Interview: Specializing as a Translator

Matías Ortiz, founder of Letras Nómadas, interviewed me for his section called “Charlas de traducción” (Talks on Translation).

He asked about plenty of things and the interview is 40 minutes long, so I can’t transcribe it completely, but I wanted to share some of the answers, just in case you were wondering how I became “The Wellness Translator” and whether it is more or less beneficial to specialize in limited topics.

Screenshot from the Youtube interview/podcast (in Spanish). You can watch it here.

🎤 MACA, HOW DID YOU BECOME A SPECIALIZED TRANSLATOR?

I guess I started just like everyone else does: accepting any project that came into my inbox. At first, I worked with two Argentinian agencies that sent me a wide variety of texts, from pharmaceutical to fashion and tourism.

Among those projects, there were some related to healthcare, aimed at patients, mostly about how to handle chronic conditions or how to get ready for surgery, as well as emails for the employees of a hospital, for example.

And I knew that those were the texts that I not only enjoyed the most, but also the ones in which I did better in terms of quality. Plus, the feedback I received was usually really good!

However, at first, I didn’t understand that, as a professional translator, it was OK not to be capable of translating all the projects I received.

When we finish the career, we tend to assume that, with a little investigation, we should be able to translate any kind of text. I thought that, if I read a bit about the pharmaceutical industry, I should’ve been able to translate about it.

And that frustrated me, because, actually, I didn’t understand certain industries, no matter how much I Googled about them.

After 2 years of working with these agencies, I decided I wanted to start working with international ones.

So I did a cultural exchange program in California for a year, and during this time I studied a lot about translation and online marketing.

In a webinar organized by Jenae Spry, I discovered the idea of specializing as a translator and saw a website called “The Vegan Translator” (which is no longer online.)

I started thinking what my passions were and what I liked doing, what kind of books I preferred reading and what topics I enjoyed talking about the most.

In addition to that, while living in California, I discovered the concept of wellness, which isn’t widely known in Argentina yet. I looked it up and I knew right away that it was “my thing”.

All the pieces fell in place.

And that’s how “The Wellness Translator” was born!

 

🎤 And specializing didn’t mean that you started receiving fewer jobs?

On the contrary. I found new clients and started receiving more and more projects, as well as enjoying each one of them.

When you specialize on a topic you like, it’s easier to market your services in an effective way and to spot the right clients for you. And the right clients also spot you easier.

Now I easily understand every text I translate.

I can even detect errors in the source text, as well as enhance the quality of the translations I edit.

I also make suggestions that benefit the whole team, such as letting them know the difference between a plant-based diet and veganism. Probably, a person who is not really informed about these topics would think they are the same thing! But since I read a lot about them, I know what’s the difference and how we should translate them into Spanish.

It’s an internalized knowledge I have, simply because I’m passionate about wellness and I’ve been reading and listening about it for plenty of years.

The kind of magazines and books I enjoy the most.

 

Thanks for reading!
Maca.

💭 IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT TRANSLATION OR FINDING YOUR NICHE? LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS!

3 thoughts on “Interview: Specializing as a Translator

      1. Oh, and in order to improve my niche… Well, that’s something I do on a daily basis, following accounts on IG related to it, reading books, listening to podcasts, watching documentaries, attending classes and doing courses, etc.
        When I was in California, for example, I read plenty of magazines related to health and wellness and attended a couple of classes related to mindfulness, stress reduction and business administration (since all of my clients are businesses).

        Like

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