Advices on getting started
Thread poster: AudreyOBM

AudreyOBM
Canada
Local time: 16:30
English to French
+ ...
Jan 24, 2017

Hello,

I recently began working as a freelance translator and copy-editor. I work from English to French and the other way around.

I am feeling a little limited in my ability to network and contracts. I would very much appreciate advices on how to get started.

Feel free to visit my profile for more precise information, or contact me directly.

Many thanks

AudreyOBM


 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:30
French to English
Starting out Jan 25, 2017

Hello Audrey,

It's always difficult to give advice as each individual has something quite different to offer. A love of languages is not enough; you need to be good and to realize that you never stop improving as time goes on. When I look back on some of the stuff I did when I started out, it reads much less fluidly than the work I produce these days.

There are good translators around, but there are also a fair number of not so good ones. We all come across texts that are clearly bad translations of an original. It is clear that some poor translators do in fact manage to get work, and to continue to work for clients who do not realize that they are not paying for quality work.

I reckon that the best thing to do is to draw up a list of what you know about and what you are good at. Working in fields you are familiar with and doing that well will not only mean that you have a stronger chance of doing good work, you will also be confident about what you do and be able to sell your skills effectively. Well, that's the basic idea, anyway! Over time, you will expand into new areas and develop new areas of competence. I had a brief look at your profile on here and you have done a fair bit of study. That probably means that you have good reearch skills. They will certainly come in handy!

Unless I am mistaken, although you may be bilingual, I think that French is probably your stronger language. One of the golden rules of translation is to translate into your mother tongue, or your dominant language. I say that, as unless they are typing mistakes, I noted two mistakes that a native speaker of English would not usually make ("contracts" and "advices"). It's difficult to know from such a short text, but in any event, it is always a good idea to have your work proofread, particularly when starting out and also when working on a large piece, one that is not well written, or whose content is not one you are very familiar with. I've been working as a translator for over 20 years, and proofreading often reveals small errors that make all the difference (punctuation, typos). Spellcheck does not take care of everything!

You may like to start contacting reputable agencies for work. Otherwise contact businesses and organisations working in your areas of specialisation.

Good luck!

[Edited at 2017-01-25 00:36 GMT]


 

Ilan Rubin (X)  Identity Verified
Russian Federation
Local time: 23:30
Russian to English
That is very diplomatic of you :-) Jan 25, 2017

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:


Unless I am mistaken, although you may be bilingual, I think that French is probably your stronger language. One of the golden rules of translation is to translate into your mother tongue, or your dominant language. I say that, as unless they are typing mistakes, I noted two mistakes that a native speaker of English would not usually make ("contracts" and "advices").



I think it's a little 'early' for the topic starter to work as an English translator, sorry.


 

matt robinson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:30
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Single language pair/marketing Jan 25, 2017

My advice would be to offer only English to French. From the short text you have written, you display a high degree of ability in English, but you will not be aware of your own mistakes when producing a document. This is still my case after living and working in Spain and in Spanish for 25 years. I would not dare to attempt an English to Spanish translation for professional purposes.
Other than that, you need to get your name out there. Contact agencies and/or direct clients with your CV and a dedicated cover letter. You could start by working through all the agencies listed on ProZ. Visit local translation agencies in person. Translation, even for agencies, can be a very solitary activity, and face-to-face contact is usually welcome, and will definitely be remembered. Focus on what you know. Be prepared to wait, as initially you may only be used to cover emergencies. If your work is good, then little by little you will build up a set of clients who turn to you automatically. Bear in mind that the process of building up a solid portfolio of clients could take years, rather than months. Good luck!


 

Kevin Fulton  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:30
German to English
Join the regional translators association Jan 25, 2017

It would be helpful to join the Ordre des traducteurs, terminologues et interprètes agréés du Québec (OTTIAQ) . You might be able to get some mentoring through this organization.

 

AudreyOBM
Canada
Local time: 16:30
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks for the replies Feb 1, 2017

I am not sure how to reply individually to each person in this forum.

Thank you for all the tips.

I realize that a love of language is not enough. I am aware that a translator's development is on-going.

English has been the language I have been translating into so far, and clients have been satisfied. I am confident in my ability, and I definitely get my work proofread. I am really not worried about that.

