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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Translator-to-Translator Marketing

The idea came in the form of inspiration from the title of this thing by Tom Kane popping up in my reading list. I'm not even reading it before writing this.

In short, we don't always market to professions. In fact, we often market to semi-professionals and to outright layfolks, sometimes outright ignorants who not only lack the knowledge but don't care to think logically and get some conclusions on the basis of the general knowledge and common sense that everybody has or should have (which does include a lot of PMs these days).

Translator-to-translator marketing is not what you'd normally associate with marketing, largely because the people involved are typically friends or at least acquaintances. Only in rare situations will you end up talking to an agency owner or project manager who actually does happen to be a translator (which doesn't actually always guarantee a certain desirable modicum of common sense and professionalism).

Those guys will be your friends, your acquaintances, your classmates, and everybody else you meet while procrastinating or sharing your misery in this masochistic profession with others.

Those guys know what they are talking about. Usually. And most of the time they know better than the usual layman anyway.

If they work, or have in the past worked, in your own pairs and fields, then chances are they are in a position to form a judgement of the quality of your work. If you have worked together on some projects before, they are likely to know whether you are reliable or not or if one can get along with you better or worse. Or what the clients, PMs and others said about your work.

Finally, people who always end up in the same forum and Facebook discussions with you generally know something about you, such as whether you seem to be a smart person, or conscientious, whether your suggestions to others seem sound, whether you can structure an argument logically in a foreign language or actually struggle with understanding what people say to you in your own (at least before you hit the reply button). They may remember the stories you share, and the sentiments.

Working with them — or through them — is similar to referrals from previous clients. They should also be treated accordingly, as just because you're friends doesn't mean the job is any less demanding (itself or, say, its deadline or some other important characteristics that go beyond the text itself). Thanking them and making sure they aren't embarrassed in the end by having recommended you is basic courtesy that I shouldn't normally need to be mentioning.

Don't neglect fellow translators as a potential source of jobs — they are rarely the ultimate source, and if they are then they typically don't have deep pockets, but from time to time they are in a position to co-opt colleagues or recommend substitutes. If you've been around for a longer while, you will know.

Fellow translators know you. Make sure you take this factor into account.

Finally, those can some of your best jobs. A fellow translator in a position of power can prevent the client from making unreasonable demands or asking silly questions and effectively doubling your work time without compensating you accordingly. He or she may also be able to negotiate better pay, nicer deadlines and some other conditions that generally put you in the premium league as opposed to the typical struggling-to-get-along situation.

Take care of your image inside your own circles.

As for the how-to, you are finally talking to people who understand what you're talking about — usually — so it should come to you more or less intuitively. I'm not encouraging any sort of solicitation among your remote acquaintances, unless there is some sort of mutual consent to helping each other out and a general will to learn about each other's practice, as is sometimes the case in networking. But the most beautiful thing is that in this you don't need to wonder how to reach people who don't know or care what you're talking about. So this is most of all a casual, everyday opportunity that you shouldn't waste.

You're already on the right path if your reputation grows, if your expertise is widely known, if people listen to what you say and you generally say things that are worth listening to or reading. And if you don't do anything particularly silly to estrange them — unlike in consumer or consumer-like relationships, even eccentric weirdos are respected for their competence within their own circles as long as they're good at what they do.

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