FREE downloadable coaching session for translators and interpreters

Have you ever been coached? Would you like to give coaching a try? I recently recorded a 30-minute coaching session to allow you to do just that — for free!

This “taster” session will help you turn your ideas and goals into action plans that motivate you to move forwards. It will take you through the four stages of the GROW model, which I described in “Demystifying Coaching In The Translation Community“.

The session I recorded is called a “silent” coaching session because you will answer a series of questions in your head and on paper. It follows a generic script, which means that you will be able to use it for all your personal and professional goals.

Silent Coaching Session at CambridgeSpace, June 14th 2017 – Photo ©Tim Bond

Earlier this week, I took a group of small business owners, freelancers and professionals through a “silent” coaching session and this is what they went away with:

  • More clarity about their goals
  • A sense of direction
  • New insights and ideas
  • Increased levels of commitment and motivation
  • A feeling of empowerment
  • An action plan for the next couple of weeks

“I recently attended a ‘silent’ coaching session that Christelle gave at CambridgeSpace. Although it was only a ‘taster’ session, I found it helpful, inspiring and very motivating.”
Kim Wing Fung, Software Consultant

Interested? Great! For more information and to download your free session (mp3 file) simply follow this link.

I hope you find it useful and, as always, don’t hesitate to send me your feedback. I look forward to hearing how you got on.


To keep up-to-date with my latest posts and announcements, please feel free to use the links on this page to subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page. I look forward to seeing you there!

Top photo by William Iven


FREE Webinar: Translation In Transition

When I started freelancing as a translator, Mark Zuckerberg was busy writing the code for a new website called “The Facebook”, LinkedIn was still in its infancy and Twitter was just a sound that birds made.

Fast forward 13 years and social media have transformed the way we communicate and do business. Other changes have taken place too, such as the rise of machine translation and crowd-sourcing.

So how can we — translators, interpreters and other professionals — future-proof ourselves and continue to thrive in a world that relies increasingly on technology?

On May 4th, 2017, I will repeat the presentation I gave last year at the BP16 conference in Prague, and team up with Jenae Spry of Success by RX to offer you a FREE webinar on change management for translators.

If you want to learn how to:

➠ handle constant and rapid change

➠ adapt in a market that increasingly relies on technology

➠ future-proof your career

Click here to register ===>>>

Can’t make it? No problem. Register for the recording (available for 3 days).

I look forward to seeing you there.

How To Make Your Own L.U.C.K. As A Translator And/Or Interpreter

Have you ever wondered why some people always seem to be lucky? Whatever they do, they succeed. Sometimes without even trying. Do they have a lucky star, or do they make their own luck? And if they make their own luck, how do they do it?

I recently attended a networking event called Cambridge Pitch & Mix. Every Thursday morning, local business owners and entrepreneurs meet in a café in Cambridge, UK, to discuss business topics. The chosen topic for that particular morning was: “How can you make your own luck?” Here are some of the ideas that came up during the discussion:

Filters – There’s so much going on around us that it isn’t possible for us to process all that information consciously. We wouldn’t be able to function properly if we did. So the mind uses “filters” and only focuses on information that it believes is relevant to us, and ignores the rest.

The first car I bought was a red Fiesta. I’d never spent so much money before, so I wanted to make sure it was the right choice. It took me several days to decide whether to buy it or not, and during those few days I spotted red Fiestas everywhere. There were so many of them! Where did they all suddenly come from? Of course, they’d always been there, but that piece of information was irrelevant to me, so my mind filtered them out until I thought about buying one.

The same goes for opportunities. If you focus on the things you want in your life, it will be a lot easier for you to spot opportunities. If instead you focus on the things you don’t want, that’s what you’re going to see. So luck could simply be a matter of choosing the right “filters”.

Prototyping – Some of us go into projects without taking the time to properly measure the risks, or even our chances of success. If we invest everything into a project that’s doomed to fail, we’ll lose everything. The best way to avoid this is to start small and test the ground.

Silicon Valley design innovators Bill Burnett and Dave Evans taught their students at Stanford University how to apply “Design Thinking” to their lives and create “experience prototypes” to help them decide what direction to take next, one step at a time.

An experience prototype could be translating a few documents in a specific field to see if you like it before investing in some training to make that field your specialism.

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans describe some of their techniques in two YouTube videos.

