In my launch announcement last week I said I would explain some of my reasons for wanting to blog, and it seemed sensible to fulfil that promise before I forget about it completely. So please find below my initial thoughts on why I wanted to give this a go. Well, some of them. You may have heard these before, you may strongly disagree…feel free to add your thoughts to the comments if you feel that way inclined!
So. Why do people blog? The pessimist in me answers that with, to boost google interest in your site. And while it is true that regularly updated content is google-friendly, the more cheerful side of me thinks people sharing on professional blogs care about more than just a boost to the hit-counter. So why else does a busy interlingual communication expert add blogging to their activities?
To engage with peers
This is more than just networking. From what I’ve seen out there, many interpreting/translation bloggers genuinely want to offer the benefits of their experience to others in the profession. I’ve certainly been helped by words of wisdom coming from their keyboards! Some share tips and expertise, others share the ups as well as the downs of their professional journey. Almost all the ones I’ve read, and certainly those I subscribe to are consistently relevant and interesting to fellow linguists.
To keep up their writing skills
A good command of written language is essential to a translator’s craft. What good is getting meaning across accurately if your version, to put it simply, sounds rubbish? Writing of your own accord, transmitting your own voice, is excellent practice for delivering someone else’s message in your language. Since a blog deals with a range of subjects (even within a specific field), you are more likely to practice a variety of styles and tones than with some writing activities. Especially if your blog has a mix of serious and light-hearted content. I acknowledge that this may be more relevant for a literary translator than for a specialist in, say, automotive manuals.
To raise awareness
This bit refers particularly to clients. As long as it doesn’t come across as a frustrated rant, your blog is a place where existing and potential clients might better learn what interpreting/translation actually entails, the skills and training a good professional has built up, and how fees and conditions should reflect that. Language services are notoriously misunderstood by “outsiders”, category which often includes your customers. While we’re under no illusion that clients will spend hours perusing a translation blog, handy ‘how to get the most out of your interpreter,’ or ‘guide to working with a translator’ posts will be helpful to some. You can send links to these (occasional!) targeted posts; or if you write something relevant to clients’ actual business you can send links to that, from which they’ll at least land on your site and, hopefully, remember you.
Client-specific posts aside, your blog will generally be looked at by a few potentials, especially if you connect with clients through social media, and link posts there. Besides, raising awareness among the public generally, not just potential clients, is an excellent thing for the industry!
To get a break!
No matter how much you love the day job, doing the same activity all day, every day can grind you down. Doing something different can provide just the ‘fallow time’ your brain needs to re-charge and be ready to get back to linguistic rendering. Granted, minimising Trados to open a WordPress window isn’t that much of a change of activity. But while a full-time translator might do well to get a bit of gardening or walking the dog into their day, blogging can still be a helpful shift in focus. Expressing your own thoughts, rather than deciphering and reformulating someone else’s, and dropping the dictionary, thesaurus or corpus interruptions to give words free reign, will use your brain in a refreshingly different way. If you mostly travel to interpreting appointments, sitting at home in peace and quiet, not having to speak, and being able to pause, consider and rework what you’ve just put down may also be a welcome change of setup. (Here the automotive-manual specialist gets his/her own back; this point would definitely be relevant for you!)
So there you have it. A few benefits of joining the world of transterpreting bloggers. It’s far from exhaustive, but I thought I’d keep it short for fear of being exhausting. Why do you blog/not blog, or why would/wouldn’t you like to?