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Thoughts on Translation

Thoughts on Translation

Last month I received Corinne McKay’s new book “Thoughts on Translation… the translation industry and becoming a translator” in the mail. I had not asked for it, nor did she ask for a review of it but I loved it so much that I would like to share it with you. She has become a trusted colleague and friend to me and someone who’s opinions I value highly. I can also relate to many of her thoughts, since we are in the same situation when it comes to work and family and seem to share the same values in these areas. I have followed her blog, on which this book is based, for several years, but reading it in a book form brought me many new great insights and tips.

The book is divided into sections covering: getting started as a translator, growing your freelance business, translation technique and quality, the freelance mindset, client relations, translation technology and home office setup, money matters and webinar questions. No matter if you are a beginning translator (for which I also recommend her book and course “How to succeed as a freelance translator”) or a veteran freelance translator, I highly recommend getting it and reading it from cover to cover. Here are some gems I would like to share. They are listed in no particular order and are extracted from their context.

On marketing to agencies:

  • Do not lump all agencies together. Corinne writes: “Just as in every other business sector, there are agencies that operate on the Wal-Mart model (big low end department store in the US) and the agencies that operate on the Mercedes-Benz model”.
  • Charge real money and earn it. Quality-conscious agencies know that quality conscious translators save them money.
  • Focus on high-margin projects; you can for example seek out projects on which you can produce 500 finished words per hour.
  • Don’t market to all agencies, pick some that mesh with your business goals and market just to them.
  • Do not contact agency owners directly. Always use the general contact information provided on the prospective client’s website.

Business smarts:

  • Before taking an unpaid test, confirm that the agency have or anticipate having a need for additional translators in your language combination and expertise.
  • Try to belong to at least one association related to your specializations.
  • Identify specific characteristics of you’re a clients and search for more potential clients like them.
  • The art of saying no. Here Corinne gives many examples of how to turn a client down politely and not burn any bridges.
  • Show appreciation by thanking clients and colleagues, and sending small gifts over the holidays. Her wise advise here is to not forget the “multipliers”.
  • Take a course in one of your areas of specialization and let your clients and prospective clients know about it.
  • Write an article and send a copy to the high quality client you would like to work for.

These are just some of the golden nuggets from the book. If you are a freelance translator, go get it. If you are a translation agency, you can learn a lot from this book too. Thank you Corinne for sharing your wisdom in freelance translation!

Swedish Translation Services is a company owned by Tess Whitty, a freelance translator (English-Swedish), proofreader, editor, copy writer, localizer and entrepreneur.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks Tess for this thoughtful review! I really appreciate your comments and thanks for taking the time to read the book so carefully!