The Alchemist's Lair
Thoughts on writing, language, life as a freelancer,
and what comes to mind.
and what comes to mind.
Meerkats are fascinating creatures. As a species, they rely on solid social and communication skills to prosper: they live in close-knit groups, and protect their peers. They even create new sounds to identify novel elements of their environment.
Smiling and inspiring: Ellen Singer (left) and Dorota Pawlak (right)
1. Every new initiative is based on the person who gets the ball rolling. Can you tell us a bit about yourselves, and why you do what you do?
ELLEN: I grew up in Argentina and Uruguay aware of our Dutch roots. I do not believe one country is better than another, I believe that the culture of every single country or ethnic group is valuable, is of interest.
When you arrive in a new country you do not know who is who. The same applies to any professional market. Meetings others is essential to integrate. Learning new skills is essential to maintain your professional knowledge. The ART speakers and workshop hosts are carefully selected to provide that which we feel is useful to us and anybody who wants to join us.
During my formative years I was bullied. I like people who are willing to share their knowledge, who want to help others, who tend to include others, not exclude them.
Of course, sharing and caring is also the best way to help yourself…
DOROTA: Like Ellen, I live on the crossroads of many cultures. I come from Poland, spent a few years in Austria, then relocated to the Netherlands once I met my Moroccan husband.
Each of these cultures and countries may seem totally different, but the longer I’m exposed to this variety, the more common and interesting aspects I can find. I believe you can learn a lot from every single culture and every person you meet on your way.
Some people need extra motivation or a gentle push to start socialising and exchanging views with others, both on a professional and a private level.
And that’s why we created ART – to help translators meet new colleagues and learn something new, not only from our speakers, but also from other participants.
2. What is ART? What is the focus of your initiative?
ELLEN: ART stands for All-Round Translator. We believe in the value of linguistic skills but also in adding to the basic skills to create a unique set of skills that mutually support one another.
The globalisation of the translation market led to international conferences. These conferences addressed general translation topics but could not go in-depth into niche markets or address the required business skills. Dorota and I were playing with the idea of a business skills oriented day at about the same time and decided to join forces.
The best networks consist of people with different backgrounds. ART aims to provide hands-on skills but also to create a network of translators with different backgrounds and languages that support each other.
The annual ART event focuses on business skills; the afternoon networking activities and dinner provide the setting to create lasting friendships.
The workshops provide hands-on skills that can make the difference between another translator and the right translator for the job. All our speakers are selected because we believe they can contribute something useful to us as professional translators.
ART events mean business, networking, and fun
3. What do people who join ART look for? What do they find?
It is hard to get people to come to their first ART event. We must, however, be doing something right as we find that most of our attendees return for more.
The small-scale of ART events means we cater to people who do not feel comfortable at a conference. Time and again the attendees thank me for organizing something they feel comfortable attending. For some the friendships started at ART will lead to easing into international conferences, for others it will not.
Everyone decides for himself or herself what they prefer to do.
4. What is the most remarkable thing that happened because of ART?
ELLEN: For me ART should be a place where translators meet kindred spirits. At the last ART event I really enjoyed the fact that a Dutch-Greek translator and an English-German translator started talking Greek to each other and found out that they were both big fans of Thessaloniki and that even their business cards were very similar… That makes the effort of organizing an event more than worthwhile!
You never know what will spark up a friendship for life!
5. What aspect of your original idea prompted you to move from “what if” to reality?
ELLEN: I was playing with the idea of organizing events that addressed what I perceived to be missing, practical business lessons, the skills we all learned un time by making mistakes and learning from them. Dorota stepped up to me at a conference and asked whether I would like to organize events with her. She described what had been playing in my mind. We had the same idea, lived in the same country, so it made sense to work together.
With time I have come to know Dorota even better, and she amazes me. Dorota works hard, is smart and willing. I could not wish for a better partner.
DOROTA: I appreciate Ellen’s social skills and creativity. You can’t move from planning to doing without these key features. I noticed that Ellen was enthusiastic about my vague idea of small-scale meetings for translators, and that was enough to start working on what later became ART.
6. How does the current ART compare to your original idea? Did it become something different, or bigger, over time? How do you feel about the differences between your vision and reality?
ELLEN: We started out planning a single annual event, but soon decided we should also organize niche market workshops. We knew the market, knew who we would like to have as workshop hosts. Dorota and I quickly agreed to add quarterly workshops to the annual event.
ART is there to fill a gap, should we feel there is a need we will add other events, but for now we are happy with ART as it is. Should we feel ART is no longer useful, we would stop organizing events.
