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Feedback on profile + questions from a beginner
Thread poster: Idun Tjemsland
Idun Tjemsland  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 14:10
English to Norwegian
Jul 19, 2013

Good evening (or good morning, depending on your time zone)


I just finished my degree in translation this spring and I would very much like to start working as a translator, hence why I'm here. I've tried filling out my profile, but I'm not quite satisfied with it, and I was wondering if someone could take a look at it and give me some constructive criticism? Suggestions on how to start out are also very welcome. I'm by the way aware that it usually takes a while to earn enough to live on and have prepared for that.

I also have a few questions.

I'm not entirely sure what to specialize in. What I have listed so far are fields I have some experience with and am interested in, but I'd like to add something more. Any suggestions on how to decide what to specialize in? Just pick something and start familiarizing myself with it, or start translating and let it develop over time?

From what I have read so far, it seems to be normal that agencies have their own proofreaders and don't expect translators to pay a separate proofreader. Is this correct? I would assume direct clients expect a finished product and it is therefore necessary to have someone proofread your translation before delivery, assuming this is correct, how do you find a good proofreader?

I'm planning to add some sample translations on my profile, and I was wondering how to find source texts. Could any small part of text be used, or would there be a problem if the text was protected by copyright? How can I find out if a text is protected by copyright? Where can I texts which aren't protected by copyright?

I've seen a lot about discounts for fuzzy matches and repetitions when using CAT tools and I was wondering how common it is to actually accept this? And if so, what percentages are "acceptable"? I would rather not give any such discounts, as a CAT tool is an investment to speed up work for me to earn me more money, not to get paid less, but if it is something most people do, it will be hard to avoid. Particularly now when I have relatively little experience and can't be too picky.

How important is it to have a picture of myself on my profile? Since I'm relatively young I'm worried I might be judged as useless just because of my age if I do post a picture.

[Edited at 2013-07-19 16:51 GMT]

[Edited at 2013-07-20 09:21 GMT]


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Lennart Luhtaru  Identity Verified
United States
Member
English to Estonian
+ ...
My 2 cents Jul 19, 2013

1) Add a profile picture or a logo, it looks nicer in the directory, draws attention and I'd think that only translators with a picture/logo are shown in the "Featured translator" area on the main page.
2) Complete the certified PRO certificate process, it distinguishes you from other translators without it.
3) Make sure your profile is 100% complete, it gives you a better position in the directory and probably more traffic.
4) Earn Kudoz points as this also gives you a better position in the directory.
5) Get credentials verified as outsourcers can filter translators with credentials.
6) If you work mostly with agencies, then they usually have their own QC processes, proofreaders, validators, DTP persons etc. But do find colleagues you can depend on many agencies ask you to either recommend someone or want to order a full package for your language pair from you and of course end clients always want a full package (whatever it may include) and you want to make some friends (editors, proofreaders, DTP persons) in the industry for that. You can just browse Proz and attend different conferences to meet colleagues. When I started freelancing full-time I looked for colleagues in my language pair and areas of expertise and messaged them through Proz. I can say that I found quite a few good peers this way. Also ATA, Proz etc. conferences are good places where to make connections.
7) If you have some clients you've worked for in the past, ask them for WWA feedback.
8) There is no "universal acceptable" CAT discount grid. There are a lot of us that offer no discounts. I do offer a discount for 95-99% matches and repetitions, but you should know how good fuzzy matches really are for your language pair. From experience I know that for ET all lower than 95% fuzzies are most of the time worthless. Just make sure that whatever you offer, your hourly rate (fuzzy words you can translate per hour x fuzzy word rate) stays OK. Also, if you agree on a CAT grid that applies to all projects you get from the agency, then be even more modest with discounts as TM quality can vary a lot project to project. And remember that the best agencies out there don't ask you for CAT discounts.
9) Specialize in areas that interest you and try to be the best there. Then you can charge whatever you want:) But generally speaking life sciences, engineering, law and all other "boring" areas of expertise are the ones that pay the best per word rate.

Take care and best of luck!


