Friday, 3 June 2011

Ability or network?

This excellent post was written by my Twitter-friend Konstantina Drakou (@wordyrama). I hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did!

Does success arrive from your ability or from your network?  Let’s take me for example, Konstantina Drakou  (@wordyrama), a financially struggling 32-year translator (who after ten years in the UK returns home to Crete). After working mostly for clients within the Greek market for four years I face first-hand the effects of the country’s financial dire state, hold a part-time job in IT to keep up with the terminology in the field and to, well basically, survive.
Who you know…
Then nearly simultaneously (about a year and a half ago), two great people came to my life and redirected my professional course. One is a client of mine, Minas Liapakis, Co-Founder of Eyewide E-Services, the other is a fellow translator, Catherine Christaki (@LinguaGreca), who I accidentally met through a family friend. Needless to say, they both are now very valued friends of mine.
Their vision shared…
After numerous completed projects and towards the end of a business meeting, Minas had a fine idea of me setting up a site (and so, was born and I became a guinea pig) and creating a fan page on Facebook, as an experiment to see if e-marketing works for translators. He introduced me to the world of press releases, sending an online one for every completed project. While chit-chatting over cocktails one night, Catherine introduced me to the world of Proz, urged me to contact translation agencies to find more clients and showed trust and enthusiasm to my skills that even I had never showed.
What happened next…
From this point on everything changed. I started applying for projects posted on Proz (I never received a reply regarding these projects from agencies), I set up an ad on Facebook for my fan page –the number of fans increased, currently it counts 321 fans-, I placed ads on Proz (I still wonder if this helped at all), I took part on Proz webinars (these have truly been eye-widening), I became member of the American Translators Association and the Panhellenic Association of Translators. You name it! I put all my effort into taking small steps at a time, investing any spare cash into my putting-my-name-out-there-campaign. I am not saying it is being easy or that my freelance business has taken off. Far from it! I am not booked all the time; there have been famine periods of an empty inbox and no job in sight (whether using binoculars or not). I recall the longest period of no translation project to work on being 23 days! Tough! Other days I do not have time to even reply to my emails and I am booked solid for weeks in a row, working long days and nights, including weekends. Work does not scare me, what scares me is not having any!
Now it is all about what you can do…
It takes hard work, endless hours and dedication, not only for completing the actual translation work, meeting deadlines, working part-time, but also for keeping up with all the marketing stuff at the same time. For instance, there is no point registering a fan page with Facebook, if you not intend to educate and entertain your fans with news on the translation field or to post material of interest; there is no point sending countless emails unless you follow-up by replying to queries, filling in forms and signing confidentiality agreements.
Then, Catherine’s second advice wave came: Twitter. A fascinating tool and a great community! No other cyber place has so many translators interacting with each other! Interesting articles, news posts on translation, tips for promoting freelance businesses, random thoughts, jokes, all at our disposal with just a simple click away. There, I e-met fantastic and enthusiastic colleagues, keen to share tips and pieces of advice from their extended experience: Ewa, my host, who agreed to publish this post (the first one I have ever written), Aga Gordon (@acgtranslation), who has agreed to host my next article and whose kind and supporting words can brighten up your most gloomy day, especially those when you lose heart and all hope…
A helping hand from the past…
While I was posting news on my fan page one day, Heidi’s name popped up in the chat box of Facebook and a lighting bulb lit about my head! Heidi Vuorinen, a Finish freelance translator and my University buddy at the University of East Anglia gave me an insight of how she took her first steps in the freelancing field, the do’s and dont’s, she even suggested a few translation agencies I should get in touch with. Once a friend, always a friend!
Before this post becomes an endless speech of thank-you’s (Oscars), let me just say that having Minas and these extraordinary ladies by my e-side, I dare see light at the end of the tunnel and be curious in what the future holds for me!


  1. This is a very useful read for freelance translators anywhere. Thank you, Konstantina.

  2. Nice article, Konstantina, thanks for sharing and including me there:) I am glad I could be of assistance and looking forward to hosting your article on my blog:)

  3. I recommend reading G. K. Chesterton's "The Fallacy of Success". You can google for it (I don't think I can post a direct link here).

  4. Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your efforts and I will be waiting for your further write ups thanks once again.
    Vee Eee Technologies| Vee Eee Technologies