Interview part 2 (Part 1 here)...
It seems that solopreneur translators wishing to expand their business tend to become agencies, effectively mediating between other translators and clients and moving away from the actual process of translation. Is providing other, German translation-related services a better means of achieving this growth?
That's a great question, Joanna.
I actually think both are entirely possible. Initially, it is important to focus on one's translation business and not get distracted by too many other things.
Once a translator has established a successful core translation business, I'd advise looking beyond translation to grow their business.
This is precisely what I've explored in my book Diversification in the Language Industry, which was published in November 2013.
It showcases almost 50 successful translators who have diversified their business to offer additional services or products alongside translation proper.
I don't think it's necessary to become an agency to grow your business, although it's definitely one possibility. I also advocate specialising and/or changing your client base as ways to diversify.
Then we move on from 'linguistic diversification' (expanding your portfolio around your core service of translation) to 'extra-linguistic diversification' (developing new business strategies) to 'passive diversification' (income through productisation) to 'external diversification' (specialised services for language service providers and fellow translation professionals) and finally to 'distinctive diversification' (creating a unique niche).
So there are definitely myriad opportunities out there for
freelance translators wishing to grow their business, both translation-related
Are you a fan of online translator platforms such as ProZ? Do you have particular tips for using them successfully to advertise your German to English translation services and win clients?
Although they often get a bad rap, I do see the benefits of such platforms and would advise beginning translators to use them. (Although I can only speak for ProZ.com, as I haven’t really used other platforms actively.)
ProZ.com has several aspects, including terminology help and a job board. My first bit of advice would be to completely ignore the job board.
Don't even bother looking at it and certainly don't waste your time quoting. You can't generate any real work here.
What makes ProZ.com important is the great visibility it offers translators in search engine results. I see it as a very cheap and effective marketing tool.
It's important to complete as much of your profile as possible, use the keyword section at the bottom and get at least a handful of references up there. The key is to be found rather than to actively respond to job postings.
Over the years, some of my best clients have found me on ProZ.com, and I still work with a couple of them today. If you present yourself appropriately, the kitchen table agencies won't bother contacting you, but you'll attract the clients you want and who are happy to pay your rates without arguing.
So I see ProZ.com
membership as a small investment that will pay for itself many times over in a
short space of time.
Which bits of office software would you hate to be without in your work as a solopreneur translator?
I've been using Projetex (project management software for translators) for a few years now and am quite happy with it. I couldn't imagine going back to my old Excel sheet, as Projetex saves me so much time when it comes to quoting, reporting and invoicing.
I also wouldn't want to give up my favourite CAT tool, MemoQ. I find it increases my productivity dramatically in some cases. I use it for glossary creation and concordance searches to save me a lot of research time when I'm sure I've already translated a particular term five years ago. :-)
A freshly baked translator looking at your website and professional achievements might feel a little overpowered. What are your most important tips for someone just starting out in German translation?
Patience, confidence and perseverance. But it'll all be worth it!
A good client is one that....
... sees freelance translators as business partners and understands the importance of translation services. Someone who appreciates questions and works with the translator to achieve the best possible result.
Someone who always communicates professionally and with courtesy. And someone who pays punctually of course. ;-)
The best thing about being a freelance translator:
The freedom that comes with it. We are incredibly lucky, and I certainly thank my lucky stars every morning that I have the privilege of working in this profession.
Having the freedom to choose your clients, wear what you like, work the hours that suit your circumstances and create your business around you is priceless.
Thanks very much Nicole for sharing your valuable insights.