Professional subjects from a personal perspective

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.

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

Reflections on the ITI Conference

ITI Conference 2013, name tag

As you may know, I attended my first ITI Conference recently. As you may also know, if you are a fellow fan of Twitter, there was a dedicated hashtag for the event: #ITIConf13. If you didn’t have the time to keep up with all of the tweets from the conference (and there were a lot), you can search for the hashtag to catch up now.

As a newbie, I was a bit apprehensive, but the friendly atmosphere is one of the lasting impressions that I will take away from the event. One of my aims as an attendee was to put a lot of faces to Twitter handles, and I was delighted to meet so many of my colleagues in one place. The only downside was not having a lot of time to talk, as the programme was jam-packed with talks, consultations, a pop-up photography studio and even a choir. My choice of sessions covered specialisation, workflow, accuracy in translation, professional development and technology – a great mix of topics, which provided a lot of food for thought (and a to-do list!).

A particular highlight for me was meeting and listening to both Chris Durban and Jost Zetzsche, the latter of which delivered an extremely enjoyable and inspiring keynote speech, which really highlighted the great value of our profession. One quotation, which I considered to be particularly significant, and one which I tweeted at the time, is the following: “we don’t just create words, we create worlds”.

After two hectic days of networking, attending seminars and celebrating the profession that we love, I headed homewards with my ITI canvas bag laden with notes, business cards and even some caramels (a kind gift from a friend and colleague). I’ve been busy implementing advice and ideas ever since!

To read more about the conference from colleagues’ perspectives, Catherine of Lingua Greca has blogged about her highlights and José of Bluebird Translations also wrote a post about his experience. In addition, Alison Hughes has written a poem about the experience. Take a look and get a taste of the atmosphere.

If you’re heading to an industry event soon, these posts might be handy:

* WantWordstips for networking at events: before, during and after
* Drew’s Marketing Minute6 steps to success for conferences and networking events
*Thoughts on Translation – audio blog: finding direct clients through industry conferences

CPD: the post Christmas detox begins

Now that the leftovers have been used up, the (possible) excesses of New Year’s Eve have worn off and the decorations have been taken down, it’s time to get back to work. As I still have a week or so before my MA course starts up again, I am starting the business side of 2013 by focusing on some CPD.

As I signed up to the newsletter of the brilliant eCPD Webinars, I receive all of the latest news, so I was delighted to see that Lucy, Sarah and Maia are running a 3 for 2 offer on their recorded sessions. I’m struggling to choose just three at the moment, as there are six categories to choose from:

• Business skills
• Interpreters
• Specialisations
• Technology
• Translation skills
• Translation workshops

The likely candidates at the moment are Specialising in Transcreation for Advertising Copy with Percy Balemans, Writing for the Web with Marian Dougan and Revision and Editing for Translators with Sarah Griffin-Mason, as they nicely cover most of my services. However, I also like the look of Financial Planning for Translators and Interpreters with Alison Lane and Make Face-to-Face Networking Work For Your Business with Sara Freitas, which I remember was particularly well received live.

The offer is running until 10th January, so make the most of it!

December: a time for reflection

Speech Marks Translation - End of Year Reflection

Where are you heading in 2013?

At the end of the year, when the days are shorter and darker (in the Northern hemisphere, at least), it can sometimes be difficult to see through the bleak, cold weather and recognise your progress during the year.

A lot has changed for me in 2012. This has been my first full year as a freelancer and I have worked extremely hard, but the benefits are so overwhelming.

My (informal) objectives for this year were:

*Going freelance

*Growing my network of colleagues

*Successfully balancing freelancing with part-time study

*Setting up a website

*Starting a blog

*Strengthening my online profile

Without wishing to sound smug, I’m delighted with how this year has gone. I’m not saying that it hasn’t been hard work – at times it’s been exhausting, but the reason that I put so much extra effort in is that I know that this is the career path for me. Recently I have been talking to some other, more seasoned linguists, and they told me that they had no idea what they wanted to do with their lives, let alone career-wise, when they were my age. Rightly or wrongly, I have wanted to go down this road since I was 15 and I have taken the direct route:

College – Bachelor’s degree – Master’s degree

There are a lot, and I mean *a lot*, of translators and interpreters who took a longer, more industry-based road, and the vast majority of them are fantastic professionals, but if I knew at 15 that I wanted to work as a freelance translator, why should I put myself on the slow train to my ultimate goal? I have tried out in-house work and the admin side of the industry, but it never felt right. Sometimes the safe option (for financial reasons or otherwise) needs to be rejected in favour of something that challenges and fulfils you. I used to get that horrible, nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach because I knew, deep down, that I desperately wanted to change my path. We all get that anxious feeing from time to time (driving test, anyone?), but if that feeling is there every day, something needs to change. It’s a difficult decision, but mine was ultimately a lot easier than I had anticipated. And I’m not the only one:

That’s not to say it has been easy, or that I haven’t made mistakes (oh! the mistakes!), but going against the grain and throwing my career path out the window was the best thing I could have ever done.

Sarah Dillon, There’s Something About Translation

People come into freelancing for so many reasons, and measuring success is a very subjective issue, but, for me, the heart of the matter comes down to three main points:

*Family – the flexibility of being freelance means that, when the time comes, I will be able to mould by business around a young family. This is something that is really important to me, and I know that a lot of fellow translators took the decision to go freelance for this reason alone.

*Finances – some people may not see it this way, but I now have more control over my income. The traditional view is that freelancing is financially insecure, which can certainly be the case starting out. The main point, however, is that you don’t have all of your eggs in one basket. You have several sources of income, and no-one has 100% control of the money you need to feed your family, pay your mortgage or fund your travel habit (guilty!).

*Job satisfaction – I love translation. I love languages, I love my own language and I love being creative with language. I was made for this job, and I get paid for it! Aside from the actual work, I love (nearly) all aspects of running my own business: the marketing, the invoicing (a particular favourite), the planning and the blogging. On top of all of this, I can decide my own path, whether that means adding or removing a service, writing and selling a book, or doing a degree in one of my specialist areas.

So, you’ve jumped ship and gone freelance. Everything is going well but then, suddenly, things get tough. Maybe you’ve had a slow month work-wise. Maybe one of your clients has been slow to pay. You’ve lost a bit of that certainty that this is it – you’re on the right track. All is not lost, but it can seem like it. Working independently is by nature an isolating experience, but it is vital to try and maintained a balanced view of your business. This post by Corinne McKay over at Thoughts on Translation suggests some ways to overcome the self-imposed psychological barriers to success that a lot of freelancers come up against. My favourite here is keeping records of successful projects and positive comments. Obviously, testimonials play a part in your website and marketing materials anyway, but the comments that colleagues and aspiring translators have made about my blog give me a real boost when my confidence takes a knock for whatever reason.

Over to you. This is not meant to be a therapy session by any means, but it’s always good to learn from each other. What have you really enjoyed working on in 2012? What plans do you have for 2013? What do you really love about our industry?