Professional subjects from a personal perspective

Tools for planning

Following on from my last post about getting back into the swing of things, I’m now at the planning stage.


Last week, I sat down with a mid-morning snack and asked myself a series of questions:

What am I going to do with my time (after finishing my Master’s degree) until I have a full schedule?

What new skills can I learn?

What existing knowledge can I build on?

Where do I want to be?

And, most importantly:

How can I get there?


So what tools are out there to help you map out your ideas?


Free, but pretty basic.


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Free and paid options, depending on your intended usage.


Generally used for presentations, but it can be a great visual tool for brainstorming. If you want to try it out, here’s a handy template for using Prezi as a mind mapping device.


Want something a little different?

*Good ol’ pen and paper

There’s a lot to be said for online tools, but I do love to map out my ideas by hand. I learn best by seeing and/or doing, plus I love an excuse to dust off my coloured pens…

I also love this free printable brainstorm sheet:

Free printable brainstorming sheet via

Free printable brainstorming sheet via

What’s your favourite way to organise your ideas?

Hacked By Shade

Hacked By Shade

Hacked By Shade


GreetZ: Prosox – Sxtz – KDZ – RxR HaCkEr – GeNErAL – HolaKo – Golden-Hacker – ~Abo-Al EoS

Twitter: @ShadeHaxor

Guest post: producing an ebook

As a mid-week treat, I’m sharing a great guest post/Q&A featuring the lovely Sara Colombo: translator, interpreter and blogger at Balance your words.

Sara Colombo: translator, interpreter and author!

Sara Colombo: translator, interpreter and author!

Sara has recently produced her own ebook about starting out in translation, which is something that could be of interest to many of us looking to diversify. I was keen to find out more about the process, so I asked Sara to take us through her experience via the following questions:

• How did you come up with the idea? Why did you decide to write (and sell) a book?

There are a lot of great websites, manuals and publications out there. As a student, I used to read them avidly. As a young translator, however, I realised that all those words were very savvy, but not exactly realistic.

Experts talk about rates and business, and lecturers about tools and linguistics, but no one never told me about the difficulties of working from home, how to believe in myself, the pain caused by a harsh competitor – for the record: competitors are called this because they love to act nice publicly, but then steal your clients, if possible – or that maintaining a certain amount of balance would become a key feature of this life.

The path to become a translator is not fixed, and there aren’t strict rules, but some people out there like to believe that there is only one way, these are the tools and those are the things you should keep in mind. People like to look shiny, perfect and professional, rather than true and personal. I had other ideas and wanted to tell my story.

• How did you write it? I know that some of the material is from your blog, but what about the other sections? Did you have the book in mind when you were writing the blog posts?

Good question. Any plans for Christmas? It might take a while to answer :).

I write a lot, I am a writing obsessive-compulsive person: I just need to do it.  So when I decided to write the book I didn’t know where to start from: blog, diary, notes, all of them?

The book I had in my mind was a professional diary: freelancing involves a lot of personal engagement and it is a life-changing choice. Besides, as translators, we are so attached to language that we work even when we are waiting for a bus and come across an interesting article or advertisement. Our entire lifestyle is involved in our job. And this is how the book had to be, in my mind. It had to tell my professional story, which is also linked to my personal growth.

So, in the end, I decided that including some private articles and notes from my diary was a good way to tell people how I really felt about my job, and mixed all the material to create something professional but also intimate.

• How did you set it out? Did you bring in someone to do the layout and design? If not, how did you do it?

Many authors ask for a professional to edit the layout and create something rocking. My dad was a photographer and I was raised in a very arty environment: I like to take pictures, collect designs and read magazines to find inspiration. So, I wanted the cover to be personal and decided to dig out a funky and fun pic that could do the magic. The result: no designer, but one nice and high resolution picture I took with my iPhone.

Sara's ebook: Balance Your Words

Sara’s ebook: Balance Your Words

• How did you set it up to sell? How would someone put a book on Amazon (or another site) and sell it?

Amazon offers many interesting publication services, including the possibility to control the status of your sales, market your texts and publish as many books as you want, all for free. Setting up details like prices and target markets is another useful feature of that website: you only have to do some field research and put a (virtual) price tag on your new book.

Once the file is ready (it takes about a week or two, depending on the language. English texts are published in 12-24 hours, while foreign texts need more time), the website adds the cover and you can create your book’s page.

The selling process is quite straightforward: publish a book and tell the world about it.

The book alone won’t bring you millions, unless you are the next J. C. Oates. I wrote a blog post, shared the good news with friends and social media, created a Facebook page, joined some forums and talked about that any time I could. Oh, did you know I have both printed and digital versions now?

Thanks so much, Sara!

If Sara’s book sounds interesting, you can buy it on Amazon now. You can also find her online on her website, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Are you thinking about publishing an ebook? Do you have any further questions for Sara?

If you’ve already done so and have something to add, please leave a comment or get in touch with me directly.

Joining the SfEP: why I added another professional association to my armoury

Joining professional associations always makes you feel proud and gives your professional profile a lot of credibility, but I have never seen the point in having reams of memberships and letters after my name. I have been selective in my memberships, but I have added another: the Society of Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP).

I am now an associate member of the SfEP!

I am now an associate member of the SfEP!

Until last month, my only memberships were with the Institute of Linguists (ioL) and Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), which reflects the majority of my working experience (translation). I am proud of my memberships – full member of the ioL (MCIL) and Associate of the ITI – and I will be looking to upgrade my ITI membership to qualified (MITI) status in the near future.Allegiant film download

However, when assessing my business goals and activities earlier this year (I try to do this at the beginning of each year, then at regular intervals), I decided that my professional memberships did not represent the range of services that I offer. As a result, I joined the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) a few weeks ago as an associate member, as this kind of work has made up a sizeable portion of my income in recent months.

So far, I have not yet had much time to assess the benefits of membership, but I am pleased to have gained a more representative range of professional memberships. My long-term plan is to reassess (I do this a lot) my memberships of professional organsisations in a year or two, and perhaps drop any that I feel are not paying off. I don’t necessarily mean this in the monetary sense, rather in terms of representing my skills and services and providing me with opportunities to further develop them.

So, to round up, these are my current credentials:

• MCIL (full member of ioL) – my only possible step up here is to upgrade to FCIL, which is unlikely in the near future
• Associate of SfEP – there is an advanced stage of membership (Ordinary), but it is unlikely that I will attain it, as translation is my primary area of work
• Associate of ITI – I am currently focusing my energies on applying for MITI status

What is your opinion of professional memberships? There is a definite divide in the people that I meet. Some do not see the benefit, citing the cost as a limiting factor, whereas others say that a professional membership has given their business a boost or even guided their careers as they moved up through the membership levels.

If you are interested in applying for membership of the ioL, ITI or SfEP, I have included the following links:

• Information about ioL membership
• Information about ITI membership
• Information about SfEP membership

There are quite a few articles about fellow translators gaining MITI status around now. Here are a few selected posts:

• Emma Goldsmith’s Signs and Symptoms of Translation – comparison of MITI and ioL’s Diploma in Translation
• Rose Newell – The Translator’s Teacup – detailed post, including a Q&A section with Elizabeth Dickson, ITI’s admissions officer
• Philippa Hammond – The Blogging Translator – post describing her experience of the MITI entrance exam back in 2011