What I was up to in August
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What I was up to in August

August turned out to be an exciting month, filled with lots of new opportunities and a bit of drama. If I had to pick one word to define it that word would be ‘change’. It wasn’t just about some real-life, or rather virtual-life changes (see the story about changing the name of the Blabbing Translators show, finding a new platform and a sponsor for it below), but also about the changes in my attitude to lots of things, including change itself. Sounds a bit complicated? Read on and it will all become clear.


Negotiations with direct clients


Last month I was in negotiations with several direct clients and while it wasn’t always easy, I learned a bunch of valuable lessons in the process. I thought it would be great to share them with you, in case you’re anything like me and want to work more with direct clients.


1. Do your homework


Find out as much as you can about your potential client before going to a meeting or, as it was in my case, scheduling a Skype call.


Knowing something about the company you want to collaborate with or maybe even about the project you want to work on is a great way to show your interest and make a good impression.


Some places to find the information: company’s website and its social media feeds, blog posts and, my personal favorite, podcasts.


You’d be surprised at how many companies use this tool to market their products. Finding a couple of interviews will help you get a better understanding of how they position themselves on the market, whom they consider their target audience and things like that.


2. Formulate why you’re a good fit for the project


You might be the best fit for the project, but you need to explain it to your clients in their language.


Few people outside the translation profession know what a CAT-tool is or understand the true value of a faithful and naturally sounding translation when you put it like this.


Learn to think like your client. What do they want? Increase the number of downloads for their app? Provide a great user experience that will make their users talk about the product? Increase conversion rates for their website? Find out what it is and explain how you can help achieve it.


We all have skills which we don’t consider our USPs, but they might be just that. For example, my love of photography and the fact that I’ve built two websites in WordPress over the past year were an important advantage for one of my potential clients.


3. Stick to the facts and make sure you get things straight


I’ll give you an example. I was discussing the price of a project with a potential client via email. The currency kept changing from EUR to USD and back. At some point, it turned out that it was the client’s way of negotiating a lower price (he lives in a country where a third currency is used and USD is cheaper that EUR).


Once I had this piece of the puzzle, everything became clear. Before that, it just felt confusing.


I have to remind myself that all people are different and have different communication styles. Mine is direct and straightforward, but it doesn’t mean that everyone else negotiates in the same way.


Lack of information may lead to miscommunication, so be sure to get all the information you need to make an informed decision about the terms you want to work on. Ask questions. If you don’t get the answers, ask again.


4. Be generous


And by that I don’t mean that you should lower your price and work for peanuts.


I’m talking about a more generous mindset, where you believe that people are basically good and don’t intend to exploit you or pay you less than you deserve.


You can get unusual offers or offers that you don’t like. A generous mindset will help you see the things for what they are and talk from a position of calm and friendliness, which is always a good thing.


Goodbye, Blabbing Translators! Hello, Translators on Air!


As some of you know, last month Blab, the platform we were using to host our weekly live talk show about translation and translators, ceased to exist. That was quite a blow.


Dmitry Kornyukhov, my co-host, and the tech guy on our team of two broke the news by sending me an email with a subject line that said:


‘Looks like we don’t have a talk show anymore’


It was less than a week before the launch date of Season 2. I had been emailing back and forth with our guests for the past two weeks and I finally scheduled all the interviews and test calls for the first 7 weeks. Another half a dozen of people had confirmed their willingness to take part in the show and we just had to agree on the dates.


So, how did that news make me feel? My reaction was a huge surprise for me: I felt curious. I remember the first through that came to my mind when I read the email and that was ‘Interesting!’


Now, I have always thought of myself a person who hates change. I get used to everything very quickly. I prefer to have the same things for breakfast, take the same routes when I go for a walk with my dog and I love my routines.


Blabbing Translators had become part of my routine, for sure. Since we have started with the interviews back in February I missed only two episodes while I was on vacation. And even though we had a two-months break, I still had to think about whom to invite next and what things to talk about.


Moreover, these Wednesday interviews had been the true highlight of my week. We had lots of fun and I enjoyed every single interview that we made to say nothing of the amazing support and feedback we got from the translation community.


So how come that I was feeling curious and not sad or frightened?


Well, I’m not sure. Maybe reading articles about entrepreneurship made me realize that change is inevitable and shifted my perspective. Maybe I’m finally learning to see the end of something as a chance for a new beginning.


