• Jasmine Heesaker

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

Below are a few things I learned about myself since becoming a freelance translator.

Taking the time to notice these things about myself has given me the power to become a more productive and efficient freelance translator. I am hoping that maybe some of you might see these traits in yourself as well and that my quick fixes can help you find a way to become and even better YOU!

1. I am extremely restless

Inevitably, as a freelance translator, you aren't going to be focusing 8 hours a day, everyday on translating. There will be days when you have time to twiddle your thumbs. These times of less chaos can be used to catch up on marketing, invoicing, professional development... you name it. It was these quiet times were really hard for me at first. I would get extremely restless, worried and anxious that I would never get asked to do another translation EVER. During these down times, I would double down on my marketing efforts and go into overdrive searching for new opportunities. I felt tense, impatient and uneasy. Upon recognizing the turmoil my restlessness was causing me, I knew I needed a fix. Upon reflection, I found out that blogging was something that I really enjoyed and that could be done during these slow times. It was a kind of win-win revelation. Blogging is something that keeps my mind from going haywire and begin doubting myself. My blog posts not only help me gain a little bit more visibility as a translator, but they *hopefully* offer some help to those who read them. If you were like me and just don't know what to do with yourself when left to your own devices, take a breath and then reflect on why you are feeling so restless. Look into blogging or creating content to help other translators... maybe just take the time to relax and take a break. Burnout is a very real thing. Stepping back and teaching myself to just breathe, helped me discover a new hobby and opened up a new dimension of my business.

2. I take things way too personally

When I first started translating, I thought I was prepared for rejection, feedback and criticism. Boy was I wrong! Every time I would receive feedback, was politely rejected or thoughtfully questioned, I would take it to heart. I immediately felt as though I was being personally attacked and felt really bummed out. Even if the feedback or criticism wasn't necessarily negative, my heart would immediately sink. I would instantly think that I did something wrong, or feel as though I was not good enough. Taking things personally is emotionally draining! As translators, it can be hard to hear criticism to your work. Translating is, in and of itself, a kind of reflection of your personality. It was really hard for me to teach myself not to overthink each situation and understand that any criticism or feedback I received was strictly professional and should be taken constructively. It's not like the person who was offering their interpretation of my work, knew me personally. The work I do and who I am as a person ARE separate entities. Keep your head up and just know that you can't control anyone else's feelings or reactions but your own.

3. I am hooked on social media

Nothing taught me more about my "addictive personality" than social media. In this day and age, social media is, dare I say, necessary for every freelance translator. As soon as I started my journey, I immediately set up business profiles on all the major social media outlets. Soon after, I began compulsively checking my Twitter to see if I had gained any new followers. I checked my Facebook page every hour to see how many people my posts reached and I would scour my website analytics to see how I could be getting more hits. Before starting my freelance journey, I barely used social media and I never thought I would be one of those people glued to their screen in hopes of gaining more followers or getting more "likes". That being said, there is nothing wrong with diligently and enthusiastically using social media. It really is a great marketing tool for freelance translators. For me, the trouble hit when I started noticing productivity issues. I was wasting so much time just scrolling through social media and not really achieving anything. That's when I knew I had to do something. I decided to actively schedule "social media time" into my daily routine, remove all social media apps from my phone and told myself that every weekend was a social media free zone. These quick fixes helped me reduce my screen time dramatically. If you struggle with social media distractions like I did, as a starting point, I recommend tracking how long you are spending online and and turning off social media notifications. Social media is great, but it should be used with purpose.

