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Thread poster: Christian White

Christian White  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:18
English
+ ...
Sep 6, 2018

Bonjour!

I'm a native English speaker who's fluent in French and has just come back to translation after five years in teaching.

I've applied to a few jobs on here but I noticed that lots of them ask for a certain amount of experience, which can be difficult to get if you've only just begun!

Does anyone have any advice for starting translators on how to establish themselves or does anyone have something that they would have done differently when they starte
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Bonjour!

I'm a native English speaker who's fluent in French and has just come back to translation after five years in teaching.

I've applied to a few jobs on here but I noticed that lots of them ask for a certain amount of experience, which can be difficult to get if you've only just begun!

Does anyone have any advice for starting translators on how to establish themselves or does anyone have something that they would have done differently when they started in translation?

Thanks,
Christian
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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:18
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
You do have some experience, don't you? Sep 6, 2018

Christian White wrote:
I'm a native English speaker who's fluent in French and has just come back to translation after five years in teaching.

That sentence - with my highlighting - points to you having had experience. Unless it amounts to just a very few words then you have the right to claim some experience.

Have you actually stopped teaching altogether, meaning that you have no alternative income? If so, that might be something you'll regret. Keeping a second income stream for a while is invaluable when you set up as a freelancer in anything, as building a solid client base almost always takes time. I personally moved quite slowly from doing (freelance) EFL training to providing 100% translation/editing services. Moving country forced my hand in the end, but by that time I was doing very few training courses.


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Christian White  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:18
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Starting up Sep 6, 2018

Hi Sheila,

Thanks for your reply. I do have other income coming in, as I have a part-time job elsewhere, so money isn't really an issue.

I had a look at your profile and am I right in saying that you only translate French to English? I'm in the same boat, but was worried that having only French might be an issue. Has this been the case for you?

Thanks,
Christian


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 22:18
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Do what you do best? Sep 6, 2018

Christian White wrote:
am I right in saying that you only translate French to English?

Not only do I have just one pair, but I restrict myself to just a few types of text. I was less choosy when I started of course, but even then I didn't take on medical or highly technical texts, or legal apart from standard contracts. I think about it this way: every client is free to choose between all the freelancers they can find, for every job - and nowadays that's at least tens of thousands in common pairs. We need to stand out. We can either compete on price or market ourselves as specialists. After all, there's a vast amount to be translated, so we don't need to run after every job. It's different for someone who works in a rare pair, of course.

By all means offer a second language if you have one. But I wouldn't advise you to market yourself as translating everything in them. Specialising is essential for visibility on ProZ.com and similar sites, although nothing stops you accepting other jobs when they're offered.


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Dan Lucas  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:18
Member (2014)
Japanese to English
Focus Sep 7, 2018

Christian White wrote:
but was worried that having only French might be an issue.

Do one thing well. It's not the only path to success, but it's worked for me.

Regards,
Dan


Nikki Scott-Despaigne
Christian White
 

Pentower
Vietnam
Local time: 04:18
Japanese to Vietnamese
+ ...
Do some free services Sep 7, 2018

It's hard when you start a job without experience while many clients require that. To build your CV, you need to provide real and specific translation projects you've done so far (information such as clients' name, documents' name, volume, language pairs...). However, some clients may offer you jobs if you prove your proficiency through tests, if you provide services with minimum rates or even free. Just try other ways and keep going. Good luck!

 

Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:18
French to English
@Christian Sep 7, 2018

I have a couple of suggestions for your profile and your CV.

Profile.
I'd avoid saying things like "in the past" and "several years ago" which makes it sounds like eons ago. Even if that's the case, if you put too much distance between then and now, it makes it seem as though this skill has been lost, in which case, one wonders why you are mentioning it at all. If you reckon the skill is there, it is there. A straightforward simple past or present perfect formulation will do t
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I have a couple of suggestions for your profile and your CV.

Profile.
I'd avoid saying things like "in the past" and "several years ago" which makes it sounds like eons ago. Even if that's the case, if you put too much distance between then and now, it makes it seem as though this skill has been lost, in which case, one wonders why you are mentioning it at all. If you reckon the skill is there, it is there. A straightforward simple past or present perfect formulation will do the trick. You also "but" you are willing to translate different genres. I'd suggest you reformulate that to say that your experience includes X, Y and Z. Leave it open by not saying what you don't do. Specify what you do do, what you have done and leave it at that.

Subtitling is a specific skill. You could develop that further and perhaps point to software you have used. If you are not familiar with recent software, do a little research and find out which ones are common and perhaps try out a couple of trial versions.

