Tag Archives: Freelancing

1 Linguist, 3 Questions with Alison Hughes

12 Jun

Today’s 3 questions are with Alison Hughes, a French to English translator who is based near Glasgow and specialises in creative texts.

Here are her answers:

  • If you could change one thing about your freelance translation career up to this point, what would it be? 

In an ideal world, I would have had a more structured approach and possibly specialised earlier. However, as with a lot of other female translators, I started out freelance with a 5 year old and a very young baby so it just wasn’t possible. In a way it is also nice to specialise later in my career because I feel I have the confidence that comes with experience.

  • What is the best piece of advice that you have been given by a fellow translator, or about business in general? 

This probably came from a tweet I read as recently as last Sunday. Think of how much your work is worth to the customer (and not how long it takes you to do it/how many words it is) and charge accordingly. OK so this is probably another “ideal world” situation but there are some customers it could be appropriate for and is a confidence booster in cases where you refuse to let agencies beat you down on price.

  • If you weren’t working in the language services industry, what would you be doing? 

That’s easy – something to do with food. I’m coeliac and have to follow a strict gluten free diet. A couple of years ago I was looking into setting up a business called Good Life Gluten Free to advise restaurants how to cater for the GF diet and also a website with gluten free ideas. Again, circumstances weren’t right at the time and it didn’t get past a prototype of the website and business cards. The opportunity has gone as there are now many resources but running a dedicated GF cafe with my sister is a tempting proposition.

Thanks, Alison!

Alison Hughes Translator

Alison Hughes is a French to English translator specialising in marketing and creative texts. She is also the coordinator of the Media Arts and Tourism Network of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI). You can take a look at her website here and follow her on Twitter @AHcreattrans.


1 Linguist, 3 Questions with Catherine Jan

8 Jun

Today’s interviewee is Catherine Jan, a French to English translator who maintains one of my favourite translation blogs, Catherine Translates. Here are Catherine’s answers:

  • If you could change one thing about your freelance translation career up to this point, what would it be?

I’d like to work with a partner. I think I’m good at some aspects of translation and business and just terrible at others. It’s a dream of mine to find someone to team up with and make business decisions together, do peer-editing, check terms, share marketing efforts,and so on.

  • What is the best piece of advice that you have been given by a fellow translator, or about business in general? 

I was encouraged to join the Société Française des Traducteurs. I’ve met many SFT colleagues in the flesh at workshops or at the monthly SFT café matinale in Paris, and also online. I also get access to its private email discussion forum.

  • If you weren’t working in the language services industry, what would you be doing?

That’s hard to imagine! I think I’d either be a corporate blogger or work with young children.

Thanks, Catherine!

Catherine JanCatherine Jan is a French to English Translator from Ontario, Canada, who is now based in Paris. She specialises in web content such as websites, press releases, blog posts and news articles. Check out her website here.

You can follow Catherine on Twitter at @TranslateTrad

1 Linguist, 3 Questions with Percy Balemans

7 Jun

Today’s 3 Questions are with Percy Balemans, a German and English to Dutch translator with her own blog at Translating is an Art.

  • If you could change one thing about your freelance translation career up to this point, what would it be?

Nothing really. I’ve tried quite a few things in my career up until now, from working as an in-house translator for an agency to leaving the translation industry altogether and gaining experience in areas as diverse as technical writing, copywriting, system administration, website development and even teaching scuba diving courses. Looking back it almost feels as if all these different experiences have prepared me for my freelance translation career and I’m quite happy with what I’m doing right now. I would say that maybe the best preparation for a freelance career is to gain experience in other ways first.

  • What is the best piece of advice that you have been given by a fellow translator, or about business in general?

Specialize and market yourself as the expert in that particular subject area. Freelancers often seem to be afraid to specialize, probably because they think they will “miss out” on jobs. But in my experience, most clients, especially direct clients, prefer someone who really knows what they are talking about in their area of specialization than someone who claims to be able to do any kind of translation, and in five or six language combinations too. It may not be easy at first to find a subject area that suits you, but that’s okay. There’s nothing wrong with trying out a couple of things before you settle on one or two subjects you like and that suit you.

  • If you weren’t working in the language services industry, what would you be doing?

I’ve been away from the translation industry for almost 15 years, so I have tried other things, although they were mostly language-related as well. Having done other things, I now know that translation is what I really want to do.

Thanks, Percy!

Percy Balemans, Translator

Percy is a  English-Dutch/German-Dutch translator specialising in advertising (transcreation) and creative translations, mainly on the subjects of fashion, art and travel and tourism. Visit her website for more information: www.pb-translations.com.

You can also follow Percy on Twitter at @pbtranslations

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

1 Linguist, 3 Questions with Valeria Aliperta

4 Jun

The first in my series of short interviews with fellow translators is with Valeria Aliperta, a translator, interpreter and Italian tutor, who works with English, French, Spanish and her native Italian.

Here are her answers:

  • If you could change one thing about your freelance translation career up to this point, what would it be?

I’ll probably had moved to London earlier! I’m happy with every bit of it but always eager to improve as I like challenges. Also would have taken more CPD courses/events but time is never enough!

  • What is the best piece of advice that you have been given by a fellow translator, or about business in general?

Always be nice to everybody, always be clear/honest in what you want/give, always bring business cards with you. This is what I’d say to people myself, too!

  • If you weren’t working in the language services industry, what would you be doing?

A hard one. I’ve always loved languages so I never really thought of a plan B. Based on current passions/experiences, I think marketing and advertising or fashion would be my choice. In any case, something that involves communication.

Thanks, Val!

Valeria AlipertaValeria Aliperta (Ass. ITI MCIL DPSI) holds a BA in Translation Studies, a MA in Conference Interpreting and runs her own business, Rainy London Translations in London. Both a conference interpreter and a translator, she works from English, Spanish and French into Italian but also project manages other combinations. Her main fields of expertise are IT & web, fashion, design, marketing, legal and advertising.

She has a soft spot for blogging, technology and social media and that’s also why she writes a blog http://rainylondontranslations.posterous.com/. She is a regular contributor to the ITI Bulletin and her brand has been mentioned in several marketing and media presentations in webinars and events.

You can reach her via info@rainylondontranslations.com or on Twitter @rainylondon.

Introducing 1 Linguist, 3 Questions

1 Jun

Microphone - Translator Interview Blog Series

Inspired in no small part by this set of interviews carried out by Sarah Dillon on her fantastic industry blog There’s Something About Translation, I have recently been in contact with a number of my fellow linguists, in order to produce a set of brief but brilliant insights into their lives as freelance translators and interpreters. I hope that these short interviews are interesting and inspiring for newcomers to the industry, and thought-provoking for the more established among us.

The questions are the following:

  1. If you could change one thing about your freelance translation career up to this point, what would it be?
  2. What is the best piece of advice that you have been given by a fellow translator, or about business in general?
  3. If you weren’t working in the language services industry, what would you be doing?

Many thanks to all who responded – stay tuned for the series!

If you would like to contribute to the series, please get in touch!

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

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?