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I’m moving!

15 Jun

Moving Blog - Box

My website is all but finished, so all new posts will be published on its blog section from now on. If you haven’t checked it out yet, head on over and find out what you’ve been missing!


New ‘Nuggetoids’ from The Freelancery

6 Jun

I am always happy to see a new post from The Freelancery in my feed reader. Walt Kania’s ideas and advice provide a spark of thought every time I read them, and his bold solutions offer great food for thought for freelancers everywhere. So I was delighted to see that he has published two new posts in the past few days!

Please do check them out:

The most profitable thing to know about clients. And how to use it.

Answers: Stuck at a low rate with good client. Eat it, or bail?

While you’re there, I’d strongly recommend taking a stroll through the archives – you won’t be disappointed!

Link Love

5 Jun

Here are a few great links I have come across lately*:


Naked Translations – Translating “vous” and “tu” in English

The Business of Translation – 10 Tips for Working Efficiently and Productively with a Professional Translator


The Freelancing – Pricing a Project. Getting Your Fee. And Staying Sane.

The Anti 9-to-5 Guide – How Professional Envy Can Help Freelancers

The No. 2 Pen Blog – Four Deadly Business Blogging Sins

*Disclaimer: these posts may not be new, as I have added a lot of blogs to my feed reader over the past few weeks

10 Tips for Using LinkedIn for Business

31 May

LinkedIn Chocolates - Freelance Translation and Business

[Image by Nan Palmero via Wikipedia Commons (I can never resist chocolate!)]

I was interested to read this post on the Social Media Examiner today, which offered its top 10 tips for building your business using LinkedIn. I was pleased to discover that I am already doing most of the things advised, although I am still too shy to put a video of myself anywhere online!

Do you have any ideas to add?

Goldilocks and the Email Signature

28 May

Translators email signaturesRecently, I have noticed the increasing length of some email signatures in my correspondence with other translators and language services companies (although our industry is not the only culprit). The average length of email signatures at one of the companies that I used to work for totalled 20 lines! Why do people think that clients or colleagues want (or need) to read all of that information?

There are of course signatures which could and should provide more information. I have seen a fair few with less than the bare essentials: “XXX, translator”. please, at the very least, provide some contact details and the languages and direction you translate! If you have a website, put the link in your email signature – make it easy for prospective clients to find out more about you. If you want them to read your blog, put a link to it (although this is not always relevant).

I have done a wee bit of (entirely unscientific) research on translators’ email signatures and have come up with a few suggestions (and things to avoid) for an email signature fit for Goldilocks – “just right” in terms of the amount of information.

So, what should be included?

  • your contact details, including a telephone number – think of it as a virtual business card
  • your languages and direction of translation
  • a brief description of your title e.g. medical translator and interpreter
  • a link to your website

Optional extras:

  • your logo and tag line, if applicable
  • social media profiles (I’d guess Twitter would be the most popular option here)
  • a link to your blog

What really doesn’t need to be there:

  • your terms and conditions (they can be discussed further down the line)
  • your life history (that’s why you have an About page on your website, right?)

This is just a starting point. What else could be added to these lists?

The Essence of a Freelance Translator

15 May

How do your clients perceive you?

If your friends and colleagues had to describe you in 3 words, what would they say?

I was sat in my meeting with my MA lecturer yesterday, discussing how some people have all of the linguistic skills and confidence to make a success of themselves, but lack the necessary drive. This got me thinking about the indelible impression that we, and our work as linguists, has on the people around us.

So I tried a little experiment. First, I asked my other half: “If you had to describe me in three words, what would you say?”. His response: “motivated, passionate and meticulous” (note: we collaborated on the last one. His actual words were “what’s a good word for pernickety when talking about grammar and spelling?” ;)).

Then, I asked a client that I proofread academic papers for. She said “knowledgable, professional and friendly“. Although I am pleased that my clients (other results pending) see me as a professional and someone they can ask about linguistic queries, I am even more satisfied that my manner and communication is well received. I have tried to make my contact with clients informative but informal from day one, and I am delighted that they recognise that. I am, of course, all for professionalism (after all, I am running a business), but I have never seen why being professional should be stuffy or cold. We all have quirks and individual aspects of our personalities – let’s embrace that.

The Freelance Translator’s Reading List: Additions

14 May

Apologies for the extreme lack of posts lately. Now that the academic year is racing to a close, my MA commitments are inevitably taking over for a few weeks. Nevertheless, I have managed to find some time to add some of the great suggestions I have had from colleagues to the Freelance Translator’s Reading List (original post here).

I was delighted with the response I had to the idea of grouping some our favourite language and translation books together, and I would like to thank my fellow tweeting translators for adding to my wish list.

I will present each book here, along with a short note about the translator who suggested it:

  • On Writing – Stephen King (as recommended by the inspiring Chris Durban at a professional workshop)
  • Screw It, Let’s Do It – Richard Branson (not language-related, but a very popular motivational book)

Suggested by Alison Hughes (@AHcreattrans), a French to English creative translator, based in Milngavie, Scotland. Alison is also the coordinator of the Media, Arts and Tourism within the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI).

