After tomorrow, the Thoughts on Translation world headquarters will be closed for vacation through January 4, so before we dig into today’s topic, here are a few end-of-year recommendations:
- Start thinking about taxes as soon as you get back from your holiday break. You can close out your books immediately, so why not do it in January rather than on April 14?
- If you achieved your business goals for this year, be a good boss and give yourself a bonus. If you need some ideas, I wrote a whole post about bonuses last year.
- If you’re an experienced translator with enough work and income, take some real time off over the holidays. Put your auto-responder on and put the computer in the rear view mirror.
- If you’re a new translator, be aware that the holidays are a great time to pick up new clients; end-of-year panic plus lots of experienced translators on vacation equals a potential opening for a newcomer. Today on Twitter, one agency owner commented that at this time of year, agencies are much more likely to take a chance on a new person…which could lead to a lasting relationship. French to English translator Karen Tkaczyk reported that during her first year as a freelancer, she picked up many new clients by being available between Christmas and New Year’s.
But now, let’s talk about something else: how to select an online course. I’m a big fan of this topic, having taught my own courses for about eight years, and having taken several Coursera classes, a couple of writing classes through Gotham Writers’ Workshop, and most recently Ed Gandia’s Warm e-mail prospecting course. There’s no shortage of online courses out there, but the question is how to choose one; while the range of potential courses might be limitless, your available time and money surely are not. So here are some deciding factors to help you:
- Are you interested in a specific topic, or in a specific teacher? When I took Coursera’s class Epidemics: the dynamics of infectious diseases, it was the topic that grabbed me. As a bonus, the instructors were amazing (and just for the record, I learned more from this class than from any other science class I’ve ever taken, including in-person courses in college), but I didn’t know any of the instructors to start out with. When I took Ed Gandia’s class, I was attracted by the fact that he’s a marketing coach whose advice fits with my preferred way of finding new clients (as he says “without the ick factor”).
- What delivery method works best for you? Here I’m talking about live versus self-paced, video lectures versus audio lectures, etc. The advantage of a live/synchronous course is that you have to be there, so there’s no weaseling out. With self-paced/asynchronous, you can do the course at 2 AM if you want. My tip: if you take a self-paced course, set a certain block of time aside for it and stick to that. For example I listened to Ed’s e-mail marketing course in the evenings, when I didn’t feel like staring at the computer screen any more. In terms of audio versus video, the topic may dictate your preference. For example the Coursera epidemics class includes tons of animations; that may have driven some people crazy, but for me (person with a strong interest in science but not much of a hard science background), they were tremendously helpful. I also really appreciated the possibility of pausing the video and looking something up on Wikipedia, or listening to a few seconds of the video again. By contrast, Ed Gandia’s e-mail marketing course is audio lectures with handouts; this worked for me because it’s a topic I “get,” and because Ed has a great speaking voice, but if you’ve never done much freelance marketing before, it might be better to take a video course.
- Do you get any individualized feedback? To me, this is huge. If you’re taking the course primarily/exclusively to absorb information, individual attention may not be that important. For example in my epidemics classes, I was fine with the auto-graded quizzes and peer discussion boards, because my main goal was to learn facts, not improve my subjective skills. But if you’re taking a course specifically to improve your skills, individual attention makes a huge difference; this is something I always mention when people are considering my online courses. Lots of classes in the $150-$200 price point are going to give you great information, and will be a lot more interesting than reading a book, but you won’t get individualized feedback from the instructor, whereas the whole foundation of my classes is individualized feedback. From the instructor standpoint, individualized feedback takes a lot of of time, which is probably why most courses that offer it are in the $300+ price point.
- If the class is self-paced, do you have the discipline to follow through on it? Another big one: with Ed’s e-mail marketing course, I found that I really had to carve out the time to do it, or I forgot about it since there’s no enforced schedule. Especially if the course is a significant financial investment, consider your level of self-discipline before you sign up. Ditto for courses that last a long time: signing up for a year of coaching at a reduced rate sounds good, but if you lose interest after three months, it could be a waste of money.
Readers, any other thoughts on this? And happy 2015 to everyone!
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If you’re looking to get a jump on your business goals for 2015, I have sessions of my online courses–Getting Started as a Freelance Translator for beginners and Beyond the Basics of Freelancing for experienced translators–coming up in January and February. Getting Started begins on January 7, and Beyond the Basics on February 18.
Each class lasts four weeks and is fully online and at your own pace; every student gets individual feedback from me on four assignments (for example your resumé or professional profile, marketing plan, billable hours and rates sheet, online presence, etc.) and we do four question-and-answer conference calls–you can attend live or listen to recordings. As part of the Beyond the Basics course, every student also gets an hour of individual consulting time with me, and students in both classes receive free copies of my books How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator and Thoughts on Translation.
