It’s around that time when the coming of a new year forces us to recap on the past and plan for the future. Massive delusion of control? Probably. But, if the death of Socrates over 2400 years ago taught us anything at all, it’s that the “unexamined life is not worth living.” So, let’s all examine what we did this year as language professionals and participate in the happy delusion that next year will be better. And, what’s more, let’s prepare accordingly and plan for success!
RECAP: In my Matrix series, I used available numbers and market research to show that translation is not only a 34 billion dollar a year business, but it has been (and continues to be) growing steadily each year. I explained how supply and demand affect rates (here and here) and then showed that earning a higher income as a language professional involves shifting out of the “translation as a commodity” market and into the realm of the “specialty service” market (or what other translation bloggers refer to as the “premium market”). The question of “how” from a mathematical point of view was tackled here.
NEW CHALLENGES: The soon-to-be old year was obviously one of numbers and calculations for shifting into higher paying segments. But now that we know the numbers add up, a new question arises: Where are these higher-paying or “premium” clients? How do you market your services to them? And once you’ve secured these clients, how do you tailor your services to their specific needs?
RESOLUTIONS: My New Year’s resolution is to take you to the movies again and show you how to capture a market niche. But succeeding in this enterprise requires a series of commitments. Thus, here are three resolutions I propose for success-driven language professionals in 2015.
1) Acquire ongoing training and education: High paying market segments are challenging and hard to capture. One of the reasons for this is knowledge and training. Specialty segments require translators who not only know language, but also have a profound understanding of the subject at hand. Thus, catering to these clients requires not only being able to prove you are multilingual, but also an expert in their area or field.
2) Acquire strong business skills: Things have changed since good old St. Jerome translated the Bible. Today’s translation market –even the premium or specialty market– requires certain business skills, such as, effective communication, negotiation, marketing, and basic math and analytical skills. Translation as an art is a beautiful concept we’d be wise to keep alive; but if we want to make an actual living, we’ll need to accompany that notion with a skill set designed to help us not just survive, but strive in the current market.
3) Promote a positive professional image: How you are perceived by others is a very important part of your professional success. In today’s world, where such a large part of our communication happens online and behind a computer screen, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that what we publish on our blogs, in forums, or even on social media all contribute to how others see us; and those “others” include colleagues and potential clients. An immediate resolution for anyone looking to cater to the specialty service market is to take control of how others perceive them, and that involves not only minding how you act and behave online, but also establishing yourself as an expert in your area of specialization.
So, to all my readers, let’s kick-off the New Year more knowledgeable, with a strong set of business skills, a smile and a positive attitude! See you in 2015!