  • Mouse or Rat: Translation as Negotiation – Umberto Eco

Suggested by Anna Lycett (@keycheck_t9n), who provides English and Polish language services and is based in Leeds. Anna also maintains an industry blog, mainly directed at newcomers to the profession (read it here).

  • Through the Language Glass – Guy Deutscher

Suggested by Percy Balemans (@pbtranslations), an English and German to Dutch translator, who specialises in advertising material (transcreation), fashion, art, travel and tourism, journalism and human rights.

This book was also mentioned by Laura Bennett (@culturetrans), who is currently reading it.

Thanks again to everyone who got in touch. I have certainly enjoyed reading all of your thoughts, and I hope that others have too. I can make a start on my Christmas list now too 😉

If anyone still has suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

The Freelance Translator’s Reading List

3 May

Over the past few years, there has been a significant rise in the number of books written by, and for, freelance translators and writers.

I have built up a collection (and wish list) of freelancing, language and translation books. Here are some of them:

I have read:

  • In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation – Mona Baker
  • Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language – David Crystal
  • Words Words Words – David Crystal
  • The Entrepreneurial Linguist by Judy and Dagmar Jenner
  • The Brilliant Freelancer – Leif Kendall
  • How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator by Corinne McKay
  • Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation – Lynne Truss

I’d love to read:

  • That a Fish In Your Ear? – David Bellos
  • Mother Tongue – Bill Bryson
  • The Prosperous Translator – Chris Durban
  • Mox’s Illustrated Guide to Freelance Translation – Alejandro Moreno-Ramos

I also remember reading about a fun children’s book on punctuation on Brave New Words, the treasure trove of resources provided by B.J. Epstein. The book is called Alfie the Apostrophe, the post can be read here, and information about the book and its author can be found here.

I think that’s enough to get us all thinking and reading for now!

Can anyone give me a review of one of the books on my to-read list? I’ve heard great things!

Simplify, Focus and Work Smarter

30 Apr

I have been meaning to talk about work/life balance ever since I read this great post entitled ‘Work chunky, work better’ over at The Freelancery (on my blogroll for a very good reason!). This need was compounded by coming across this advice piece on Self Employed Success, which offers some solace for those of us still in the early stages of our careers, as well as providing some food for thought for more seasoned professionals.

So how can we deal with ‘overwhelm’? I have highlighted a few points below, which I found to relate to my personal situation particularly well, but please feel free to head on over and pick out your own.

  • don’t try to be everything to everyone – this is something that I readily admit to struggling with. I have always been someone who is energised by being busy and having a lot going on (I’m currently running my business while completing an MA), but I accept the need to focus my energies on other aspects of my life sometimes (e.g. reading a good book/enjoying a lovely meal/spending time with family).
  • say ‘no’ to people and projects – I addressed this point in a post a few weeks ago, and it is a vital lesson to learn for newcomers to the industry. Reputation is everything, but we also owe it to ourselves to take time out and recharge the batteries now and again. Do you really need to take that rush job? Haven’t you got friends to catch up with, a newspaper to read, or, as is often the case for me, cakes to bake? In short: take on the work that you know you can handle, refer the work that you can’t, and take time out.
  • clear the desk  I am sometimes guilty of keeping things on my desk that don’t need to be there. I try to restrict the documents on my desk to those concerning ongoing projects, but I still end up needing to clear the decks every now and then. Tidy desk = tidy mind, and lots of various bits of paper only serve as distractions to the task in hand.
  • tick things off – I have sung the praises of Anxiety in a previous post (read it here), but there is definitely something to be said for crossing off tasks on a physical to-do list. It’s very satisfying!
  • celebrate – I hadn’t previously considered this, but why not mark the end of a particularly challenging project with a little treat? I’ll be putting this into action as soon as possible!

What do you think? Do you have a work-life balance strategy?

Bribe Yourself and Get Things Done!

24 Apr

It is sometimes difficult to stay focused when working on a large-scale translation or completing administrative tasks (logging expenses, anyone?).

I am currently working on a sizeable revision project for a client who is presenting an academic paper on linguistic, which proves difficult to get through at times, but I stumbled upon this post on the Freelance Folder, which offers great advice to stay on task.

Please do head on over and take a look, but I have outlined my 3 favourite suggestions here:

  1. Keep regular office hours – know when you’re “at work” and stick to those hours. Deviation from this makes it much easier to procrastinate.
  2. Picture the project completed – imagine what it will be like to bank the cheque, or follow up with the client to check they are happy with you work. Positive thinking is key here!
  3. Bribe yourself! – this one sounds like the most fun: “the bribe could be anything you enjoy but normally wouldn’t get–a special meal, a day off, the purchase of something you’ve wanted to buy for a long time…”

I am considering my bribe for this project already!

What do you think of these suggestions? Do you have any secret weapons for staying focused?