Why Freelance Translators Should Have a Blog
By Maeva Cifuentes
While sharing a casual cocktail with other freelance translators this cloudless Sunday, we touched upon the subject of blogging. A colleague asked me why I blog so often and how I find the time to do it under the mountain of work necessary to keep up with the translation profession. Granted, I’ve been backed up and haven’t blogged in a couple of weeks, but I took this as writing prompt. I love it when people ask me specific questions, because, even if they don’t know it, they have given me a topic to blog about! Isn’t it funny how things work out?
Blogging is a critical part of our profession. For one, all translators are writers. And all good translators are excellent writers. How do writers get better at their craft? By writing more. Just like going to the gym, writing is something we need to practice weekly (I wanted to say daily, but let’s be real – talking about going to the gym here). Keeping a blog forces us to write regularly and for a particular audience. I also like to write privately, but I find that the quality and style vary significantly when I know I’m going to be the only person reading it – I also don’t make an effort to research and teach an audience when I’m writing for my journal.
Furthermore, as translators and digital nomads, online presence is essential. Blogging is a brilliant way to share knowledge, demonstrate expertise, practice writing, increase your online presence and market your services. Seth Godin says we should spend half our time providing our services (translating) and the other half improving our craft. Scheduling time for blogging should be looked at as an investment in your career. In order to gain better clients, we need to become better translators. To become better translators, we should write better than 98% of the population (according to Chris Durban), and for that, we need to practice writing – regularly. Sure, you can spend your week purely translating, but if you don’t invest time marketing, learning, and practicing, you will be left behind in the bulk market. I’m not arguing that blogging is the key to finding premium clients, but it is a convenient approach that juxtaposes unbillable tasks.
When you’re inspired, write more than one blog post (and post them with some time in between). This will also help you improve your creative translation skills.
When you’re uninspired, read other translation or industry blogs. And when you’re moderately inspired, write anyway. Just like going from couch to 5k, writing regularly will become easier with time, and all translators should do it.