Professional subjects from a personal perspective

The perks of being a wallflower

Please excuse the shamelessly ‘borrowed’ title. I couldn’t resist.

Speech Marks Translation Presentation

Me speaking at the Language Show Live in 2012. Not my most comfortable moment…
Photo by Ilenia Goffredo

A lot has been made of translators as introverts. There are notable exceptions to the rule but, generally speaking, there are a lot of us out there. Take the How I Work series on Adventures in Freelance Translation for example. The vast majority of interviewees identify themselves as introverts. Personally, I feel more comfortable and confident in one-on-one situations or small groups, and it seems that I’m far from the only one.

But is this such a bad thing?

Recently, it seems that the perceived negativity of introversion is melting away and more is being written about the benefits. Some of these benefits are discussed by digital marketing consultant Fran Swaine in her guest post for The Business of Introverts. Fran points out that being an introvert can result in excellent listening skills and the patience to respond to clients’ needs rather than selling before knowing what they are. This instils trust in potential clients and creates a positive foundation, on which to build long-term business relationships.

Further reading for introverts:
Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain
Leise Menschen – starke Wirkung by Sylvia Löhken, as recommended by Elisabeth Hippe-Heisler

Blogs, posts and websites
•Susan Cain also has a website: The Power of Introverts, which offers articles and a forum.
Quietly Fabulous has blog posts, a great FAQ section and book suggestions.
The Business of Introverts hosts a kick-start course in addition to blog posts. Kathryn also welcomes contributions from fellow introverts wishing to share their story or give tips and advice.
•Fellow translator Rachel Ward has some sage advice for networking as an introvert.

How do you feel that being an introvert (or extrovert, for that matter) helps or hinders your business?

If you’re curious, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator lists 16 personality types, depending on how you see and deal with the outside world, and there is a short, informal quiz on Susan Cain’s website to help you determine if you’re an introvert or an extrovert.


A translator’s favourite client

Translators often talk about what we can and should do to please our clients. There’s nothing wrong with that at all – I always strive to exceed expectations – but we should also be selective when looking for new opportunities.

I revisited this guide for clients on Betti Moser’s website the other day, which outlines many points that create and maintain a healthy and successful business relationship. Maybe we should all have one of these on our websites…

The best things about my favourite clients are:
Friendly relationship
As I mention on my main website, I enjoy a relaxed relationship with my clients. The lack of forced formality creates a friendly atmosphere and makes asking questions a lot easier, which brings me to…
Good communication
Sharing information can really help when issues arise. Does your client let you know when the finished file has been safely received? I always check up on the receipt of files and invoices, and it’s a real help when I get a prompt reply.
I am happy to provide feedback for my graphic designer or web designer. As a client, I know that they all appreciate the time it takes to make comments or suggestions, and I am very grateful when my clients do the same. It also helps to add to my testimonials and build on my reputation, which is never a bad thing.
Respect for my work
Unfortunately, receiving an enquiry with an unrealistic deadline is not all that rare. When my favourite clients get in touch, they understand that quality work takes time and that I may not be able to take on a new project straight away. This understanding means that, faced with a choice, I make work for my favourite clients a priority.
Prompt, hassle-free payment
Paying promptly should be a given, but fast and reliable payment is definitely something that makes my favourite clients stand out.

What do you love about your favourite clients? It’s good to share 🙂

2014: where do I go from here?

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:

Speech Marks Translation marketing postcards

Graphic design by Rachel Bonness, photography by Thom Williams of The Sketch Collective

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?

Specialisation according to Valeria Aliperta

Valeria is (or should be) well known to translators as the face of Rainy London Translations:

Valeria Aliperta, translator and interpreter English-Spanish-French-Italian

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 and is co-founder of The Freelance Box, which provides seminars and hands-on courses for freelancers.