All-powerful agencies, machine translation, pressure on prices: is this the future for freelance translators? If you’re struggling to attract and retain good clients, collaborating with peers could be just the solution. When it works, those who’ve tried it agree it’s the only way. As Joshua Shenk puts it in his book Powers of Two, when you go back and forth, your ideas, your ambitions, your efficiency, your ability – everything gets bigger. In fact, he firmly believes that “one plus one equals infinity”.
While we can’t promise that the sky’s the limit, we have experienced the benefits of partnership first-hand. We met at the 2017 ITI Cardiff Conference and saw potential in our complementary skills, experience and networks. Since then, we’ve translated a book, won larger projects from existing clients and begun bidding for jobs alongside agencies.
For this talk, we examine the ingredients of a successful working relationship drawing on our own experience, on the latest academic literature, and above all on interviews of our peers. We look at a range of different collaborations: pairs, teams, and partnerships with other freelance professions. We offer practical advice: how to find the right partner, what to look for, what to avoid, the importance of both similarity and differences. We also explore how collaboration not only increases a freelancer’s talent and professionalism, but helps them become entrepreneurs.
Ultimately, collaboration is not only a spur to greater achievement – it is a source of happiness. It removes loneliness, boosts confidence and makes work much more fun! Today’s digital and communication technologies (Skype, the Cloud, etc.) also make it much easier. Instead of letting technology squeeze them out, freelancers can use it to join forces and enjoy a lasting future at the high-end of our profession.
Mason Colby has worked as a French>English financial translator for over 20 years, part of that time as an in-house translator in Paris, but mostly freelancing in the U.S. He also edits texts written by non-native speakers. His specializations include investor relations and corporate communications, economic research, regulatory texts, and broker research.
His clients include Société Générale CIB, the European Central Bank, Solvay S.A., Cegedim and (through an agency) French financial regulatory authorities and industry trade groups. In his spare time, Mason rides his bike, runs in the woods, coaches high school debate and plays banjo in an Appalachian string band.