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What was the best tip you got when starting out?
Thread poster: Kay Fisher
Kay Fisher
German to English
+ ...
Jan 21, 2003

I wasn\'t sure which forum to post this question in, so it ended up here.



I\'ve finally made the jump into freelance translation. In a couple of months time I\'ll be switching to part-time in the day job, and will be spending half of my day (probably more ) freelancing. Up until now I\'ve been doing weekends and evenings, which didn\'t make for great customer contact.



So my question to you all:



With the benefit of hindsight, what was the single most useful tip you received when you were at the very start of your translation career?



This could be about business practice, translation technique, rates, whatever.



If you were lacking in useful tips back then, what is, with hindsight, the single most useful tip you would have liked to receive?



Awaiting some interesting answers,



Kay


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 04:40
SITE FOUNDER
Join an association of pros outside of translation Jan 21, 2003

The tip I got was to join the honyaku ailing list for Japanese translators. The tip I give is to join an association of professionals in your specialization who are not themselves translators. In my case, it was an advertising group. As \"the\" translator of the group, you\'ll get all the translation-related inquiries.

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xxxTService  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:40
English to German
Best hint: Jan 21, 2003

NEVER accept a translation you know nothing about. Just NEVER.



Always have the client send you an excerpt from the text - better the complete source text.

THEN place your bid.



That might save your life...


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Patricia Fierro, M. Sc.  Identity Verified
Ecuador
Local time: 03:40
Member (2004)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Hand in your work on time Jan 21, 2003

Hi,



I think that the one thing that most translation project managers really value is when a translator/proofreader hands in the work or file on time.



This will make them continue to hire you for future jobs. If you do your work well and on time, you will soon have more jobs than those you can handle.



I thought this tip would help you now that you are starting in this business.



This website is filled with tips and information on how to become a professional:



http://www.foreignword.com/Articles/Rogers/default.htm



Good luck!



Patricia


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 10:40
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Best tip for novices Jan 21, 2003

Get thoroughly acquainted with the use of Word and of a CAT tool.



Succes,

Gerard


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gianfranco  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 05:40
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
Create a network of professional contacts Jan 21, 2003

Freelance work is fine but may be lonely.



All the advice given so far is very useful but I suggest to make sure that you are never alone.

Create and maintain a wide circle of colleagues, a professional network, and stay in touch with the outside world, even if you work alone at home.



Use email, telephone, messaging services, mailing lists, proz forum, etc...



It helps to know what\'s happening in the industry, news, to learn, to receive and give support, often to receive jobs, or just simply to break the monotony.



Gianfranco



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Erika Pavelka  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:40
French to English
Never accept a job if you don't have the time Jan 21, 2003

Hi Kay,



Never, ever accept a translation if you know you won\'t have enough time to do a good job. Many translators accept everything out of fear that the client won\'t call back. But you know what? They do. Especially agencies, who can call on other translators. They understand that you can\'t always be available!



I learned this one the hard way: accepted a job from an agency client, threw it together the night before (because I had been away for the 2 previous days) and sent it in the next day.



Client got in touch 2 days later saying that they would deduct the revisor\'s invoice from mine. I earned 1/10th of the amount and lost the client



Erika



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Alison Schwitzgebel
France
Local time: 10:40
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Read.... Jan 21, 2003

Read, read, read, read, read.....



And develop a mind like a well-organized rubbish dump - never forget a thing!



Get a qualification (or even better, hands-on experience) in your specialist area



Learn to smile when you\'re on the phone - it makes your voice sound much cheerier!



Good luck!



Alison


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Momichi
Local time: 02:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
Don't put your eggs in one basket Jan 21, 2003

I myself am in a position very similar to yours; I\'m working part-time at a translation agency and working freelance in the afternoons. These are a couple of things I\'ve learned working as a freelance:

1. Don\'t put your eggs in one basket. Try to open us as much as you can. Even if you are getting a regular load of work, keep sending out resumes. My experience is that everyone ends up calling back on every single c.v. you send out.

