The Entrepreneurial Linguist is an excellent book for translation professionals written by Judy and Dagmar Jenner, identical twins who together run a successful translation business. If you are unsure whether you will benefit from reading this book, a good place to start might be their price list. If you are looking for ways to increase your own rates to the same attractive level, don’t miss the chance to learn from these top people in our industry.
The book focuses on the business side of translation career and suggests a wealth of recommendations on how to run your translation business effectively and grow both professionally and financially. The authors are knowledgeable not just in translation, but also in a variety of other disciplines, which makes their perspective well-rounded and fundamental. For instance, in the professional development chapter, they refer to Stephen R. Covey, which is just one of the many signs of profound knowledge behind the book.
In fact, there is so much valuable information that instead of reviewing the book in the classic sense, I’d rather focus on what appealed to me mostly.
The marketing section of the book provides a system for improving your marketing efforts both online and offline. The central idea is to focus on building your brand by using a variety of tools, including a personal services website, blog, and social media. The harder you work on these tools, the greater your visibility to potential clients. Additionally, by investing time and effort in your blog, you might gradually become an authority in your field, which will likely lead to more customers and higher rates. The book will easily guide you through getting started with these marketing tools.
One of the key takeaways for me was the guide to building a website using Google included in the book. I already benefited from this advice by helping create a simple web presence for another business I am involved in. It took just $10 for the domain name registration and 4 hours of my time, so the savings generated from this advice alone already created a sizable return on investment made in the book. I believe this guide will be of great help for many translators looking for a way to build their online presence economically.
Another series of tips that appealed to me is the suggestions on how to cut your expenses. The basic idea is to buy only what your business really needs and avoid non-essential purchases. For example, you must never hesitate to invest in a dedicated business phone line, but should think twice before buying any gadgets such as a smart phone, which are nice to own and toy with, but contribute little to your success as a translation entrepreneur.
The authors also provide many valuable insights on pricing. They are strong advocates of positioning yourself as providing a superior service, which is in short supply and will result in increased demand. Choosing between “high quality + low output” approach versus “low quality and high output” is often a tough choice for a translator. What this means is that, on the one hand, you can translate very quickly with low quality and accept all projects even when you don’t understand them. This way, you can maintain low rates and make up for small pay by higher volumes of work. The opposite approach is to focus on quality rather than volumes and increase rates respectively. The authors support the latter approach and provide a well-grounded opinion on why you should be a quality-oriented provider and what you can do to maintain higher rates. As our translation company shares the same quality policy, the book once again reinforced my belief that the focus on high quality is right for our company. If you hold this same belief, this book might be a source of positive reinforcement for you as well.
I am confident that most freelance translators and even some of translation agencies will be able to benefit from this book, at least as a source of motivation. While some of the ideas included in the book will be useful mainly for beginning translators, there is a wealth of powerful ideas for seasoned professionals, too. Importantly, the book is so well-structured and profound that you are likely to gain a deeper understanding of, or a different perspective on, what you already know.
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