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:10
English to Polish
+ ...
... Jul 19, 2013

Idun Tjemsland wrote:

I'm not entirely sure what to specialize in. What I have listed so far are fields I have some experience with and is interested in, but I'd like to add something more. Any suggestions on how to decide what to specialize in? Just pick something and start familiarizing myself with it, or start translating and let it develop over time?


The latter. Also, you should translate from Norwegian to English too.

From what I have read so far, it seems to be normal that agencies have their own proofreaders and don't expect translators to pay a separate proofreader. Is this correct?


Yes and no. They don't expect you to pay for your own proofreader (and why should you anyway, they are the middleman and job dispenser here), but they don't always have or use their own proofreaders. Some agencies limit themselves to forwarding correspondence and files (apart from marketing).


I would assume direct clients expect a finished product


Yes. If not necessarily flawless, then as close to it as possible. Getting it to that point does take time.

and it is therefore necessary to have someone proofread your translation before delivery, assuming this is correct, how do you find a good proofreader?


You begin with spending 75% of your rates on his rates.

I'm planning to add some sample translations on my profile, and I was wondering how to find source texts. Could any small part of text be used, or would there be a problem if the text was protected by copyright? How can I find out if a text is protected by copyright? Where can I texts which aren't protected by copyright?


You need to do some research on copyrights in your jurisdiction while making sure you don't violate US copyright laws. Wikipedia is a good place to go, along with its filial projects. You can also use source texts you wrote or just get the permission, which isn't hard if a friend of yours is a published author that has retained his rights, or if you have a happy client.

I've seen a lot about discounts for fuzzy matches and repetitions when using CAT tools and I was wondering how common it is to actually accept this? And if so, what percentages are "acceptable"? I would rather not give any such discounts, as a CAT tool is an investment to speed up work for me to earn me more money, not to get paid less, but if it is something most people do, it will be hard to avoid. Particularly now when I have relatively little experience and can't be too picky.


CAT grids are tools for paying the translator less. That's what they are for, don't expect them to do anything else. Still, some are vaguely acceptable, especially if you get some money (e.g. 20%) for looking at 100% matches and matches below 75% aren't subject to any deductions.

How important is it to have a picture of myself on my profile? Since I'm relatively young I'm worried I might be judged as useless just because of my age if I do post a picture.


You can probably find or take one that makes you look serious enough. Really a lot depends on the light and other camera setup, as well as your hair style, facial hair, glasses, choice of clothing and other details. Alternatively, just pick a picture that connects with your personality or your subject fields or your idea of what translation is about.

***

I agree with Lennart that you'd do well to get your credentials verified (a B.A. in languages or translation will do fine), get WWAs and get some Kudoz. You can write an article or two to gain promotion similar to Featured Translator and show yourself as a knowledgeable professional.

I wouldn't worry about your age. You're young and you have the right to be. With fresh ink on your B.A. degree, you can't really be an established professional with 15 years of experience. Everybody's gotta start somewhere, and these are going to be your starting years.

[Edited at 2013-07-19 20:10 GMT]


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xxxGrayson Morr  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:10
Dutch to English
CAT tools are useful for the translator even without agencies Jul 19, 2013

They can help you manage terminology and be both more efficient and effective in translating for your direct clients. This blog post details some of the benefits a CAT tool can have for you: http://pbtranslations.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/the-usefulness-of-cat-tools/

I always hated them myself, but I finally found one that works well with my workflow. If you decide you really dislike using them, you don't have to (whatever agencies say). But if you find one you like, it can be useful to you even if you work exclusively with direct clients.

ETA: You don't have to accept agency discounts on matches. I would insist on, say, 30% of my rate for 100% matches in my own TM, and 100% of my rate for anything else—including 100% matches to other translators' work. You'll still have to check what they've done, since you can't know if it meets your standards. (And, sadly, a lot of it won't.) Anything less than a 100% match will have to be checked, too, and there will be zero time savings for you.

In fact, you don't have to work for agencies at all. Price yourself appropriately (that is, not too low), and focus on direct clients if you prefer.

If you haven't already discovered Corinne McKay's excellent blog, here's a link: www.thoughtsontranslation.com. The comments on her posts are also well worth reading.

[Edited at 2013-07-19 20:18 GMT]


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IrimiConsulting  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 14:10
Member (2006)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Not the other way round! Jul 19, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Also, you should translate from Norwegian to English too.


Not unless you are truly native in English. Most of us aren't.


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Michele Fauble  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:10
Member (2006)
Norwegian to English
+ ...
Language specialization Jul 19, 2013

IrimiConsulting wrote:

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Also, you should translate from Norwegian to English too.


Not unless you are truly native in English. Most of us aren't.


And translating in one direction only is also a form of specialization.


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:10
English to Polish
+ ...
That's where we disagree Jul 19, 2013

IrimiConsulting wrote:

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Also, you should translate from Norwegian to English too.


Not unless you are truly native in English.


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Sarai Pahla (MD) MBChB
Germany
Local time: 14:10
Member (2012)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Some thoughts Jul 20, 2013

Michele Fauble wrote:

And translating in one direction only is also a form of specialization.



So true - and adding language pairs is not something to be taken lightly.

Idun Tjemsland wrote:
I've tried filling out my profile, but I'm not quite satisfied with it


I think it's more important to a) have a profile and b) update it regularly. As you gain experience and learn more about the field, you will naturally come back and update your profile and if you hunt around the site (and view others' profiles) you will find lots of good ideas on how to jazz up your profile.

Idun Tjemsland wrote:
From what I have read so far, it seems to be normal that agencies have their own proofreaders and don't expect translators to pay a separate proofreader. Is this correct?


Not necessarily, as has previously been mentioned. It's important to discuss this with agencies up-front so that you know what the expectations are and can plan and raise your rates if required.

Idun Tjemsland wrote:
how do you find a good proofreader?


Well, you can decide based on your translation whether what you need is a bilingual checker or an editor. If you are having trouble with the overall flow of the document, but are confident that the terminology is correct, you might just want a monolingual editor. You should probably go about the process by behaving like an agency or company who is going to hire someone - check out CVs, look around, ask around and then "interview" the candidates that you think are the best. Those with sample profiles will have a lot to offer.

On the other hand, you will likely develop a closer relationship with your direct clients, and putting the client first in my opinion means collaborating on their document with them, not simply translating. You may want to explain your choice of words to them and get their feedback, which is completely acceptable as long as it allows them to send the right message.

Idun Tjemsland wrote:
I've seen a lot about discounts for fuzzy matches and repetitions when using CAT tools and I was wondering how common it is to actually accept this... Particularly now when I have relatively little experience and can't be too picky.


It depends on how you use your CAT tool. I pretty much use mine for everything possible, so most agencies don't even know I am using one, in which case there is no reason for me to change my rates.

However, in many cases, if the client does ask for discounts, I make sure they are providing translation memories or access to a server, glossaries where applicable and have translations that are already of reasonable quality which will not require extensive rework. A previous responder said 30% of the normal rate for 100% matches - that's a good guideline to use in my opinion.

Idun Tjemsland wrote:
I'm relatively young I'm worried I might be judged as useless just because of my age if I do post a picture.


In a relatively ageist society, being young should be seen as an advantage I guess translation isn't really like that! I think the photo is important - it adds a small personal touch, but you could just as easily use an image that you feel represents you. I mean, there are certainly a lot of people here who use photos of other things as their profile photo.


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Sarai Pahla (MD) MBChB
Germany
Local time: 14:10
Member (2012)
Japanese to English
+ ...
Nods enthusiastically Jul 20, 2013

Grayson Morris wrote:

ETA: You don't have to accept agency discounts on matches. I would insist on, say, 30% of my rate for 100% matches in my own TM, and 100% of my rate for anything else—including 100% matches to other translators' work. You'll still have to check what they've done, since you can't know if it meets your standards. (And, sadly, a lot of it won't.) Anything less than a 100% match will have to be checked, too, and there will be zero time savings for you.


All true IMHO

Grayson Morris wrote:
If you haven't already discovered Corinne McKay's excellent blog, here's a link: www.thoughtsontranslation.com. The comments on her posts are also well worth reading.