4. I crave human interaction

I'm sure many translators agree with me when I say that, in general, we are categorized as introverts, lone wolves if you will. I never really jived with loud office environments or romanticized the idea of working in a crowded café. I thought I would love working at home everyday, in a quiet space with no interruptions. Don't get me wrong, I do love the quiet that my home office offers, however, it can become deafening. After a couple weeks of unending silence, I thought I might go mad. This led to the realization of just how important human interaction is for me. I found that being home alone for so long drained my creativity and motivation. Who knew I would crave social interaction and the comforting murmur of unrecognizable voices? I think as freelance translators, it is really important to build our own group of colleagues that we can either see face-to-face in real life, on Skype video or call over the phone. If you identify with this feeling, you might want to consider signing up to use a shared workspace in your city, or make a pact with yourself to work outside of the home twice a week. You will not only get out and explore new things, but I think you will see a boost in your productivity and overall well-being.

5. I am a morning person

I never thought of myself as a morning person when I used to have to wake up to go to my 9 to 5. I hated getting out of bed every morning and I just couldn't shake the tiredness until I arrived at the office. If I would have had the option to start my day at 11, I would have taken it. However, since becoming a freelance translator, I am the complete opposite. I have noticed that I get my best work done in the mornings. I much prefer starting my workday at 7 AM. At first, I didn't want to believe that it was true. Whenever I would attempt to start my day at 9, as I used to, I just found myself getting sluggish and becoming unproductive within a few hours. I knew there had to be a better way. I began letting myself just start work when it felt right and I slowly settled into a comfortable 7 AM start time... and I don't even drink coffee! I guess I am just so excited to get to doing what I love. It took me a while to really find the right schedule for me and to discover when I had the most energy to complete my daily tasks. If you feel like you are struggling to get through you work day, you might want to experiment with your working hours. Don't just force yourself to work 9-5 because it seems like the right thing to do. Maybe you like to work 6 hours straight, maybe you need to work in 30 minute increments, or maybe you like working through the evening. Test the waters. As freelancers, we have the freedom to switch things up!

6. I am disorganized

Don't underestimate the amount of organization a freelance translator has to master. Between keeping track of project files, glossaries, term bases, invoices, quotes, business costs, marketing plans and more, I was not able to keep up. I couldn't make heads or tails of everything I needed to do. I would spend way too long looking for where I saved project files, I wasn't effectively keeping track of my business earnings and expenses, I was struggling to manage translation work and other business related tasks... talk about disorganized! I felt like I was drowning under so many responsibilities and I doubted myself for making the switch to freelancing. I always thought it seemed so effortless! If this sounds familiar, I recommend reading Tess Whitty's article on the ATA's blog, "The Savvy Newcomer". Her post really helped me put things into perspective and implement some solid new practices. Since becoming a freelance translator, I have really upped my organization skills. Staying organized is now actually pretty easy and I'm kind of obsessive about it.

What have you learned about yourself during your translation journey?

Let me know in the comments below!

  • Jasmine Heesaker

Updated: Jan 26, 2019

What would you say if I told you that translators with less than 3 years of experience are actually good for business?

Before reading: the term "newbie" translator is used throughout to describe translators that are newly entering the field of translation. This refers to translators that have less than 3 years of experience translating in a professional setting (i.e. translating as their main source of income).

As many organizations and agencies require their translators to have more than 3 years of experience, it can be hard for those new to the field of translation to find their first clients. That's where I come in! Below are 5 reasons why you should make a newbie translator the newest addition to your team.

1. They have more time

Having time on your hands isn't necessarily a bad thing. Most newbie translators have a lot more free time as they work towards building their business. This means that they have more time to commit to translating for YOU! Seasoned translators who already have a steady stream of clients can't commit as much time to translating for your company or organization. I would argue that when hiring a new translator for your team, it is important to consider availability. When assigning a translator to a new project, you want to be confident that when reaching out to them that they are ready, willing and able to help you out. Newbie translators are a great choice, as they can more easily help you meet the needs of your clients by being at the ready.

2. They are raring to go

Newbie translators are especially enthusiastic and ambitious. They possess a high level of personal drive towards future achievements and are eagerly seeking their opportunity to shine. In order to get noticed, newbie translators are often willing to take on weekend work, rush jobs or long-term collaborations. The world of translation is constantly evolving and in order to be successful, you have to be willing to push the envelope. Newbie translators, entering an already saturated market, know better than anyone that playing it safe is not how you get ahead. If you are looking for translators that can think outside the box, that are up on the latest trends and technology and that are in it for the long-haul, I strongly urge you to hire an up-and-coming translator.

