Welcome to a new entry of our series of interviews with translators from all over the globe. Translation is a very diverse industry – we want to introduce some of the people behind making the world a more multilingual place. This episode is an interview with Marta Simões from Spain.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
First of all, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to participate in this series of interviews.
My name is Marta Simões, and I am a Spanish professional translator and interpreter. I translate from English, French and Portuguese into Spanish. I was born in Gran Canaria (Spain), a beautiful and sunny island located in the Atlantic Ocean.
I currently work as a freelance translator for some Spanish companies and for several foreign agencies located in different parts of the world. My main areas of expertise are IT, technology, marketing, tourism and sworn translation. Outside the fields of translation, I love graphic design, photography and —above all and most rewarding— I am passionate about travel.
How did you decide to become a translator?
Since I was 4, I studied at an English school, where there were students and teachers from many different nationalities. I also come from a family half Spanish half Portuguese, so I grew up surrounded by an enriching multicultural environment in every aspect. Besides, I have always loved languages, so I also decided to start studying French at school. I actually had very clear from the beginning that I wanted to dedicate my life to translation and intercultural communication.
A few months ago I decided to start my own adventure, ready to surpass myself every day, ready to face different challenges and ready to look for clients from all over the world. So here I am, as a freelance translator.
What are good or bad things about freelancing?
Like everything in life, being a freelance translator also has its advantages and disadvantages. I prefer to think that there are many more advantages, and gradually overcome the minor problems that may appear.
For me, a great advantage is that you can be your own boss, and you can control your workload and the hours you want to spend according to your expectations. In spite of everything, there must be a lot of commitment and professionalism when working for another translation agency or company, and we shouldn’t forget that. Another advantage is that you can choose your own office and work from anywhere. That’s fantastic. I have chosen a co-working office, where I have met many professionals from different sectors and with whom I have shared many moments and contacts. It is wonderful to surround yourself with other freelancers who have so many things to share and from whom you can learn so much. On the other hand, the worst thing of being a freelance translator is when you have to chase certain clients in order to get paid, or when they offer a very low rate because they don’t value our profession.
In self-marketing, which factors have helped the most out so far?
Actually, I have started a few months ago to promote myself in the industry, so I can’t really draw many conclusions for the moment.
Perhaps a key factor is to be in constant motion, not stopping and, above all, being able to transmit confidence and professionalism. I always recommend to every translator to promote themselves among friends and family, and create their brand through the social networks. But networking is just the start. Your ultimate goal is to build a relationship. That is where the true value of networking comes into play because you will get advice, support, and a higher likelihood of opportunities coming your way. However, we must not forget that face-to-face interaction is irreplaceable.
Which of the social networks do you use most successfully for customer acquisition, which ones more for interaction with others in your industry?
I am a person who uses social networks quite often, both from my computer and my smartphone. Although I don’t post as much as I would like to, I do frequently check my Twitter account and interact with other professionals, or I just pop up to read all the fascinating articles they publish. I love reading and learning new things about translation. I think it is definitely my favourite network.
LinkedIn is also a very interesting professional network, but unfortunately I think people don’t use it very often. There are many useful tools and discussion groups, and even some companies publish job offers. I believe that this last option is perhaps the best social network to interact with clients and agencies.
As I said earlier, I have only been a few months working as a freelance translator, so I consider this “the early phase” of my career. Even though I have been several years translating professionally, translation is today totally different for me. Among other things, I have changed the way I manage my time and workflow. Years ago I wasn’t aware of the value of CAT tools, but now I can’t live without them, literally.
At university I never imagined CAT tools would be so important to a translator, but this is something that I learned after finishing my studies and after gaining some experience. I have gradually become aware that time and quality are really valuable.
Where do you find inspiration for your blog?
My main source of inspiration, not only for my website, but also for my personal and professional life, are those people around me, both family and friends, and even other colleagues and clients. I like to analyse situations, state my opinion and ideas. I think it is very important to observe, listen and express yourself.
Which online and offline resources do you read on a regular basis?
I have no particular preference, but it normally depends on what I am concentrating on at that moment. I have always been a person who enjoys touching and feeling the pages of every book, and the distinctive smell of paper. However, I’ve started using an eBook reader and, surprisingly, it has pleased me enormously. I find it quite useful and practical to carry around.
How does your average working day look like?
Since I started my life as a freelance translator, my working day has changed considerably. I am very organised and I write down everything I have to do during the day. I usually work around 8-10 hours a day, although this depends on the project I am translating at that moment.
I always start my day with a good breakfast, because it is very important to have lots of energy to face the day, and then I automatically look at my email account. How many translators don’t do this? Then, I normally work from my office, except if I decide to travel a bit and work from another place.
At the end of the day, I like to go to the gym to clear my head, and give myself a nice and relaxing shower!
If you could change something in your work environment, what would it be?
Currently I feel very well working out of my comfort zone. Working in pyjamas is a very attractive idea, but it’s not practical at all. So perhaps in this sense I wouldn’t change anything. Having a different space helps me to concentrate better, without distractions.
Are you a desk person or more of a mobile worker?
I’m definitely a bit of both. I like to focus on my work as I have just said, avoiding distractions, yet I really enjoy sharing co-working spaces, meeting new people who I know will bring their experience to bear. I love to move and travel; it is essential that a translator does not remain isolated from the world.
What are CAT tools missing today, how would you envision the CAT tool of your dreams?
On my computer we can find several CAT tools, but certainly the one that I use the most is SDL Trados Studio, as it is the one that most agencies use for their projects. I guess I don’t miss anything yet, perhaps because I need to discover all their features first!
What would you pass on as personal advice to translators new to the industry?
The best advice I can give right now is that, if you really want to be a translator, you have to fight for it. Be persistent and do not let other people drag you down, that’s the key. There will be many obstacles that will certainly get in the way, specially when freelancing, and there will be days when you will doubt whether what you are doing is right because you see that nobody phones you after sending tons of CVs; but you have to look towards the future, know how to move and never give up. Jobs don’t appear magically, you have to go after them and they will finally come to you. Everything has its reward, and if you work hard, keep studying and surrounding yourself with professional people, you will certainly succeed. The job of a translator is really rewarding and intellectually exciting.