Good point - there are lots of translators out there who have gone through exactly what you have gone through! Translation blogs FTW (i.e. for the win - the asker said he was young, after all)!


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xxxGrayson Morr  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:10
Dutch to English
Mother tongue principle isn't that black-and-white Jul 20, 2013

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

IrimiConsulting wrote:

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote:

Also, you should translate from Norwegian to English too.


Not unless you are truly native in English.


That's where we disagree.


It isn't as black-and-white as people tend to think. In general, yes, people should only translate into their native tongues. Most of us, even after decades of immersion, still don't have the breadth of vocabulary, nuance, expression in our second languages that we do in our first. We might be very good, but we aren't as good as a talented native speaker translator.

But some very few people do get that good in their second language. They are uniformly people who are exceptionally talented at language—not just good at it, but exceptional. Considering the quality of Łukasz's English in his profile, he might well be one of them. Idun will have to gauge for him/herself whether that description applies.

There's also this to consider: I will take a gifted, talented translator whose native language is the source language over a mediocre translator whose native language is the target any day of the week.


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Balasubramaniam L.  Identity Verified
India
Local time: 17:40
Member (2006)
English to Hindi
+ ...
Some thoughts Jul 20, 2013

The self-deprecatory comment in your profile about you not having any experience can perhaps be omitted. In profiles you generally highlight only the positive sides. Your profile seems to have incomplete information. If you remove the last two paras above Education, then there is hardly anything left in the profile.

May be you could talk a bit about your interests and any specialist knowledge you might have acquired so far in your life. One thing you can highlight is your bilingual status in English and Norwegian. You seem to be one of those rare bilinguals who have exposure to two languages early in their childhood. You should throw more light on this aspect of your skills. And, as Lucaz has suggested, you should add Norwegian to English as a language pair in which you work.

The market in this language direction is much more vast than in the English to Norwegian direction. Later on you can even take up editing and proofing in English to supplement your income. You will have to work a bit more on your English, though, as I noticed one or two slip-ups in your post here:


I'm not entirely sure what to specialize in. What I have listed so far are fields I have some experience with and is interested in...


That should be am interested in...

Maybe initially you can work with a proficient English proof-reader. Later you yourself will develop an eye for such errors and will be able to turn out error-free texts in English.

Regarding specialization, initially you would have to take up whatever comes your way. Soon you will recognize what type of fields really interest you and you can choose these for your specialization and get additional qualifications in these fields.

You will also have to be careful not to chose any esoteric field of your interest as your specialization, for you will also need to keep a tab on how much work is available in your specialist area. These are some of the common specialization areas: IT and website/software localization, business and finance, medical, legal, and marketing. These areas generate plenty of work.



[Edited at 2013-07-20 07:11 GMT]


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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:10
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Photo or not? Jul 20, 2013

I have also sometimes wondered whether people might think I am useless because of my age when they see my photo. But I decided to keep it in.

I am 82.


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Idun Tjemsland  Identity Verified
Norway
Local time: 14:10
English to Norwegian
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks! Jul 20, 2013

Thanks for all the replies!

Having a picture seems to be a good idea then.
As for verifying credentials, I will definitely do that, I just don't have my diploma with me at the moment, so I haven't been able to scan it and send the support ticket yet.

Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz wrote: The latter. Also, you should translate from Norwegian to English too.

It’s interesting you say this, I got the impression most people only translate into their second language, and that it was kind of frowned upon to go the other direction unless you've grown up speaking two (or more) languages. I could translate into English as well, depending on the text, but I'd probably sometimes miss nuances natives wouldn't miss or make stupid mistakes that I don't see when I proofread, so I'm not sure if I should. I do have credentials for that pair as well though, so perhaps I really should add it.

Grayson Morris wrote:If you haven't already discovered Corinne McKay's excellent blog, here's a link: www.thoughtsontranslation.com. The comments on her posts are also well worth reading.

[Edited at 2013-07-19 20:18 GMT]

I discovered her blog two years ago, and have been reading it ever since, excellent blog indeed! I recently bought her book as well and am reading it at the moment.
As for CAT tools, I had some practice with them during my studies, and I found I quite like using them.