Hard work – The fact that it looks easy, doesn’t mean that it is. In the vast majority of cases, success is the result of hard work. Some people are just good at making it look effortless. Any sports or business personality biography will show what it takes to reach the top. And if luck played any part in their success, it’s only because everything else was in place.

Towards the end of the discussion, one of the participants shared an interesting acronym: L.U.C.K.

Location – Luck is often described as “being in the right place at the right time”. While it may not always be possible for us to choose the right time, we still have much control over where we choose to be. This can be a geographical location, or places where our business needs to be visible (networking events, adverts, online presence, etc.).

How does your geographical location currently affect your business? How can this be improved?

Where do you need to be seen?

Understanding of opportunities – Being able to spot needs and gaps in the market puts us at a serious advantage. Understanding how these gaps can be filled and how to position products and services is essential, whatever the nature of our business.

What needs can you see emerging in the market?

How can you fulfill these needs?

Connections – “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Sadly, there is a lot of truth in this, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. Opportunities to network and connect are endless nowadays. This informal Meetup group in Cambridge is a prime example.

Who do you need to add to your list of contacts?

Where can you meet them? How can you get in touch?

Knowledge – Of course it’s about what you know! Without sound knowledge of the subject matters you specialise in, and of the skills required to run a translation business, you won’t go very far. Hard skills are vital, soft skills play an important part too.

How can you improve your skills / acquire new ones?

Who can you learn from?

So there you have it! This is how a group of business people in Cambridge believe you can make your own luck. “But don’t dismiss randomness”, one of the participants said. “There’s also power in serendipity.”


As a performance coach, my role is to help my clients make their own luck. I do this by helping them think clearly and efficiently. We start by making their goals or targets as specific as possible, as a way of ensuring that the right “filters” are in place. We then discuss the reality of their situation, and lift every stone until we find what needs to be changed, improved or added. The insights gained from this work help my clients make better decisions, and therefore increase their chances of success.

I’ve created my own Meetup group to introduce coaching to local professionals and business people. If you live in or around Cambridge and would like to know more about my work, please join us here.

To keep up-to-date with my latest posts and announcements, please feel free to use the links on this page to subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page. I look forward to seeing you there!

Photo credit:

Adapted from a post published in Passion To Fruition.

The Translator’s Guide To Finding And Targeting A Niche Market

The Translator's Guide To Finding And Targeting A Niche Market

While some translators see themselves as generalists, others choose to specialise to stand out from the competition, be seen as experts in their fields, and charge higher rates. But how do you select a niche market? Do you choose it, or do you let it choose you? And when you’ve done that, how do you target it?

“Finding and Targeting a Niche Market” was the title of my session at ATA’s 57th conference in San Francisco in November. The session was a success, and I decided to repeat it online last week as a free webinar. 565 people signed up for the webinar, but don’t worry if you missed it: it’s now available in written format as The Translator’s Guide To Finding And Targeting A Niche Market. And it’s FREE!

In this guide, I explore the benefits of working for niche markets, as well as key aspects to consider when choosing a niche. I share several business principles, together with a couple of coaching models, to help you explore your niche before committing to it. Targeting strategies, both on and offline, are also explored.

To receive your FREE copy of The Translator’s Guide To Finding And Targeting A Niche Market, simply click here.

I hope you find it useful!

“Calling Yourself A Coach?” – Demystifying Coaching In The Translation Community


There has been much debate in the translation community over the past few weeks about coaching and its value (or lack of) for our profession. As a qualified translator and qualified coach, I was sometimes shocked, sometimes hurt, sometimes encouraged and uplifted by the comments I read on various social media platforms. But one thing was obvious: there is a widespread lack of clarity and understanding among translators, and the general population, about what coaching truly is.

What is coaching?

Just like the translation profession, the coaching profession isn’t protected. This means that anybody can call himself or herself a coach, and the term “coach” is often used instead of “teacher” – most of the time by well-meaning individuals. But coaching and teaching are two very different things.

Coaching is also very different from consulting and mentoring. A consultant is an expert in a field in which the client has little or no experience, and whose role it is to solve a problem. A mentor is someone who has extensive experience in the same field as the client, to whom they offer professional advice and guidance.

The role of coaching is to “create the conditions for learning and growing”*. As a coach, I act as a catalyst to facilitate my clients’ progress towards defined goals through the use of skilled listening and questioning techniques.

