Everyone has to start somewhere. What about you? Reply

As they say, everyone has to start somewhere. And, with ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference just over a month away, I was curious to know how exactly the event speakers got started in their careers as professional translators and interpreters. Here’s what I found out:


Tanya Quintieri
Country: Czech Republic
Session: The Outsourcing Freelancer: Outsourcing in the context of workload & CRM (Client Relationship Management)
Outsourcing freelancer at The Translators, President of the DVÜD e. V., organizer of events for translators and interpreters. Certified translator (CoC) for German and English, specialized in marketing and transcreation. Mentor and mentee, blogger and digital native.

“How I got started in translation? I was in school for business administration and worked at a restaurant 5 nights a weeks to keep the money coming in. I had two small children at the time and I was hardly at home. I came across an ad one day in a local newspaper: An IT company was looking for a freelance translator for German into English. I had no idea about the translation business, but I figured I would give it a shot, after all, I was raised bilingual, and this seemed like a good opportunity to make more money with less work, from the comfort of my home. Little did I know back then that this does not automatically make you a good translator. This was back in 2002. Ever since, I have come a long way. It took me about 7 years to understand what translation is, what it needs to be professional, how to deal with translation buyers… Today, I head an association for freelance translators, I have some pretty cool clients in my client base, I no longer work 12+ hours a day nor 7 days a week, and I outsource quite a lot. But the best thing is, I still work with that very first client from back then.”

3099d458a25cea759387f1ced54cd0a5_judypetersonJudy Peterson
Country: Sweden
Session: Are you ready to edit? – Typical problems fixed by professional editors
Since 1984, Judy Petersen has been (1) writing, editing, indexing, translating, and planning publications; (2) managing publication projects; and (3) training writers, editors, and translators.

“I started my business while on maternity leave from IBM where I had worked as a technical writer, editor, and production manager. My plan was to become a highly paid freelance copywriter and editor for a handful of international ad agencies. Instead, they kept sending me stuff that needed translation. One client even told me that he wanted “sexy” – and not direct translation. So that’s what I delivered – and still deliver.”

1639697_r56cebb0698fa5Robin Joensuu
Country: Germany
Session: The art of giving and receiving substantial feedback
Robin Joensuu is an English into Swedish translator mainly working in the fields of IT, telecom, marketing, and engineering. He holds a Master of Arts in Literature, Culture and Media (Lund University), and has studied various additional university courses in different ways related to his line of work.

“You could say I got started in translation by chance. I had just received my MA degree in literature when I met my girlfriend and left Sweden for Berlin, Germany to be with her, planning to find a job as a bartender or as a hostel cleaner. Soon after my arrival, a friend of mine told me that what I now know is one of the worst and most notorious bottom feeder agencies were looking for English into Swedish translators. Since I had studied English, Swedish, and creative writing at the university, I applied and got accepted.

I knew absolutely nothing about the ‘translation industry’ and I was constantly looking for alternatives, because my work conditions were awful. I had no idea that you could make real money from translation and I constantly felt like I was fumbling around in the dark. But after a while of hard work I got over the threshold to the mid-market segment, I realized I was pretty good at my job, and things started working out really well. I have never looked back since and I have no intention of changing profession. This is the best job in the world.”

805aacd319440ad103fc09c77a0bf992_Erin_LyonsErin Lyons
Country: United States/Sweden
Erin M. Lyons is a French and Italian to English translator, medical writer and consultant, business owner, and an Adjunct Professor of Translation at the University of Maryland. Having recently moved to Stockholm, Erin is the local organizer of ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference.

“Right out of university, I started teaching English in Rome. I was assigned to teach English at a company to the marketing executives and when they discovered that I was multilingual, they asked me to try out some translations for them. I had no experience in translation, but really enjoyed the challenge and research. After spending a few years translating at the company, I went back to university to do my Master’s in Translation and have never looked back.”


How did you get started as a translator? Was it something you planned, or was it a career that you fell into? Share your “getting started” story in the comments section below or in this thread on the event’s Facebook page.

There’s still time to register to attend ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference on September 3rd and 4th in Stockholm, Sweden. Reserve your seat today at: http://www.proz.com/conference/683

And don’t forget to watch Erin’s video invitation to the conference here:

This September, all roads lead to Curitiba! Reply

Today’s guest post author is Sheila Gomes – a freelance translator with over 20 years of experience who currently specializes in software localization and video games. Sheila is the manager of Multitude – an online information portal for translators and interpreters, and is one of the founding members and organizers of  TICWB – a networking group for local industry professionals.

Along with fellow freelance language professional and industry contributor Isabel Vidigal, Sheila is the co-organizer of this year’s ProZ.com regional conference in Brazil, which will take place this September from the 23rd to the 25th in the city of Curitiba. She shares her post today in Portuguese.


Minha primeira conferência de tradutores e intérpretes foi no Rio de Janeiro, em novembro de 2011: a III Conferência Brasileira de Tradutores do ProZ.com. Como foi a edição com o maior número de participantes até então, imagine o assombro da pessoa perdida entre mais de 300 colegas, com dezenas de apresentações e outras atividades para participar. Acabou virando a primeira de uma série: o bichinho dos eventos T&I tinha me mordido e hoje vou a todos que posso. Até chegar ao ponto de organizar em conjunto com a Isabel Vidigal o nosso evento do ProZ.com. A Isabel é veterana de eventos, já organizou inclusive a primeira Conferência do ProZ.com no Brasil, junto com a Rosana Malerba, em agosto de 2009. E agora o evento vem pra Curitiba, num dos poucos casos de saída do eixo Rio-São Paulo. Nesta minha cidade do coração, que acabou virando um polo de referência para tradutores e intérpretes por causa do trabalho ativo que temos aqui com iniciantes e veteranos, em vários projetos e ações. Estamos ansiosos e com vários planos para receber os colegas!

Assim como é para muita gente, o ProZ.com foi meu primeiro passo para conseguir clientes internacionais e fez uma grande diferença na minha carreira. Claro, é um grande recurso, mas funciona de verdade quando fazemos nossa parte, depois de estarmos preparados, de ter pesquisado o mercado e aprimorado as qualificações profissionais. O próprio site oferece uma série de ferramentas para isso, e tentei aproveitá-lo o máximo possível para aprender e também contribuir. Assim também é com a VI Conferência Brasileira do ProZ.com, que estamos organizando aqui em Curitiba entre os dias 23 e 25 de setembro: tentamos devolver um pouco do que conseguimos por meio do portal e oferecer outras oportunidades de fazer networking, receber treinamento, estabelecer discussões e momentos de socialização, para tradutores e intérpretes, iniciantes ou veteranos, e outros interessados na área.

Creio que uma das ações mais eficazes para mudar o mercado é dar acesso a iniciativas educacionais aos profissionais em formação e outras pessoas interessadas em ingressar nessa nossa área tão rica, mas também ainda pouco conhecida do grande público. É por isso que o desenvolvimento profissional inspira o tema do evento, “Boas práticas e caminhos”. Além de palestras e mesas-redondas, o evento oferecerá atendimento especializado individual ou em pares, na forma de miniconsultorias, para profissionais já atuantes e estudantes que buscam informações para se profissionalizar. E como a descontração é importante para estimular a integração dos pares, além do próprio evento, teremos encontros informais e passeios culturais.

Aliás, Curitiba é ideal para encontros assim, especialmente para tradutores e intérpretes, pois o que mais temos por aqui é: café! Espaços simpáticos, pitorescos, convidativos a cada esquina, dos maiores e festivos aos menores e aconchegantes, não faltam lugares para todos os tipos de grupos ou apenas para um bom papo entre duas ou três pessoas. E para quem vem, mas já sabe que pode ter que trabalhar também, praticamente todos os espaços oferecem wifi, além de alguns outros espaços de acesso gratuito como a biblioteca pública (a uma quadra do local do evento) ou algumas praças. Isso sem contar restaurantes, bares, espaços culturais e outros eventos para conhecer e investir no networking até fora do evento.