Balasubramaniam L. wrote: The self-deprecatory comment in your profile about you not having any experience can perhaps be omitted. In profiles you generally highlight only the positive sides.

May be you could talk a bit about your interests and any specialist knowledge you might have acquired so far in your life. One thing you can highlight is your bilingual status in English and Norwegian. You seem to be one of those rare bilinguals who have exposure to two languages early in their childhood. You should throw more light on this aspect of your skills. And, as Lucaz has suggested, you should add Norwegian to English as a language pair in which you work.


You have a point there. The problem is, I find it very hard to only highlight the positive sides, as to me it feels like pretending I'm better than I am. It might have something to do with the culture here in Norway, where we tend to not boast about our own accomplishments or make things sound better than they really are by not mention negative sides in this kind of situation. I'll try change it though, thanks for the suggestions on what I can highlight.

Thanks for pointing out my mistake, I should have seen it before posting.

Also (not that it matters a whole lot), since it seems unclear, I’m a woman. Nobody heard about the old Norse goddess Idunn, who was the keeper of the apples of eternal youth, to be able to determine which pronoun to use?

Thank you all again for all the replies, I really appreciate it.


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xxxGrayson Morr  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 14:10
Dutch to English
You never know about names! Jul 20, 2013

Idun Tjemsland wrote:

Also (not that it matters a whole lot), since it seems unclear, I’m a woman. Nobody heard about the old Norse goddess Idunn, who was the keeper of the apples of eternal youth, to be able to determine which pronoun to use?



Good to know! In the absence of a photo or other information, I am uniformly assumed to be a man, so I try not to ever assume gender based on an unfamiliar name.

(True story: When I was 21, I traveled outside the US for the first time, and being the procrastinator that I was, I waited until the proverbial last minute to apply for my passport. Back then, you had to go to the post office with your forms and photos, and they got mailed to the nearest passport processing office—in my case, three states away. I had short hair at the time, and when my passport came back, I was registered as male. No time to fix it...I bought a secondhand suit jacket, bound the boobs, and did my best to pass for a guy going through immigration in and out.)

[Edited at 2013-07-20 11:37 GMT]


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Łukasz Gos-Furmankiewicz  Identity Verified
Poland
Local time: 14:10
English to Polish
+ ...
Moar Jul 20, 2013

Grayson Morris wrote:

It isn't as black-and-white as people tend to think. In general, yes, people should only translate into their native tongues. Most of us, even after decades of immersion, still don't have the breadth of vocabulary, nuance, expression in our second languages that we do in our first. We might be very good, but we aren't as good as a talented native speaker translator.


When it comes to traditional translation, where the focus is on conveying the author's message, I think it's better to come out on the bland side than miss some nuance of the source. It's only those translations where you might as well write the text anew based on the data in the source where the situation differs much. I wouldn't even necessarily include literary translation in the other group, as I'm pretty sure (though I can't prove it with data) that the literary grammar and syntax of languages have been enriched by such foreign influences, while otherwise they might not have come to the place where they are now. Besides, as I see it, equivalent structures often exist, they're just buried under the cushion of oblivion and abeyance, their 'frequency' is lower and so on, but they're perfectly legitimate. This was all okay when the aim of translation was learning, but is less so when the aim is to please.

The above actually ties into a different problem: standardisation. The modern L1 focus is connected with some kind of standardisation that results in the blandest ever textbook sentences that have little to do with real life and real life communication and documents and other texts. The most frequently used grammatical or syntactical structure or the most frequently used idiom or collocation wins, even when it's far from being equivalent to the source. Which is sad.

But some very few people do get that good in their second language. They are uniformly people who are exceptionally talented at language—not just good at it, but exceptional. Considering the quality of Łukasz's English in his profile, he might well be one of them. Idun will have to gauge for him/herself whether that description applies.


Thank you!

There's also this to consider: I will take a gifted, talented translator whose native language is the source language over a mediocre translator whose native language is the target any day of the week.