Consulting Mentoring Coaching graph 2

The coach doesn’t need to be an expert in the industry his/her client comes from. The coach needs to be an expert in coaching, i.e. in facilitating growth. However, working with a coach who understands your industry and the challenges you are facing is likely to maximise the process and to save time (you won’t need to explain to me what a CAT tool is, or what LSPs are).

The International Coach Federation (ICF) provides the following definition:

“ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential, which is particularly important in today’s uncertain and complex environment. Coaches honor the client as the expert in his or her life and work and believe every client is creative, resourceful and whole. Standing on this foundation, the coach’s responsibility is to:

Discover, clarify, and align with what the client wants to achieve

Encourage client self-discovery

Elicit client-generated solutions and strategies

Hold the client responsible and accountable

This process helps clients dramatically improve their outlook on work and life, while improving their leadership skills and unlocking their potential.”

Through their conversations with their coach, clients develop awareness about their strengths, their weaknesses, their challenges and their opportunities. Increased awareness (including self-awareness) enables them to make better decisions about the actions that they need to take. For example, they may realise that they are capable of working with direct clients, and that in order to do so they will need to target specific networking events and to finetune their translation skills in the field they wish to specialise in.

The role of the coach is not to present solutions to their clients, but to elicit solutions from them. This is a fundamental principle in coaching, and the main reason why coaching differs from teaching, mentoring and consulting. Coaches don’t give advice, except for standard industry theory (e.g. “Putting systems in place will help you to save time”, “Translation conferences are great opportunities to meet experienced translators and learn from them”, etc.).

By empowering clients to brainstorm ideas and find their own solutions, coaching promotes focus, confidence and self-motivation, leading to increased productivity and a stronger sense of achievement. This stronger sense of achievement is directly linked to the fact that, having come up with their own solutions and developed their own action plans, clients truly own their results.


Coaching emerged in the 1970s, when Timothy Gallway developed what he termed ‘The Inner Game’ as a way to help athletes overcome their mental blocks and boost their performance. It quickly spread to the world of business and executives, with the emergence of the G.R.O.W. model by Sir John Whitmore and his colleagues in the 1980s.

G.R.O.W. isn’t the only coaching model, but it is one of the most established ones and it can be used to coach business owners, executives, small groups or teams, as well as private individuals through personal or life coaching. The core principles of coaching remain the same, only the content changes.

I was trained to use G.R.O.W. as a basis for my one-to-one sessions with clients, to which I add various coaching tools according to my clients’ needs. The G.R.O.W. model uses a structured methodology to maximise the goal-setting, problem-solving and action-planning efficiency of coaching sessions by taking clients through 4 stages: Goal, Reality, Options and Will (or Way forward).

In the Goal stage, the coach helps the client to clarify what they want to achieve (e.g. work with direct clients) and to break it down into inspiring, achievable steps. The reason why we start with the goal, is because it’s much better to think about what you want to achieve before you start thinking about the problems or the obstacles that you may encounter on the way. The energy and motivation built during this stage will boost the client’s ability to think creatively and find solutions later in the conversation.

In the Reality stage, the coach and client explore strengths, weaknesses, challenges/obstacles and opportunities to boost the client’s self-awareness and awareness of the situation. The coach will challenge the client’s limiting beliefs about their situation and their ability to achieve their goal (e.g. “I can’t work with direct clients because I’m an introvert and I don’t do networking”).

In the Options stage, the coach helps the client to use the motivation and sense of direction developed in the Goal stage, as well as the awareness raised in the Reality stage, to come up with creative ideas that will help them to move forward towards their goal. This is a typical brainstorming exercise.

Finally, in the Will (Way forward) stage, the client commits to an action plan that they design themselves from the options brainstormed earlier. The outcome of these actions will be discussed at the next session, where the G.R.O.W. model can be repeated with the same or a different topic. Coaching is a process, and the number of sessions required will vary according to the goal the client wants to achieve.

While the G.R.O.W. model can be used by anybody to create action plans, it isn’t enough on its own to make anybody a coach. Coaching requires other key skills such as deep listening (or Level 3 listening), reflecting back, evidence-based positive feedback, non-judgement (or unconditional positive regard), questioning, reframing, and other coaching models which can be included in the various stages of G.R.O.W. or form a session on their own. These skills can be acquired and developed through professional training.

