Monday, January 4, 2010

ProZ Conference Vienna - Part III

In my last post I grouped the presentations I attended at the Proz Regional Conference in Vienna by topic. I then summarized the presentations in topic (group) 1. This post will be devoted to the presentations in Group 2 (marketing your services/getting (more) business). These were:

  1. "Modding Your Profile" by Siegfried Armbruster

  2. "EN 15038 -- ein Erfahrungsbericht" by Dr. Leopold Decloedt of Connect-Sprachenservice GmbH

Siegfried Armbruster uses his ProZ profile page instead of maintaining a separate website for his services. While it is certainly possible to do so -- and apparently a number of translators do this -- I appreciate the flexibility my own website affords me. The ProZ profile can apparently be customized quite a bit, but it can't be designed from scratch, the way I did with my own website. Mr. Armbruster spoke mostly about the ways in which he has customized his profile to illustrate what could be done.

Some of his ideas can be applied to freestanding websites, as well. One suggestion I may implement is a sustained attempt at increase the Google ranking of my website. While that would certainly increase my visibility, it remains to be seen how many of the hits so obtained are actually serious potential end clients and how many are low-cost overseas agencies trying to find translators willing to work for very little money (more about that in a later post).

Another idea I'll pursue is the creation of a central MS Word document containing all relevant information for updating my profiles on ProZ, LinkedIn, Translators Cafe, my own website, and, possibly, Xing (the European equivalent to LinkedIn I touched upon in my previous post). I'd like to find a way to automate profile updates across all these sites, but I'm not sure that can be done -- at least not without spending money.

Leopold Decloedt's presentation focused on an Austrian certification process, which, however, also exists elsewhere in the European Union. It is meant primarily for certifying translation agencies, but individual translators can be certified, as well. More and more European agencies are becoming certified according to this norm, which regulates work flow, as well as freelance translators' qualifications.

While standardization can be a good thing -- and should make it easier to convince end clients that the translation services purchased are, in fact, valuable -- it presents a problem for many translators. The norm prefers freelancers with a formal translation degree who work into their native language. Having come to translation through living and working in a language other than the one I grew up with -- a circumstance common to many translators, at least on this side of the Atlantic -- I don't have a degree in translation. I have translated professionally for the last 9 years, and have done so informally for much longer. I do hold a B.A., but it's in Media Studies, not translation.

Also, technically my "native" language is German, since that's what I grew up speaking. However, by now I have lived and worked in an English-speaking environment for a longer time than I have lived in Austria. Most of my technical knowledge was acquired in English -- personal computers were in their infancy when I left Austria 25 years ago. As a result, I am better at translating technical documents into, rather than from, English. At this point I consider both German and English my native languages. I will address the question of what constitutes a native language more fully in a later post.

One thing I noticed during this presentation was that I already follow many of the procedures required by this norm, e.g., I use translation memory; I systematically archive client orders, as well as work performed; I have a transparent invoicing system; I have a system for tracking client orders, their completion, invoicing and payment, etc. So rather than actually getting certified according to EN 15038 (which would be costly for an individual), I will get the regulations for the certification, see which portions apply to my business and then list on my website which of the requirements I follow, and how I do so.

Until next time,


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