"Proficient in all areas". That's impossible and potential clients are likely to find it suspicious.

CV.
Your CV spans 4 pages. Maybe there's a formatting problem with the download via ProZ, but your CV should be contained on 1 or 2 pages. Halfway down the first page, all I know is your contact information and that you've experience of subtitling. Potential clients often take a quick glance at the first page. Is there is nothing relevant to their needs, it is unlikely they will look further. Your skillset for the target audience should be obvious at a glance. (Your contact info needs to be there, but it can be tucked away. If your skills match, the would-be client will look for your contact info).

In terms of content, I reckon that a couple of things are irrelevant to your ProZ profile: your GCSEs, your prep school, for example.
Languages: you say you are just good at Spanish, Italian and German. If you are offering them as languages you are able to translate from, that should be clear. "Good" might not be good enough as you need to have near-native level understanding. If you have, then say so. Perhaps ask yourself if your level is good enough for them to be sellable skills for the purposes of translation?
Teaching experience: as teaching and translation are different skills, I think you can show succinctly what teaching experience you have, without providing details of the age groups and so on, irrelevant for translation, generally, although a potential speciality could be lurking there. As you are familiar with pedagogy, methodology and so on, that's a marketable speciality, in which case, age groups may be wholly relevant.
IT skills: could be expressed in three words rather than 2 lines: "MS Pack Office".

Overall, I'd suggest that you reduce your contact info to a strict minimum and in a typeface smaller than the rest of your CV. The current CV is in typeface 16, a size often used in Powerpoint presentations, so way to big for a CV. Raise your degree and teaching experience to pride of place on the front page. Your web searches on CV formats will show zillions of ways of doing things, but you will no doubt find that it is not unusual to have the relevant skillset at the top of the first page: French>English, experienced subtitler, pedagogy & education, for example. Do you see what I mean? Finally, you might like to exploit your interest in television critique and offer it as a speciality area. Television and film critique translation is maybe another potential specialist area to put forward.

Absolute last... contribute to KudoZ terminology forums. It's a great way to see how others work and to gain contacts in areas you are interested in. You can showcase your talent and get noticed for doing sound research and coming up with quality suggestions for translation of terms and phrases in context.
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Nicole König  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:18
German to English
+ ...
Define your 1 square inch of the market and conquer that Sep 10, 2018

Hi Christian!

First of all: Smart move to have a second source of income. Hats off to you!
That way, the pressure of must.make.money. is bearable.

Which gives you the chance to start out not in the trenches, but from a strategic position: You can escape the general push-down as regards prizes, deadlines, and general conditions by niching down and becoming the go-to person, the insider your clients are looking for, one of the top experts in your field of passion, e
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Hi Christian!

First of all: Smart move to have a second source of income. Hats off to you!
That way, the pressure of must.make.money. is bearable.

Which gives you the chance to start out not in the trenches, but from a strategic position: You can escape the general push-down as regards prizes, deadlines, and general conditions by niching down and becoming the go-to person, the insider your clients are looking for, one of the top experts in your field of passion, expertise, and brilliance.

For you, that could be writing copy and translation work for schools and places of education (of the top of my head here), or something entirely different that comes naturally to you.
HINT: Choose an area of specialization that interests you, where CPD comes easy and is interesting, where you like the people and the etiquette and the tone of voice.
That way, communication your knowledge and the value you bring to your core clientele will feel genuine. If you manage to reach your audience, the people that need exactly you and your spectrum of expertise, in a smart and authentic way, that's step one to building your kingdom.

It's a lot of noise out there, especially on platforms like ProZ with so many colleagues competing for scraps.
Define what kind of projects would make you happy, what kind of people you'd love to work with. Then cater to them and only them. It's the smart move to drown out the noises and stand out from the crowd.

Blogging for your chosen clients could be a way to display niche knowledge and writing skills.
Or you could sign up with Translators Without Borders and gain expertise there - expertise that even shows up on your ProZ profile.
Speaking of which: Make sure your profile is inviting, clear, concise, and to the point. Clients don't want to wade through tons of info on you, especially if the HTML is hardly formatted and looks like any other profile.

Instead, shine a light on the value you can bring to THEIR table, and prominently display what you can do for them. Your profile is your online storefront window. Make it inviting!

Same goes for your website, email setup, the channels you choose to show up on. Make it a point to be professional, provide value, sprinkle kindness.
Let me know if you'd like to brainstorm some more!
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