Who is coaching for?

Many people can benefit from coaching. People usually hire a coach when they feel stuck in a particular situation and want to get unstuck. For example, several of my clients wanted to get better clients. They were very competent translators, and had read books and watched webinars on how to work with direct clients, but a lack of confidence or clarity about their goals stopped them from moving forward.

Another client (not a translator) was very creative and skilled, but he wasn’t very good at focusing on the “boring” aspects of self-employment. He wanted to grow his small business and needed someone to help him to focus and strategise. Coaching him every other week helped to break things down into manageable tasks and to keep him motivated with deadlines.

Other people struggle with work-life balance, especially when they have a family and work from home. Coaching helps them to prioritise activities, get organised and overcome challenges without feeling too overwhelmed.

It’s important to point out that, while there is an element of psychology in coaching, coaching isn’t therapy, and it isn’t suitable on its own in cases of deep anxiety, depression, or when events or circumstances are a source of distress. Coaching is best suited for individuals who are ready to take action and move forward.

Other services offered by coaches

As well as offering one-to-one coaching sessions, coaches often give talks, and teach webinars and workshops. These activities are different from coaching as they’re usually targeted at large groups of individuals. During a coaching session, the client does 70% to 80% of the talking. During a talk or webinar, the speaker/presenter does most of the talking. Workshops can be somewhere in the middle. Talks, webinars and workshops are therefore better grouped under the category of Teaching or Training, but they will be based on coaching principles and theory, and some of these principles and theory will be shared with the audience/participants.

How to choose a coach

If you’re considering hiring a coach, the first thing you need to ask yourself is: “What type of service am I looking for?” If you want someone to share their translation expertise with you and to show you the ropes, then what you’re looking for is a mentor. If you want someone to solve a problem for you and give you solutions, e.g. financial or marketing advice, a consultant will be able to help you. And if you want to clarify your goals, overcome barriers, strategise, get motivated, etc., then coaching may be the right service for you.

Some professionals offer a combination of services, such as mentoring and coaching, consulting and coaching or counselling and coaching. Together you’ll agree on a programme that suits your needs.

As I mentioned at the start of this post, the coaching profession isn’t protected and many people who call themselves coaches aren’t actual coaches. The following questions can help to ensure that you’re dealing with a professional: Are they qualified? Can they send you a copy of their Code of Ethics? Do they belong to a professional body such as the International Coach Federation or the Association for Coaching? It’s also important to pay attention to the way your initial conversation with your coach makes you feel. A consultation (often known as “Chemistry session”) will help you to establish whether coaching is the right solution for you, and whether there is good rapport and trust between yourself and the coach.

* Sir J. Whitmore, Coaching for Performance.


I hope this post has helped to answer a few of your questions about coaching. Should you wish to keep up-to-date with my latest posts and announcements, please feel free to use the links on the right-end side of the screen (or below if you’re using a mobile device) to subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page. I look forward to seeing you there!


Photo credit:


Design Your Life As A Translator And/Or Interpreter

Did you know that only 20% of the population have a passion? Most people like many things but can’t identify a single one of them as a passion. So if you’re feeling unsure about what to do next or what direction to take as a translator/interpreter, if you’re unsure about what you should specialise in, you’re not the only one. And there is a solution to your problem.


In his two-part webinar series entitled “Design Your Life”, Bill Burnett taught his students at Stanford University how to use the “Design Thinking” technique to create a life or career that is right for them. The recordings of these webinars are now available online.

In the first webinar, you will learn how to recognise when you’re in “flow” –that state when time stands still and you feel a sense of complete involvement, inner clarity and focus.



In the second webinar, you will learn how to use the “Way Finding” method to create “experience prototypes” that will help you to decide what direction to take next in your life or career.



Out of all the techniques shared in these webinars, which one did you like the most? How will it help you to advance your career as a translator/interpreter?

You can find out more about Bill Burnett’s techniques in his book: Designing Your Life.


To discover other useful coaching tools, and to keep up-to-date with my latest posts and announcements, please feel free to use the links on the right-end side of the screen (or below if you’re using a mobile device) to subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page. I look forward to seeing you there!