3. They can handle criticism

Simply put, newbie translators are not stuck in their ways. They are open to change, are willing and ready to follow instructions and welcome guidance. New translators are often more receptive to feedback and can therefore evolve and progress alongside the growing needs of your company. A new translator will never forget their first client or the first agency that gave them the time of day; they will reward your choice by being a dependable and trustworthy counterpart. By building this reciprocal relationship with a newbie translator, you are building the foundation for a successful and loyal partnership.

4. They have experience

You may be thinking that this point doesn't make any sense. However, stick with me! New to translation doesn't necessarily mean no experience. I would argue that most translators have quite a wealth of work and life experience. Most translators aren't usually fresh out of university or jumping into translation as their first job. They have, more often than not, had another job or many other jobs, before they decided to enter the field of translation. That being said, many newbie translators are NOT new to the workforce. As an employer, it is important to consider how previous work experience, whether in the field of translation or not, can ultimately shape very competent, capable and qualified translators.

5. They are necessary for growth

Whether you like it or not, newbie translators are necessary if you want to breathe new life into your business. Hiring a new translator could mean a long-term commitment for your company or organization, therefore, if you are looking to grow your business by developing new ideas and innovative approaches, bringing a newbie translator on board could be just the push you need. Boland Jones said it best in his article The Importance of New Blood to a Startup: "Bringing in new creative blood to an organization instantly grants you a fresh set of eyes: someone who may be looking at your problems for the very first time. He or she is not choosing an angle based on months or years of prior experience. It’s tough in any industry to keep yourself distanced enough from a product or problem that you’ve spent years tackling to stay objective and see the big picture. A new addition to your company brings that distance."

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Disclaimer: I am by no means discrediting or putting down seasoned translators. I wrote this post to highlight the underdogs in the industry and help reshape the way we think about newcomers to the field of translation.

  • Jasmine Heesaker

Updated: Jan 26, 2019

Starting out as a freelance translator can be scary. Don't let the stress get to you!

Here is a list of my top 10 tips to keep you moving forward in your freelance translation career.

1. Go at your own pace

You don't have to quit your day job in order to get started as a freelance translator. I have heard so many success stories of people who pursued freelance translation careers part-time and slowly built their empire. The great thing about freelancing is that you can go as fast or as slow as you like. It takes time to build up an online presence, a client base and credibility. You can decide to go all in... or you can take it slow. Don't feel pressured to fast track your freelance translation career. Keep in mind the beloved fable "The Tortoise and the Hare" and take things at a pace that works for you. The last thing you want is to make critical mistakes because you were rushing to see results!

2. Do research

Just like any big decision in your life, the decision to become a freelance translator should only be settled on after doing your research. The world of freelance translation is vast. It is definitely a lot bigger than I expected when I first started out. Learning about online terminology databases, online translation communities, CAT tools, translators' associations, translation rates, invoicing, taxes, marketing your services... the list could go on forever. There are so many new things for freelance translators to learn. Make sure you are familiar with at least some of the aspects mentioned above in order to make your career transition a lot easier.

3. Make a plan

If you are serious about pursuing a career in freelance translation, you should plan for success. Pick goals that you want to achieve and then plan out how you will achieve them. Staying organized and having daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly goals is crucial. As an example, you might want to plan out how many agencies or clients you want to market to every week and think about how you want to reach out to them. Maybe plan out how many social media posts or interactions you want to aim for every month in order to build an online presence. No goal or objective is too small or too big. Plan every tiny detail if you have to, but it is important that you have some kind of outline of where you want to see yourself.