Who says translation workshops can't be yummy too?
7. What is about to happen in ART? Are there any interesting initiatives or events the community of translators and interpreters should keep an eye on?
ELLEN: Our next annual event is on the 18th of November 2017 in Amsterdam.
We have not decided on the topics or speakers yet, but we will make sure they create value for our translation businesses. Suggestions are very welcome!
We also have a few interesting workshops coming up:
The ART workshops are held in Leiden on Saturdays.
To learn more about us or join a workshop, visit the ART website or meet us on Facebook!
An editorial calendar is a tool that helps you manage the publication of your content effectively. If your marketing plan involves creating content for your blog, social profiles, newsletter etcetera, the calendar will tell you what you should publish exactly, alongside the where and when.
Think of a holiday. First, you decide what you want to achieve (e.g. visit the 7 top attractions in Thailand), and the strategy that will get you there (how to get there, where to sleep, ...).
Then, you start planning all the stops along the way.
The editorial calendar is a roadmap of your content marketing journey.
Key benefits of an editorial calendar
Today, creating a new business blog only takes 2 minutes.
Getting results, on the other hand, is quite a challenge.
In Content Inc., Joe Pulizzi (founder of the Content Marketing Institute) estimates an average of 15-17 months of consistent content creation and distribution before monetization.
It's an estimate, of course ... but the bottom line is: content marketing is hard work.
An editorial calendar can help you:
Effective editorial calendars start with careful planning.
Once you defined your target audience, and the topics they burn for, you can start sketching down content ideas and all that jazz.
Makes sense? Here's a free editorial calendar template (Excel) for you to grab.
Want to create an online calendar for your team? Try Google Calendar instead.
To get started, check out this step-by-step guide by HubSpot.
Ready to delight your people with useful and interesting content? In the next post from this mini-series, you'll find out more about the buyer's journey, and the best types of content for every step.
Every year, on January 2nd, I indulge in a little ritual.
I sit at my desk, select some music to keep me going, switch off the phone, and start a new organizer. I fill in all the tiny bits, including the "in case of loss, please return" field. Every year I wonder if anyone ever got an organizer returned - but you gotta trust in the kindness of strangers, right?
Mi organizer ritual is a magic moment, crystallised between present and future.
Perfect for reflection, and wrapping things up.
A year in review
2016 was an intense year. Compared to my initial plans, there were quite a few "last-minute changes" - but that's part of the game when you're living the freelance life.
All in all, it's been a good year. Amongst other things, I:
There were other things that didn't take off as expected. A couple collaborations, some ideas that didn't get real - but you can't have it all, uh?
A word for 2017
In an alchemy workshop, there's always something bubbling ... but brewing potions takes time, and you can't rush the process.
Inspired by this simple principle - which successfully applies to life, alchemy, business, work-life balance, and more - here's my word for 2017:
Coming up for you ...
Back in December I announced a brand new editorial calendar, packed with tips and resources to improve your writing, and level up your brand voice. You will also find more tips and tools to work smarter, and manage your business at ease.
The new schedule takes off on January 11th, with a mini-series about creating and managing an editorial calendar. To start building yours right away, download the free template and jot down your content ideas.
For 2017, I have also created new training courses and webinars for you.
First stop: a transcreation workshop in Leiden, on February 4th.
... more news and surprises coming up - will tell you more as we go.
See you next Wednesday?
Last post of 2016 already ... and we end with a blast!
Back in November, the good folks at Invoice2go invited me to share some of my top tips for new freelancers and solopreneurs. They asked other experienced freelancers to do the same - and have recently released an infographic with over 30 tips that will help you grow your small business in 2017.
It's massive, and packed with sound advice about organising your time, finding motivation, networking, professionalism, and living a successful freelance life.
... and the best thing is: it's not just for new small biz owners. Some tips never get stale - and it's good to "dust off the basics" every now and then.
To your success!
30+ tips for new small business owners - Source: invoice2go
The last treat in the 12 Gifts of Xmas series is a must-have for all busy freelancers: a free editorial calendar template to help you achieve more with your content strategy in 2017.
This Excel template is designed to accommodate different kinds of content: blog posts, podcasts, digital resources (gated or ungated), videos, ... It's more than a random bucket list of titles and topics: as you populate the calendar, you also define the key characteristics of each piece of content content - reader & SEO-wise.
Want more help with your content strategy for 2017? No worries: in January, I will talk you through the whys & hows of creating an editorial calendar that means more traffic & sales.
In the meantime, enjoy your well-deserved time off.
Hang out with your family and friends. Have fun.
You earned it!
Loved this treat? Share it!