Xosé Castro on the red carpet (II)

Xosé CastroWelcome back to the second part of the interview “Xosé Castro on the red carpet”. In case you miss the first part, you might want to have a look at it before going on reading what follows. Xosé has already shared with us:

  • why he decided to work as a translator;
  • how he specialised (and whether it was the specialisation that chose him or the other way round);
  • what he would recommend when choosing your specialisation;
  • why he decided to go freelance rather than working in-house;
  • the importance of social media for his success;
  • his first client hunting experience and three tips for being successful.

This post is focused on professional reputation in the industry. More specifically, my questions for Xosé are the following:

How did you make a name for yourself in the translation industry?

‘Well, I was quite young and reckless when I started out and made quite a few big mistakes which I am still sorry about. I am from the pre-Internet era. I always took advantage of any opportunity to visit prospective clients, to make them see me. I used my contacts to get recommendations in order to meet new people. If someone was looking for a translator I wanted to be their guy. My goal, which I achieved, was to be mentioned in these kinds of conversations: “Do you remember that guy we met at that dinner/party/conference…? He is a translator, and I don’t know if he’s good but he is truly passionate about it. I’m sure he can help you.”’

Any dos and don’ts? 

“Some don’ts:

 1.    No, you don’t have to say yes. Don’t accept really specialized assignments that you are clearly not prepared to take (ones that go beyond you area of expertise). Instead, first create a strong network of collaborators—colleagues you trust and would recommend or outsource the work to, or people who can help you with the proofreading.

2.    Don’t keep negative people around. There are many underdogs in the translation business, and they can be really attractive to hang out with, but they can bring you down, both on an emotional and professional level. Kindly show them the exit door.

3.    Don’t ask for work, offer solutions. It can seem like a simple semantic difference, but there are lots of people asking for things. Companies and clients need solutions.

And then some do’s:

1.    Watch your writing. Every time you write a post, a tweet, a comment in a translator’s mailing list, forum or group, you are selling yourself. You are as good as your writing skills. Your use of your mother tongue and the way you write, speak and help others in public will determine how others see you, especially potential clients. Language is our business and our tool. Use it properly.

2.    Mingle and grow. Become a member of your regional or national translator’s association. Attend conferences, volunteer, go to training sessions on a regular basis— see what’s cooking, and don’t forget your spoon!

3.    Be assertive. Remember that everything is interconnected. Shut doors politely, learn to say no and be memorable even when you turn down a job because you disagree with the work requirements or rates.

4.    Discipline. Make some calculations and do some serious research. Allocate work times. Remember that a computer can be a weapon of mass distraction (social networking, Facebook…). Calculate how much money you need to make a living and set goals (rates, times…). Is my specialty a profitable one? Should I get some training in another area so I can enhance my translator/interpreter portfolio?”

A big thank you for you time and for inspiring us all with your great tips, Xosé!

Would you like to get further inspired, you can have a look at the following posts in case you missed them:

  • How can freelancers find new clients“, on Xosé’s first client hunting experience and his three tips for translators and interpreters. This post features also Marta Stelmaszak, Valeria Aliperta, Gabriel Cabrera Méndez, Scheherezade Surià López and Pablo Muñoz Sánchez.


How freelancers can find new clients

  • Lenguando (in Spanish), with summaries of Xosé and other professionals’ worshops during a two-day translation event that took place two weeks ago (29-30/04/2014) in Madrid.


Don’t miss the next “red carpet” interview with Catherine Christaki, owner of Lingua Greca Translations.

As always, feel free to leave any comment. Happy Easter everybody!

Alessandra 🙂

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