Challenges for a translator: following the results of the conference "Translators’ Marketing"

March 2, 2018 – an efficient and interesting online conference "Marketing of translators" with the participation of the owners and heads of four translation offices Maria Suvorova, Maria Solonina, Evgeny Bartov, Simon Akhrameev was held. The conference was organized by "Alliance PRO" School Specialist Translators.

The important topics, which concerned the work and promotion of freelance translators and translation agencies (the program is given at the bottom of the post), were touched upon in a two-hour conversation. The participants shared their secrets and experience in marketing, finding customers and working with executors.

Working with new employees

The topics that concerned me personally were covered among the others. For example, which clauses in the translator's resumé should alert the employer and convince the employer not to hire an executor who overestimates himself somewhat. The matter is that I take personal responsibility for the choice of my employees, as my reputation and further cooperation with the client are at stake. Trust me, I value every customer!

So, a new employee is always a risk. I receive a huge amount of resumés every day; translators submit their applications from different parts of the country, near abroad and recently even from countries far away. I'm always very cautious about starting new cooperation. Maria Suvorova provided a detailed and accessible explanation of the proposals, traits, and qualifications that demand employer’s attention to avoid "getting into a mess".

For example, if a person states that he or she is living abroad and is ready to manage a text on any subject, his or her language is fluent, and even more often – impeccable, and he or she is able to translate a text of any size overnight - this is exactly a signal that calls for a reality check and putting a stop to wishful thinking.

Firstly, not all people living abroad can speak fluently, let alone perfectly, the language of that country. I am convinced that there are hardly any native speakers who know the language perfectly. It seems impossible to me, for one, because perfection is simply difficult to measure, and the second reason is that language is a living and ever-changing thing, while perfection is of something finite. Therefore, I absolutely agree with Maria on this issue.

Personal qualities of an interpreter/translator

The second interesting topic for me was explored by Maria Solonina who spoke about the soft skills of translators. What are they? Every translator has his or her hard skills (professional skills) such as language proficiency, knowledge of subjects, ability to work with various formats and programs, etc. And there are soft skills, which are his or her personal qualities. His or her ability to communicate with a customer, quick response, flexibility, motivation, readiness to provide a more extended spectrum of services, that is, not just interpretation, but also escorting a client into unknown territory, for example, or assistance with taxi calls or details of hotel accommodation. In other words, a complete package of services.

This applies, for the most part, to oral translations. We all strive for convenience, and sometimes one would like to get the full range in one place. This saves client's time and multiplies income and value of the interpreter who has personal qualities in his or her arsenal – flexibility and readiness to be as useful as possible.

This is very appealing to me. It seems to me that the future belongs to those translators who bring along their personal component, creativity, uniqueness, soul, if you will. Otherwise, machines will soon be able to replace us. Nowadays some translation niches, such as translation of accounting documents and other standard documentation, have already been completely taken over by machines.

Clients for a translator

Simon Akhrameev talked about how one can find a job as a freelancer without joining any translation agency. In connection with this issue we are facing the problem of investing time and financial resources in self-promotion. When starting to work on your own, it becomes apparent that the amount of tasks that you used to accomplish before when you received the contract through the agency is impossible to manage due to lack of time. A lot of time is spent on placing information about yourself on different translation sites, exchanges, etc., communicating with potential clients, performing test tasks.

In addition, you need to properly represent yourself in the Internet space, so that the clients could find you themselves; you need to create a situation when customers are looking for you and not vice versa. I know from personal experience, this is not a matter of a single day, and not even a single year. The process of gaining a client base and recognizability is not fast and does not always work as expected.

Also, Simon talked about platforms a freelancer can use to find work such as translation agencies, translation sites and freelance exchanges, and each of these sites has its pros and cons.

For me personally, this conference proved to be extremely useful. It was important to hear the opinion of four experts who broadcasted their perception of the realities of the market. This greatly expands one’s personal range. I recommend everyone to watch it. Watch and develop (in Russian)!

The following questions were addressed by the speakers:

1. Where should you begin with the translation if you lack specialization and serious experience? // Maria Solonina

2. How can a newcomer compete with people who have "been living in the United States for 15 years, can speak the language perfectly and will submit a translation on any subject by tomorrow morning"? // Maria Suvorova

3. Where to look for clients as a freelance translator? // Simon Akhrameev

4. How can a translator maintain quality of his or her work if the only way to get a decent salary equal to at least an average salary for a trained expert in Moscow, is to translate at least 20 pages a day? // Maria Suvorova

5. How can interpreters survive the 21st century given such a rapid development of machine translation? // Maria Solonina

6. Is it possible for a freelance translator to do without the Translation Agency and to find enough clients on his own? // Simon Akhrameev

7. How can one find interesting contracts for translating fiction, other than monitoring the publishing houses? Should I send fragments of test translations of fiction to the profile of the publishing house along with my CV? // Evgeny Bartov

8. How to switch to another field if you understand that now you are interested in a different subject than the one you have been working with for the last couple of years, and present it in your CV so that it won’t make an impression that you are just skipping from one topic to another on potential clients? // Evgeny Bartov

9. Does the translator need a website and why, how to search for foreign clients, can the site assist with that? // Simon Akhrameev

10. How to deal with competition with hundreds of other translators? // Maria Suvorova

11. Does it make sense for a translator to maintain his blog or write articles of some sort for social networks as means of self-promotion or is it a waste of time? // Simon Akhrameev

12. A translator, a well-paid translator, a very well-paid translator ... What’s the next step in your career? // Evgeny Bartov