2. Besides learning everything there is to know (and I really mean everything) about your word processor and your translation tools, try and learn something about pagemaking applications (the Adobe family is my pick). This has proven to be very useful in my particular case.

3. Keep a copy (original and translation) of all the jobs you do.

4. Remember we are paid for our abilities to write in certain language, not to be specialists; I mean it\'s important to specialize, but it\'s even more important to thoroughly know the language you\'re translating into; glossaries and dictionaries are plentiful, but your style (and with style I mean language correctness, faithfulness, responsability, etc) is what makes you unique.

5. Don\'t let boredom get you. Altough I also think you never should accept a translation you know nothing about on a tight deadline, if you should get the opportunity of making a translation about a new subject, take it. There are always people willing to help.



Best of luck!!!


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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:40
French to English
Boils down to basic common sense and sound business practice. Jan 21, 2003

Along the same lines as TService.



You can only write about what you know about!



(Bear your target reader in mind. If you are writing for lawyers and you have never had to comunicate with them on equal terms, think twice!)



Keep your clients posted.



(If you think you are going to run over time, for example - it can happen).



Ask questions.



(Ask your client about things which are not clear).



Be curious.



(Read around your subject areas. Keep up to date. Nothing you can write will be interesting if you\'re not interested!)



Nikki





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Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:40
French to English
Boils down to basic common sense and sound business practice. Jan 21, 2003

Along the same lines as TService.



You can only write about what you know about!



(Bear your target reader in mind. If you are writing for lawyers and you have never had to comunicate with them on equal terms, think twice!)



Keep your clients posted.



(If you think you are going to run over time, for example - it can happen).



Ask questions.



(Ask your client about things which are not clear).



Be curious.



(Read around your subject areas. Keep up to date. Nothing you can write will be interesting if you\'re not interested!



(Find out about the clietns you work for. You are part of a team. Make them aware of that.)



Nikki





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Kevin Fulton
United States
Local time: 04:40
German to English
Invest in your business Jan 22, 2003

Make sure you have the latest, best dictionaty (dictionaries) in your field of specialization. Subscribe to journals in your specialization. Make sure you have a good anti-virus program. Learn your software. Get a good translation memory program. Don\'t cut corners. Learn how to do Internet searches. Keep your chin up.

Kevin


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Mirella Soffio  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 10:40
Member (2002)
English to Italian
+ ...
Research rates... Jan 22, 2003

...for your working pair(s) - and try to stick to a \"decent\" rate (whatever that means for you) since the very beginning.

Good luck!



Mirella (who will always be grateful to the friend who offered her this piece of advice in those early days )





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Barnaby Capel-Dunn  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:40
French to English
Check what you've written! Jan 22, 2003

Dear Kay,

I echo all the tips you\'ve already been given and would just like to add one or two of my own. You never know, they might come in useful for you or someone else!



When I first started out translating, I found to my astonishment that I was actually missing out whole sentences! I just couldn\'t believe it when the Agency pointed this out to me. With hindsight, I think this was because I was concentrating too much on the actual translation process to the detriment of other, more mundane issues.



- Take a break at least every 2 hours

- Use a big screen - at least 17 inches

- Make sure you have as many electronic dictionaries, glossaries, etc. as possible. To think that I was once dead set against forsaking my good old paper dictionaries!



I\'ll try to think of some others.



All the best



Barnaby


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George Hopkins
Local time: 10:40
Swedish to English
Just a small suggestion Jan 22, 2003

Kay\'s question has resulted in lots of sound advice.

One tool that I find useful is the WordFinder program for finding and pasting in words. It can be built up by adding additional dictionaries, and most important one can compile one\'s own glossary of terms (and marking them with an indication of the particular terms preferred by individual customers).

Good luck.
[addsig]


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