Dec 11, 2008

Evidence II

It's been a very busy week, so most of my intended posts are still somewhere in the editing queue. (Yes, I do sometimes edit what I write, as hard as that may be to believe!)

However, the responses to my earlier post on Rod Walters' portfolio suggestion have caused me to think about variations on and refinement to this approach that might be suited to different purposes. I would like to share a few of these ideas and encourage others to suggest better ways for particular situations.

In the comments on the original evidence post, Michael mentioned that the portfolio approach had not worked in the past. What would interest me is why it didn't work with a particular audience. That's the point where I thought of some of the brochures I translate for customers which target specific solutions in specific sectors: document management and archiving for tax accountants, as opposed to a general brochure on the same topics for all areas of business. As freelance translators we are often encouraged to specialize, because this improves our earning potential and usually also improves the quality of our work because we develop deeper expertise in an area. What better way to demonstrate that expertise and focus prospects' minds on the areas you really want to work in and presumably do best than by making a targeted portfolio emphasizing those areas?

I have a strong interest in GRI sustainability reporting, for example. I simply love translating that stuff, even though some of it is just hot air and propaganda. If I want to attract more business in this area or in related topics for environmental issues or (in the case of the stuff I enjoy most) transportation, I could put together a portfolio which might include:
  • a profile of myself, including my relevant scientific education, involvement with environmental organizations and general experience in this area translating reports for major organizations
  • samples of translations in this area taken from public sources
  • a link to an online glossary on the subject created from specialized corpora and other sources (I've actually been working on one of these for a while, but I haven't given much thought to how, when or where - or even if - to make it publicly available)
  • relevant certificates related to the specialty (I don't have any in this case, just thought I'd mention it. If you are looking to do translations for elder care and you've got lots of relevant degrees and certificates, actual images of these in the back of a portfolio might be interesting. And so on.)
  • articles you have written on the subject or references to them
All of this should be well-organized in an easily distributed format with appropriate indexing or navigation of some sort if it is of any significant length.

I responded to Michael that I had understood the portfolio concept as a way of avoiding the test translation issue, and while I still look at this as a possibility, I think my memory played tricks on me here, because it was probably intended more as a way of getting prospects interested in the first place. Whether things go from there to a test translation request is another matter to be dealt with separately.

In any case, I do think that a careful focus of the material in a portfolio will make it more effective. Rod did in fact suggest one's chosen fields for the portfolio, but maybe it would be better to take this a step farther and do one portfolio for patent work, one for chemistry, another for technical marketing (or whatever fields are relevant for you).

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