Translators are creative entrepreneurs. Creativity is often defined as the ability to see connections between things and use them to synthesize something new. Taking the source text, seeing the connections between grammar structures and the meanings of the words in two different languages and producing a new text in you target language — that’s what translators do. And like real creatives many of us have side projects.
Today’s post is all about passion projects — why we have them, how we make time for them in our busy lives and what benefits they can bring us. To give you a broader perspective on this subject I asked two of my colleagues to share their journeys with us. One of them is Tess Whitty, the creator of the Marketing Tips for Translators podcast, and the other one is Dmitry Kornyukhov, the person behind the new platform for translators, The Open Mic. I will also share what I’ve learned while working on my own small passion project — I Love Mondays newsletter for Russian-speaking creatives.
Let’s get started!
Everything is done for a reason. This applies to side projects, too. You probably don’t have to set concrete goals (although you might!), but you certainly need a clear answer to the question, why you want to devote part of your time to working on your project. Knowing your goals will help you stay motivated.
My goal was to unite the brightest minds of our profession and create a central stage where we can share our knowledge, promote best practices, educate our clients, encourage our fellow translators to follow their dreams and change this industry for the better one step at a time.
I got serious about marketing my translation services a little over 6 months ago. This has been an eye-opening journey during which I’ve come across tons of useful and inspiring information. At some point I thought that it would be great to use my translation skills and share this information with those who don’t know English. That’s how my weekly newsletter appeared. Every week I send translations of articles written by coaches, marketing professionals, writers and other creative entrepreneurs to Russian-speaking creatives. The newsletter is called I Love Mondays because, well, I do love Mondays. I do what I love for a living, so the start of a new week is rather a reason to celebrate, than something to be sad about. I want to give people some tips and inspiration for pursuing their dreams.
Side projects don’t just give you a chance to enjoy the process of creation. They provide numerous opportunities to learn and develop new skills, as well as network with people in your industry and beyond. What can a side project give you?
I love interviewing other translators and industry professionals. It gives me a way to socialize and connect and then share the knowledge with others. It is a great break in the day from just typing on a keyboard. It is very rewarding also when I hear from the listeners that the podcast has helped them or that they enjoyed it.
First of all, it’s been a great opportunity to develop my skills. And I don’t mean just translation skills. Networking, communication, time-management and even web-design — this is all involved in the project. Another benefit is that I can showcase I Love Mondays web-site as my online portfolio. But the best thing is the emails I get from my readers. It’s so good to know that I’m doing something that brings value to others.
Making the time
This is the most difficult part. We all have busy lives, so it takes some skill and determination to find those extra hours in your day.
Another thing that I always bear in mind is that I often fail to make the time for some important things, if I’m afraid. It might be the fear of failure or the fear of judgment, or even the failure of success. The good news is that, as Paul Jarvis puts it, fear and failure can co-exist. But you have to see it for what it really is.
Once getting this out of the way, check out what helps Tess, Dmitry and me find the time for out side-projects.
To make time for my side project, or the podcast, I have to schedule it in and treat it like any of my other jobs. Since I enjoy it, it is not hard to make time for it, and it motivates me to translate better and more the rest of the time. I also learn a lot from the project.
Self-discipline, consistency and having a solid plan or a road map. I’ve noticed that The Open Mic changed the way I spend my free time between the projects. Now, instead of procrastinating or wasting my time on hobbies I can focus on something that is much more important. To make time for your side project you just have to be so passionate about it that you could just give up watching cat videos on YouTube in order to make room for it. I did it and I have no regrets. I still have time for my work and 2-3 hours a day for The Open Mic. It’s all about balance and knowing what you want to achieve and how you will get there. Once you know that – it’s execution time. Get rid of all the noise and time-wasting activities in your life (everyone has them) and you’ll be surprised how much free time you actually have.
Some final tips to get your own passion project off the ground
- Choose something you feel strong about. This will help you stay on track and make time for your project.
- Have a plan. It’s easier to take action when you know what needs to be done. You might have a huge idea that can feel intimidating. When you have a plan, all you need to think about is the next step.
- Schedule in the work. Otherwise giving up watching cat videos on YouTube can become a bit too difficult.
- Make your own deadlines. They are great motivators. One of the reasons my newsletter is called I Love Mondays is that this name has a built-in deadline. I can’t miss the it and send the email on Tuesday or Wednesday. Of course, there are other ways to set deadlines. Just let your target audience know when you post your content or plan to launch you new project.
- Don’t get discouraged, if you don’t get the expected results right away. Things take time to evolve. If you show up and do the work, the rest will come. This is one of the things I like most about side projects: I do them mostly because I enjoy the process, and this makes me more patient.
Now over to you. Do you have a side project? Or maybe you have an idea for one? As always, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments!