When I attended my first ATA conference in San Francisco this past fall, I participated in the Buddies Welcome Newbies event, which pairs those who have attended the conference before with those who are attending for the first time. During the welcome presentation, I was introduced to The Savvy Newcomer, a blog of tips and resources for translators and interpreters that are new to the industry. I asked myself, How had I never heard of this before?! If I have been working in the translation industry for nearly five years and freelancing for more than three, all the while blissfully unaware of this resource, others are probably in the same boat. I decided to write this post to laud the industry veterans behind The Savvy Newcomer and to learn more about one of them in particular, Catherine Christaki. I recently had the privilege of interviewing Catherine, who regularly blogs and tweets for The Savvy Newcomer and her own blog (see below), to talk about the origins of the blog, why she does what she does, and more tips for those who are starting out in the industry.
Ben: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Catherine. You are a part of the powerhouse team that generates and curates content for The Savvy Newcomer, the ATA’s blog for industry newbies. How did The Savvy Newcomer come about and how did you get involved?
Catherine: Thank you for having me on your blog, Ben! I’ve been really enjoying your posts, please keep writing as often so I have great content to share on the four different accounts I manage (one for Lingua Greca and three for the American Translators Association). 😉
My journey with The Savvy Newcomer (TSN) started three years ago, when Helen Eby, one of the site’s co-founders, contacted me and asked me to handle the site’s Twitter account, some months after I spoke at ATA’s 54th Annual Conference in San Antonio in 2013 about social media for translators. I got the opportunity to join their amazing team and interact with them during their monthly meetings. Soon thereafter, I pitched the idea of hosting reblogs on the TSN blog and that was added to my responsibilities. When the blogmaster had to take some time off for a family emergency, I took over her role, which basically meant organizing the TSN team and their duties, preparing all the blog posts in WordPress, and of course curating the TSN Twitter account.
There aren’t enough words to describe how enriching and enjoyable my experience with TSN has been, all aspects of it. How efficient our monthly meetings are, how truly involved all the members are, the crazy amount of time they spend on supporting the TSN cause (providing tips to newbies in translation and interpreting), their dedication to keeping deadlines and completing their tasks, and many more. We all learn from one another by discussing our business experiences and then we try to find a way to formulate them into posts that we can share on the blog.
BK: What motivates you to share business advice with other language professionals?
CC: The great feeling and satisfaction I get out of it, it’s 100% selfish! 🙂 Of course, there are other reasons too, like the classic “I had no one to tell me these things when I was starting out”, but it always comes down to the fact that it ultimately feels amazing and totally worth it no matter the time you spend researching, writing, presenting, etc. Mentoring is the same. If you manage to give one useful piece of advice to your mentee or even inspire them (the holy grail!), then that’s your goal, that’s the reason you find the time, no matter how busy you are with managing your own work and your business.
BK: You have written and presented on the importance of social media for translators and how to utilize social media to approach new clients. Which social media platform is the most powerful for translators?
CC: I think LinkedIn is still at the top. It recently reached a milestone of having half a billion members in 200 countries. Those people joined in order to connect and engage with other professionals. LinkedIn’s main purpose isn’t news (like Twitter) or friends/relationships (like Facebook). That makes it my network of choice for prospecting (finding potential clients, researching them, interacting with them through Pulse or Groups, and connecting with them).
Twitter comes second, because it’s perfect for networking (with colleagues and clients), learning (news, “attending” conferences and events by following the right hashtags), prospecting (researching clients, learning more about their current activities, i.e. “stalking” them but in a good way without being annoying).
Because most translators offer their services to businesses and the business side of Facebook (pages, advertising, groups) is mostly B2C, it comes third on my list. It can be very beneficial for translators that cater to specific markets, e.g. certified translations and personal documents, and of course for networking with peers in the many available groups.
BK: What should every translator or interpreter who is new to the industry do right now?
- Follow The Savvy Newcomer blog for great posts on all things newbies! 🙂 And then:
- Find a mentor (e.g. through your translators’ association) for non-translation advice
- Find a translation mentor/paid proofreader or do an internship. This is the one thing I wish I had thought of or done when I was starting out. It would have saved me tons of time and spared me mistakes that I learned the hard way (extra time spent, clients lost, etc.)
- Specialize! This will help you work faster, more efficiently and you will love every single project you do, instead of doing the work just for the money
- Attend translation conferences and events, as well as client events in your areas of specialization
- Read translation blogs and listen to podcasts. So many learning opportunities!
- Join free translator groups on Facebook for tips and support
BK: Will we be seeing you at ATA58 in Washington D.C. this fall?
CC: Definitely! After moving to Canada from Greece, we are now finally close to the annual ATA conferences, no need for endless flights. Washington is a gorgeous city, great excuse for some sightseeing, too. 😉
Many thanks to Catherine for taking the time to answer my questions. Please follow her and TSN on Twitter, subscribe to her weekly translation-related news roundup, and consider subscribing to this blog for more content like this.
Catherine Christaki has been a full-time English-Greek translator since 2001 and co-owner of Toronto-based Lingua Greca Translations since 2012. Her specializations include IT (lead Greek translator for Apple since 2011), Medical, and Technical texts. In 2013, she translated the popular guide for translation buyers, Translation: Getting It Right, into Greek. She is active on social media, especially on Twitter @LinguaGreca, which has been voted among the Top 25 Language Twitterers 6 years in a row (2011-2016). She writes the translation blog Adventures in Technical Translation and regularly talks about social media and blogging for translators in interviews and at conferences.