Extra-linguistic skills in freelance translation
Thread poster: Helen Jane Hadley

Helen Jane Hadley
Spain
Local time: 13:18
Spanish to English
+ ...
Mar 23, 2017

I am currently investigating the importance of extra-linguistic skills (marketing, business skills, professional communication, etc.) for new freelance translators.
As someone who is relatively new to the industry, I personally feel that aforementioned skills are essential for success in the freelance world.I would be really interested to hear your thoughts on this.
Should these skills be incorporated into translator training programs? Is it possible to succeed as a freelance translator without skills? Which of these skills would you consider essential for success?

I look forward to reading your responses!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:18
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Can't be emphasised too much Mar 24, 2017

Helen Jane Hadley wrote:
I am currently investigating the importance of extra-linguistic skills (marketing, business skills, professional communication, etc.) for new freelance translators.
As someone who is relatively new to the industry, I personally feel that aforementioned skills are essential for success in the freelance world.

Well done you! Lovely to hear a newcomer saying that! Of course a freelancer has to have all those skills, but I'm afraid many haven't.

Should these skills be incorporated into translator training programs?

I think they're being offered more and more, and they certainly should be. They're probably optional, but anyone who intends to act as a freelancer would be stupid to miss them.

Is it possible to succeed as a freelance translator without skills?

If you're lucky, and you just want to put bread on the table for yourself then, possibly, yes. If you're lucky, you'll find a couple of big agencies who'll keep you busy and won't scam you too much. You'll be paid a lowish - or very low - rate, and you'll probably have to wait 60 days for it and spend (unpaid) time jumping through hoops etc., but you'll get a goodly sum at the end of each month. But if you consider translation to be your career, and you want your freelance business to be really successful, then I don't think there's any hope. You don't necessarily have to attend courses, particularly if you come into the profession later in life, but you do have to acquire the skills.

Which of these skills would you consider essential for success?

I think they're all equally important. We need our potential clients to be able to find us among the thousands of translators that are out there, and if they don't then we need to approach them. We're in daily contact with potential and actual clients, negotiating with them, dealing with the inevitable problems. We need to manage our time, perform due diligence and risk management, quote accurately, run a business that's fully legal, do the book-keeping... It's just crazy to ignore the need for all those skills.


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Can too Mar 24, 2017

Sheila Wilson wrote:

Lots of sensible things


On the other hand, it does all boil down to common sense. I'm not convinced any formal training is necessary or worthwhile.


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 12:18
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
I think it depends a lot on the individual Mar 24, 2017

Chris S wrote:
it does all boil down to common sense. I'm not convinced any formal training is necessary or worthwhile.

I think common sense is the thing we're missing most in the world at the moment. Unfortunately, you can't teach common sense itself. I agree that it's rarely necessary for people with a bit of nous to sit in a classroom to learn these skills. But there are so many freelancers who are young and inexperienced in working life and/or rather naïve. And they're allowing themselves to be abused by unprincipled clients, who like to think of themselves as employers. The least that happens to these unfortunates is that they don't make much money and look elsewhere.


 


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