Photo credit: William Iven

Five Common (And Surmountable) Barriers to a Fulfilling Career in Translation

Many of us embarked on a freelancing career in the hope of finding more fulfilment in our lives, only to discover that it isn’t as straight forward as we originally thought. Freelancing can be immensely rewarding, but also very demanding. In this article I discuss a few common barriers to a fulfilling career in translation, and share a few ideas to help you to overcome them.

1 – Lack of vision

Most translators translate because they like it. Not many of them see translation as a means to get to where they want to be. In other words, few translators start with a vision.

A vision is your 10 out of 10, your personal and/or professional life as you want it to be. Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve gives you a sense of direction and control over your choices. It helps you to decide what’s important and what’s not. In times of doubt, struggle or frustration, revisiting your vision helps to boost your levels of motivation and willpower.

What is your 10 out of 10?
How will your translation business enable you to achieve this?

2 – Lack of systems and processes

Many people go freelance because they love what they do and they do it well. Unfortunately, a large proportion of small businesses go bust within the first couple of years because their owners spend most of their time working IN the business (i.e. doing what they love doing) and not enough time working ON the business (developing systems and processes).

Systems and processes include, but are not limited to, filing systems, sales processes (from the initial enquiry to the actual sale) and customer service processes (including email templates). They boost your efficiency by eliminating the need to reinvent the wheel for each new client or project. This can in turn reduce the risk of burnout.

What systems and processes have you put in place for your translation business?
How effective are they?

3 – Working for the wrong clients

Have you ever regretted taking on a translation job? Or sworn never to work for a particular client again? You’re not alone. Sometimes finding clients, any client, takes priority over finding the right clients, especially if you’re new to the business.

Working for the wrong client doesn’t only mean working for someone who doesn’t pay on time or doesn’t reply quickly enough to your queries. It can also mean working in the wrong niche or specialisation, for clients you don’t have enough in common with. This can lead to spending too much time researching the right terminology or trying to understand concepts you’re not familiar with. Finding the right clients will boost your energy, your motivation and your productivity.

What specialisations and/or niche markets best suit you?
What areas do you enjoy researching and reading about?

4 – Overwhelm

Let’s face it, working as a freelance translator can at times be quite overwhelming. Especially if you’re having to juggle working from home and raising a family. And when deadlines are tight, keeping up with bookkeeping or filing a tax return can cause more stress than necessary.

Overwhelm can be overcome in several different ways, including chunking tasks down into small, manageable steps, delegating, outsourcing, and learning new skills (e.g. bookkeeping). Taking a moment to breathe and focus on the present, and not on future problems that may never occur, can also help to feel more grounded and in control.

What is the cause of you feeling overwhelmed?
What strategies can you adopt to avoid this?

5 – Undercompensation

Many translators worry about low rates in our industry but, while low rates are a valid concern, undercompensation is not limited to financial matters. It can also mean not taking enough time off to enjoy a quality of life that compensates for all your hard work and allows you to recharge.

Working long hours is sometimes necessary, but constantly working overtime is counter-productive. It leads to stress, irritability and loss of focus, which in turn leads to more mistakes and more work. Stress can also result in various illnesses and injuries.

Techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique™ can help you to take breaks at regular intervals with a view to maintaining high levels of energy.

How often do you completely switch off from work? Go on a holiday?
How do you reward yourself once you’ve completed a project?


How coaching can help

Coaching is a form of learning that promotes personal development, leading to action, change, and ultimately greater fulfilment in your life. The coach listens to you to understand who you are, what your current situation is and what you’re trying to achieve. During your conversations, the coach asks powerful, targeted questions to help you to gain real clarity, rise to challenges and overcome obstacles.

The coach encourages you to find your own solutions. Without telling you what to do, he/she helps you to understand your situation more clearly and to develop new ideas and approaches. By letting you design your own plan of action, the coaching process aims to boost your sense of confidence and accomplishment.

You may also like:

FREE Downloadable Coaching Session For Translators And Interpreters

“Calling Yourself A Coach?” – Demystifying Coaching In The Translation Community

The Translator’s Business Priorities Wheel

The Translator’s Stretch Zone

The Translator’s Guide To Finding And Targeting A Niche Market

Time Management For Translators – Time Log Exercise

Coaching Tips For Translators (Video)

Success Mindset For Translators (Tess Whitty’s podcast)


International Coach Of The Year and how coaching can help translators

International Coach Of The Year 2016

With Bev James, CEO of The Coaching Academy

On Saturday December 10th, The Coaching Academy celebrated the successes of its former students with a very stylish award ceremony held at De Vere’s Latimer Place, just outside London.

