So, you want to be a freelancer. You took your courses, explored your possible specializations. [If not, you can find some tips here.] You started translating for non-profit organizations or maybe you even did an internship or stage related to the profession. You think you are ready to take the plunge into freelancing. Unfortunately, clients don’t just knock on your door and offer you thousands of words to translate right off the bat. You have to make yourself visible, find your niche and market your services, work hard to create a professional image for yourself, a brand clients can relate to and rely on. It’s not easy, especially without any kind of marketing background.
That’s why, especially when starting out, having mentors is critical. For me, a mentor is not only someone knowledgeable in the field, it’s also a role model, an inspiration, someone to look up to, who motivates you to take on new challenges and overcome your limits, so that, hopefully, one day you will be able to “get where they are”. In the last ten months, since I decided to start freelancing, I invested a considerable amount of time in self-development, trying to learn as much as possible about all the “secrets” of the profession. In the process I came across a lot of resources written or made available by inspirational people, whom I elected as my mentors (they are not quite aware of it, but that’s a minor detail). Hoping for you to be inspired by them as much as I have, this is my list of personal favorites:
1 The A-Z of Freelance Translation by Nicole Adams.
It’s a 15 lessons‘ self-paced, clear, well-structured and comprehensive course that guides you step-by-step into the depths of the translation business. From building your own website, to CV and cover letters, to pricing strategies, CAT tools, quoting, invoicing, project management and so on, you will have resources to read, assignments to complete, checklists helping you to keep track of your progress and a journal for thoughts and notes. For questions and discussion, there is a dedicated private Facebook group as well.
I am half-way through the course right now and it is really helping me shaping my business in a more structured way (those quote and invoice templates I have been wanting to create for ages have finally seen the light of day!). Nicole is also the author of very useful short e-books about marketing and social media, downloadable for free from her website.
2 The Business Guide for Translators by Marta Stelmaszak.
One of my most recent purchases, this book covers every aspect of the translation business for freelancers. Divided into four main sections: economics, strategy, business management and business practice (plus a resources section), it aims to provide solid foundations for a successful career and it’s a must-read for everyone who wishes to walk the freelancing path. Marta’s blog and YouTube channel are also gold mines of useful information (CV writing tips, social media marketing, business planning, dealing with clients, project management, branding, etc…). And that’s not all! Marta is also the mind and the teacher behind The Business School for Translators, a five and a half weeks’ course providing a practical business training to make your activity thrive. She follows you throughout the process with assignments, resources and suggestions to make sure you get the best out of it. I haven’t taken the course myself so I can’t judge from experience, but knowing how competent and skilled Marta is (and also from the positive feedback she had from students) I surely recommend it. [In fact, it is on my bucket list].
3 The Marketing Cookbook for Translators by Tess Whitty.
This book is a must-have for newbies and expert translators alike. Each chapter presents a “recipe” about a certain aspect of the translation business, be it a particular social media channel, your own website, a marketing plan. Just like a real cookbook, it offers you all the ingredients required to achieve a certain goal, providing checklists and inputs to start building a solid and structured business. Clear, straight to the point and fun to read.
Tess is also the host and curator of a wonderful podcast that I religiously follow called Marketing Tips for Translators, where she interviews the cream of the crop of the language industry, but I will talk about it in more detail in a future post specifically about podcasts.
4 Rainy London Branding blog by Valeria Aliperta.
This is THE personal branding vade mecum to read in order to make conscious choices for your brand’s identity. With valuable tips on how to build a unique brand in every single detail, from the name to the logo, from the color palette to business cards, gadgets, CV and brochures, slogans and so forth.
5 Cycle of webinars by Alessandra Martelli.
Originally available as a full course on the Alexandra Library, this series of webinars is still available on-demand on Proz.com. Alessandra’s webinars cover a wide range of topics for translators who want to create an effective online image: CV, brochures, websites, logos, graphic elements, time management and useful working tools. Most of them are available in English and Italian.
6 The Female Entrepreneurs Association by Carrie Green.
Focused on entrepreneurship in general, this is an online hub founded by Carrie Green with the mission of inspiring and empowering women to build successful businesses. Carrie has a website full of resources, worksheets with business and motivational tips, a blog, a magazine, a podcast and a YouTube channel where she posts a 10 minutes’ long masterclass every week (sometimes in form of an interview) dealing with different issues, mistakes and challenges that women entrepreneurs have to face. A great deal of free downloadable content is also available, so that you can set your goals, proceed step by step, build and run your freelance business.
These are only six examples, but there is so much more out there worth reading and discovering: Corinne McKay’s How to succeed as a freelance translator, Gala Gil Amat’s blog Transgalator and her webinars focusing on social media and online presence for translators, David Miralles’ blog Circa Lingua, Melanie Di Costanzo’s Translators Learn SEO website and Youtube channel, the Freelancer Union‘s blog and I could go on…
All these resources are undoubtedly priceless guidelines, especially for people starting out, however everyone is different and unique, so it’s important that you find a strategy that works for YOU. Mentors will give you the tools, but then it’s up to you to bring YOUR IDEAS to the table and to shape YOUR BUSINESS REALITY.