Welcome everyone to the eighth episode of the translation & interpreting “red carpet” series, featuring remarkable guests of the industry who kindly accepted to share with us their views on some common points. After having Catherine Christaki, Xosé Castro, Lloyd Bingham, Scheherezade Suriá, Clara Guelbenzu, Valeria Aliperta and Marta Stelmaszak as special guests in the previous episodes, the red carpet guest of this week is the Spanish translator and entrepreneur, Elena Fernández. As always, if you’re active in the translation and interpreting community, there’s no chance you don’t know her. Still, let’s refresh our memory a little bit…Elena Fernández
Elena Fernández is a project manager and English to Spanish translator specialising in marketing and business. She also provides Spanish copywriting and publicity transcreation services. Along with some of her college classmates, she founded the company Trágora Traducciones in 2006, which offers translation and voice-over services worldwide.
In 2008 she founded Trágora Formación, an online training programme for translators and interpreters that offers dozens of online courses and seminars specialising in different areas of expertise.
In 2013 she decided to launch her own blog on marketing for translators (www.marketingparatraductores.com) where she writes about how to break into the translation market and how to carve out a professional niche using online and offline marketing techniques. She shares her experience in each post to give a hand to those who are just starting out.
Thank you very much, Elena, for kindly finding some time to answer these questions.
When did you first become aware of your calling and what happened since then?
“From a very young age I was curious about the lyrics of songs in English and I just started translating them, dictionary in hand. Basically I learned a lot of English because of my interest and it really showed in class. One of the teachers at the High School encouraged me to study T&I (I was going to do philology) because, as she put it, “You’ll have a ball.” And she was right. And in my last university year, my passion for languages converged with my passion for entrepreneurship and I decided I wanted to be my own boss. I started the company as soon as I got my degree and, after taking those hard first steps and even falling down a few times, I can truly say this has been the best decision I’ve ever made in my life.”
Did you choose your specialisation or was your specialisation that chose you?
“In my case I must confess I chose my specialisation based on what I love to do most: I enjoy translating. It’s been the same at the company: we specialise in those areas that we love managing and that we enjoy working with the most. I’ve always thought that if you love what you do, you’ll be one of the best at it.”
Should anyone want to specialise in your field, would you recommend anything in particular?
“A master’s degree and direct work experience are both good things to have. I have a master’s in marketing and Internet business but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that most of my knowledge base comes from being a self-taught person and dealing with the realities of the marketplace. Experience is the best source of training there is although we’re not always lucky enough to start working in the field we love most. A master’s or a course can give you a kind of guide for your organisation as you’ll have the benefit of being taught by a professional, or many of them, who is an expert in the field you want to be in. I guess it all depends on your own personal/professional situation when the time comes to make that decision.”
Why did you choose to go freelance rather than working as an in-house translator?
“Trágora is made up of 3 partners who manage translation projects with the help of more than 80 independent translators and voice-over artists. We’re like one big, happy family. I chose to work for myself because I like to make my own rules and strive to achieve my own goals. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the results of your own achievements realised.”
How was your first client hunting? Three tips for translators/interpreters-to-be or those who are struggling due to the crisis?
“The first clients we had were thanks to the thousands and thousands of email messages we sent when we first started. There were no social networks and we had to resort to interruption marketing. It’s different these days, now it’s all about attraction marketing. Here are my 3 pieces of advice for finding your first clients:
- Establish an online presence that reflects who you are, what you do and what problem you solve. You can’t survive without a website and without a presence on the social networks where your clients are.
- Create and share content related to your activity/specialty to attract attention from potential clients.
- Take care of each client as if they were your only client. A satisfied client always comes back and recommends you to more potential clients.”
How significant are or have been social networks and personal branding for your current position?
“What can I say? They’ve been a key part to getting where we are today. We’ve found a lot of clients that would have otherwise been practically out of reach. Although some see social media as a passing fad, I’ve got to say it’s important to take advantage of any opportunity you have in the marketplace. Knowing how to adapt to the market and identify business opportunities is key when it comes to growing as a business and as a professional.”
How did you make your name in the translation industry? Any dos and don’ts?
- Have a very clear vision of what you do well and communicate it wherever you are.
- Be self-confident and be someone your clients can trust.
- Take care of your online and offline presence and maintain a professional image.
- Don’t ever do something you don’t know how to do. Get help.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you never make a mistake, there’s something you’re doing wrong.
- Don’t settle. Don’t let opportunities pass you by.”
If you speak Spanish, you can watch Elena in action with the video below taken during the 2013 Traduemprende in Madrid: “Los errores del emprendedor”.
Just in case you missed any previous red carpet episode, you can click on the name of the red carpet interviewee you are interested in:
- Catherine Christaki
- Xosé Castro
- Lloyd Bingham
- Scheherezade Suría
- Clara Guelbenzu
- Valeria Aliperta
- Marta Stelmaszak
As always, feel free to leave any comment. Have a great week everybody!