Awards were presented in 7 categories, including Best Newcomer, Life Coach Of The Year, NLP Coach Of The Year, Small Business Coach Of The Year, Executive Coach Of The Year, Coaching For A Cause, and International Coach Of The Year.

I’m very honoured and grateful to have been presented with the International Coach Of The Year 2016 award for my work with freelance translators and interpreters around the world, including the Future-Proof Translator webinar series, my article in the ATA Chronicle, and the various talks I gave across Europe and at the ATA conference in San Francisco just a few weeks ago.

A night to remember!

I didn’t know I was going to coach fellow translators and interpreters when I trained with The Coaching Academy, but by the time I qualified as a coach it had become clear to me that the language industry was going through a lot of changes and that it needed to adapt. I knew coaching could help.

Coaching is a process that empowers people to set goals, step outside their comfort zones, overcome challenges and take action. It also helps people to manage transitions as they say goodbye to their old selves and explore new ways of doing things.

Whether they wish to move to another country, target a niche market, set up an agency, go back to work after raising children or modernise with the latest technology, coaching can help translators and interpreters to reach their goals faster and more efficiently.

If you’re interested in coaching and would like to keep up-to-date with my latest posts and announcements, please feel free to use the links on the right-end side of the screen to subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page. You can also find more about my services here.



10 Tips To Make The Cover Of A Magazine


What better way to promote your translation business than to feature on the cover of a magazine? It could be a translation magazine, or a magazine aimed at your target market. You may think that your chances of featuring on a cover are next to none, but it actually happened to me last month, unexpectedly. In this post, I’m sharing the steps that led to this outcome to hopefully inspire you to write for publications. You never know, you may end up on a cover too!

(The following post was originally published on a blog aimed at freelancers and other passionate people.)


The ATA Chronicle, Sept./Oct. 2016


Who hasn’t daydreamed about making the cover of a magazine? Admit it. Most of us have done it at some point in our lives, perhaps to momentarily escape the routine or the stresses of daily life, or simply out of curiosity to try and imagine what it would be like. Perhaps you saw yourself as a movie star, a writer, a political leader or an inventor, and for a few moments you dared to dream.

What if this dream could come true? From trade publications to arts & crafts magazines to local newspapers, the world abounds with publications that are keen to share inspiring, thought-provoking stories and ideas. Opportunities to be visible and share your stories and ideas are just a few steps away.

Such an opportunity was given to me a few weeks ago, when the ATA Chronicle — the official publication of the American Translators Association (ATA) — asked for my permission to use one of my photos on their cover. This was an immense honour. With readers in over 100 countries, the magazine instantly raised my profile in the industry and recognised over a year of work on a topic I feel passionate about.

I hadn’t planned to appear on the cover of a magazine, but with hindsight I was able to identify the various steps that led to this fortunate outcome. I’d like to share these steps with you today to help you to make your own mark with your own stories and ideas, be it locally, nationally or perhaps even internationally.





Sometimes it pays to be a big fish in a small pond. It’s certainly a valid business model, and it applies here too. Targeting a specific audience or “tribe” will make it easier for you to stand out from the crowd, establish yourself as an expert, build trust and make yourself heard.

After working for 15 years as a French translator, I decided to follow my second passion and qualify as a coach. Rather than offering my coaching services to everybody and anybody, it made sense for me to target freelance translators as my tribe. Just 6 months after starting a blog, I received an invitation to talk at a translation conference in Norway. This was quickly followed by other invitations to talk around the world, which soon led to the cover illustrated above.

My tribe has now expanded to include other freelancers and passionate people, but it remains a tribe. What is your tribe? Who do you share ideas and values with?

For more information about tribes, see Seth Godin’s TED Talk.



Story-telling is intrinsic to human communications. We told stories and learned from listening to stories long before we could read and write. In today’s information age, story-telling is still in our DNA.

Telling a story will help you to connect with your readers and inspire them, especially if they can relate to it on an emotional level. In the first few paragraphs of the article that made the cover of the ATA Chronicle, I tell my readers about a night I spent thinking about becoming a public speaker. I chose to tell a personal story, but your story doesn’t have to be personal. It can be the story of someone you know, a well-known figure, or a case study.

What has surprised you or inspired you lately? What can you tell us about it?

