Thursday, 6 June 2013

How wide is your web presence?

Nowadays, rule no. 1 for anyone setting themselves up in translation is to establish a strong web presence. This was the piece of advice that experienced translators had for me in the fledgling stages of my translation career. Many years on, I realise this piece of advice has proved to be invaluable.

Which tools do translators predominantly use to build up and widen their web presence?

- Website: Having a website is certainly not the most important tool for generating business for translators because there are simply too many competitors out there. Note that, although I'm constantly busy, the number of enquiries that I have had through my website in the past few years can be counted on the fingers of one hand. This is hardly surprising because a website is essential, but should mainly be viewed as a virtual business card.

Rule no. 1 for setting yourself up in translation: establish a strong web presence!

- Blogging: Translators are often perceived as invisible, and translation is a profession beset with misconceptions (see my post about misconceptions here). A blog, therefore, is an excellent tool for translators for speaking up and sharing a taste of what goes on behind the scenes of translation. If you've considered blogging, but are still not sure about whether it is for you, read this post on Sarah Dillon's blog, which I've found encouraging.

- Xing: Xing is a business network where professionals from all kinds of different industries can network, meet up, find jobs, colleagues, new assignments, cooperation partners, experts and generate business ideas. It's a platform that is widely used in Germany. Visiting the BDÜ forum on Xing is something that I've told myself I should do more often.

- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a networking platform very similar to Xing and very popular here in the UK. You can find an ITI forum on it as well. I think that, time permitting, we should all try and find the time to explore the features of both LinkedIn and Xing more fully.

- ProZ: ProZ is the largest online community for translators and translation companies. It's search engine-optimised, so if you're seeking to establish a web presence, I recommend setting up a ProZ profile, even if you're a non-paying member. ProZ has other pros, but also its cons, on which I won't dwell in this post.

- Facebook: Facebook has become the most frequented place in the world for exchanging small talk and eating up lots of your time. Personally, I have my doubts about its usefulness for translators, who spend far too much time at the computer on a daily basis anyway. It's up to you whether you want to invest time in it. I'm thinking of leaving Facebook.

- Twitter: Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging service that connects you to the latest ideas, opinions and information that are of interest to you. Tweets are condensed into 140 characters, and each second around 9,000 tweets are posted (source: At the ITI conference in Birmingham in 2011, I was encouraged to join Twitter, too. Two years on, I'm glad that I did!

On some days I still feel as awkward about being so public on the internet as in my fledgling stages; on other days I'm okay with it. After all, is there anyone who cannot be found on the internet nowadays?