Business School for Translators course case study


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A case study of Julia Graham, a student at the Business School for Translators in January 2013.

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  • I've attended Marta's Business School for Translators and it's the best investment I've done as a freelance translator. Totally recommended!

    Among the results of the course, I'd like to share my websites:

    Gifted Translations

    Translators Need Websites

    Thank you Marta!
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
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Business School for Translators course case study

  1. 1. 1 Marta Stelmaszak 5 1/2 LESSONS ON WORKING AS A FREELANCE TRANSLATOR STUDENT CASE STUDY I don’t know of any testimonials more comprehensive than students’ case studies. That’s why I asked Julia Graham of JMB Translations (a great UK English proofreader, by the way) to tell you something about her time at the first edition of the course in January 2013. First, Julia, we’d like to know how your situation looked like before taking part in the School. How did you see your business? What were your biggest problems? How did you feel in the translation industry? “Before taking part in the School I did not consider myself to be running a business, and I was not even aware of the global network of translators that was out there. In short, I did not associate being a translator with being an entrepreneur. Consequently, one of the main problems I encountered was my mind set. I found myself working for bottom-feeders who did not care about quality or all of the research I put into my work. They just wanted a job done quickly and would inevitably send me a variety of different types of texts, which would often be in an uneditable format. As a result, I was falling into the trap of being a ‘Jack of all trades’ translator rather than taking the time to hone a specialism. I also discovered that my way of translating at the time was not providing job satisfaction. While I was working evenings, weekends and late nights for no surcharge just to get the project in for an unrealistic deadline, I kept thinking: “This is not what I signed up for!” While I had the relevant translation skills, I quite simply did not have the business expertise to negotiate with and present myself to clients.
  2. 2. 2 Marta Stelmaszak Let’s move on to the moment you found the School course. Where did you first read or hear about it? What were your first thoughts? What made you interested in it? I first heard about Marta when I read her article in Vol/51 Iss/6 of The Linguist (publication of the Chartered Institute of Linguists). She immediately struck me as someone who was determined, professional and knew what she was doing, all of which were perfect qualities for a mentor. Her achievements were very impressive, and I found the blog posts on her website inspiring. It was from the CPD listed on her CV that I found out about eCPD webinars – an online training platform for translators – and from there, the School. The course schedule seemed to cover all the aspects of freelancing, such as rates, invoicing, marketing and cover emails, that I was not confident in. It was as though the lessons were tailored to my situation, and I decided to book straight away. What hesitations did you have about taking part in the course? I can honestly say that I did not really have any hesitations about taking part in the School. Marta’s online presence and experience speak for themselves, and I wanted to learn from the best. It is normal to be apprehensive about spending money on a course, especially if it has not run before and there are no reviews to read. Having said that, I felt that the number of contact hours, materials, Skype session and feedback involved represented good value for money. The course fee has without a doubt been the best investment in my business. What changes have you noticed in your business, in terms of your mind set, but also clients? I have now taken a more professional approach to running my business and feel like I now have my business hat on. Before taking on any work, I know how and where to research the company to make sure they are bona fide and have a good payment track record. When it comes to job offers and corresponding with translation agencies, I know the best way to present myself and clinch the deal. This also means being sensible when it comes to money matters: Agency: “Yes you can go ahead. It’s being very busy here and I did not have the time to work on your PO. I will this afternoon. Consider this email as my confirmation and Go-ahead thanks”
  3. 3. 3 Marta Stelmaszak (A few hours later and the PO has not arrived.) Me: “I understand you’re busy, but given it is such a large job and I have never worked for you before I would appreciate a PO. Thanks,” (immediately) Agency: “Yes you are correct Doing it now. Best regards,” Me: “Thanks, X. I do appreciate it.” Agency: “Let me know if this is correct thanks” Just as importantly, I have learnt to say “no” to requests that would not be in the best interests of my business. I also have the confidence to approach direct clients and am aware of the research. For example, with the help of my newly acquired skills, I attended a tour of a manufacturing unit of a sound system producer I had identified as having a need for translations. Not only did I learn a great deal of in- house terminology and gain a better understanding of the processes involved, I also had the opportunity to meet the head of marketing, who was very interested in my services and requested I get in touch. Having a dedicated office space in my house, professional indemnity insurance, terms and conditions of business, Associate membership of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI), a price list and office hours have also helped me to move forward with my business. I now find that the clients I work with are more appreciative of my work and are more pleasant to deal with. As a result I want to go out of my way to help them, so providing added value feels like a natural process rather than extra work. What specific feature did you like best about the School? I particularly liked the community spirit of the School. The feeling of being part of something gave me a great deal of enthusiasm and motivation. I always felt a positive buzz after our weekly webinar lessons.
  4. 4. 4 Marta Stelmaszak Other highlights included: • tips to clinch the deal (such as the idea of turning features into benefits) • Marta’s no-nonsense approach (There was no waffle or jargon, just practical advice and handouts and homework that allowed me to set attainable goals during and after the course.) • a personal approach through individual feedback and a Skype session that allowed Marta to address every course member’s different situation. How have you benefited from it? Immensely. Would you recommend the School course? If so, why? Yes, I already have and will continue to do so. What is so special about the School is the fact that there is no other course like it. Marta combines her own experience of becoming a successful entrepreneurial translator and interpreter with her background in marketing and IT. She obviously cares about what she is doing, has put a lot of time and effort into this project and wants you to succeed. In my opinion, the School should be an integral part of translation courses, as it would provide translators with core business skills from the start of their careers. This would not only be advantageous to them but also the industry as a whole. The School equips you with the tools you need to be successful in the industry; the fact remains that having a master’s in translation alone is not enough. Is there anything else you’d like to add here? I am so glad I attended the School at the beginning of my freelance career rather than finding it after having spent years making business mistakes. It has set me on the right path from the start. Thank you, Marta!
  5. 5. 5 Marta Stelmaszak Now, thinking of your current situation, some 3 months after the end of the School course. How do you see your business? What are your biggest challenges now? How do you feel in the translation industry? I feel positive about my business and the future. I now focus on adding value and searching out clients I would like to work for rather than jumping at any translation request. I am also always on the lookout for opportunities (networking, potential direct client contacts, potential agencies to work for, situations where there is a need for translation). I would say that my biggest challenges now are in: • creating my website • working on my branding using the hints and tips from the School • continuing to expand my client base. The difference is that I now feel I have the skills to accomplish these challenges; they are no longer an impossible task. In addition, I feel more involved in the translation industry through social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn), reading industry books and blogs as well as by being a member of the ITI and local networks. It is great to have the support of a network of other translators, as it makes me feel less isolated and provides an outlet to discuss any issues that arise. Attending the 2013 ITI Conference proved to be both inspiring and useful, as I was able to pick up some handy tips and meet translation colleagues in person. Thank you, Julia, for sharing your story. I sincerely hope your career will continue growing as successfully as in the last few months. Thanks for great photos, too! If after reading Julia’s story you’re interested in joining the course, book here. In case of any questions, drop me a line. Marta PS I met Julia in person a few months after she took part in the School. I’m on the left, Julia is on the right, and we’re here with Meg from Websites for Translators.