3 New Year’s Resolutions for Success-Driven Translators in 2015

marty hny 2015

It’s around that time when the coming of a new year forces us to recap on the past and plan for the future. Massive delusion of control? Probably. But, if the death of Socrates over 2400 years ago taught us anything at all, it’s that the “unexamined life is not worth living.” So, let’s all examine what we did this year as language professionals and participate in the happy delusion that next year will be better. And, what’s more, let’s prepare accordingly and plan for success!

RECAP: In my Matrix series, I used available numbers and market research to show that translation is not only a 34 billion dollar a year business, but it has been (and continues to be) growing steadily each year. I explained how supply and demand affect rates (here and here) and then showed that earning a higher income as a language professional involves shifting out of the “translation as a commodity” market and into the realm of the “specialty service” market (or what other translation bloggers refer to as the “premium market”). The question of “how” from a mathematical point of view was tackled here.

NEW CHALLENGES: The soon-to-be old year was obviously one of numbers and calculations for shifting into higher paying segments. But now that we know the numbers add up, a new question arises: Where are these higher-paying or “premium” clients? How do you market your services to them? And once you’ve secured these clients, how do you tailor your services to their specific needs?

RESOLUTIONS: My New Year’s resolution is to take you to the movies again and show you how to capture a market niche. But succeeding in this enterprise requires a series of commitments. Thus, here are three resolutions I propose for success-driven language professionals in 2015.

1) Acquire ongoing training and education: High paying market segments are challenging and hard to capture. One of the reasons for this is knowledge and training. Specialty segments require translators who not only know language, but also have a profound understanding of the subject at hand. Thus, catering to these clients requires not only being able to prove you are multilingual, but also an expert in their area or field.

2) Acquire strong business skills: Things have changed since good old St. Jerome translated the Bible. Today’s translation market –even the premium or specialty market– requires certain business skills, such as, effective communication, negotiation, marketing, and basic math and analytical skills. Translation as an art is a beautiful concept we’d be wise to keep alive; but if we want to make an actual living, we’ll need to accompany that notion with a skill set designed to help us not just survive, but strive in the current market.

3) Promote a positive professional image: How you are perceived by others is a very important part of your professional success. In today’s world, where such a large part of our communication happens online and behind a computer screen, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that what we publish on our blogs, in forums, or even on social media all contribute to how others see us; and those “others” include colleagues and potential clients. An immediate resolution for anyone looking to cater to the specialty service market is to take control of how others perceive them, and that involves not only minding how you act and behave online, but also establishing yourself as an expert in your area of specialization.

So, to all my readers, let’s kick-off the New Year more knowledgeable, with a strong set of business skills, a smile and a positive attitude! See you in 2015!

2 thoughts on “3 New Year’s Resolutions for Success-Driven Translators in 2015

  1. TranslationCraft says:

    Great post for starting out the New Year, Paula, thanks! New Year’s is my favorite holiday because of the chance for fresh approaches to old problems.

    It was shocking to see how far rates in the bulk market tumbled during 2014, along with the rapid spread of agency tactics for “streamlining” the process of placing projects (like more automated mass mailings, etc.). Both generate more profit for the agencies at the expense of translators.

    Because this race to the cesspool has become so extreme, it was fascinating, on the other hand, to see some strong new posts this year, including yours, about the hidden but growing premium market or, in your phrasing, specialty service market. This used to be a market touted by only a couple lone voices (notably Chris Durban), which translators could ignore as a luxury add-on to their agency work: no more! From all accounts, this market is desperate for quality translators with deep expertise in a particular niche. Your Matrix articles are a great addition to the existence and characteristics of this specialty market.

    I hope to see more posts in 2015 in insightful blogs (such as yours!) and discussion boards about how to access these premium clients. I recently brainstormed some ideas for a new strategy for finding such clients: if it succeeds, I’m going to spread the word. As you said, ongoing training and education is crucial for gaining expertise to offer premium clients. I’m astonished at how many new educational resources appeared on the scene in 2014, especially with the rise of MOOCs (massive open online courses). I even found MOOCs in my source language and new sub-specialty, which helps me increase my translating expertise at double the speed 🙂

    Can’t wait to see your further posts in 2015! Thanks for being so generous in sharing your observations —


    Catherine V. Howard, Ph.D.
    TranslationCraft Services


    • Thank you so much for your comment, Catherine. You totally made my day!

      The specialty service market truly is desperate for quality translators and I think we should all aspire to meet these demands.

      I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming posts on your new strategy. Please drop me a line when they’re out, and I’ll help spread the word!


      Liked by 1 person

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