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  • “I’m reviewing the situation…” (Fagin, in Oliver) – Part 2

“I’m reviewing the situation…” (Fagin, in Oliver) – Part 2

by Guest Blogger | July 4th, 2024

 

 

By Perry Zamek

 

Also in this series:

“I’m reviewing the situation…” (Fagin, in Oliver) – Part 1

 

In this series of articles, we are looking at some questions that each of us – as professional translators – should ask ourselves every so often.

As I wrote in the first installment, the answers to these questions may or may not lead you to make some changes. But whichever the case, it’s worth taking the time to think about these issues.

This week we will look at the following question:

Are there areas of specialization that I should consider developing, in order to acquire new clients?

Most of us start out as generalists. We take on translation projects in different areas, or of different types or styles. After a while, some of us find that there are subjects that we feel more comfortable with, and others that we do not enjoy doing. Some of us enjoy doing financial reports, for example, while others find them extremely boring and will avoid them wherever possible. The same might apply to CV’s, or academic articles. Sometimes it’s the subject matter that attracts or repels us. In time, we get in the habit of seeking out work in our specialist areas, and declining work that doesn’t fit into our profile of ourselves. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Over time, however, we may find that we are getting the occasional piece in an area that is not our main specialty, but which we still enjoy doing, and are able to do competently or better. At that point, we need to consider whether to advertise our services in that specialist area as well.

In my own case, as part of my general visa-related translations, I found that I was being asked to translate medical documentation. Initially I asked a colleague with extensive experience in this area to check my translations for terminology and style, and to suggest improvements. I found that I could do these quite well, and so I now can offer medical translation as an additional specialist area.

There are a number of specialist areas in which the demand for good translators exceeds the supply, and so working up a specialization makes good financial sense as well. Again, it won’t happen overnight, and it is helpful to find a mentor or colleague who can help you in the particular field you have chosen. Nonetheless, it is worth considering when we look at our overall mix of work.

Again, there are no hard and fast rules – the important thing is to spend a little time thinking about this and other issues. Not constantly, but regularly.

In the next installment we will look at more of these “every so often” questions.

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