Operating a professional translator’s business without a support network is like driving a car without a seat belt.
You may be perfectly alright driving along at 60 miles an hour – until a deer jumps into your path. Bad luck? No, bad planning! No, it wasn’t your fault that the deer jumped in front of your car but, yes, if you drive without a seat belt, you are responsible for the severity of your injuries.
Your network needs to cover a multitude of eventualities.
- IT problems and internet connection problems
- Vocabulary research/translation related queries
- Domestic issues/child care
- Illness and professional indemnity cover
Finding support networks
The CIoL and the ITI offer members general and language specific support networks.
There is also a plethora of Facebook support groups for all language combinations you can think of, as well as for CAT tools. They are friendly and welcoming places that are also happy to answer beginners’ questions.
Finding terminology support
The days of relying on your own specialist dictionaries are long gone. The Internet is full of bilingual websites and multilingual glossaries. Some even offer plug-ins for CAT tools. Your Facebook networks are good places to get information on the best sites for your work.
Many clients will also give you past translations and TMs to work with.
If you are unable to find a specific term, you must talk to your client. You could ask for a synonym in the source language or ask if they have business partners or staff who are familiar with the terminology. Do they have competitors they know of in the target country? Can they supply you with a photo of the item in question? As a last resort: can they rephrase the sentence without the use of this particular term? Point out to them that you have tried all avenues open to you. It is in their interest to help you.
One day your central heating might pack up or your childminder not turn up. Make sure you have a safety net in place for foreseeable emergencies, so your translation work doesn’t suffer as a consequence.
No one is immune to falling ill. If you depend on your earnings from translation jobs as your only source of income, take out insurance cover that gives you a replacement income in times of need. These insurances aren’t very expensive (unless you have pre-existing health issues) and well worth investing in.
To cover your clients, should you fall ill in the middle of a translation assignment, build up a network of fellow translators that you can rely on to carry out your work when you are incapacitated.
All freelance translators should also take out professional indemnity insurance.
Professional bodies like the Chartered Institute of Linguists offer insurance deals at affordable prices to their members.