Can you introduce yourself to Acolad Community?
Hello there! 😊
My name is Galinie, and I’m a freelance translator registered in Strasbourg, France. I’m French (my mum is French) and Greek (my dad is Greek). I’m a location-independent professional, aka “digital nomad”, and my working languages are Greek, French, English and Spanish.
For how long have you been a translator and what are your specialities?
I’ve worked as an in-house and pro-bono translator since October 2013. In June 2017, I launched my freelance translation business, GP translation, which provides legal, EU, and international development translation services to organisations looking to get their message across in accurate French and Greek.
How do we become a translator? What courses did you follow?
There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to becoming a professional translator. Some people have a linguistic background with a Master’s degree in translation and several years of experience within the industry. Other colleagues have pursued a non-linguistic degree, like medicine or economics, have remarkable language skills and became medical or financial translators later in their career.
I’ve chosen the first path. I’ve studied translation in Greece, France and Belgium, and obtained my Master’s degree in professional translation in Strasbourg with a focus on legal translation. Before launching my micro-company, I’ve done translation internships in Spain, France and Luxembourg in various organisations, such as the Council of Europe and the European Parliament.
Do you choose your projects? Who is contacting you?
One of the biggest perks of being a freelance translator is that I get to decide how much work I’d like to take on and which projects I want to work on. I work almost exclusively with translation agencies.
How do you work with agencies?
Communication is generally done through a Project Manager, who contacts me with a project request in my areas of expertise. It’s up to me to accept, decline or negotiate the terms of the project, depending on my availability and other factors.
What are their advantages compared to working with direct clients?
Working with agencies can be a highly rewarding and pleasant experience. Good agencies are lovely to work with, and some PMs are willing to build meaningful relationships with translation suppliers.
Here’s why I enjoy working with translation agencies:
- they do the hard work of marketing, finding and retaining end clients, which can be time-consuming and differs significantly from approaching agencies
- they take care of project management, DTP, and other non-linguistic aspects of the job, which allows me to focus exclusively on translation
- they know the translation industry inside out, have a thorough understanding of the translation process, and are less likely to ask irrelevant questions or have unrealistic expectations
- they can provide a steady workflow and generally have a strict quality assurance process, with many revisors and proofreaders at hand
- they’re traceable, meaning that they’re registered companies with verifiable business and payment practices (ProZ, Business Practices)
- they’re a “safety net” between translators and end clients, which can be helpful particularly if the client isn’t the easiest to deal with
What would you say are the drawbacks of being a freelance translator?
You’ll have to be ready to deal with feelings of loneliness or isolation of varying degrees and length. As remote workers, we need to find all sorts of creative ways to tackle these feelings when they arise. It’s essential to stay in touch with colleagues and other industry professionals and exchange opinions and ideas. Having a giving and supportive mindset, rather than a competitive one, is also key. It can make us feel more grateful and increase our sense of belongingness. We’re all in the same (freelancing) boat, after all. Choosing to work from a library, a café or a co-working space can help, too. If you have a garden or if you live in the countryside, you may also consider having some furry companions (cats, dogs, hens or maybe a donkey).
Another important aspect to consider is feast-and-famine cycles. There will be weeks when your e-mail inbox will be flooding, and you’ll be booked for at least three weeks or a month. There will also be weeks when you’ll feel that all your clients have forgotten you at the same time. Poof! Vanished. To deal with this unstable situation when business is slow, I usually catch up with family and friends, read some unread books and take CPD courses to deepen my knowledge of my areas of expertise or learn something new. I also take care of invoicing, accounting or other less exciting admin tasks that need to be done. Moreover, I enjoy marketing to new potential customers.
Do you have any advice for a freelance translator apprentice?
Whatever your background, language pair or specialisation, here’s a list with tips on how to optimise your freelance translation journey:
Study relentlessly. We, translators, are curious minds. We know that learning doesn’t stop at graduation. Find courses, webinars, books, conferences that are fun and engaging. It can be anything from developing and maintaining your working languages to expanding your subject-specific knowledge or refining your entrepreneurial, project management and IT skills. CPD is a great motivation booster. It’s also beneficial to clients because they know that they’re doing business with a committed professional who’s constantly sharpening their skills.
Specialise. Specialisation can make a big difference when it comes to quality and customer service. If you focus on a limited number of areas, you’ll acquire a high level of terminological competence. You’ll gain industry-specific knowledge and a great deal of relevant experience. You’ll translate faster and more efficiently. You’ll eventually become the go-to person in your niche and language pair. This fosters trust between you and your customers and can also allow you to command higher rates.
Hone your business skills. Freelance translators wear many hats: we’re linguists, project managers, solopreneurs, small business owners. With translation being a female-dominated industry, we often come across statements claiming that mere language skills are enough. Well, they’re not. Even if you’re working as a literary or video games translator, you still need to learn some marketing, branding, sales, negotiating, accounting, and project management skills. I’m not saying that you need to come across as a big fancy company if you’re the only person behind the screen. Simply be proud of being a one-person business and act like one!
Create a website. This one comes as a natural by-product of the previous tip. You’re a small business owner working remotely with customers all over the world in different time zones. You’re doing business online, which means that what people see when googling your name gives them a good grasp of the services you’re offering, your personality and your reliability. A nice little website with a personalised URL can boost your credibility and make you stand out from the crowd. Your website is like a salesperson who’s there 24/24 working for you even when you’re asleep. Get yourself a professional photo, logo and business e-mail (avoid Gmail, Yahoo!, Hotmail or other free e-mail addresses).
Travel like crazy. Spend a good chunk of time living and travelling in the countries where are spoken your working languages. Take your laptop with you and get to meet new people. Immerse yourself in a different culture, practise your working languages, get out of your comfort zone, learn a new language, become a slow traveller and let the new visual, acoustic and flavour experiences soak in. You’re not in a rush. You can work from almost anywhere. Your time abroad has no expiration date. You get to decide where and how long you want to stay.
Network. It’s fundamental to build trustworthy relationships with colleagues, clients and prospects. Online and offline networking is a great way to achieve that. If you’re an extrovert, go out there and attend conferences, trade shows and other live networking events. If you’re an introvert, get the most out of social media and build a positive and consistent presence on LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook, depending on where your ideal clients are. If you’re an ambivert, try a mix of both and see what works best for you. Don’t underestimate the power of randomness. You can network at any time in your daily life; at the grocery store, at a café or at the airport.
Stay positive. Setbacks and challenges are part of the journey. To better cope with them when they occur, it’s useful to cultivate a growth and abundance mindset. Embrace obstacles and learn how to benefit from them. When business is slow, catch up with family and friends, take care of admin tasks, finish that half-read book, begin a new online course. When you’re feeling down, give yourself a pat on the back. Being your own boss is great but also tough. Be kind to yourself, take care of your physical and mental health, and reach out for help if you need to. Finally, keep smiling and enjoy the ride!
Do you have any comment for Acolad Community?
I’d like to thank Marion and the Acolad Community for inviting me to share a few thoughts. It’s been lovely to chat with you, and I’m looking forward to reading your next articles. Keep up the great work!
Dear readers, I hope you’ll find my tips useful. If you have any questions, comments or feedback, just connect with me on LinkedIn and drop me a message. 😊