. But, in an industry where competition is fierce and differentiation is really difficult, especially online, every little detail counts. You’re offering your expertise, your service to clients, partners. It is important to act the part. Something doesn’t sit right with you? The rate? deadline? Then, you need to voice your concerns and negotiate until you both reach a win-win decision. That’s the fundamental basis to any solid, sustainable business relationships. Easier said than done? Maybe, especially for newbies. But, it’s necessary if you want to consider this activity on a long-term basis.

1383577362884taMy previous post was meant for junior translators fresh out of college who might be looking for some guidance on how to start out in the translation business. I think it is all the more important for them to be aware of this from the start. I’ve been working in the translation industry for almost three years now (which can still be considered junior!) and I’ve only stopped using the word « freelance » quite recently.

You are building a business, YOUR business. You get to decide what you’re selling and how you sell it. Your business is what you make of it. And the way you name it matters a great deal, all the more so as we, translators, are experts with words! What if we tasted our own medecine after all?

Book Suggestions for Junior Translators

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of translation-related material from fellow translators out there who actively engage in the social media, and write very interesting blogs. I thought I’d compile some of these resources for the newest generation of translators. You’ve probably been reading many books by major theoreticians like Venuti, Munday, Bassnett or Baker. Although they were enlightening and great, none of them really tackled the everyday life of today’s translators.

Being self-employed means you have to be extremely versatile. Translating is only one of the many activities you’ll have to undertake. Prepare yourself to deal with accounting, marketing, community management, among many other functions. Daunting, you say? Luckily, after having a closer look at all these resources, you’ll feel a lot more confident in your choice of career and chances are you’ll find the answers to your many questions.

To begin with, I suggest reading these free e-books by Nicole Y. Adams. You might want to start with « The Bright Side of Translation », it offers very positive insights and informative feedback from a lot of different practitioners worldwide.

There are many, many books on Amazon to choose from. Here’s a non-exhaustive list you might want to consider:

love_of_books_202371  How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator by Corinne McKay (an ATA board member).

 Balance Your Words: Stepping in the Translation Industry by Sara Colombo.

 The Prosperous Translator by Chris Durban.

These self-help books should help you consider your independent activity with serenity. Also, do engage in the social media, there is a huge community of translators on Twitter and many of them share interesting blogs and info. Important note for all newbies on Twitter: don’t forget to use the appropriate hashtags to connect with your colleagues -> #xl8 and #t9n for translation, #1nt for interpreting, #l10n for localisation. You can follow me @LinguaAustralis.