My main concern at this stage of my development is getting the leg work done - networking and the such - in order to get work.

Best,
AudreyOBM


 

Chopkins  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 22:30
Member (2016)
French to English
Good advice Feb 2, 2017

Nikki Scott-Despaigne wrote:

You may like to start contacting reputable agencies for work. Otherwise contact businesses and organisations working in your areas of specialisation.

Unless I am mistaken, although you may be bilingual, I think that French is probably your stronger language. One of the golden rules of translation is to translate into your mother tongue, or your dominant language. I say that, as unless they are typing mistakes, I noted two mistakes that a native speaker of English would not usually make ("contracts" and "advices"). It's difficult to know from such a short text, but in any event, it is always a good idea to have your work proofread, particularly when starting out and also when working on a large piece, one that is not well written, or whose content is not one you are very familiar with. I've been working as a translator for over 20 years, and proofreading often reveals small errors that make all the difference (punctuation, typos). Spellcheck does not take care of everything!
!

[Edited at 2017-01-25 00:36 GMT]


Hello Audrey,

Nikki has brought up a few points which are quite helpful. You should start by contacting large or even mid-sized translations agencies. There are many possibilities on Proz to reach out to agencies so maybe you could start there. They might certainly ask you to carry out a test (unpaid) depending on your years of experience for certain fields.

You mentioned in later posts that you translate mainly from FR-->EN; however, your sample is EN-->FR. If you are a true believer in your abilities, you should try to provide samples which really reflect your strong points (and be sure that they are polished as there are at least a few in your FR translation). Though it is doubtful that every recruiter looks at Proz.com profiles, you never know.

-Courtney


 

DLyons  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 21:30
Spanish to English
+ ...
To be brutally honest Feb 7, 2017

The FR->EN portfolio samples you give are quite weak. You should not be discounting the feedback you have received.

 

Rachel Waddington  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:30
Member (2014)
Dutch to English
+ ...
FR-EN Feb 7, 2017

DLyons wrote:

The FR->EN portfolio samples you give are quite weak. You should not be discounting the feedback you have received.


I agree with this comment. I'd recommend sticking to the EN-FR direction.


 

Arianne Farah  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 16:30
Member (2008)
English to French
Bearer of bad news Feb 7, 2017

Rachel Waddington wrote:

DLyons wrote:

The FR->EN portfolio samples you give are quite weak. You should not be discounting the feedback you have received.


I agree with this comment. I'd recommend sticking to the EN-FR direction.


Your EN->FR sample has basic grammar mistakes ('nous avons discuter'), sentence structure mistakes ('positions de d'autres') and terminology mistakes (in this case 'livelihood' would be 'revenus', as in income, rather that 'moyen de subsistance' which means 'means of subsistence'), all in the first 50 words.

You're in Montreal; Concordia offers a B.A. specialized in Translation (what I did), UdM offers a B.A. in translation as well as 3 1-year certificates you can complete independently and then cobble into a B.A., finally the OTTIAQ offers a mentorship program.

If this is the career you want and you expect to work another 40 years in this field, the investment of a few years to hone your craft, your writing skills and your critical judgment is very sound. If however this is simply a job in which you don't want to invest any further in education terms and you expect to move on to bigger and better things, you will have to lower your expectations regarding the quality and quantity of work you receive.


 

AudreyOBM
Canada
Local time: 16:30
English to French
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
In response to the recent comments Feb 8, 2017

Good morning,

Some of the samples in my portfolio date back a few years. I am thinking it might be better to stick to my most recent work.

I have completed all my post-secondary education in English, at Vanier College and Concordia University. I have always produced my work in English. Even if my French may seem stronger, translating into that language is more challenging for me.

I have done translation in the past, but I have only recently decided to begin working as a freelancer more serioulsy. I am brand new to this industry. This is a learning curve for me.

I enjoy and need the geographical flexibility that being a freelancer offers.

I might consider signing up for a 1 year distance- learning Translation Certificate. However, I don't think I am going to stay in Montreal an extra year for a course. I am about to return to the city, but only until the end of the Summer.

Otherwise, I think I the tips that have been provided thus far cover everything. I don't need anymore.

Thanks again,
Audrey OBM












[Edited at 2017-02-08 15:41 GMT]

[Edited at 2017-02-08 15:41 GMT]


 


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