For more information about the secrets of story-telling, see Carmine Gallo’s Talk at Google.



Today’s world is bursting with information. From official news sites to blog posts and tweets, information pours into our lives throughout the day, and even the night. How can you make yourself heard in such a noisy environment? How can you catch people’s attention?

One way to attract a large readership is to write about a topical issue, i.e. a topic everybody is talking about within your tribe. However, this alone won’t make you stand out. The Internet is full of posts that are simply saying the same thing over and over again. To stand out from the crowd, you need to offer a new, unexpected angle.

I chose to write an article about change in the translation industry, including change brought by machine translation (MT). This hotly-debated topic among translators is widely covered by blogs and articles that tend to either promote the latest advances in MT or ridicule them. As a coach, I approached the issue from three different angles: the technological side of change, the human side of change and the business side of change. As far as I was aware, no one had done it before.

What is your tribe talking about? What are they interested in? What new perspectives can you bring to the debate?



“If you can’t please them, upset them”. This piece of advice is often given to people who want to make some noise and get noticed, but I wouldn’t recommend you upset people deliberately. Having said that, don’t be afraid to upset or anger a few people with your ideas. Writing banalities and clichés won’t get you anywhere. Besides, you can’t please everybody. Some people won’t like what you say but as long as you say it in a manner that isn’t meant to be offensive or hurtful, it’s OK.

Writing about MT was slightly risky. This topic angers quite a few translators and, as expected, I received a few negative comments. That’s absolutely fine. I don’t claim to be the truth-bearer, I’m only interested in introducing people to different perspectives. They have a right to reject my ideas.

What ideas might stir up some emotions among your readers? How can you present them in a way that encourages a constructive debate?



It goes without saying that your article should be well written. If writing isn’t your forte, you can either ask someone who can write to edit your copy, or ask someone else to write it for you (depending on how much work they put in, it may be appropriate to mention their name as the author or co-author of the article). In most cases, your article will also be edited by the publication’s editor who will send a revised copy to you for your approval.

One of the challenges of our time is information overload. Conciseness is widely appreciated. Keep your paragraphs short and to the point, and structure your article in a way that makes it easy for the reader to follow your thought processes. Let someone read your article before you submit it, and ask for feedback.

Who could help you to write your article? Who would be happy to read it before you submit it?



“Image is everything”. This may not be true, but when it comes to making the cover of a magazine, image is certainly important, and it isn’t limited to what you wear. Your body language, your posture, the tone of your voice (and of your text), everything will need to reflect what the publication is looking for.

Of course the clothes that you wear are important too, and the occasion will usually dictate the dress code. One of the benefits of writing for your tribe is that your style is likely to match theirs. If you write for a gardening magazine, casual clothes, and perhaps a pair of wellies, will do the job nicely!

How would you describe your image? Does it match the style of your tribe? Of the magazine?



Another way to catch readers’ attention is to provide images with your article. Ideally, your photo will show you in action. It is so easy to take snaps these days, but for your photo to be selected for the cover of the magazine, it will have to be of a professional quality. The resolution will need to be high enough to allow printing on an A4 cover, or in any other format.

If someone else took the photo, you will need their permission to publish it. And if other people are in the shot, you will need their permission too.

What kind of shot will best illustrate your article? How can you ensure it is of a high quality? Can your photo be easily cropped for printing on a cover?



Magazine editors receive a lot of emails and have to work against tight deadlines. Submit your piece on time, follow any guidelines, approve the edits unless you have a valid reason not to (in which case explain politely why you’re rejecting them), and check the final proof promptly. If you can, provide your own photos, as this will save them having to pay for stock images.

This will go a long way in helping you to build a strong and long-lasting relationship with the magazine and be selected for a cover feature.



“Rome wasn’t built in a day”. It may take a few months before your article is published. This is because the magazine may have specific topics they wish to cover with each issue.

I was given a deadline for publication the following month. However, by the time the issue was published (without my article), I still hadn’t heard back from the editor. I emailed him to let him know that I was considering publishing my article on my blog if my chosen topic wasn’t suitable for the magazine. No answer. I assumed my piece had been rejected.

I prepared to publish my article online, but then decided to wait. Thank goodness! Two months after the submission date, I finally received an email from the editor. He wanted to use my article as a cover feature for the next issue. Had I rushed into sharing it online, I might have ruined my chances of making the cover.