Registration for either class is US $350, with a $50 discount for ATA members.
I’m flattered that two graduates of Beyond the Basics of Freelancing have recently written online reviews of the course; you can read Nelia Fahloun’s review in the ITI ScotNet newsletter or Elizabeth Garrison’s review on Tranix Translations’ blog. Another graduate commented, “The course is part overview of the industry, part specialized workshop focusing on a particular aspect of the job, and in very large part individualized coaching. Neither in my undergraduate classes in education nor in some of the more practical classes I took as part of my MA in English (including the course connected to my assistantship as a writing consultant) did I ever experience one course that delivered as much precise and helpful information as this course.“
Hope to see some of you in these sessions!
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I’m back (physically at least!) from the 55th annual conference of the American Translators Association in Chicago. By all measures, the conference was a great success. We had 1,842 attendees, which is our second-largest conference ever. It would take a lot to top the 2,400 attendees we had for our 50th anniversary conference in New York, but we did top San Francisco, which was the previous second-largest. With the huge volume of session proposals we received this year (I think over 400 for about 125 slots), conference organizer David Rumsey was able to winnow them down to the very best sessions, and many of the new features (translation Tool Trainings as preconference seminars, a business brainstorming mixer to replace the speed networking session, a Tool Bar where people could get 10-20 minutes of free, one-on-one tech support) were very well received. We also added comment cards to the annual meeting so that if people didn’t want to or didn’t have time to speak during the open comment time, they could still give feedback to the Board. But don’t take my word for it…watch this great highlights video and see for yourself! And if you’re wondering where/when ATA is meeting in 2015, 2016 and 2017, here’s the future conference sites page. See you in Miami next year!
You also might be interested in:
Jill Sommer’s wrapup post on attending and presenting at ATA55
Nicholas Sturtevant’s post on attending ATA55 as a newbie
Erin Rosales’ post on following ATA55 online
Jeff Alfonso’s post on the social aspects of ATA55
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I’ll be out of the office for the rest of the week, to attend the 55th annual conference of the American Translators Association in Chicago. If you’re a blog reader and we haven’t met in person, definitely come shake hands! I’ll be speaking on a panel (The Freelance Juggling Act) on Thursday morning, and one of my goals for the conference is to get lots of photos of people doing a “five five” (holding up five fingers on each hand; or two people can do it together and each hold up five fingers) in honor of 55 ATA conferences! My good friend and colleague Eve Bodeux even awarded this a hashtag, #fivefive. So, get your #fivefive on and we’ll see you at the opening reception tomorrow night!
Addendum 1: It’s sometimes difficult to write lengthy blog posts during the conference, but I’ll definitely be posting updates and photos on Twitter.
Addendum 2: I noticed today that my blog reached its one millionth view (over the course of almost seven years, but still exciting!). So, literally, thanks a million for reading!
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This morning I presented a webinar for the ATA professional development series, entitled “Translating for the international development sector.” We didn’t have time to take questions, so if you have any, you can send them to me here. Also, if you have any feedback that you didn’t include on the evaluation, you can post it in the Comments or e-mail me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The webinar was sold out, so if you wanted to attend but couldn’t, you’ll be able to purchase the recording from the link above, in a few days. Thanks!
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Tess Whitty’s Marketing Tips for Translators podcast is a great resource for freelancers, and Tess recently interviewed me for an episode called Beyond the Basics of Freelance Marketing. We talked about how to market your translation services to higher-quality agencies and direct clients, how to make a financial plan for your freelance business, and about the new Beyond the Basics of Freelancing class that I’m teaching. Thanks to Tess for the great questions, and I hope you find the information useful!
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The next session of my online course for established freelancers, Beyond the Basics of Freelancing, starts tomorrow (August 20), and I have three spots open. This class is for freelancers who have established freelance businesses and want to focus on refining their specializations, marketing to higher-quality agencies and direct clients, and on earning more money and enjoying their work more (why not, right?). The course runs for four weeks and registration is US $325, with a $50 discount for ATA members. Everyone in the class also receives a one-hour individual consultation with me after the class ends. If you’re interested, hop on over to my website to read the full course description or to register.
Here’s some feedback from a recent participant in the course: “I can’t recommend Corinne’s course highly enough. There’s so much advice out there to read that it can be overwhelming. But Corinne gives you practical advice, examples and techniques you can actually apply to your own business. Incredibly valuable. “
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