Yes, for all the foreign-interference-o-phobia, native speakers are also capable of giving in to one and much more so of making a genuine mistake. Be it Polish or English, some of the most 'non-native' structures I've seen have come from native speakers. That's life, unlike some of the questionable tenets of the modern translation world, such as pleasing the customer above all and favouring L1 speakers, both of which probably come down to the same thing (selling consumer satisfaction). I think it tends to be forgotten that both the occasional exotic manner of a foreign-born translator and the familiar errors of a native one require proofreading and fixing, that both a poor writer and a foreign one may require editing, and so on and so forth. From a pragmatic point of view, it's the frequency of bad surprises and the editing time necessary that counts.

Balasubramaniam L. wrote:

The self-deprecatory comment in your profile about you not having any experience can perhaps be omitted. In profiles you generally highlight only the positive sides.


You can look at it this way: 1 year of experience is still a positive. It's just a smaller positive than 10 years of experience (and 10 than 20, 20 than 40 and so on). It's not up to you to make your clients acutely, painfully aware of the difference. Your job is translator, not PM. When your potential clients decide that they want more experience than you have, they'll just move on. Rather, you should emphasise the fact that you already have some experience. (And even when you don't have any experience yet, you can still say you're an enthusiastic beginner with energy and zeal.) Bring out the positives, leave the negatives to the screeners (as long as you don't mislead them).

Idun Tjemsland wrote:

Thanks for all the replies!

Having a picture seems to be a good idea then.


Especially if you're a young Norse lady.

As for verifying credentials, I will definitely do that, I just don't have my diploma with me at the moment, so I haven't been able to scan it and send the support ticket yet.


Great!

It’s interesting you say this, I got the impression most people only translate into their second language, and that it was kind of frowned upon to go the other direction unless you've grown up speaking two (or more) languages.


Actually, taking passes at bilinguals is a favourite pastime among some translators (or rather translation activists). Basically, there's always pressure to trim your pairs and specialities down to the average. Just see what you're good at and start from there.

I could translate into English as well, depending on the text, but I'd probably sometimes miss nuances natives wouldn't miss or make stupid mistakes that I don't see when I proofread, so I'm not sure if I should. I do have credentials for that pair as well though, so perhaps I really should add it.


As long as interferences from your mother tongue are light and not misleading, and especially as long as they're fewer and farther between than errors typically made by native speakers (which can produce more oddity than your hypothetically slightly Norwegian syntax, for example), your requirement for proofreading and editing attention should be less, and thus you should be more attractive to a reasonable potential client.

You have a point there. The problem is, I find it very hard to only highlight the positive sides, as to me it feels like pretending I'm better than I am. It might have something to do with the culture here in Norway, where we tend to not boast about our own accomplishments or make things sound better than they really are by not mention negative sides in this kind of situation. I'll try change it though, thanks for the suggestions on what I can highlight.


Just use a neutral, matter-of-fact tone and avoid embellishments. If you prefer so, you can avoid adressing your clients directly with an attempt at persuading them – which is also my own sentiment, since I have a bit of a proud warrior personality (I probably go back to a Varangian or two if you trace so many centuries back), and the 'taint of trade' has been particularly hard for me to embrace. When in doubt, you could take a look at doctors and lawyers and see how they do business. Apart from patent ambulance chasers and marketing-challenged individuals they should have enough sense and smarts to come up with something self-respecting that you could learn from. Especially doctors should be putting more emphasis on actually helping their patients rather than pleasing them.

Additionally, I suppose you could have a little cultural exercise and ask an English-native friend who's a good writer to rewrite your copy from scratch in English (based on the data you provided) to see where that takes you. Then, I suppose, you could meet in the middle if you don't feel comfortable with the English version. By the way, I'm pretty sure plenty of native writers would be uncomfortable with excessive pitch in such a document. Just pick someone who's humble but has a lot of class and you're set.

Also (not that it matters a whole lot), since it seems unclear, I’m a woman. Nobody heard about the old Norse goddess Idunn, who was the keeper of the apples of eternal youth,


A story behind your name is good to have. Especially that one, which aligns with your young age so nicely. If you're comfortable with being on a first-name basis with your prospective clients, you might as well tell it somewhere visible.

[Edited at 2013-07-20 13:50 GMT]


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