Freelance translators: Should you blog?

This is the 20th post on my 10-month-old blog of my 19-month-old translation business in my 38th year of Life on Earth.

If I can start a blog and keep it up, you can too.

Launch your own blog if this means you!

  • You will write posts regularly.
  • You write fairly well and—more importantly—you want to get better.
  • You believe blogs are useful.
  • You want to build your web presence.

No, do not blog if you fit this description:

  • You cannot commit to posting on a regular basis.
  • You think blogs are pointless.
  • You market your services in a non-blogging manner. (Or you’re so busy with well-paid work that you don’t need to market yourself at all.)

Setting up a blog is the easy part. The care and feeding is hard.

What are the benefits of blogging?

Fabio Said on Fidus Interpres sees blogs as a business asset:

Blogging makes people aware of your work as a translator and brings new prospects, blogging makes people aware of the translating profession, blogging generates additional income…

I agree.

How has Catherine Translates paid off for me?

  • Clients see my blog and feel assured that I’m a serious professional.
  • Colleagues read my blog and refer clients or subcontract work to me.
  • I’m more articulate. I write with more confidence.
  • More people visit my website.

Now you may be wondering…

Should you write short and snappy posts?

Many readers like to see concise 300-word posts once or twice a week. I do too.

Or should you write long posts and publish less frequently?

I personally vote for in-depth articles.

In my experience, comprehensive posts are shared more easily by readers via social media. For example,

These posts were promoted by other people. Not by me. That’s the beauty of social media.

You can of course vary your types of blog posts. You can mix up long copy, short copy, podcasts, how-tos, interviews and so forth. For some inspiration, see these two blogrolls: the ATA Blog Trekker and ProZ translation blogs.

Read these resources for beginner bloggers

If you’re almost convinced you should start blogging, read Sarah Dillon’s 21 tips for timid bloggers. Then consult Riccardo Schiaffino’s Blogging 101 lesson and get your blog off the ground.

You’re not quite ready to start your own blog?

If you’ve got something to say but don’t want to do your own thing, feel free to submit a guest post to Catherine Translates.

I’d appreciate your contribution. See guidelines on my Guests Posts page if you’re interested.

Are you convinced of the merits of blogging? If you already have a blog, what’s in it for you? Leave your URLs in the comments.

(If you liked this post, leave a comment and share it on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Thanks!)

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9 responses to “Freelance translators: Should you blog?

  1. Pingback: A taste of May in translation | Translator T.O.

  2. Jill (@bonnjill)

    You should also consider blogging if you are opinionated and like to share those opinions ;-) That’s the secret to my success.

  3. Hi Catherine,
    Thanks for this helpful summary on the to-blog-or-not-to-blog question! I’m just starting out as a freelancer and am still on the fence about blogging, even though I love reading blogs! You’ve given me some food for thought. It’s my birthday today, too, so an apt day to begin looking in a new direction. :)

  4. A word of caution to blogging in general: some postings in different blogs come across as condescending and pontifical. It’s okay to be opinionated, especially if you know more than other people, but flaunting insights tends to polarize readers and widen distances.

    I prefer to make the idea, not me, to be the star of the show. Yes, I agree with Catherine in that writing a blog can help to improve your writing. I would avoid marketing or sales buzzwords, like “build your web presence” or any other colloquial or technical expression that only a small circle of people would understand, such as “translation QA” or “improving the ROI of your globalization efforts.” Instead, I find inspiration in the 3 translation challenges the Chinese scholar and translator Yan Fu spoused: faithfulness, elegance and expressiveness.

    To be relevant and professional, there is no need to write a “hip” blog or a blog that pretends to tell others how to do things. To me, the key idea is sharing. Let’s share without being overbearing.

    • Hello mariosphere,
      I read many blogs that are resourceful and many that are entertaining. When a blog can do both, I subscribe. I have a soft spot for “opinionated” blogs because I admire the blogger for taking that risk, even when I don’t agree with his or her point of view.
      If you recommend any particularly useful blogs, feel free to share them!

  5. Blogging is good, but isn’t enough to get new jobs. The best way is to apply to online translation marketplaces.

  6. Pingback: Figuring out Facebook | Catherine Translates

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