A Beacon In a Sea of Clients

Even though becoming a freelance translator is synonymous with freedom, it also involves somewhat of an instability. Every freelance translator fears not having (enough) clients. This fear is even more present when one has just graduated from school and is faced with diving into the working world.

So what should you do ?

The answer is simple : canvassing.


Messages in a bottle

Even though it seems like a basic thing, the first step of canvassing is sending emails.

The issue lies in this method’s rate of success : for every 25 emails sent, how many will be read at all ? How many of them will be saved ? How many will lead to employment ?

The answer fluctuates between hearing back from possible clients and nothing at all.

In her book The Freelance Content Marketing Writer, Jennifer Goforth Gregory tries to answer these questions to help translators approach canvassing calmly : they shouldn’t be afraid of quantity. If the number of answers is low, they just need to send more emails. According to her own experience, getting at least one positive answer for every 50 emails and at least one client for every 100 emails is doable. As such, it can lead to a pretty astounding number of emails. However, translators should remember that this is only a point of reference : it is possible to find clients quickly but they shouldn’t give up and keep at it, even if a good number of their emails remain unanswered.

How many clients ?

Many translators think that anywhere between 20 to 30 clients is enough, but they shouldn’t stop there. Given the nature of the job, it is crucial that translators keep canvassing at the pace of one or two emails a day in order to maintain some leeway. Building up their client base takes time and for every client lost translators should double their efforts with canvassing. This holds even more true for newcomers : the first few weeks of being freelance should mostly revolve around establishing contact.

Managing their image

There can be several reasons as to why your emails remain unanswered. It is very important to check their content and the way the email, the resume, or cover letter was written. Despite how tedious it might be, systematically tailoring your emails to each client can prove to be effective. Translators should also remain aware of what is possible for them : limiting themselves to only a few domains can be another reason why they find few clients.

To conclude, to be a freelance translator is to be a driving force in your own success, or at least, your visibility. Even if the main goal is getting clients, becoming an « option for a future translation » is just as important. Canvassing is a crucial phase for any freelance translator and can be a source of anxiety. There aren’t any risks at offering your services, so dive in !

Clément Lagarde

Revissed by Fanchon Morin

Translated by Céline ECHILLEY


Source  : http ://www.thoughtsontranslation.com/2018/08/13/much-marketing-enough/

Teleworking : How to Do It Right

Working from home, at a coffee shop or a coworking space is not uncommon among translators and technical writers, whether they are freelancers or not.


In general terms, working from home is more and more common. Indeed, the number of remote jobs keeps increasing, and the French Labor Law, which was enacted late 2016, promotes teleworking. In France, 17 % of employees were telecommuting in 2016, and 41 % wanted to do it fulltime.

This type of work enables employees to increase their well-being (according to 96 % of people surveyed), lower absenteeism (5.5 fewer off days per teleworker), gain in efficiency (+22 %), time (37 min dedicated to family and 45 min of sleep) and money (related to means of transport).

However, remote work cannot be improvised : it is essential to be prepared.

The right skills

The more time spent working from home, the more it is necessary to develop essential skills in order to feel fulfilled by this type of work.

Adrienne Jack from Lionbridge presents six skills required to get started :

  • Time management : learning how to value one’s time, and how to say “no”, combining one’s work and lifestyle.
  • Self-discipline : avoiding distractions, self-training, delivering the project on time.
  • Independence : not cutting oneself from the outside world and knowing instead when to meet others to develop one’s empathy.
  • Reliability : delivering quality work on a consistent basis, keeping managers updated on one’s progress, asking for feedback, offering help to colleagues when it is possible.
  • Flexibility : adapting to customers’ needs and urgencies.
  • Joy for the work : remote working does not make one enjoy working.

The right tools

Apart from owning a computer equipped with a good setup and the right software, it is also important to have a good internet connection with access to online resources, but also to facilitate the customer relationship and the delivery of information or projects.

In addition, some tools can make remote teamwork easier (such as Trello or the new open source platform Crust) and others simplify work organization.

For example, author and translator Lionel Davoust made an inventory of the most relevant tools on his blog to create a “toolbox”, ranging from spell checking software to applications allowing for faster typing, and including software to avoid distractions.

The choice of telework is not random. It isn’t a miracle but, if you are prepared enough, it can provide great opportunities.

Alexane Bébin

Translated by Sarah Deville

To be (or not to be) an effective translator

In a recent article, Jenie Gabriel from the translation agency Gengo has been suggesting seven practices to improve one’s efficiency :

  1. Work quality assurance
  2. Continuous proofreading and reviewing
  3. Good customer relationship management
  4. Learning from feedback
  5. Stepping out of the comfort zone
  6. Meticulous time management
  7. Continuous learning and improvement

What kind of efficiency are we dealing with ?

Upon reading this advice, we instantly realize that it is not about time-saving nor organization or customer relationships improvement tools. It is rather a question of work improving than of “work more to earn more”.

Jenie Gabriel quotes Aristotle : “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”.

