Freelance translators drive this industry forward. We make it a better and more sustainable place to work. We are the ones who detect the need for change within the profession and try to go about turning things around. But some ways are far more effective than others in bringing about change. Here are some methods I’ve found useful in making a positive and long-lasting contribution to the industry.

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1. Break new ground

Talk about issues that are getting little or no attention in the industry. Not too long ago it was unimaginable that the subject of rates or the business aspects of translation were discussed so openly, but look at how things are now.

Conversely, newer subjects can quickly become overdone. The last thing the industry needs is yet another ‘expert’ on social media, for example.

So be innovative in your blogging and social media activity. Ideas can come at any time, but often simply during the course of your day-to-day work. Jot them down, expand your thoughts and share them with the industry. And be analytical, not descriptive.

 

2. Say what colleagues are thinking but are not saying

Although we in the translation community are becoming more and more open with each other, there remain some things that we are still reluctant to talk about, perhaps out of fear that not many colleagues share our opinions. But you can test the water first. If there’s a widespread issue affecting our profession that is playing on your mind, have an informal chat to a select handful of close colleagues to see what they think. If you then think it’s important to raise the issue with the industry, go for it.

Only last week I had a guest post published attacking the fact that client and colleague-bashing has become the trend on social media. Although I was hesitant to write about this in case of a backlash against the perpetrators, it is vital to stand up for what you believe is right for the profession and bring these issues to the industry’s attention. You might be surprised by the high level of support you’ll receive from your peers.

 

3. Swim against the tide

It’s easy to nod along as you scroll through the latest blog posts doing the rounds, but do we agree with them for the sake of it? No-one is above the industry and we are all subject to the scrutiny of our colleagues (something that has inspired the upcoming Translators On… series).

It’s healthier to debate the ideas shared by our peers rather than accept them at face value (that applies to my content too of course). If you think a blog post is potentially giving out bad advice, speak up. It just takes one person to challenge it and inspire others who agree to share their thoughts too.

 

4. Lead by example

We share countless articles a day on translating, freelancing, social media and so on. Churning out links on Facebook and Twitter superficially without barely reading the article or thinking about whether your activity is consistent with the article’s ideas happens all too often. Sharing and re-tweeting is widely viewed as an endorsement of that content, so only do so with content you truly believe in and follow; otherwise, this does a great disservice to your reputation.

 

5. Get the balance right

Bombarding your colleagues isn’t going to do any favours. It’s easy to fall into the trap of believing the more you share, the more popular you will be. What little temporary benefit in terms of visibility is soon mitigated by the disillusioning of your social media followers in the long term. Your ideas will carry more credit if you are not churning them out every 15 minutes.

 

Do you have any other ways of inspiring your colleagues? Do share them in the comments box below.