As 2015 draws to a close, I’m just coming to the end of my second year of blogging. I’m thrilled that views have gone up 50% over the course of this year and delighted that my words seem to strike a chord with so many of you. I’m often asked, when I attend conferences or translator events, whether blogging is worthwhile: an interesting question! It really depends how you classify “worthwhile”…
When I wrote my first post (on Manners in Translation – still as relevant now), back in late December 2013, I had no real aim in mind, other than an urge to put electronic pen to paper and express some of the thoughts floating around in my head. It had been on my to-do list for some time as a means of doing some more creative writing for once, rather than merely translating the words of others – scope for creativity there, certainly, but essentially constrained by the confines of the original. My computer whizz elder son had set up my website a year or so earlier and the intention had always been to include a blog, but there never seemed time.
When it came to it, it was my younger son, home from uni in his final year and with time to spare, who helped me set up both my Lines from a Linguist blog for all things language-based and my Rhubarb & Raspberries blog on my other passions of gardening and cooking. Ambitious, admittedly, setting up two at once, but strangely enough neither has ever been a chore. This translation blog was supposed to form part of my own website, but we couldn’t pin down Son No. 1 (by then working full time in his new and demanding career in pharmaceutical recruitment) to find out how to incorporate it in the existing professional site, so set up stand-alone blogs via WordPress. As it happens, I like the flexibility of having a separate blog, although senior son was not impressed when he eventually realised what we’d done without his guiding hand. In his eyes the sole aim of a blog should be to “bring traffic to your website”. Oh well.
So, has it been worth the candle, I hear you ask? Undoubtedly, yes! I’ve loved the freedom to write my own thoughts and I’m sure that writing practice has passed on into my own translating work too. It certainly gives clients an idea of my writing style and abilities, I hope, should they happen to come across it. Has it actually brought me any work, though? Hard to gauge in concrete terms – it was never my intention to target clients as such, and my posts are much more geared to translators and freelancers, covering the nuts and bolts of our profession and matters relating to freelance working in general. After 30+ years in the industry, I suppose it has been my way of giving something back. That said, writing a blog has most certainly raised my profile considerably – it’s a great icebreaker at conferences when people recognise you from your blog! That, in turn, has a knock-on effect as colleagues have passed work my way because they are familiar with my name and specialisms from my writing. Not easy to quantify, but it definitely doesn’t have an adverse effect on your earning potential…
The most important thing, in my view, is that you have something to say. There’s absolutely no point writing a blog just to raise your profile or because you think you “ought to”, if you’ve nothing to say. Writing has to flow and, if you’re struggling to think of anything worth saying, that will be only too painfully evident in the results. If writing my blog posts became a chore, I would stop – end of. As it is, I usually have about four or five potential topics buzzing around at the edge of my brain, often formulated on my daily dog walks. I might make a note of these when I get home, then they may not actually get written up until weeks or months after the initial idea, but there’s not usually any shortage of inspiration. What is interesting is that despite my self-professed love of Dragon speech recognition when I translate, I much prefer to write my blogs manually – don’t ask me why! Maybe the creative juices flow more freely through the fingers….
I was asked recently by a fellow blogger what my most viewed posts had been and it was actually quite enlightening looking back at the statistics for the year: the most popular by far this year, was My Layman’s Take on CAT tools, comparing Wordfast and Trados Studio, followed by my article on ProZ, written back in 2014 and still my most read post ever with just under 3000 views. I suppose they reflect the fact that practical posts about refining our working practices, getting more work and increasing productivity are ever-constant concerns. Even so, more psychologically-inclined posts such as Life’s too Short and Stepping outside your Comfort Zone also received a large number of views, along with lovely feedback, and reflect the increasing interest in a more holistic approach to translation.
Over the course of the year I was very honoured and flattered to be asked to write a couple of guest posts, one for eCPD webinars: The Curse of the Freelance Translator: lack of self-esteem? and another for SDL Trados, about the SDL Roadshow series. The self-esteem post in particular generated a great deal of interest, mostly positive on social media, but a rather surprising negative backlash on ProZ, where a colleague had kindly posted a link. Inevitably, if you put your head above the parapet to air your views, you must expect to take the rough with the smooth, but anyone of a more sensitive disposition would perhaps be advised to think twice before blogging on anything remotely contentious: it’s not for the faint-hearted! I’ve even been asked before now to take one of my posts down: On dinosaurs and dragons – why change is a Very Good Thing, as someone took my words rather too personally…. It is certainly never my intention to offend anyone, and for that reason I never name names, but I do feel it is our right to express our own opinions as we think fit.
On balance then, blogging has definitely been a very worthwhile part of my life for the past two years. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s opened up a number of opportunities for me and increased my self-confidence into the bargain. Is it right for you? Only you can know the answer to that, but only do it if you really want to – not because it’s another tick in a box.
Thanks again to all readers and commenters and here’s to another great year in 2016!