4. Choose a specialty

This is one can be tough, however, it is crucial. Most translation agencies want translators who are specialists in their field and if you want to market to direct clients, you will have to choose a speciality in order to market effectively. The best place to start is to think about any skills, interests or hobbies that you have. What did you study in university? What activities or hobbies are you passionate about? What jobs have you had in the past? What are you good at? These are all questions you can ask yourself when trying to decide on a specialty. If you studied science in university, choosing scientific translation as your speciality would probably be a good idea. If you worked in agriculture for 25 years, specializing in agricultural translation would probably be your best bet. Sit down and think about where you excel, what life experiences you have and where you think your talents could shine. There is no rule saying that you have to stick to that field of speciality forever. If you find out later on in your career that you are interested in literary translation or marketing translation, go out and hone the necessary skills to make that switch!

5. Attend free webinars

I can't stress this one enough! When I was first starting out as a freelance translator, the best advice I received was through free webinars. There are so many to choose from right at your fingertips! I suggest visiting websites like https://www.proz.com/translator-training/format/webinar-presentations and https://www.sdl.com/event/webinars.html as a starting point to choose some free webinars that suit your needs. I would also recommend looking into your country or city's World Trade Centre or Chamber of Commerce to find out if they offer any free training or seminars. Investing in professional development is never wasted!

6. Be confident

Don't sell yourself short. Be confident and it will come across to potential clients. It can be hard to sing your own praises, but in freelance translation, it is a must! When marketing yourself, creating a website, or making online posts, it is always a good reminder to boast your best qualities. It may feel as though you are over-selling your abilities or bragging about your accomplishments, but that is simply not the case. You need to stand out to potential clients; make them stop and look at you!

7. Know your worth

In a world where the lower the price and the faster the service seem to be the only way to get by, don't fall victim to the pressure. You will have to face it that some clients will always want things done faster and at a lower price. Don't let demanding clients push you around. Your time and expertise are worth something, otherwise they wouldn't be coming to you! Make sure that you always give yourself enough time to do the best work that you can, and at a price that matches that. At the start of your career (and even later down the road), this may mean turning down work. Don't feel bad about turning down certain jobs because of ridiculously low rates or impossible turn-around times. Your reputation, expertise and self-worth are on the line.

8. Social media is your friend

Social media is a freelance translator's best friend! Simply setting up a business page on various social media websites will set your freelance translation career off to a great start! In my experience, freelance translators should create a presence on three main social media websites. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Firstly, if you don't have the time or money to create a business website, creating a Facebook page is great way to put all of the important information about your business in one place. Secondly, Twitter is a great place to interact with other freelance translators, translation agencies and potential clients. Get out there and make posts, comment, retweet and follow! Lastly, LinkedIn is a great place to showcase your professionalism. Creating a network is crucial for freelance translators. Make sure your profile is attractive, concise and error-free. Just like Twitter, it is a great place to follow agencies and clients and a place where you can make new business connections. When I think about it, creating an online presence can actually be a lot of fun.

9. Work hard

This one might seem self-explanatory, but it needs to be said. Working for yourself isn't as easy as it seems. Building your own business takes time and dedication. Many freelance translators fail because they simply don't put in enough work. There are so many peaks and valleys and feasts and famines in your first year as a freelance translator that you need to have the gumption to stick it out. Keeping your head down and continuing to work hard is what will keep you moving forward.

10. Don't give up

Freelance translation is a really rewarding and exciting career choice. Don't give up if you don't see immediate results. Like most things in life, it takes time. It may sound cliché, but it's true. I know when I first started out, I expected to have clients chasing after me to do translations for them... that was not the case. The key is to keep busy. When you are first starting out as a freelance translator, you will likely NOT be up to your ears in work. Don't get discouraged. If you aren't busy translating, there are so many other areas of your business that you could be growing (see above). Working for yourself isn't always easy, but it IS always worth it!

I hope these tips were helpful and that you now have the confidence to go out and get the career that you want!

The Articulate Owl

Owl Girl Badge

+1 (204) 671 0114

Winnipeg, MB, Canada

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon