Corinne McKay’s ‘Marketing to Direct Clients’ course – a review


By Claire Harmer


I took Corinne McKay’s Marketing to Direct Clients course back in April and a few people have asked me about it since then, so I thought it might be helpful to write a review. I also thought it would give me the perfect opportunity to go over some of the things I learnt.

I enrolled on the course as I’d been thinking about re-working my marketing materials and website for a while, with the aim of landing more work from direct clients. In addition, there were various aspects of direct client prospecting that I felt uneasy about (for example – emailing someone I didn’t know, rather than meeting them in person) which I was hoping for some advice and guidelines on. Now that I’ve completed the course, I’d definitely say that I feel more confident going forward and would recommend the course to any translators or interpreters who are keen to work with direct clients.

A bit about the course structure:

  • The course lasted 4 weeks, and for each weekday Corinne sent us a task of the day, which included watching pre-prepared presentations, listening to podcasts, drafting emails to prospective clients, etc. For some of these tasks we were asked to send our ‘homework’ to Corinne so she could give us some feedback, which was very beneficial. She was always happy to share her experience of what had worked for her in the past and what hadn’t.
  • Two 60 minute Q&A sessions were scheduled each week, where we could ask Corinne any questions we had relating to direct clients, what we had been learning on the course or freelancing in general. I found these invaluable – reading a book about marketing to direct clients is one thing but being able to ask an expert on the subject your own questions is another. These sessions were recorded and the link for each one was sent to us via email, so if you couldn’t attend a live session you could listen to it another time. The recordings were not only helpful if you missed a session, but were also useful for going back over some of the questions that were asked and taking notes. It was really interesting to listen to other participants’ questions too; many were questions that had occurred to me at one time or another. Equally, those which hadn’t gave me new ideas, sources of inspiration, or insight into a different language combination or specialism.
  • There was also a Google Group which was open to all the course participants. For each Q&A session we could all submit two questions on the Group, which were answered by Corinne either during the session or in writing via the Google Group if we ran out of time. The Group was also great for sharing ideas and asking the other participants questions – what QA processes people used, how to track expenses, what CAT tools we all used, whether Twitter was useful for finding direct clients, etc.


A few examples of things we learnt about on the course:

Warm email prospecting

A key aspect of the course for me was learning more about the various ways to contact potential direct clients. Corinne gave us concrete examples of targeted marketing emails, paper letters, and sample translations as methods of pitching our services to them (read a great article about the first two here). In terms of marketing emails, Corinne recommended an approach called ‘warm email prospecting’ developed by Ed Gandia, a successful freelance coach, trainer, copywriter and entrepreneur.

Ed’s course is no longer available on his website but his e-book on the subject is available to read for free and Corinne has written a blog post about what she learnt from the course. Another source that may be of interest is Tess Whitty’s interview with him.

N.B.: As part of my marketing campaign I’ll be trying out all of the methods Corinne talked to us about (targeted marketing emails, paper letters, and sample translations) after the summer, so I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!


Deciding who to contact

Corinne also helped us to identify who we should contact at companies. She emphasised that every industry is different. For example, in the legal sector paralegals are the people who are likely to deal with translators, whereas in the pharmaceutical sector regulatory affairs managers would probably do this. However, she did give us some good ideas for people to contact in general (even if they’re not the right person they should be able to point you in the right direction/give you an indication of whether the company may be interested or not):

  • Any person/department with the word ‘international’ in their title (i.e. international relations department, international marketing department, etc.)
  • PR/Sales/Marketing/Communications departments, as they have more of an external focus and their job is to generate business and spread the word about the company.
  • Corinne mentioned that the best option (if you can find them) would be programme or project managers for the kinds of things you work on, so for me that might be a Clinical Trial Manager.

Pulling clients to you

During the course, Corinne talked about how to proactively find direct clients, i.e. at their industry conferences and trade shows (she hosted a great podcast interview with FR>EN translator Joanne Archambault on this subject), on LinkedIn and Twitter, in their association directories and their industry publications. She also talked about how to pull clients to you, so through features like your online presence, having specific pages on your website for specific services (something which I’m hoping to do when I get round to it!), getting referrals from other translators, writing for your clients’ professional journals and presenting at their conferences (for example talking about best translation practices in their industry). Corinne also mentioned that client-facing newsletters are a good way of pulling clients to you, as there are not many translators who write for people on the client side. This is something I’m hoping to develop later in the year, but first I need to come up with enough ideas!

Having a translation partner

Another thing I have been thinking about since taking Corinne’s course is working with a translation partner. I’d already heard a bit about Corinne’s translation partner Eve Bodeux in some of her blog posts and videos, but on the course we learnt a bit more about how they helped each other.

Corinne stressed the importance of having someone to whom you can refer your direct clients when you’re on holiday or out of the office for the day, explaining that you may be the only translator they work with, or at least the only translator they have for your language combination. Unlike with translation agencies, with direct clients there’s a risk that you could lose them if you’re unavailable even one time. Providing them with a solution if you’re ever unavailable will show that you have thought ahead and that you will not leave them stuck in a tricky situation.

Corinne suggested including the direct contact information of your translation partner in your out-of-office email (with their permission first, of course!) when you are away. She says that in 14 years of freelancing this method has never lost her a client. Obviously you also have to be happy to do the same for your translation partner when they are away. Corinne has written a great blog post on this, which you can read here.

An overall review:

All in all, I found the course extremely useful and Corinne’s positive outlook helped me to overcome several confidence issues I had, particularly when contacting prospective clients for the first time. I think when you work for yourself, and in most translators and interpreters’ cases (including mine) by yourself, it’s easy to overthink things or to doubt yourself. Corinne’s course gave me the information, tools, and inspiration I needed to create a concrete marketing plan and gave me the confidence to contact direct clients I had been thinking about contacting for months (a year in some cases!). During the course, Corinne reiterated that you don’t have to feel 100% ready to contact a potential direct client – as she pointed out, we may never feel ready!

Corinne also runs other courses for translators including ‘Getting started as a freelance translator’, ‘Beyond the basics of freelancing’ and ‘Breaking into the book translation market’ (a new one which she told us about on the course!).

If you have taken any of these courses, or any others you would recommend to fellow translators and interpreters, it would be great to hear from you. All comments are welcome in the box below!



Pippa Sandford’s SAM presentation: Cross cultural differences and pitfalls in medical translation

I mentioned in my last post on the Séminaire d’Anglais Médical (a medical translation event held by the SFT in Lyon) that I hoped to write a short post on Pippa Sandford’s presentation, as I found it really useful and I thought other medical translators would too. So… here it is!

Pippa was a full-time medical translator for thirty years, working from French and Italian to English. She attended several of the legendary CMETI courses (Course in Medical English for Translators and Interpreters) run by Karin Band during the 1990s. These courses emphasised the importance of subject knowledge as the basis for good medical translation, combined with excellent research skills, of course; that approach kept Pippa fully employed at reasonable rates until health problems prompted her retirement at the end of 2015.

As the title of the presentation suggests, Pippa’s talk at SAM drew our attention to the differences in medical practice between France and the UK and the way language is used. She focused on issues such as dealing with eponyms, new terminology, false friends and fickle friends. I have also been told that she had previously presented the same talk as an ECPD webinar, which can be found here.

Keeping abreast of new developments in the field in order to learn about any new terms that come into existence was one of the things Pippa spoke about. One example of a new term she gave us within the context of the new EU Clinical Trials Regulation was a ‘temporary halt’: defined as the suspension of a clinical trial triggered by the sponsor, whereas a suspension is initiated by a Member State. Emma Goldsmith has written a very useful post on new terms and terminology changes that will come in with the new legislation:

Pippa also spoke about being aware of the units of measurement used for particular medical concepts in the languages you are translating, as they are not always the same. For example, in the UK, prothrombin time (temps de prothrombine or temps de Quick) is usually reported in seconds, whereas in France it may be reported in seconds or as a percentage of a control (taux de prothrombine).

Regarding names of medical conditions and diseases, Pippa mentioned how they may be known by the eponym in one language, but not in another, for example: ‘Abrami’s disease’ (EN) which would be known as ‘anémie hémolytique acquise’ in French. She also gave us an example of how, sometimes, the names are similar in both languages but not the same: ‘Colles’ fracture’ (EN) and ‘fracture de Pouteau-colles’ (FR).

False friends to look out for:

French English Not:
anthrax a carbuncle anthrax, a life-threatening disease caused by Bacillus anthracis (which is charbon or fièvre charbonneuse)
intoxiqué poisoned drunk (which is ivre)
agonie at point of death agony (which is angoisse or supplice)
angine sore throat angina, a severe, constricting pain in the chest (which is angine de poitrine or angor)
expertise expert report expertise, i.e. skill and knowledge (which is compétence)

Pippa’s talk ended with a quote from Karin Band, a highly-esteemed and very experienced medical translator (and a huge contributor to the ITI’s MedNet Group) who used to help run the SAM conference: ‘medical translation is knowledge-driven and research-based’.


A few websites Pippa recommends:

A dictionary of medical eponyms

Not specifically for medical translation, but very useful for any translator working in FR>EN/EN>FR. Follow on twitter (@anglais) for useful tips on translating tricky FR/EN terms.

bite-sized medical education videos

Séminaire d’Anglais Médical 2016: a review

By Claire Harmer

This March I attended my first Séminaire d’Anglais Médical (SAM) held in the beautiful city of Lyon. It was the 11th time the event had been held, which is organised by the Société Française des Traducteurs (SFT) every two years. The séminaire – which I’ll call a conference for the sake of convenience, but was more of a week-long workshop programme – is aimed at medical translators working from and into French. 49 people attended; the perfect size for a specialised conference: not so big that it was overwhelming but big enough to have lots of different people to talk to.

It took place in the Faculté de Médecine Lyon Est in a self-contained Médiathèque building and most of the sessions were held in a raked lecture theatre within the building. The university was in the 8th arrondissement, so not particularly central, but it was only 15-20 minutes away by tram/metro if you were staying in the centre. With fairly packed days at the conference I didn’t get to explore the city as much as I would have liked, but I’m hoping to go back for a trip later this year.

The days were well-structured, with half-hour coffee breaks in the morning and afternoon (which proved to be good networking opportunities), and a one and a half hour lunch break in the middle. At first I thought the lunch break was unnecessarily long but while I was there I realised you needed that time to disconnect and have a rest! Sitting and listening to lectures for five days straight made me realise that I am out of the habit of sitting and absorbing information for long periods of time like we did at university – so having those breaks was crucial! Even more so, considering that most of the workshops were given in French, so I had to concentrate even harder to absorb and process the information.

The programme was a mix of lectures, terminology sessions and travaux dirigés, all of which I’m going to give a bit more information on below – I hope this gives readers an insight in case anyone is interested in attending SAM 2018!


We were fortunate to have a wide variety of speakers present at the conference, from medical translators to doctors, medical researchers and founders of companies within the medical and pharmaceutical sectors.

Below are a few of the highlights from the conference:

  • Amy Whereat’s presentation on writing practices in the field of cosmetic dermatology
  • Dr David Cox’s presentation on the medical epidemiology of breast cancer
  • Sylvie Chabaud’s talk on the statistical aspects of a clinical trial
  • Dr Bernard Croisile’s presentation on Alzheimer’s disease.

Another firm favourite was Pippa Sandford’s presentation on cross-cultural differences and pitfalls in medical translation. I’m hoping to do a blog post on Pippa’s talk at some point soon, as I found it really useful and think other medical translators will too.

Terminology sessions

We had four terminology sessions where medical translator and terminologist Nathalie Renevier went over terms that had come up in the workshops. These were great for exploring tricky terms and their corresponding equivalents in the other language. It also meant we revisited topics spoken about earlier in the day or week, which served as a reminder of what we had learnt.

Travaux dirigés

The source texts for the travaux dirigés were sent out via email in advance for those who had time to read them and on Monday we were split up into groups of five to seven people, each of which was given one source text. We had two sessions on Monday where we had time to work on the text as a group and typed up our final translation to present to the rest of the attendees later in the week. The texts included a study on patients with hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, a fact sheet on Alzheimer’s disease for the general public, an article on premenstrual flares in adult women, as well as texts on chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, H5N1 influenza virus and the digestive system.

When the final translations were presented, a supervisor who had done a presentation on the same or a similar topic during the week, gave suggestions and advice to the translation team where needed. To be honest, I think the travaux dirigés were the only part of the conference where I felt I missed out a little by being an English native speaker. Of the 49 attendees only seven were English native speakers, with almost all of the remaining attendees being French native speakers – only to be expected as the course was held in France! This meant that only one out of the seven translations presented was a FR>EN translation (which was presented by our group). It was still useful to see how the English texts had been rendered in French, but obviously I didn’t take as much away from them as I did the FR>EN translation.


To end the conference with a bit of fun, Stephen Schwanbeck organised a translation duel, which proved to be very entertaining! Two people volunteered to translate each text (one was FR>EN and the other was EN>FR) in advance and then each translator presented their version, moving in turn and presenting a couple of sentences at a time. The rest of the attendees joined in with suggestions on how to improve the translations, as well as highlighting what they liked about each of them.

Both pieces were satirical, so were quite a departure from the texts we had been working on during the week. They were full of cultural references, plays on words, and tricky phrasing. The English text for translation into French, entitled ‘Doctors say average heart attack victim doesn’t clutch at chest nearly dramatically enough’ can be found here. It’s well worth watching the video as well as reading the article! The French text for translation into English, ‘La téléphonie mobile, nouveau vecteur de la democratisation du cancer’, can be found here.

In addition to the 9am – 5pm programme, the organisers also arranged a pre-conference meet-up on the Sunday evening, a tour of Lyon on the Monday night and a three course meal at a lovely restaurant during the week, all of which were thoroughly enjoyed.

In conclusion, I learnt a great deal about a wide range of medical and pharmaceutical subjects at SAM, met lots of interesting people, learnt about others’ experiences of translating for the medical and pharmaceutical sectors, experiences of working with agencies and direct clients (a conversation that seemed to come up a lot!) and how to cope with various terminological issues that often come up in medical and pharmaceutical translation.

The conference was a huge success and I’ll definitely be going back in 2018, if not before, as I’d like to visit Lyon again! A huge thank you to all the organisers!


Lyon at night!


The FR>EN team presenting their translation

Tips on social media and content marketing from the founder of Top Left Design


By Claire Harmer

I recently attended the ITI workshop held in Milton Keynes, hosted by Keren Lerner of web design and marketing company Top Left Design. The workshop was a huge success; I’m not sure I’ve ever learnt so much in one day! Keren was a great speaker, too – engaging and always encouraging questions. At times the presentation became more of a discussion, which was really beneficial for attendees as it meant we could ask Keren specific questions and share experiences. Each section of the presentation was interspersed with activities and exercises which we worked on in groups, and we shared the results of these with Keren and the other attendees after completing the tasks.

In terms of social media, Keren talked about how to use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook in a professional and engaging way, with the aim of connecting with industry peers, current clients and potential future clients. The content marketing part of the workshop focused on blogging, delivering key messages, content planning, how to write good content and using effective headlines. With so much covered, I’ve just picked a few of these things to focus on in this post, mainly Keren’s tips and tricks for Twitter and LinkedIn and a brief overview of content marketing. I’ve been asked to write an article on the workshop for the ITI bulletin later this month. I’ll focus more heavily on content marketing for that article, and I’m happy to share that on the blog too. On a side note, you can find more tips and tricks in the Top Left Design e-books on their website. Topics range from creating a content calendar and revamping your website, to writing effective newsletters.

Keren likened content marketing and using social media frequently to putting coins into your clients’ brains – so that you occupy a space in their mind. She also spoke about ‘touch points’ and told us that it normally takes 7 or 8 “touch points” before someone asks for your services/refers you to someone. Touch points are encounters of some sort – tweets, emails, meetings, phone calls, or simply someone absorbing something you wrote or published online.



