The Alchemist's Lair
Thoughts on writing, language, life as a freelancer,
and what comes to mind.
and what comes to mind.
So you’re launching your freelance business soon, uh? Congratulations!
I still remember the feeling. A mix of motivation, anxiety, excitement. Oh, and questions. Tons of questions that keep you up at night.
Looking back, I know my younger self was craving for practical advice on how to manage her newly found freedom … but blogs, LinkedIn groups and the like were yet to come.
So here is my “top 5” for you: down-to-earth tips that will help you grow your solo business whilst keeping your sanity. To your success!
#1 Develop routines
In freelancing, success starts with a good load of discipline and consistency. Routines help you manage your workload more efficiently. Also, they are great for keeping on top of tasks you’d rather avoid (paperwork, anyone?).
#2 Mind your bookkeeping
Want to get paid on time and enjoy a healthy cash flow? Invoice consistently, and follow-up on pending payments.
New to invoicing? Check out this free invoice template generator by Invoice2go.
#3 Forget multitasking
Multitasking is bad for productivity, and increases the chances of distraction-induced mistakes. Focus on one task at a time, and you’ll get more work done.
#4 Engage in real-life conversations
Don’t forget the power of in-person networking for freelancers. You never know where your next customer or business partner might come from.
If you’re the shy type, participating in leisure-oriented groups can make it easier for you to "get out there" and mingle with other people. To check for interesting activities in your area, try Meetup.
#5 Make time for your own projects
Want to write a book, create a promotional video, restyle your website? Treat your project like a customer’s. Set a deadline, “block” time slots in your weekly planning, then stick to the plan – no excuses.
Time to let the cat out of the bag: 21 Free Tools for Translators goes live on Sep 29th!
I'm closing the notification signup on Sep 28th at 4pm (CEST), so make sure to drop your email address to get a short message when the eBook is available for download.
Working on the second edition of the eBook has been exciting.
The tools' selection has been refreshed to bring you the most powerful free tools currently available - selected amongst 70+ potential candidates.
Wondering what's inside? A nice selection of free tools and apps to manage translation projects and administration tasks at ease. In the Grab Bag section, you will also find valuable little helpers that help you keep up with time-consuming tasks and everyday nuisances.
Plus quick access to help guides, useful articles, exclusive tutorials and cheat sheets to help you get started quickly, and work more effectively from day 1.
Now that 21 Free Tools for Translators is ready to go, it's your turn.
See you on the other side?
Do you grin hysterically every time someone asks for your resume? Are you stuck with a lame shopping list-style layout that screams for vengeance every time you look at it?
Preparation (up to 1 hour)
Before you start tweaking your resume, make sure it is focused, truthful, and relevant.
If your document is seriously outdated (or a patchwork of last minute changes made over 5 years) align the content to your current role, and the needs of your target markets.
... and now for the hacks.
#1 Create a letterhead (5 minutes)
Letterheads are a great way to personalise a resume.
Plus, they make your name and contact information stand out on the page.
To maximise the impact, add your logo and slogan.
Also, make sure that colours and fonts are consistent with your brand image.
Need some inspiration? Browse this massive collection of 300+ free templates.
#2 Increase font size (2 minutes)
This isn't just about improved readability - even though it is important.
Whether you're using a 1 or 2 page layout, it will also force you to be more concise.
#3 Craft an eye-catching introduction (30 minutes)
When you're a freelancer, you're looking for customers - not employers.
Hence, your resume should be the opening act of a conversation with your prospect.
A good way to achieve this is crafting a brief introduction (no bullet points!) to highlight the skills and talents your customer looks for, and suggest why you'd be a good fit for their projects and needs.
Write it in first person, singular. Also, keep it brief: a couple of paragraphs would do.
#4 Cut 10% off (up to 1 hour)
I already mentioned this trick in a post about effective business writing - and stick to it.
Even though cutting 100 words off a 1,000 resume might not sound as a "big deal", it usually is. It helps you focus on what's important, and get rid of typical "fillers".
Need some help? Read 5 ways to trim the fat from your writing on PR Daily.
#5 Revise one section at a time (10 minutes)
Yet another trick from my copywriter's toolbox. This hack is especially useful because it forces you to assess its effectiveness and clarity as a stand-alone item.
#6 Tweak the layout (20 minutes)
Here's the thing: your freelance resume is a marketing tool.
If it looks like any other resume on earth, standing out becomes more difficult.