Therefore, translators must aim for excellence. Why is that ? For the love of the profession, or for work ethics ? Partly, but it is mostly to stand out.

In a world where language service providers must meet increasing needs, the supply also rises, but with very different quality levels.

These habits would therefore rather be a way of determining the difference between a trained and experienced expert and others. Between someone who, through the quality of its work, manages to develop a loyal customer base with interesting and profitable projects, and someone forced to translate whatever is given to him.

Being efficient is not a matter of word count, but rather of gaining more savoir-faire and quality. It is not only about translating, but also building a reputation and making sure there will be more translation projects tomorrow.

Yet, the excellency standard set by this advice—while it allows long-term efficiency to the company—seems to contradict the short-term need to translate fast (and well) and therefore to be cost-effective.

Develop the habit to be effective (and vice versa)

“Time is money.” You could think that the time spent waiting for proofreads, sending e-mails and calling customers is wasted for translation.

Of course, but that is when practice steps in : the daily tasks get faster to carry out. By making sure that they keep improving for each new project, translators make less mistakes and thus spend less time reviewing their work. They gain efficiency in their short-term work.

Excellence and habit go hand in hand, just like Isaac Newton said : “When two forces unite, their efficiency double.”

Alexane Bébin

Translated by Sarah Deville

Proofread by Kim Condron

 https ://www.marketingtipsfortranslators.com/seven-habits-of-highly-effective-translators/

Only Translating to One’s Mother Tongue : Compulsory Rule or Free Choice ?

Languages are the cornerstone of translators since they all use several of them for work. On this topic, the French Society of Translators (SFT) asserts that all translators must translate towards their mother tongue, not the other way around. But why is that ?

Source : allo-traducteur.fr

The advantages

Each language being inherently linked to its country’s culture, it seems normal that a native speaker can easily adapt a foreign language concept into their mother tongue. They are aware of all the cultural subtleties and stylistic nuances, so that they can transmit the original message more accurately.

Moreover, they can instantly gather expressions and wording from the richness of the vocabulary, , because these all belong to them from the moment they were born.

That is the reason why translation agencies always recommend customers to employ translators working in their native language. The SFT is again inflexible on this point :

“Translators who do not follow this basic rule will be more likely to overlook other criteria which are essential to the translation’s quality. If you want an international image, approximation is not allowed. In many cultures, people disapprove of their language being altered. Ask for a translator whose mother tongue is the same as the required target language.”

Is mastering one’s native language enough for a translator ?

The answer is assuredly negative. Translation is not only about transposing a text from one language to another. There are various factors to this process, namely the understanding of the original text.

Indeed, working towards one’s mother tongue does not guarantee that there will not be any mistakes from a rough reading of the original document. Translators must be skilled in all their working languages. If they are poorly skilled in foreign languages, they won’t be able to convey the original message accurately.

What happens in everyday life ?

When translators make their way into the job market, they must pick their working languages. Most translators generally choose to work towards their native language. Yet, others choose to expand the number of their working languages. In spite of the SFT and some translation agencies’ opinion, this decision does not follow any particular rule. It depends on the will and the professional coherence of each translator.

Francesca Laganella

Translated by Sarah Deville

Source : http ://eurologos-milano.com/perche-si-dovrebbe-tradurre-solo-verso-la-propria-lingua-madre/

How to better your proofreading technique

Translators and technical writers are supposed to write perfect texts in terms of linguistics, cultural adaptation and graphical norms. In any case, it is always possible to encounter a few mistakes. Be sure to thoroughly proofread the text to ensure your work is beyond reproach before it can be delivered. This part of the process is necessary to check that the final product is understandable, fluent and in compliance with the target audience. Below are a few pieces of advice which can prove useful to proofreading.


The goal of a proofreader is to spot mistakes which remained unnoticed in the text. To do so, the ability to focus is strongly required : you have to get rid of distractions of any kind -cellphone, radio, etc.- and to make sure you feel rested. Otherwise, fatigue can lead to a lack in focus. It is also preferable not to proofread your own work. It is easier for us to notice the mistakes others make compared to our own.

One should also read the text out loud to correct any rhythm issues before identifying grammatical or spelling mistakes.

Automated spellcheckers, no matter how useful of a tool they are, are not always 100 % accurate. One way to spot mistakes is to proofread the text starting from the end. It might seem illogical, but this technique allows for the eyes to focus on each and every word instead of focusing on long sentences. That way, our brain does not automatically correct mistakes according to their context -like it usually does when reading chronologically- but it is tricked into finding spelling mistakes and typos.

There are traps specifics to each language that the proofreader needs to pay attention to, such as homonyms for example. It is rather easy to confuse words which are spelled or pronounced the same way, even if they have different meanings.

Finally, numbers can also get in the way of proofreading if they aren’t written correctly. Proofreaders need to pay close attention to numbers whether they are working on a translation or a text written by a technical writer. If a number seems wrong, proofreaders need to rely on their common sense or do a quick research to correct any mistakes.

Francesca Laganella

Translated by Céline ECHILLEY