It’s only been three days since I arrived from bp19 in Bologna and I’m still under the ‘conference buzz’, which feels like the right mood to share my personal account of the three-day event. It was my first bp, but it won’t be my last. It was very clear all attendees were looking forward to it – I got this impression from the app Csaba Bán, the organiser behind the event, made available to us. With it we could meet other attendees, arrange evenings out, day trips, and more. Additionally, it had the agenda for the three days, making it easy and paperless!
I left London in the dead of night on Wednesday morning with three goals in mind:
– Get tips to run my translation business more efficiently.
– Find inspiration to market my services to new clients.
– Hone my SEO skills to offer better services.
On the first day, I took part in the workshop Multilingual SEO for translators, which was a 3.5-hour journey through the entrails of Google search and how we can increase the chances for our website to be found among the rest and also for our clients’ sites to appear in the results when they market their business in our target language market. I had already read quite a lot and seen a few webinars, so my idea was to get a more hands-on approach, which is exactly what happened. The effort and budget required to research keywords and weave them into the translation is not to be underestimated, but every business trying to reach clients through organic search should invest in this service.
After the workshop, we had the opportunity to chat with old colleagues, meet new ones and indulge in some delicious food and wine before going back to the hotel for some well-deserved sleep.
The second day consisted of three long talks before lunch and three more afterwards, all of them on three tracks. Much as I love being spoilt for choice, there were times when it was hard to make a decision, while other times all three options seemed to be of little interest to me, but I still managed to choose one and get something positive out of it. Because it’s impossible to report on everything without turning this post into a novel, I will just focus on my personal highlights and hope for co-attendees to share theirs in the comments below so we can create a more complete account of bp19.
I started the morning with Tess Whitty’s magical tips to find dream clients. I’ve read and listened to her many times, but I must admit she’s worth seeing live! Her presentation was not only funny, but also loaded with useful ideas to get down to work and find exactly who your prospects can be. For many of us, the problem is to identify the potential clients we’d love to work with, and Tess knows it. She suggested starting with our current client portfolio, see who we’re happy working with and find similar ones (without breaching any non-compete clause, of course!) targeting these realistically and through the means we feel comfy being the key to avoid disappointment. A little piece of data to bear in mind: most times you need to contact a prospect seven times before they even think of replying!
After a coffee break, it was time for Annina Pfenning and Peter Oehmen to share their experiences collaborating with colleagues. Annina is a freelance translator who works with two other freelancers who share her target language. They share all the tasks: translation, editing, project management, and marketing. They invoice separately and live away from each other, but they’ve figured out a way to make this work. Peter, on the other hand, created a company with a colleague whose language combination is the opposite to his, but they can still proofread each other’s work and share the other parts of the business; namely, marketing, accounting, legal issues, etc. I myself have been collaborating with a colleague recently and my interest in co-translation is ever-growing, so I found Annina’s experience particularly inspiring. They both agreed that open communication is key to both models and suggested a checklist with all the skills required to work with others.
Zsuzsanna Ugrin represented the academic side of translation and told us about ‘CATese’, or how CAT tools affect the way we look at a text and work on it. Segmentation may hinder the way we understand and translate content, but she encouraged us to join and split segments at will, as well as defying tag order for the sake of meaning.
And after a long, productive day, we headed for the gala dinner, which coincidentally was on our hero organiser’s birthday. We let the wine flow and so did the chats and laughs. I was very lucky to sit at a table where I could speak all my four languages, sometimes within the same conversation! This is one of the reasons why one can never get bored with linguists.
A bit deprived of sleep, but still brimming with enthusiasm, I arrived at the conference on the third day ready for the shorter talks on one single track. Master of ceremonies Konstantin Kisin was in charge of providing the laughs between talks and asking the questions to the speakers, sent by attendees via a website. Most talks were interesting and useful, but many of them were targeted to translators at early stages of their career. Some of the questions asked, e.g. “do you have any advanced tips?”, and the fact that several colleagues confirmed it later during coffee break, made me realise I wasn’t alone in thinking there should be a note indicating the target audience of each talk: beginners or more seasoned translators. Perhaps having two tracks on this third day would be a way to solve this, as well as giving even more people the chance to present.
I’ve summarised my highlights from the short talks in quick takeaways:
– Self-promotion: Translators are often introverted and cringe at the idea of talking about our achievements, our services, and our work. This has a negative impact on our business, but if we don’t talk about ourselves, who will? A possible solution is to have others talk about you such as clients and colleagues. When it comes to social media, we can turn ‘I’ into ‘we’ and include the whole profession in our statements. (Magda Phili).
– Productivity: Put everything on hold (including social media) and focus on one thing at a time to reach your maximum capacity. The theory of deep work, by Prof. Cal Newport, states that focus is the new IQ. See video below. (Sherif Abuzid).
– Time management: the technique of reverse planning can help avoid procrastination. For example, if you have a project due in six days, schedule backwards: on day six I have to deliver, on day five I have to proofread, on days four and three I have to complete the translation, and so on. Also, chunking your tasks will help you manage your time better, as opposed to seeing them as a big unit that can’t be dealt with in small, digestible pieces. As a plus, you’ll get the feeling of accomplishment more often, which might keep you going! (Francesca Manicardi).
Space is precious and I can’t mention every idea I got from the conference, but two more thoughts are diversification as a way of spicing up your career (and your bank account when translation jobs are scarce). I wrote about this last year, when I had the chance to do come community management for the Spanish video game market; and behaving as a professional if you want to be treated as one (branding, attitude, T’s & C’s, etc).
My favourite takeaway: focus on what makes you happy and don’t try to be someone you’re not. This was my bp19 experience, what was yours? Help me complete this account by commenting below. And, see you all again in Nuremberg in 2020!