So… what exactly is content marketing?

It’s about getting people who you want to think about you (i.e. industry peers, current clients, prospective clients, etc.), to think what you want them to think about you. You do this by creating content such as blog posts, PDFs, images you share on social media, and more.

This might involve some of the following elements (which Keren calls a ‘marketing mix’):

Online: Website / Blog / Video / Email newsletter

Social: Twitter / Google + / LinkedIn / Facebook / Instagram / Pinterest

Printed: Brochures / Flyers / Direct mail

Events: Conferences / Speaking engagements / Workshops

In person: Coffee / Drinks / Lunch / Networking / Phone calls

Researched: White papers / Reports / Recommendations / Ebooks / Infographics / Printed books

Of course, doing all these things on a regular basis would mean we’d have little time left to do our paid translation/interpreting work (!) but perhaps picking a few of these and working on them is a good place to start.



Some may argue that social media is a waste of time, but for others, it’s a key tool to help grow their business. Sharing your knowledge on social media is a way of showing your expertise and proving you’re good at what you do. Another great thing about social media is you can participate in discussions with other industry peers, which is invaluable for translators and interpreters as we can learn a lot from one another.

Twitter tips and tricks:

  • For your profile photo, use a cropped photo of your face (don’t bother with a full length photo as it shows up as a thumbnail on people’s Twitter feeds and on phone apps). Surveys have shown that people prefer a picture of a face to a logo or a cartoon avatar. The same goes for LinkedIn – a photo will give your brand a face (literally!).
  • Use to shorten URLs so they take up less characters and there’s more room for your message. At the workshop I learnt that you can actually customise the random character ending that normally generates! You can find out how to do that here.
  • If you have a bit of extra time, quote tweets are better than just retweeting someone as you can add in a comment to provide your followers with more context/your opinion/ the reason why you’re retweeting the content in the first place. You can also use it to start a discussion with the person who wrote the tweet.
  • In terms of content, your posts should be a good mixture of shares, re-tweets, quote tweets, links to articles and your own words. Keren recommends a 5:1 ratio; 4 tweets which are conversations, link sharing, helpful, or promoting others, and one about your own business – or linking to a recent blog post.


LinkedIn tips and tricks:

  • Vanity URL: Customise your LinkedIn URL so you can add it to your email signature and business cards. As with the URL shortener, it means you can remove the random character ending and use your name, which looks more professional. It takes less than a minute (I’ve just done mine!) and you can find out how to do it here.
  • If someone adds you on LinkedIn that you don’t know, start up a conversation with them (unless you think it’s spam)! I normally write a quick message to say thanks for adding me and then try to find something interesting on their profile and ask them about it. I’ve been doing this for the last 6 months – before I just ignored requests from people I didn’t know – and I have gained 3 new clients just by doing this.

Do you have any social media or content marketing tips to share with us? If so, we’d love to hear from you! You can post in the comments section below. Enjoy the rest of your week, everyone!


The Distraction Trap

By Claire Harmer

This week I wanted to share some insights from a book I read recently: ‘The Distraction Trap: How to Focus in a Digital World’ by Frances Booth. This post follows on from the last one I wrote on time management for translators.

In The Distraction Trap, Booth looks at how demanding email, smartphones, social media and the Internet can be and to what extent they distract us: ‘Digital distraction means that our behaviour has suddenly changed. We’re damaging our relationships and literally rewiring our brains. We are convinced that we can do 10 things at once – it all seems so high-speed. But the reality is that we’re failing to get anything done. We’re constantly overwhelmed and never have time… we are losing the ability to pay meaningful attention to anyone or anything.’

I should mention that this post is not meant to discourage people from using social media, email, the Internet etc. (far from it!), rather to encourage us to be mindful of how much time we spend ‘plugged in’. After all, couldn’t we all benefit from more ‘unplugged’ time? I must admit that I often find myself feeling ‘wired’ and as though there is a background buzz (caused by my smartphone bleeping and pinging, perhaps?!). I hope that Booth’s tips will help if anyone else feels the same.

