Professional subjects from a personal perspective
So here we are, well into January! Where did that time go? I’m hard at work on my goals for this year but, in the meantime, let’s get back to business with a new post in my specialisation interview series. Say hi to Marie Jackson:
1) Why do you/don’t you specialise? What are the benefits and drawbacks of this approach?
I specialise in business, marketing, law and logistics, and am currently working on further developing my knowledge of law. Apart from giving me the opportunity to learn more about the fields I find interesting, I think that specialisation makes it easier to run a business. By specialising in a few select fields, I can better target my marketing and operate in a more focused manner. This also gives me the opportunity to work faster (with or without the help of CAT tools), which of course means I can take on more work! The main drawback of specialising is that it can be an expensive, time-consuming process. Ultimately, however, the return on investment is huge, both on a personal and professional level, so it’s certainly worth it.
2) Do you feel that marketing yourself as a specialist allows you/would allow you to charge higher rates?
I definitely feel that being a specialist allows you to command higher rates for your work. It’s the same in every other industry, so why not ours? It takes a lot of time, effort, money and sacrifice to specialise in a field alongside languages/translation/interpreting (which are already very time-intensive!), and our rates should reflect that.
3) How and why did you select your specialist field(s)?
Some of my specialisms were selected for me, and some I chose myself. I get lots of business and marketing work, and I covered these a lot at uni, so it makes sense for me to head in this direction. My logistics specialism arose from my first year of freelancing, during which I did a lot of work for a chemical logistics service provider in Germany. I’m now very comfortable working in the field, so although it may not have been my first choice, it’s a firm favourite today! It helps that my father works in logistics, so I grew up immersed in the field to an extent. Finally, law is my personal choice of specialism. I’ve always been interested in the law, and have found that it ultimately rests on semantics and pragmatics, which appeals to my inner nerd. Furthermore, communication is vital in a fair legal process, and so I can give something back by building my legal knowledge. By specialising in these four areas, I’m able to help my clients in all areas of their operations, from writing their first business plan and marketing their company, to drafting service contracts and managing distribution – and this is something they really value. I also often find that these fields overlap; I frequently translate marketing copy for logistics companies, for instance!
4) How would you go about adding another specialist area?
As a very visual/kinaesthetic learner, I like to read widely around my subject and get personally invested in the field. Much like when studying a language, I have used an immersive approach to building my specialisms. In particular, I read a lot of daily magazines and newsletters about law, my newest specialism, since they help me to understand the issues which affect that industry. They also show me the language lawyers themselves use to discuss their field. In addition, I attend industry events, which offer great opportunities to learn more and make valuable contacts. Finally, I find that I’m always more motivated when I’m working to deadlines, so I like to take courses relevant to my field. These force me to be disciplined and ultimately end in some form of assessment, which I see as a validation of my knowledge in that field that can also help to reassure my clients. I’m still developing my legal specialism, but this approach has helped me to really get my foot in the door. Specialising can be a challenge, but I think that it really appeals to linguists in that we’re often very curious people who like to learn about the world around us. We might therefore be one of the few professional groups who actually love doing CPD – I know I do!
Marie Jackson MA (Hons) AITI is a professional translator and interpreter and owner of Looking-Glass Translations. She works from French and German into English and specialises in business and marketing, law and logistics. Find her online on LinkedIn and Twitter, or visit her website for more information on her services and CPD record.
New Year’s Resolutions are everywhere at the moment, so I’ll make mine short and sweet:
1) Work with more local companies
Last year, I hired The Sketch Collective for professional photos and Rachel Bonness Design to design some marketing materials. I loved having the opportunity to meet in person to discuss my ideas, and supporting other young businesses was fantastic. Here are the results:
2) Attend client events
There are always plenty of translator only events to choose from, and they are both beneficial and enjoyable (see my post on the 2013 ITI Conference). In 2014, though, my goal is to change my focus to industry events, where I can maintain and improve subject knowledge, gain expert contacts for terminology queries and, ultimately, identify potential clients. If you’re joining me in looking for possible events, here are Judy and Dagmar Jenner’s top tips for visiting trade shows.
3) More CPD
2013 was all about maintaining (or attempting) a balance between my business and my degree. Now that my course is over – I’ll graduate in a few weeks’ time – I can give my business my full attention. One of my main aims for this year is to dedicate more time to new and existing skills with the help of in-person courses and online options from providers such as eCPD Webinars and Coursera.
4) Celebrate achievements and reward myself
Sometimes, we freelancers can be a little hard on ourselves. I, for one, can be a bit of a mean boss on occasion. In order to stay motivated, it’s really important to recognise and celebrate achievements. 2013 was the year that I finished my Master’s degree, worked with more direct clients than ever before and turned colleagues into true friends. What’s not to love? If you’re looking for a way to reward yourself for a job well done in 2013, take a look at Corinne McKay’s post on giving yourself a bonus.
What are your goals for this coming year?
I’m a bit late joining in with this series of posts because December has been one of my busiest months this year.
