I’ve been meaning to review Judy and Dagmar Jenner’s book The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation since before this fall’s ATA conference…fortunately I took notes when I read it over the summer, so here we go!
The Entrepreneurial Linguist is available from Lulu Press for $25.00 (paper copy) or $17.00 (file download). Judy and Dagmar Jenner co-wrote the book, which includes illustrations by Alejandro Moreno-Ramos of Mox’s Blog fame. Its 11 chapters cover business skills for intermediate to advanced freelance translators and the book’s focus is on running a freelance translation business as a business rather than as a money-making hobby (excellent advice!).
I highly recommend this book, largely because it is light on theory and heavy on nuts and bolts tips that the reader can apply immediately. For example, the section on tradeshows includes a checklist of ways to connect and follow up with potential clients who are tradeshow exhibitors. Likewise, the marketing chapter lists typical reasons why a translator might lose clients, and offers tips on how to avoid each of these reasons. As an added bonus, most of the chapters include business school-style case studies that illustrate how the book’s concepts can be applied in real-life freelance business situations.
Some of my favorite sections of this book are:
- how to get the most out of professional conferences
- options for business phone service
- sample auto mileage spreadsheet
- ways to decrease your office expenses
- the above-mentioned section on using tradeshows as a marketing tool
- specific advice about blogging for business, for example sample post topics
- sample press release and information about how to use press releases as a marketing tool
- how to make a basic professional website on a tight budget
Judy and Dagmar also do a great job of dispelling the negative and self-defeating ideas that many translators have about direct client marketing. In a great section called “Yes, you can!,” they chip away at the typical marketing excuses that many translators make: I’m too busy, I already have enough work, direct clients are too demanding, I don’t know where to start, etc. While emphasizing that finding well-paying direct clients is not easy, the authors prove that marketing to direct clients is mostly a matter of getting out of the translation industry, going where your potential clients are (online and in the real world) and positioning yourself as a trusted authority.
Although I’ve been in the translation industry for nearly a decade and wrote a translation business book, I’ve found myself referring to The Entrepreneurial Linguist on a regular basis ever since I read it. Judy and Dagmar are staunch advocates of charging what you’re worth, finding clients who value your work and giving your clients a very high-quality product: even experienced translators can’t get too much of this message! The only points I found myself disagreeing with are Judy and Dagmar’s selection of Facebook as the most valuable social networking site for freelance translators (I like it for personal use and I think it’s great for event-based businesses but I’d go with LinkedIn or Twitter for professional use) and the fact that the book doesn’t have an index. However, the table of contents is very thorough and it’s not hard to find the section you’re looking for!
In conclusion, I would highly recommend The Entrepreneurial Linguist for freelancers at all levels, especially intermediate and advanced freelancers who are looking to move into the direct client market. Judy and Dagmar also have a great blog, Translation Times, and you can follow them on Twitter at language_news.