É por essas e muitas outras que esperamos você aqui: em setembro, todos os caminhos levam a Curitiba!


Meet Sheila and all of the excellent speakers who will be present at this conference – like keynote speakers Marta Stelmaszak and Paula Ribeiro – by registering today on the main event page: http://www.proz.com/conference/686

Registration fees can now be paid in the local currency! The early bird price has been extended so those who are interested in paying in reais at this discounted price may do so. Don’t delay! Prices increase in just a few short days, on July 23rd. More information about paying locally can be found on the event page under the “Opção de pagamento em reais” heading.  

Want to learn more about what to expect at this conference? Program highlights are featured in this short video:

From the corporate corner: Let’s tell our story 4

Meet Lori Thicke: founder of Lexcelera and the non-profit organization Translators Without Borders. In this guest post from the corporate corner, Lori speaks on why translation is under-appreciated and what we can do about it.


New York City at the height of the Ebola crisis in West Africa. I am speaking about language to a roomful of high-level executives from the largest aid groups, convened as part of a series of UN focus meetings.

I cover communications in the Ebola crisis, and how utterly unhelpful it is to tell people how to avoid Ebola in a language they don’t understand. After all, you wouldn’t go to France with public health posters in English: why would you do so in Liberia?

Afterwards, the Executive Director of one of the world’s top aid organizations (you’d know the name) says to me, “We really hadn’t thought about that.”

Hello, what? You didn’t think that it was important to talk to a rural villager in her own language? That language wouldn’t matter much, even when you’re trying to stop an epidemic as perilous to the world as Ebola?

Here’s a news flash: communicating in the wrong language is not communicating at all.

Lori Thicke: CEO and founder of Lexcelera

Humanitarian groups not getting that simple fact is the main reason I founded the translation charity Translators without Borders. Yet the same ignorance about how important language is also bedevils anyone who earns a living in the translation industry.

Before Translators without Borders, I founded a language company, which I operate to this day. Lexcelera began life in Paris, France, and we have a few small offices now on three continents. But operating in a different world, in business, in communicating B2B and B2C, we still face the same issues as in the humanitarian sphere: translation is wildly, crazily undervalued.

It may seem strange to make the leap from humanitarian translations to the business world, but I believe the same core problem affects both: people outside our industry, whether nonprofits or companies, think they can get by just some token translation. I mean, have you ever seen how most companies do their international customer support sites? You might see the menu items in a few main languages, but the information itself is in English.

The assumption there, of course, is that everyone speaks English. Talk about wishful thinking!

In the commercial sense, this wishful thinking translates into undervaluing our services – and that in turn leads to commodity (read low) pricing. This commoditization springs from the idea that what we do isn’t worth very much, so any old provider will do as long as the cost is cheap enough.

I can’t think of another industry where prices go down, year after year.

This may be a contrarian view, but I see the huge investments that are being made to improve machine translation (MT) as the one acknowledgement that speaking to people in their own language is the only way to go, and that technology is needed because there are too many languages and too much content.

Wait, investing millions and maybe billions in machine translation is actually recognition of the value of our work? Yes, that’s what I believe. But as I said, that is no doubt a contrarian view.

In any case, MT is really an aside to the bigger issue: the lack of recognition of the value that professionals bring to multilingual communication.

I believe the only way we can fix this is by telling a better story. A compelling story. Somewhere along the line we stopped being visible. When was the last time you saw a translator in a movie? In the press? We are one of the professions you don’t see or hear a lot about. And that hurts us.

We need to take control of the narrative.

ProZ.com and other professional bodies could help here by relentlessly passing the message that in our increasingly borderless world, companies need our services in order to communicate better – and to sell better.

Our trade associations could make headlines with stories about how people are more likely to buy products and services when addressed in their own language and how companies grow more when they get language right.

These stories could be backed up by hard numbers, compelling statistics that tell the story of happy customers and engaged employees. For example, the Common Sense Advisory tells us that people are 6 times more likely (duh) to buy from a website when addressed in their own language.

Citing facts like this can make the case that translation is not a commodity but an investment where quality pays.

I believe we need to tell our story as publicly as we can to raise awareness and appreciation for our craft. Translators need to be linguists, they need to be subject matter experts and they need, almost above all, to be good writers. This is a unique and valuable skillset that allows professionals to craft a translation that does the job it’s supposed to do: communicate a message that will be understood.

Now, is that so hard to understand?

 

Making the right motions at industry events Reply

“One needs to make the right motions in order to get the right emotions.”

– Hans Fenstermacher


It is always advised to attend in-person industry events in order to sharpen one’s skills and recharge. Establishing relationships with potential clients and other translators at in-person events will always prove to be mutually beneficial. Networking gives translators the chance to exchange experiences, ideas, and support each other, not to mention it can also be another source of jobs. There is no way to move forward in one’s career without learning, networking and enjoying one’s life.

This summer, translators had the opportunity to learn, network, and relax at the Ukrainian Translation Industry Conference al fresco.

As one of the participants, I also enjoyed my stay at the conference, meeting translators who I only knew from Facebook or blogs, and learning from experienced translators and established business owners.

One of the first ideas that really resonated with me personally was shared by Hans Fenstermacher. In his talk, Hans raised a question about the changing landscape of the language industry. His presentation touched on the needs of the industry and its customers, as well as the need for translators and other language professionals to adapt and work together in new ways to meet those needs. He emphasized that having the best or newest tools does not necessarily mean you have something really special, as only humans can make decisions, analyze, and have empathy.

Speaker Inga Michaeli at UTIC-2016

Speaker Inga Michaeli at UTIC-2016

Trying to navigate among three tracks, I finally chose to attend the Art of Translation track, which featured one especially great talk with Inga Michaeli on the topic of specialization. It’s amazing how easily and humorously Inga touched on painful situations in the life of a freelancer, like when a translator stops getting new projects and an important questions comes up: “So what now, despair or diversify?” Inga translates fiction, non-fiction, DK and LP travel guides and is always ready to share outstanding ideas with those who are ready to diversify their language services.

Oleg Rudavin, another notable speaker present at the event, shared his vision on freelancing as a business form, a way of thinking, and even a philosophy. Freelancing is quite often viewed purely and solely as a business organization form, and in that respect it hardly deserves any special attention. What is much more interesting and worthy of investigation, as Oleg noted, are those relations – often conflicting ones – that emerge when the freelancing approach seeps across the borders of business and into other spheres or attitudes, such as those relating to government, or even to oneself.

All presenters – teachers and mentors, agency owners and freelance translators, and software developers – shared their best knowledge with fellow colleagues in order to develop the industry and bring it to a whole new level.

Thanks to everyone for a great time spent at the conference! After getting the right emotions, I hope we are all ready for the right motions.


If you’re ready to continue developing your skills and networking internationally, please join ProZ.com on September 3rd and 4th for the site’s 2016 international conference in Stockholm, Sweden, where presenters will be shedding some light on the human side of the translation industry. Inga Michaeli and Oleg Rudavin will be there to share their knowledge with us, as will a host of other fantastic participants like keynote speaker Maya Hess, DVÜD e. V. president Tanya Quintieri, Erik Hansson of the Things Translators Never Say Facebook group,  and many, many more.

I will be giving my own presentation at this event on effective ProZ.com strategies to develop your business online.  Find out more on the session page, and in the video invitation to the event below. I hope to see you there!

Thank you to ProZ.com site moderators, class of 2015-2016 Reply

The ProZ.com moderator class of 2015-2016 is coming to an end, but before this happens, ProZ.com would like to thank all of those members who have given of their time to help maintain a positive, results-oriented atmosphere on the site. Each person in the class has made valuable contributions to ProZ.com, and some of them even beyond the moderator program.

ProZ.com moderators are volunteer members who have benefited from ProZ.com and have chosen to give something back by playing their part, in turn, in a system put in place to ensure fair play. Their role is to foster and protect the positive, results-oriented atmosphere that makes ProZ.com possible, by:

  • Greeting and guiding new participants, and helping them to properly use and benefit from what is available to them at ProZ.com.
  • Enforcing site rules in a consistent and structured manner to maintain a constructive environment.

The moderator class of 2015-2016 is certainly a very good example of the role. Thank you mods!

Now, the moderator class of 2016-2017 is scheduled to begin at the end of July. So, if you are a ProZ.com member and would like to volunteer for a one-year term as site moderator, please visit http://www.proz.com/moderators or contact site staff through the support center.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Alejandro

Do your employees have the right profiles for your work on ProZ.com? Reply

Logo_corporate_membership

ProZ.com Corporate members enjoy all the benefits granted to freelance professional members, plus several other exclusive tools and opportunities. The prestige associated with the corporate badge and the positioning and visibility of Corporate members in the ProZ.com Translation agency and company directory are obvious advantages. This post will deal with other, lesser-known benefits.

Employee profiles: Corporate members may designate other profiles as belonging to their employees. These employee profiles will have member benefits without the need to purchase separate memberships themselves. For instance, they have full access to the Blue Board and can quote on member-only jobs (provided that the other requirements are met).

Search by email feature:  An exclusive tool enables ProZ.com Corporate members to enter an email address (received, for instance, in an application page or email message) and to search for the matching ProZ.com profile. This is an additional risk management tool to face the threat of scammers who impersonate translators to scam translation companies.

Search_email

Job posting notifications: Corporate members now have the option to receive notifications based on the fields declared in their company profiles. Company profiles are not bound by requirements that only make sense when the service provider is just one person, such as “Native language”. With this tool, Corporate members can choose to be notified of all the job postings that they can submit a quote on. This is done by comparing the requirements in the job posting with the working languages they have declared that their company provides services in.

Classic_notificacions_corporates

Use of the ProZ.com translation center:  Corporate members can use a dedicated instance of the translation center powered by ProZ.com to manage their projects. Several Corporate members are actively using this platform, and they delivered a cumulative total of over 2.5 million words in May 2016 alone. The platform is actively evolving. User interfaces have been improved and the next releases will include the import of CAT tools analysis and new vendor management tools.

This Corporate Corner is a section of the blog dedicated to conveying the voice of corporate members, to help them contribute to the growth and maturity of the language industry and to become better known in the process. If you are interested, please contact us by submitting a support request.

An investment in a ProZ.com Corporate membership provides value today – and well into the future. Let’s all grow together!

Guest post: The 3 myths about selling translations and how to make it work for you Reply


Today’s guest post contributor is best-selling author, speaker, and business owner Andrew Lawless.

This is Andrew’s first post in a two-part guest blog series on selling your translation services.


Myth 1: It’s about price, speed and quality

Translation can be easily viewed as a commodity business. The competition is huge and fierce. Many translators believe that they can only survive if they offer the lowest rates, better quality and quickest turn-around times – preferably all three at the same time.

It is true that many buyers of translation services look at translation like I see electricity. They want it cheap, instantly and of good quality. They simply just ask several translation service providers how much they charge per word and choose the lowest bidder.

It is also true that translation is not that two-dimensional, just as color and price are not the only factors in buying a car.

This is evidenced in a recent survey by Slator. It surveyed all 75 US government-certified language providers and discovered the cheapest average per-word rate for English-to-Spanish translation has a low of USD 0.08 and a high of USD 0.30. The priciest language pairs, English-Japanese and English-Korean, have offers ranging from USD 0.14 to USD 0.57.

So, why would someone pay USD 0.30 for a word translated into Spanish when they can get it for USD 0.08 from another vendor? In the end, it’s all about how you market and position yourself to your prospect customers.

For one, experienced buyers value a good translator, like a many of us value a plumber who shows up on time, is friendly, listens, does a great job as agreed, and leaves without leaving a mess behind. Experienced buyers pay a premium for translators that save them time, money and frustrations.

The Sankt-Hedwig hospital in Berlin, for example, would have welcomed better translations when their surgeons improperly transplanted artificial knees in 47 patients. Instead of using a procedure in which the artificial joints are being cemented without a shank or shaft, they were implanted without any cement. This happened because the term ‘non-modular cemented’ was wrongly translated as ‘zementfrei’, which means ‘does not need cement’ in German. So, surgeons put in the knees loose and patients needed a second surgery.

The secret is to build a list of customers who value the benefits that you bring and then foster a relationship with the people on that list. It’s not the quantity of people that are on your list. Otherwise, everybody in localization could buy a list of names from a database acquisition service and be a millionaire in no time.

That’s why in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services’ I will show you how to build a relationship with your audience, so that it becomes natural to buy from you.

Myth 2: Digital marketing is only for big LSP

Years ago, this statement might have been true. Today, not so much. Forrester Research Inc. reports that by 2017, 60% of sales will involve the Internet in some way, either as a direct e-commerce transaction or as part of a shopper’s research. Buyers of both products and services are online, connecting with other buyers on social media and evaluating options on their tablets and smartphones. As a result, modern customers are 65-90% of the way through the purchase decision process before they contact sales.

That’s different from 10 years ago when we were dependent on a sales person to show us what they thought were our best options. Today, buyers have all information upfront – and you will need to deliver that information to them.

While it is true that the higher your budget, the grander your digital marketing campaign can be, don’t assume that you need tens of thousands of dollars to get started. In fact, in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services’ I show how small-budget marketing campaigns can be very successful.

Many pitches from translation vendors are all so similar, it’s nearly impossible to discern the differences. The constant use of digital buzzwords can make it difficult to tell vendors apart. But asking a precise set of the right questions can make finding the right customer much easier. It’s like in job interviews – always good when the candidate has the right answers, even better when he or she asks the right questions.

What also leads to this most common myth about digital marketing is that many small businesses and freelancers believe that they have to generate and post new content every single day.

But the simple concept of dividing campaigns in marathons and sprints will keep your material fresh and readers interested. That’s why I focus on developing a consistent schedule where new material is published two to four times a month.

Remember, 96% of 18 – 29 year olds are online… and so are 93% of people 30-49, and 81% of 50-64. Your customer base is online – and if they can’t find your business… they’re probably looking at your competition.

Myth 3: Webinars don’t sell

Most business owners and freelancers view webinars as just a means to present a product or service. If you are one of them, you might think that webinars attract a lot of your competitors that want to learn more about you and copy one or the other thing from you. You might attract a few customers to view the webinar, but you won’t sell.

However, presentation of a product or service is only about 15% of an entire, well-integrated webinar strategy.

A truly effective webinar strategy involves 5 key stages (planning, pre, live, post, automated) and there will be cash exchange at the end of your presentation. A webinar is more than just showing a set of slides, a product demo and a Q&A session at the end.

Specifically, great webinars include strategic content that precisely aligns with your paid services or products. It also includes list building, email marketing plan, user engagement, and much more. And most importantly, there will be an exchange of cash at the end. A webinar strategy gives you the opportunity to grow your business at will.

I always highlight the importance of webinars in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services.’ Many students in my course are stunned to learn how many opportunities a webinar can create – even if they do not have or own any content.

You can use webinars for Q&A sessions, inviting people to come ask you questions around a specific topic. Topic like ‘Grill the Consultant’ or ‘The Roast of the Translator’ can produce wonderful results. So can topics, such as, Best Kept Secrets, Common Mistakes or What’s Working Now.

What counts is that a webinar provides value to the audience. Great webinars solve a problem.


Interested in learning more from Andrew about selling your translation services?

On June 7th Andrew will be hosting a free webinar on “Three no-cost list building strategies.”

Learn more and register today »