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Jan 2, 2011

The Entrepreneurial Linguist and Online Media

One of my goals for 2011 is to catch up on a backlog of reading that has been accumulating on my shelves and disk drives. One professional resource that was particularly high on my list is the Jenners' book The Entrepreneurial Linguist; I had followed reports of its production with great interest for about a year as well as enjoyed their business tips on the Translation Times blog. I enjoy the perspectives and tips shared by my colleagues in a number of publications, and I have learned something valuable from every one I have read. I particularly value, perhaps more than many would, subtle variations on the same theme, because these help me to discover the context that works best for my business.

But how much is there to be said about the business of freelance translation that is really different or original? More than I realize, as I am reminded time and again. This profession is evolving quickly, though not always in the ways that the prophets of machine translation and others would have us believe.

The Entrepreneurial Linguist starts off with an excellent discussion of the business mindset needed for successful positioning and negotiation and follows with a chapter on organization and accounting that is for the most part good and relevant, but not particularly distinguished compared to similar expositions I've seen. The third chapter, however, on "Social Media and Web 2.0" is gold. As can be expected in a rapidly evolving field, some minor parts are already in need of updating, and I was surprised to see an excellent, extensive discussion of Facebook without a mention of Facebook "pages". But this is the best overview of the various online media options that I have seen yet for language service professionals, covering blogs, professional networks such as XING and LinkedIn, Twitter and more in a very focused, relevant way.

Innumerable times I have listened to friends and colleagues who "just don't see the point" of various social media for business or personal use or who are put off by all the stupid hype. In thirty well-written, balanced pages, Judy and Dagmar Jenner make the case and the limitations very, very clear. That by itself is worth the cover price of the book and a lot more.

Of course there is a lot more useful content as one would expect from freelancers with business degrees who successfully work exclusively with direct clients rather than agencies. What the authors excel at most of all is communication, both in online media and more traditional venues, and this provides the reader with a lot of unique, valuable and highly digestible fare.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for this wonderful review, Kevin! We really appreciate it and are delighted that very seasoned translators like you find the book helpful as well. Writing it was quite painful, and whew, we are not *really* looking forward to writing an updated second edition, but it will happen (not this year, though). You are right, technology moves at the speed of light. And yes, we are in agreement: social media is a big component of a successful marketing strategy. We think that 5 years from now, everyone will know that. For now, there's the early adapters in our industry who are successfully using it.

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