If your article is rejected by a magazine, this isn’t the end of the world. Don’t give up. Write more articles, submit the same article to another publication, or publish it online and promote it via social media. Your tribe will appreciate your contribution.



Things often fall into place in an unexpected act of serendipity. You’re in the right place, at the right time. A chance encounter leads to a fruitful collaboration. A door closes, only to let a better one open.

I hadn’t planned to write an article for the ATA Chronicle. I had in fact submitted a proposal for a talk at the next ATA conference, where over 1,500 delegates were expected. It was sadly rejected, and the committee suggested I write something for their magazine instead. Disappointed, I nonetheless obliged, deciding that it was better than nothing.

I had already given the talk at another conference in Prague, Czech Republic, where the organiser had arranged for professional photos to be taken for marketing purposes. I sent one of the photos to the magazine in case they might want to print it with the article. Then I completely forgot about it.

As it turned out, the ATA had asked the magazine to use photos of real translators on the cover whenever possible. My photo fitted the bill perfectly, and with it three parties were granted their wishes: the magazine featured a real translator on its cover, the organiser of the Prague conference was delighted with the exposure, and I was introduced to over 10,000 readers — far more people than I would have reached through a talk. It was as if Life had had a better plan than mine all along.

When did you last experience serendipity? What happened? What could you do to increase your luck?



If you would like to read my article in the online version of the ATA Chronicle, please click here.

To keep up-to-date with my latest posts and announcements, please feel free to use the links on the right-end side of the screen to subscribe to my blog, follow me on Twitter and like my Facebook page. I look forward to seeing you there!


This post was originally published in Passion To Fruition.

Time Management For Translators – Time Log Exercise

Have you ever thought that there weren’t enough hours in the day? Do you find it difficult to keep on top of your to-do list? You’re not alone. Despite all the time-saving technology now at our disposal, time management remains an issue for most of us. It is one of the main challenges freelance translators and interpreters have to face everyday.

On September 16th 2016, I will host an interactive time management workshop at the Institute of Translation and Interpreting in Milton Keynes, UK. I have asked all participants to prepare for it by keeping a time log, or activity log, for a few days before the workshop. To help you gain insights about your own time management, I am sharing this useful exercise with you in this post.

A time log is a written record of how you spend your time during the day, and in particular during your working hours. It will help you to understand exactly how you use your time, and to identify activities that are unproductive or of low value. It will also give you a clearer idea of the times when you are most productive during the day.


Keeping a time log

Keeping a time log for a few days (ideally for a whole week) can be quite eye-opening! To help you with this exercise, I have provided a template on page 2 of this free downloadable PDF. Please print this template as many times as you need, and add a new entry each time you start a new activity (e.g. emailing, translating, invoicing, making coffee, Internet, phone calls, etc.). Please include all activities, even if they are not work-related.

Note down a brief description of the activity, the time of the change, and how you feel (alert, tired, energetic, etc.). Then, at the end of the day, or at a convenient time, note the duration of each activity, as well as its level of importance (high, medium, low) based on how far it contributed to achieving your professional goals.


Analysing your time log

Once you have completed your time log, review it against your professional goals.

What aspects of your time management are working well for you?

How is this supporting your goals?

When are you most productive during the day?

When do you feel most alert/energetic?

What aspects of your time management are not working for you?

Which activities were of low importance?

Which activities didn’t help you to meet your goals?

When are you least productive/alert/energetic during the day?

What insights have you gained about your own time management?

Which activities could be eliminated?

Which activities/tasks could be delegated?

Which activities could you do at a more suitable time? (Think about scheduling challenging/important tasks for the time of the day when you feel your best, and lower energy tasks, such as replying to emails or returning calls, for the time of the day when you feel less energetic.)

Which activities could/should take less time?

What could you do less often? What could you do more often?

What will you commit to doing differently as a result of this exercise?


What next?

If you would like to learn more time management techniques, come and join us in Milton Keynes on September 16th, or contact me here to discuss the possibility of organising another workshop near where you live. I promise it will be time well spent!

You can also like my Facebook page or subscribe to my blog by clicking on the Follow button on the right at the top of this page.


You may also like:

The Translator’s Business Priorities Wheel

The Translator’s Stretch Zone

The Secret To Time Management

Coaching Tips For Translators (video)