There’s a fair amount of victim culture in our little world of translation, between the evil ghost of Machine Tourism hovering in the wings, the rapacious agencies, (oh and don’t get me started on the Big Guys), the constant lament about the crowded market place, and the ever-present refrain about how fees are being driven down.
My goodness, it’s carnage out there. So much so that it’s possible to throw your hands up and say “With things that bad, what can a translator possibly do to survive?” If you’re that way inclined, that is.
But I’m not that way inclined. And my answer to the question is simple. “Everything”.
When I started out I’d never heard of multi-language vendors, I wasn’t familiar with the term machine translation, and I certainly knew nothing about the lurking monsters and the clouds hanging over the industry, if some of the prophets of doom are to believed. I simply began by working on what I had to do, creating my own space, in a tiny village in rural France, and doing it as well as I could, and the rest gradually fell into place. And it’s not over yet…. I’m just getting into my stride.
The fact is that your life as a translator is in your hands, not anyone else’s and certainly not “the industry’s”. Realising this is about making the shift from victim to agent, from someone at the mercy of “market forces” to someone who decides that from now on, they are in control, and they will call the shots. It’s about understanding that your own professional world, with all its ups and downs, is nothing but your own creation.
Always assuming, of course, that you’re actually good at what you do, and that you haven’t missed your real vocation, somewhere along your journey, which was to become a trapeze artist, a concert cellist or a master baker of cupcakes.
So rather than trying to change the whole world, if you work on your own little patch of it and become the best translator you can be, showing yourself in the best possible light, and pushing yourself to grow, you will stand out. And that’s a promise. Not only that, you will thrive and watch your professional life begin to develop in ways you never even imagined…
How am I so sure of this? Because it’s exactly what happened to me in the five years since I first became a translator. And I’ve seen it mirrored in countless other colleagues since.
Now don’t get me wrong. Getting ahead and standing out from the crowd doesn’t mean trampling on other people. There’s room for everyone, all standing out from each other. It simply means finding your unique niche and letting your own individuality shine through.
So forget about who else is out there and what they’re up to: just work on yourself as a professional practitioner and the rest will follow. When your own vision is stronger than the other hectoring, doubting or complaining voices around, and when you do what inspires you, in a way that inspires you (or, as someone once said, ‘You tap-dance to work’), then you will soon see that people can’t wait to get what you have.
Of course along the way there will be challenges, obstacles and experiences that may initially appear as mistakes or even failures, but are in fact the most valuable feedback you can have. It’s part of the game. Who wants an easy life anyway?
My forthcoming webinar here on the Alexandria Project will identify 50 of the many practical and easily applicable ways in which you can stand out just by changing your own professional practice as a translator. But it starts with a shift in mindset, which is the basis for all that follows. We will begin by examining your values and deciding what you want, before going on to explore the best ways to brand and showcase your unique contribution, to attracting (and keeping) clients, the organisation of your working life and finally professional development and continued learning, but all connected to your fundamental understanding of yourself, your unique contribution to the world of translation and your vision.
Believe me, building a successful business takes enterprise and hard work, but it’s not rocket science. The secrets of success are in your hands. And in your mind. And the fact that you’ve read this far already shows you have the enthusiasm, commitment, drive and energy to start exploring ways of doing so, perhaps not for the first time. This commitment is something I share, and I’m looking forward to working with you towards making your mark. Join me on April 2nd and watch those opportunities unfold.
Andrew’s webinar: “50 ways to stand out as a translator” – April 2nd, 2014, 120 minutes (English).
For more information and to register: click here
Andrew Morris has always been captivated by languages and the mysterious secret worlds they open up. This led him initially to a degree in modern languages at Oxford followed by a long career in language teaching and teacher training. But when in 2009 a series of chance(?) life events dictated it was time for a major change, a lightbulb flashed in his head… ‘Why not translation?’
It was a leap of faith… apart from a fascinating correspondence course for translators, his CV as a translator on the first day of his new life was a totally blank sheet. But with lots of hard work, some luck, a dollop of inspiration, a drop or two of perspiration and a hitherto undiscovered entrepreneurial spirit, things slowly began to fall into place. Now, fewer than five years later, he heads Morristraduction, a thriving boutique agency, working both with other agencies and major direct clients with a primary focus on culture and travel, and outsourcing to a regular team of 20 hand-picked colleagues. Business has grown by 475% in that time and the future looks bright…
But we never leave the past entirely behind, and Andrew’s constant search for new experience along with his background as a teacher and trainer have led him to reconnect with his training skills, offering webinars with the Alexandria Project as well as tailored one-to-one Skype coaching to translators at various levels of their careers…