The Linguist

The Linguist 51,6

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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FEATURES A successful start How can you make a name for yourself as a trusted translator or interpreter? Marta Stelmaszak shares her experiences of getting established in the field Wouldn���t it be interesting to follow a translator or interpreter and see how they got started, established a business and developed their dream career? Wouldn���t it be useful to have a look at a professional timeline of events and milestones? I���m somewhere in the middle of this process, as I���m still working on establishing myself as a language professional, but I hope the lessons I have learnt so far might be of use both to newcomers and to more experienced linguists. September 2009: Joining the industry Milestone: Obtaining the DPSI When I moved to the UK, I found translation work through my existing contacts, but I struggled to find local clients. I started with thorough research, reading as much as possible about the industry. I ordered copies of The Entrepreneurial Linguist, A Practical Guide for Translators and The Prosperous Translator in order to learn the basics of being a freelance translator. I also started reading professional blogs, including Translation Times, About Translation and Musings from an Overworked Translator. These taught me the practicalities, from issuing invoices through chasing up late payments to detecting scams. It was important to get the more formal side of being a translator and interpreter right too. I joined the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIOL) and other relevant bodies. Obtaining the Diploma in Public Service Interpreting (DPSI) created plenty of opportunities. I���m glad I did my homework at this stage and devoted so much time to learning about the industry. I wish there had been mentoring schemes at that time, or that I had been bold enough to ask one of my more experienced colleagues for background information. You���d 20 The Linguist being an entrepreneur (yes, I believe every freelancer is one), and the structure of my business started to emerge. The best piece of advice I was given at this stage was to see myself as a business and to take care of every aspect, from marketing and production to supply chain management (making sure I���m never out of ink, picking the best internet provider for my needs, etc). be surprised how many interpreters and translators are willing to share their knowledge. February 2010: Setting up a business Milestone: Attending a business workshop Realising that you have to set up a formal business entity can be pretty scary, especially if you���re used to working for a company. Suddenly you���re faced with all the complexities of national insurance contributions, income tax, self-assessments and VAT. For me it was a real challenge. The best thing I did was to attend a few business workshops. Much to my surprise, my local council offered them to start-ups for free. HMRC also organises free tax-related events. At an event in North London, I met bakers, hairdressers, accountants and shop-owners all setting up their own businesses. That���s how I made my first contacts! One future restaurant owner realised that a portion of her clients were Polish and we made a deal that I would translate a menu. Learning the basics of managing my own business was certainly a milestone in my career. I started feeling less anxious about DECEMBER/JANUARY November 2010: Branding Milestone: Hiring a marketing consultant I was quite satisfied with the direction my business was moving in, but I didn���t want to be too dependent on translation agencies. I was keen to explore the direct-client market. I approached a friend who works in marketing and asked for some advice. I had no idea about branding, unique selling points and positioning. My business cards were awful (homemade, too few details, Word Art-style design). Apart from getting my business stationery right and defining the added value of my services, I started reading Smashing Magazine (an online publication for web designers), Copyblogger and the blog of marketing guru Seth Godin. I also bought Essentials of Marketing, Cross-Cultural Marketing and When Cultures Collide. I even drafted my own marketing strategy! At that time, I didn���t think I needed one. A business name? A logo? I was rather sceptical. Those doubts turned out to be misplaced. The sooner you start building your brand, so that it is recognised and valued for quality, the sooner you can start to attract more business. Defining my brand helped me to get a clear idea about my services and enabled me to pitch them to more clients.

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