The author talks about the importance of deciding how long you will stay ‘distracted’ for once you’ve lost focus. She suggests that you should try to stick to the time you set so you don’t spend half an hour browsing the Internet when you’re trying to work, for example. Being distracted by something online for 5 minutes might be fine, and perhaps a much-needed interruption. In non-digital terms this is a bit like going to make a cup of tea: something to break the work cycle and refresh your mind, but not tempt you into spending ages on the net (suddenly you’re looking up the average temperature in Greece in July and it’s October… oops!)

What I found particularly interesting in Booth’s book was her description of some of the things we are losing through digital distraction:

  • Reading

Do you ever find it difficult to really immerse yourself in a book? Research shows that we are so used to analysing text, clicking on links, scanning information etc. that we find it hard to read deeply and in an engaged way, without distraction. I read a really interesting article about this yesterday. Take a look:

  • Solitude

Sitting with our thoughts and being alone can provide us with ‘creative space, new thoughts, and a sense of calm’.

  • Memory

Not being engaged in ‘the moment’ (due to digital distractions) means that we only process what is actually happening at surface level. In addition to stopping us from making memories, we forget facts, dates etc. Have you heard of the Google effect?

  • Sleep

Using the computer or other light-emitting devices before bedtime can stop the body from making and releasing melatonin, which helps the body to prepare for sleep properly.

  • Journeying

Next time you take the train somewhere have a look at how many people are on their phones/computers/tablets…‘what about the world going by outside?’ Booth asks.

  • Creativity

Blogger and author Leo Balbuta argues that creating is a completely separate process from consuming and communicating – he believes that the two things can’t be done simultaneously. Perhaps translating could be seen as a form of ‘creating’?

  • Learning

Learning new things is hard work! Surely you have more chance of absorbing the information when you’re not distracted?

  • Relationships

Bringing your phone to the dinner table, not switching your phone off when you’re having some much-needed family time, etc.

So, how do we regain these things?

By creating a strategy for managing emails and your mobile devices. I’ve recently adopted the Inbox Zero approach, where you aim to keep your inbox empty or almost empty all of the time. We explored a few more strategies in time management for translators.

  • Taking regular breaks and doing something you enjoy every day, preferably something that also recharges your batteries and helps you to switch off from everything else. Perhaps yoga or mindfulness? Booth mentions that putting these activities into your diary and making them part of your weekly routine might make you less likely to skip them.
  • Sometimes, the constant stream of information can leave you feeling tired and overwhelmed. If you are planning on going on holiday, consider making it a ‘digital-free’ one, i.e. no computer, tablet or email and (if possible) no phone. At the very least, you’ll feel refreshed when you return to work and it will encourage you to make the most of your time off, rather than spending it staring at a screen! These holidays are becoming increasingly popular and more structured ones are sometimes referred to as ‘tech cleanses’ or ‘digital detoxes’. Have any readers ever been one of these?
  • Having a bit of ‘unplugged time’ everyday
  • Getting back to nature and out of an urban environment, to restore attention (Booth even talks about something called ‘Attention Restoration Theory’ – which I didn’t even know existed!).

It would be great to hear your thoughts on ‘digital distractions’ and what you do to keep these at bay!


When I started freelancing almost three years ago, I really enjoyed working from home. It was after about a year, when the novelty of working in my pyjamas wore off (!), that I started to feel quite lonely and isolated ‘at work’ and yearned for the buzz of office life.

Since August 2014, I’ve been working at Impact Hub in Islington, North London. It’s a global network of co-working spaces with a focus on innovation and social action – currently with 63 hubs across 5 continents. A huge range of businesses are based at the Islington branch, from social enterprises and charities to start-ups and consultancies. The Hub operates on a hot-desking basis and there’s a mixture of small teams of 2-4 individuals, as well as freelancers like me. Working around others has proved invaluable for my confidence, motivation and productivity, and my social life in general! When I worked from home, often not speaking to anyone all day until my housemates came back in the evening, I found the lack of human contact very difficult. So working from the Hub has definitely filled a void!