Have fun exploring layout options. You can e.g
Make it shine ... with a pinch of salt. Your resume look needs to be professional and sober.
#7 Use numbers and real-life examples (10 minutes)
Numbers are a great way to showcase your skills and experience. Not only they stand out from the sea of words; they also support claims with quantifiable (and verifiable) results.
Need some examples?
What are the most challenging aspects of working on your resume?
Got any good tips to share? Join the conversation in the comments below!
It's inevitable. When birthdays strike, memories follow ... and today is a big one here on the MTM Translations' side of life, as I usually call it.
Fifteen years as an independent translator and copywriter.
Way more than the average life of a pop band. And 41.6% of my life so far.
The best thing? I still love every minute of it. Ups and downs.
The occasion calls for proper celebrations ... but I don't want to end up with a neverending list of lessons learned and bla bla bla. So here's my take on the classic "top five".
By the way: I know this is technically an anniversary rather than a birthday ...
... but why on earth shouldn't I celebrate with some cake?
1 piece of advice I'd give to young freelancers
Want to be excellent at what you do? Nurture your hard skills. Dig deeper.
Reading a blog post or two won't make you an expert translator or copywriter.
Webinars are good for theory, but what about practice? Find relevant in-person courses where you can get feedback on how you are doing.
Get your hands dirty and put some money in it. The info and tips you can find in free stuff (webinars, blog posts, guides or else) are only the tip of the iceberg.
1 photo that wouldn't have been
That's me at the XIII FINA World Championships (Rome, 2009).
Behind the camera, alas.
This is probably the best sports shot I will ever take ... and it wouldn't have been without MTM Translations. In fact, I was working at the championships as a translator for the international press room - and took this picture one sunny morning over a coffee break.
I still have fond memories of that project. Live coverage of press releases is hectic and exhausting, with crazy working hours in a crowded room - but you definitely learn something about time management.
Plus, I saw the best swimmers, divers, and synchronettes in the world in action.
Two weeks of pure bliss.
1 flaw that became a valuable helper
When I find a name, a professional title, a date ... I just have to double-check.
I lost count of the times this has been useful, so I think I'll just stick to it.
1 bold move that paid off
Attending my first conference, in 2009.
It looks kind of absurd now, but that was a scary thing for my younger self.
Guess what? I loved it - and still do.
It wasn't just an effective cure for shyness. Making contacts with fellow professionals also brought me precious collaborations, and solid friendships as a cherished extra.
1 bold move that didn't pay off
A snail-mail campaign, in 2011.
You can't always win, right?
When it comes to business tips and strategies, everybody looks up to 'big names' and 'influencers' ... but the fundamentals lie in common sense rather than schoolbooks.
#1 No lies
"Why are you so late for dinner, kid?"
"Sorry grandma. I was at Paul's and just forgot about the time"
You smiled and hugged her. Grandma nodded, and you thought you got away with your tiny 'white lie'. Two days later, granny met Paul's mother at the street market and found out you were playing in the woods instead.
No candy bars, and no afternoon walks, for a week.
Doing business online is like managing a stall in a huge street market.
Spotting a lie is easier than you think.
If you fake your background and experience, sooner or later you'll be caught. And your customers will even more upset than grandma was that day. All in all, it's a matter of trust - and transparency is key in all business settings.
#2 Keep your promises
"You said you would have walked the dog today, but you didn't.
Go straight to bed, no TV tonight!"
All of those affected by these twisted kinds of Biblical punishments should have learned the drawbacks of breaking a promise ... but as we grow older, we tend to forget all summer nights we spent whining "it's not fair" and "I will never talk to her any more, she's sooooo mean!".
Solid business relationships start with honesty. From your website copy to estimates and e-mail communication, you should never make promises you can't keep.
If you can't handle a request properly, refer the prospect to a trusted professional.
If the customer asks for a quick turnaround you can't cater for, suggest an alternative.
Offer professionalism and a positive user experience, and everything will be fine.
#3 Easy does it
Remember your very first bike? All the excitement, spirit of adventure ...
... and bleeding knees three minutes later?
"Easy does it, kid", grandma said.
But you were too excited to listen.
Managing a solo business is like riding a bike: you can't race if you can barely stand.
Take your time to learn the basics, and nurture your hard skills consistently.
Don't jump on the next social media train just because "everybody's doing it".
Forget about instant expertise, and focus on a solid progression of baby steps.
You'll be much more successful in the long run.
And grandma will be very, very proud of her kid.
Last update: 25/08/2016