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.