Or maybe I had some gut feeling that was telling me that it wasn’t over, that there must be a way to work around this situation and maybe even make it work for us.


And sure enough, it did turn out for the better! In the next few day, Dmitry found a new platform for the show called Crowdcast with lots of interesting features. Now you’ll be able to ask the questions in advance and upvote them or listen to answers to certain questions thanks to time-stamps.


Unlike Blab, Crowdcast is not free. So Dmitry also got us a sponsor for this season. This is something new and I’m curious to see how it will go.


We also had to change the name as Blabbing Translators doesn’t make much sense anymore and it’s been the only reason for some negative remarks from our colleagues (although I still think that it was a kind of filter that helped us repel the people who were not our target audience anyway).


I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who expressed their support and helped to come up with some ideas for a new name. This time, we decided to let our audience pick the name for the show and set up a poll on Twitter. Now we’re called Translators on Air.


So on October, 5 we’ll launch the second season on a new platform and with a new name. What stays the same though is our love for the translation profession and the desire to talk with all the interesting people that we’re lucky to call our colleagues. So save the date!


Preparing for a major website update


I’ve been thinking about it for several months already. I’m quite pleased with the design of my website, but not so much with the copy.


Firstly, there’s hardly any information about me on the website. I added a little ‘about me’ section in the footer of the page, but honestly, how many people scroll down all the way to the footer?


Secondly, the copy is too general. It’s not clear who my target audience is. I can see the reasons for it, though.


Up until recently, I couldn’t define my target audience. There’s just too many things that I want to work on. Productivity and travel apps, non-fiction books on motivation and becoming the best version of yourself, courses that help you improve your skills, you name it!


But then it suddenly hit me: there is one thing that all these products have in common.


Their purpose is to help people live a more happy and fulfilling life.


And making them available to Russian speakers makes my life more happy and fulfilling. That’s what I want to do and that’s a niche I want to work in.


It’s nothing like the usual areas of specialization that I see on other translators’ websites (and on my own website for that matter) and I’m still thinking about how I can make it work. But these thoughts make me jump out of bed in the morning and it’s a good sign, isn’t it?


Finally, I want to share a great video that I found particularly useful for finding this theme of happiness that is common for all the projects I want to be part of. In fact, I found my ‘why’ while watching this presentation by Marta Stelmaszak.


Interesting fact: I shared the video that Marta mentions during her talk in the first installment of this monthly series. It always fascinates me to see how ideas take the time to evolve and then ‘suddenly’ come up in most unexpected ways.


Enjoy this presentation and tell me all about your summer in the comments!





  • Caroline Eira

    07.09.2016 at 03:28 Reply

    Hi Elena! I loved your post! This month of August was a month full of changes for me in every area of my life, especially my career. I have big plans for my translator career and your post really inspired me more! Good lucj for you and Dmitry with the new website Translators on Air. For sure I will follow it too. Cheers!

    • Elena

      07.09.2016 at 12:14 Reply

      Hi Caroline! Thanks for dropping by and for your comment! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. 🙂

  • Irene Corchado

    21.09.2016 at 13:45 Reply

    Interesting thoughts about negotiating with direct clients, Elena. I always find it hard to negotiate with them, especially when they are not originally from countries I am used to work with, which was recently the case. As you point out, it’s important to know who you are dealing with an d try to adapt your negotiation style so you both get the best possible outcome.
    August brought many changes for me. I am temporarily working from my home country while my UK house is being rebuilt, there have been some work-related challenges as well, and I came up with a project idea for freelance linguists abroad that I hope to launch in the next months.
    Best of luck with everything you got planned!

    • Elena

      23.09.2016 at 19:21 Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Irene!

      I agree, we’re all different and it’s important to keep it in mind.

      Sounds like you’ve got a lot going on! I’m curious about you project idea. Would love to know more, when you’re ready to share. 🙂

  • Jo Rourke

    21.09.2016 at 13:47 Reply

    I love this post, Elena! The negotiation tips were excellent, and I especially liked to hear about defining what you offer and how to communicate it. Like you, I offer lots of different things too, rather than just straight translation – your post made me realise it’s something to be proud of! Thank you 🙂

    • Elena

      23.09.2016 at 19:23 Reply

      Thank you for your comment, Jo!

      I’m so glad you found my post useful! I couldn’t agree more: we’ve got to recognize out strengths as such. And yes, I do believe that we can be proud of what we can offer. 🙂

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