If you don’t get updates from me on Facebook or Twitter, you might not know that I have been completing my Master’s degree for the past two years, so it’s a real joy to completely focus on my business from now on.
Anyway, here’s how it works: Olga Arakelyan came up with the idea of inviting fellow translators to list as many of their favourite things as they can in 10 minutes, and I thought it would be a nice way to end another year of blogging. I’ve got the timer on, so here goes:
• My boyfriend – I’m a very independent person, but I can’t imagine life without him
• Herefordshire – my boyfriend and I were both born and brought up here (although we met at university), and this is absolutely where we want to be.
• Swansea and the Gower Peninsula, where I lived for five years. I miss this:
• New York City, or rather the idea of it. I *will* get there one day!
• Paisley pattern
• Doctor Who – oh yes.
• Snuggling up and listening to rain against the window
• Cheese – pretty much any kind
• Typography – I have a ridiculous amount of free fonts on my computer
• All variants of mint green, aqua and teal (but you’d guessed that, right?)
• Ranunculus and peonies
• That gorgeous smell after it rains
• German pretzels – the real, doughy ones
• Tartelettes aux framboises – I used to pick one up on my walk home from lectures in Geneva
• That feeling when a client gives you glowing feedback
• Invoicing – yes, really
• Planning trips all over the world that I can’t afford, either time-wise or money-wise
Right, my time’s up. I spent most of it trying to find the picture on my computer, but I hope you’ve got an idea of the kind of things that make me tick.
Thanks to Olga for coming up with this idea – it was fun!
I hope that you all have a wonderful festive period – if you celebrate this time of year – and have a brilliant start to 2014.
Valeria is (or should be) well known to translators as the face of Rainy London Translations:
She is an expert on all things branding and even provides personalised sessions via her sister business. Here is her take on specialising:
Why do/don’t you specialise? What are the benefits and drawbacks of this approach?
I did a BA in translation but then specialised in Interpreting and while the MA in Translation had several majors (Technical, Scientific, Literary or Business) the Conference Interpreting MA was focusing on the booth practice 100% (and I am thankful for that!) and did not have any specific topic to follow.
This means I did not really have a specialization per se. Plus, as a ‘pure’ linguist ie. not a person who has a previous degree in engineering or medicine etc. – I came out of uni like many, many colleagues and asked myself: riiiight… so what now?
As I did a work placement in a translation agency, I tried to find a job in-house as a PM but despite having the right experience, I was never successful as the recession hit right in that period. Hiring choices went towards the more experienced or those who were already internally working for the companies would be preferred to save money. So I decided to go freelance!
Well, when I was younger I used to like drawing and being creative. Therefore, anything that has that direction drew my attention and as my partner is a designer, I was naturally exposed to the IT world. Even though I never studied marketing I find ads funny and creativity is something I tend to have in me, so I improved my skills by reading, reading and more reading,… with the objective of producing flawless copy in my language. As other colleagues of this series said, initially I had no clue so I did go for the ‘take it all or bust’ approach, making my mistakes 🙂
You’ll never see me translate medical, financial or hard-core technical texts now but as in any job, I always have to SEE the file before accepting.
How and why did you select your specialist field(s)?
Specialising is a good option and everyone should try and find what they like. I now work for agencies and direct clients and my favourite topics are marketing, tourism, fashion/beauty and ads. I’ve recently started getting more and more work for software companies, TV or acting studios, even though for interpreting I may end up working in agriculture or architecture because in most cases you get to prepare the material.
Do you feel that marketing yourself as a specialist allows/would allow you to charge higher rates?
It should. Sometimes the market can be tough, especially in financially challenging times like – alas – these, where sometimes clients are ready to accept lower quality for cheap prices. Still, they will come back to you if you’re THE expert, because… only when it hits them in their face, they realise how it hurts to have chosen a non-professional or non-specialised linguist 🙂
How would you go about adding another specialist area?
I am fascinated by the legal sector but I feel I lack the extensive skills to say I specialise in it. The differences between the legal systems of different countries make it even harder to find the right correspondences and material, as it’s all ever changing and complex. But I’m working on it! I have already translated software, but I would eventually like to expand my creative side even more towards apps (which I am addicted too!) and other online platforms. As you see, what you love is the key here. The only thing sometimes is starting. Just read more in the topic you find interesting, scout for blogs or publications, stuff your e-reader with RSS and feeds and maybe get some online CPD/training. Echoing the famous Confucius’ motto, here’s my interpretation: choose a specialisation you love and you’ll never have to work a single day in your life.
Valeria Aliperta (Associate of the ITI, MCIL, member of ASETRAD and IAPTI Head of External Relations) is a conference interpreter and translator at Rainy London Translations, working from English, Spanish and French into her native Italian for IT and web, fashion, design, marketing, legal and advertising. She also runs a branding consultancy at www.rainylondonbranding.com and is co-founder of The Freelance Box, which provides seminars and hands-on courses for freelancers.