Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Getting the most out of a conference

I am getting excited for American Translators Associations annual conference at the end of October and I hope to see some of you there. It is two months away but it is high time to start planning for it. Here are some tips on what to do to get the most out of a conference you are attending.

Before the conference:
- Make professional looking business cards so you can exchange them with all the people you meet.
- Polish up your resume and print out at least 50 ex to bring with you to the conference
- Contact the people you know and see if they will be attending so you can plan to meet
- Contact a few people that you would like to get to know better and suggest a meeting during the    conference
- Explore the conference schedule to see which sessions you cannot miss. Be selective and strategic about planning your schedule!
- Plan questions you would like to ask the people you want to get to know better, or potential clients
- For the ATA conference: see the insider tips provided by the Colorado Translators Association for great tips on exploring Denver and eating well.

At the conference:
- NETWORK!!! Engage others in conversation and ask for their business card
- Schedule time to meet with people you would like to speak to
- Take advantage of social events and breaks
- Attend valuable sessions and workshops (duh!)
- Distribute business cards and resumes to valuable colleagues and prospects
- Jot down a few descriptive points on the back of the business cards you receive to make it easier to follow up

After the conference:
- Review you notes and documents from the conference. Make a to do list to take action on valuable information from the conference, people to contact, business tips etc.
- Follow up with people within 1-2 weeks after the conference

Do you have any useful tips on how to make the most of a conference? Please share!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How do you keep up your native language when living abroad?

For a freelance translator living outside the country where they speak my native language, it is imperative that I work hard on keeping up my native language skills. I have several Swedish friends who are not doing that and they start sounding very "Swenglish" after a while, not to mention the writing. How do you keep up your language when living abroad? Here are some ways I do this:

1. Speak my language at home and with Swedish friends every day.
2. Read Swedish books. We have even started a Swedish book club where we read and discuss Swedish books, written by Swedish or Nordic authors.
3. Read Swedish newspapers and industry journals online every day or at least several times a week.
4. Listen to Swedish radio while working. ;-)
5. I am not much of a TV watcher, but I am grateful to be able to watch some Swedish TV-programs online every now and then.
5. Last, but not least. Travel back to Sweden as often as possible. I try to go once a year and stay for a month. Unfortunately Sweden is quite far away from Utah, US and the trip is expensive. It is also very important to me to bring my children when I go so they can keep up their second native language.

One thing that will really help is my husbands sabbatical year in two years. He is a professor at the university and will get a sabbatical year every 7 years. Then we will go to Sweden and live there for a year and a half. I am so looking forward to this, but my children not so much. Perhaps because they will be 14 and 12 then and it is a sensitive time in their life. But I know that in retrospect it will all be good for all of us.

Do you think this is working? I do. However, just to make sure, I also have a native Swedish proofreader living in Sweden that I work with. Are there any freelance translators out there reading this that are not living in their native country? How do you keep up your language skills?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Becoming a translator - by accident, meant to be, or strategic decision

Lately, I have been thinking about how I became a translator, and I was wondering if there are many that are in my situation. How did you become a translator? Was it by accident, was it just meant to be or did you make a conscious decision to become a translator?

I am born and raised in a bilingual country, Finland, and speaking the minority language, Swedish there. My education and upbringing was all in Swedish and I knew more about the Swedish culture, than I did the Finnish. Strange? Early on I loved reading and writing and soon developed a keen interest in languages and different cultures. Apart from my mother tongue, I studied English, Finnish, German, French and Italian in school. Did I ever think of becoming a translator? No! It never crossed my mind. I ventured on with studies in International Marketing, hoping I could make use of my language skills and love for different cultures through that.

After my university studies I lived in both France and Belgium and settled in Sweden. I met Kevin, who is now my husband, during my studies. He is an American and received a great job opportunity in Utah, USA, and that is how I ended up here. When I arrived, I was pregnant with my second child, used to one year of maternity leave, great daycare and a very family friendly company, working as a product marketing manager. Coming here was quite a culture shock and I decided to stay home with my two small children.

After a while I started looking into possibilities of working from home and tried all sorts of multilevel marketing opportunities with no real success. One of my friends suggested that I should be a translator. One day I was playing around on the Internet and found some translator networks online. I studied them, did some research online, and decided to sign up. It wasn't long until I received my first job and after that I have never looked back.

I have now worked as a freelance translator for 7 years, educated myself on the way, and now have a successful freelance translation company. I learn something everyday and love what I do. I also love learning and would become certified and educated if there would be opportunities for English-Swedish translation education and certification in the US. At least I am working on starting English-Swedish certification through the American Translators Association.

But I am wondering about others. Many other translators that I know are highly educated, and come from successful careers in medicine, law etc. How did they decide to become a translator? Was it by chance, like me? There are educational programs in translation. Therefore, there must be many people that early on have made a conscious decision to study translation and become a translator. Whichever way you get there is a good way. Don't you just love what you do? Please share!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

More about me on Watercooler

Andrew Bell is managing the popular "Watercooler ...Networking for Professional Translators", where you can read a lot of interesting discussions about everything regarding the translation business. This week he is graciously featuring an interview with me on the Watercooler. If you want to find out more about Watercooler you can go to http://watercoolernetwork.com/ and if you want to read the interview, you can go to http://watercoolernetwork.com/profiles/blogs/spotlight-ontess-whitty

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

How do you market? Do you have a marketing plan?

I am writing a paper/presentation on marketing plans for freelance translators. This is your chance to contribute (I would mention you). How do you market yourself as a freelance translator? Do you have a marketing plan? I know I will have one soon, since I will be presenting one. ;-) Hope to hear from you!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Child Labor at Swedish Translation Services

This summer I asked my 11 year old son if he wanted to work for me a bit. He did, and went online himself to find out the minimum wage in Utah. He ended up working about 6 hours a week for three weeks. He would have worked more if I had more work for him, and if he had not been away at camps or travel for most of July. He updated my customer database and put everything into an online customer relationship management program called Zoho. (http://www.zoho.com/). He also put in all my "prospects" and did a great job. Now I just have to use Zoho and all the contacts in it. Perhaps he can help me send out some news last week of summer break. We will see!

I was very happy with the help, and will certainly employ him for more work later. I am already looking forward to when he can do more complex tasks. He is my favorite assistant for sure. Perhaps he can do Swedish-English translations in a few years. At the moment I am feeling a bit overwhelmed with some administrative task and marketing task, and I am looking for a good Virtual Assistant to hire for website maintenance, design, SEO and market research. Please let me know if you have any recommendations.

Are anyone else out there using their children as helpers in the company? If so, please share your experiences. Have a good rest of the summer!
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Monday, August 2, 2010

Victor Borge - Inflationary Language

I am having a particularly hard time getting started on this work week/Monday. Must be the result of a slight work overload lately. However, I just found this link with a five minute presentation on what would happen if the language would be affected by inflation too. Sure to cheer all you linguist up today. Off to work I go.