What’s the best way to fail?
Sit around and wait.
That’s what it takes to be a failure. And there are a lot of people who claim they want to be translators who are doing just that.
- 1 Let me be clear here, though. Doing the bear minimum is still doing nothing.
- 2 You’ve stopped actively looking for new clients.
- 3 You’re not actively improving your main asset: your language.
- 4 You’re not improving your knowledge of the world.
- 5 You’re not meeting other translators.
- 6 You’re wasting time.
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Let me be clear here, though.
Doing the bear minimum is still doing nothing.
If you want something, you have got to bust your butt for it. Nobody else is going to do it for you. You’re the one that has to make it happen.
You’ve heard the saying:
Good things come to those who wait.
What a bunch of crap.
You know where this saying originated?
It was an English proverb attempting to instruct people about the virtues of patience.
Patience is fine and everything if you want to wait around for other people to dictate how you should live your life.
But patience will not get the job done.
Patience is waiting.
Waiting is delay.
Delay is stagnation.
Stagnation is death.
Instead of death, choose work.
Choose to work like you want the reward and that nothing can wait.
This should be your new motto:
So how do you get stagnate as a translator?
Let us count the ways:
You’ve stopped actively looking for new clients.
The mad translator behind the writings at PatentTranslator has been translating for about three times as long as I have.
In his 30+ years of translation experience, he says he’s averaged 12 new clients a year.
How many new clients are you getting per year?
How many per month?
What are you doing daily to find new clients?
Probably not enough.
You’re not actively improving your main asset: your language.
If you’re not doing things to perfect your language, you’re stagnation will lead to your failure.
Language is not something that can be learned and then never studied again, especially if it is the main way you earn your living.
That’s what your clients are paying for, after all.
You’re not improving your knowledge of the world.
Translators don’t translate in a vacuum.
You have to be constantly understanding the world around you in order to translate that world for your clients.
One way to do that is to read the news.
Reading the news is better than watching it because it causes you to engage more.
Another way is to learn about different subjects you have little or no knowledge about.
When was the last time you learned about anything physics-related?
If you’re a science translator, when was the last time you studied classic literature.
If the answer is a long time or never, it’s time to change that.
The best way you can do that (for free even) is to take free online education courses.
You’re not meeting other translators.
I’ve met a lot of wannabe translators that like the idea of being a translator so that they can work from home and never talk to anyone again.
If this is you, it’s time to give that dream (0r nightmare) up.
Freelancing of any type might include working from home, but the best ones still engage with others.
They either do it through social media, in person, over the phone, or most likely a combination of all three.
You can try to do things yourself, sure, but if you truly want to succeed, you cannot be afraid to reach out and talk to others.
One of the best ways to do this is by attending conferences, either translation-related ones or speciality-specific ones.
Meeting and interacting with like-minded professionals who share your goals, dreams, fears, and hardships can be a tremendous boost to your morale and overall business.
This is especially relevant for people that have a difficult time motivating themselves to get the job done.
You’re wasting time.
Wasting time time on things that you tell yourself are relevant to your job but that really aren’t is the biggest sin a translator can commit.
Especially a translator that wants to succeed.
And there are a lot of time wasting activities.
Again, let’s count the ways:
- Social media
- Checking email
- Watching Youtube videos
- Cleaning the house
- Watching TV or movies
- Taking a nap
- Reading translation forums
You might tell yourself that these things are important.
You can tell yourself that they’re essential.
You can even tell yourself that doing them will increase your ability to focus on your freelance translation career.
Guess what? They won’t.
They are all distractions that will lead to translation stagnation.
Don’t get caught up in thinking these less important things take precedence over your goals.
Are you stagnate?
Get out of the cycle.
Focus. Work like crazy. Win.
That’s the formula.
Now go do it.