Co-working spaces are particularly good for people who can’t afford to rent their own office or have a separate office room at home, neither of which I can do whilst living in London! For me, not working at home means it’s easier to separate my work life from my home life, and I can ‘leave work at work’ and disconnect in the evenings. It also means I start work the next day feeling refreshed. Not only have I found that I’m more productive when I’m working at the Hub (mainly because I don’t have those all-too-familiar distractions) but I have become happier in general since I started working there.

The Hub has given me the opportunity to meet lots of new people, too, some of whom have become good friends. Lucky for me, some of them are from France, Spain and Latin America, which has meant I can practise my languages in person – a nice change from the written nature of translation. Most co-working spaces organise social events, which help if, like me, you’re shy or a little out of practice when it comes to networking. The Hub also organises film nights, Friday night drinks and even yoga classes, all of which take place on-site and are mostly free of charge.

Working from home can be great and has lots of advantages, but I wanted to write about co-working as an option for people who feel they need to change their working environment, as I did. Most places offer various membership packages from 1-5 days a week and often have ‘trial days’ so you can try it out before signing on the dotted line. If you’re based in London, there’s a good directory of ‘co-working offices’ on this site:

I’ve focused on Impact Hub and London in this post as it’s the only place where I have experience of co-working. It would also be great to hear about your experience of co-working spaces or similar set-ups where you live. Or perhaps you prefer working from home? Let us know what you think in the comments section!

The Hub Islington

When I grow up, I want to be a translator!

OK, so it’s not up there with astronaut, fire-fighter, footballer or rock star as a dream job, but for as long as I can remember, I wanted to become a translator. While I didn’t know any actual translators, I knew I loved learning languages and wanted to continue working with languages, so the answer was obvious.

What I love about the profession is that you meet people from lots of different backgrounds, often with fascinating careers behind them. For this reason I wanted to share my journey with you.

As part of my degree studying French and German at King’s College, London, I spent my year abroad teaching English in a bilingual secondary school in Germany. This gave me an insight into teaching and it rather appealed to me. But I still wanted to translate, so after graduation I became Project Manager at Absolute Translations Ltd., a thriving company based in west London that counts as one of my best clients today.

Although I wasn’t translating as such, working in this role in a young company taught me a great deal about the industry. I was involved in every aspect of the company’s work – liaising with clients and prospective clients, calculating quotations, selecting the right translator for the job, carrying out quality checks, delivering assignments and invoicing. I was busy and I loved the variety of work.

After working in this role for two years, I decided that I wasn’t yet ready to embark on a lonely journey with my computer and a large pile of dictionaries: I wanted to work with people and teaching still spiked my interest, so I embarked on a PGCE in modern foreign languages at the Institute of Education, London.

Teaching was a great adventure and there was never a dull moment in the six years I did it. It was tough and rewarding in equal measures, and what I loved most was that I was never alone. From all the observations and feedback to collaborating very closely with other teachers, I was constantly learning and growing. I also loved working with children and this is the aspect I miss most.

In 2009 circumstances led me to live in Brussels and I decided it was time to turn to freelance translation. Though I had built a small client base by translating alongside teaching, it was clear that if I was to turn my hobby into a career, I needed a formal qualification. So I took a Masters in Technical and Specialised Translation at the University of Westminster, which turned out to be the perfect course for me. It was very hands-on and led by proficient translators with deep and varied experience, teaching me everything I needed to know and providing translation opportunities all around the world.

And so here I am. My one-year-old is keeping things interesting on the home front and working closely with the other bloggers is an added bonus to the fascinating work I do. After a short career in teaching, I’m enjoying the freedom of being my own boss and I’m glad the sound track to my day is no longer 30 children in an enclosed space with no mute button! That and the fact that I actually see projects completed.

The variety of subject areas and languages means no two days are the same: dealing with oil pipe laying in Brazil one day and press releases for the European institutions the next. Best of all, I get to do my own dream job every day while taking a peek at those of others!