Translation is a very diverse industry - we want to introduce some of the people behind making the world a more multilingual place. This time it is an interview with Catherine Christaki of Lingua Greca Translations from Greece. Enjoy reading!
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
First of all, thank you for having me! I have enjoyed the linguist interviews very much, it’s an honor to be among such great company. I have been a full-time English-Greek translator since 2001 and
the co-owner of Athens-based Lingua Greca Translations since 2012. My specializations include IT, medical and technical texts. I am a proud member of the American Translators Association, the Chartered Institute of Linguists and GALA. In 2013, I translated the popular guide for translation buyers. I am active on social media, especially Twitter @LinguaGreca, which has been voted among the Top 25 Twitterers 3 years in a row (2011-2013) and I blog regularly in Adventures in Freelance Translation.
How did you decide to become a translator?
I had a knack for languages and an older brother studying in the UK with many friends from several countries. I started with English, then French and German (which I later studied at university), Italian and Spanish (still a beginner in both). When I was little, I used to say that I want to be an interpreter at the European Parliament and also a freelance translator so I can raise my kids at home. It didn’t exactly turn out like that, but I got the basics. Freelance translator in my home country for 11 years (no interpreting for me, too scary) and a translation company owner for the last 2 years (so I don’t work from home any more but I don’t have kids either).
What are good or bad things about freelancing?
The negative ones are fewer so I’ll start with those J You don’t have the safety of the steady paycheck. You have to pay for your insurance. You have to spend time marketing and networking for your business. Not having set working hours usually means you end up working way more than 8 hours per day. Now, let’s move on the positive. No boss! No set working hours, no set business environment, no office gossip. You get to work as much as you like, whenever you like (great for night owls), dressed as you like. Every project, every hour spent working goes toward improving your business. Your accomplishments are all your own, you’re not working for the well-being of an employer, you are building on your business. I could go on and on…
In self-marketing, which factors have helped out the most so far?
Being helpful, providing useful resources, caring for and appreciating colleagues and clients. I think this is the best way to market your services, without even talking about your business, especially for freelance translators. Being approachable and a problem-solver for clients. You have to build solid relationships, both with translation agencies and direct clients.
Which of the social networks do you use most successfully for customer acquisition, which ones more for interaction with others in your industry?
Twitter is the best channel for networking and interacting with colleagues. The linguist community has been growing steadily for the past few years; you get to meet amazing colleagues all over the world, read their interesting and useful tweets, learn from seasoned translators and connect with them.
LinkedIn is the best channel for prospecting, i.e. finding, researching and contacting potential clients. It’s also good for networking, but the translation community in Twitter is much bigger and more active.
In your work with clients and partners, what are you doing differently today in comparison to the early phase of your career?
I focus more on benefiting from my existing business relationships and less on finding new clients in bulk with cold emailing. That in itself is a marketing method. Happy clients are always eager to recommend you to their friends and colleagues. Another important difference is the type of relationship I try to build with clients. I try to make them see me as more than a Greek translator. I want them to think of me as their business partner, someone who will help them attract clients, make them look good.
Where do you find inspiration for your blog?
Everywhere! Social media and my daily interaction with colleagues is my most important source of inspiration. And I can see that’s true for many blogging translators. I’ve seen Twitter conversations turned into blog posts many times. Reading other translators’ blogs, as well as journals and magazines in the fields I specialise in, also lead to blog ideas. Inspiration is endless but sadly the time to turn those ideas into articles isn't :)
Which online and offline resources do you read on a regular basis?
My very long blogroll includes all the blogs I have subscribed to and read daily or weekly. Offline, I read translation journals (like The Chronicle by the American Translators Association and The Linguist by the Chartered Institute of Linguists) and magazines in fields that interest me (MacLife, TIME, Fortune, Financial Times).
Are you a desk person or more of a mobile worker?
Definitely a mobile worker. It’s one of the best advantages of being a freelancer or a business owner. You can work on your laptop any time, any place. I like the stability of my office environment, my many screens and computers and my comfy chair. But being able to work at the beach or at a coffee shop in any gorgeous city is invaluable!
What are CAT tools missing today, how would you envision the CAT tool of your dreams?
I would love better interoperability between TEnTs (Translation Environment Tools). Every translator has their preferred tool and every LSP has their own. It’s time-consuming to have to learn and use 3-5 different tools. If I could focus on just one that would be able to manage files from any other tool, it would save me tons of time.
What would you pass on as personal advice to translators new to the industry?
Invest time in networking and interacting with colleagues. On social media, webinars and translation conferences. The amount of information and useful tips that translators share online is amazing. Choose your specializations carefully, make sure you really enjoy working in those fields. Then, spend time learning about them as much and often as possible. Attend expos and local events. Research your potential clients thoroughly before you decide if you would like to work with them. Check their websites, their social media accounts and their LinkedIn profiles and pages. Don’t forget to market your services at all times, not only when work is slow. Take a few minutes per day or a few hours per week to think about your business as a whole and how you can make it bigger and better.