Hey academics, "Can anyone point me to a good translator?"

July 29, 2020 / by Mike Donlin

Ever since my first text for a university researcher, my network of academics has spread out like a spider’s web.*

One person talking to another, all word of mouth. How do I know? Because often the email that reaches me is the latest in a conversation, in which time and again I see people flailing around for advice: “Can anyone point me to a good translator?”

Once upon a time you might have thought “absent-minded professor – hardly surprising that they can’t find a translator online”. But of course these days these high-powered boffins are all well versed in the highways and byways of the Internet, and perfectly skilled researchers.

astronomer professor

So how come they don’t simply turn to Google to search for a translator?

Because the relationship between an author and their text is more like that between a parent and a child.

Sure the professors can find 500 names in an instant, just like you could find 500 babysitters online with a single click of a mouse.

But which one to hire? Who do you entrust with the care of your baby?

You don’t take a chance. This is your offspring. So you try to make sure you have the right answer before you buy those tickets for an evening out.

Rather than going to, you’re going to want the best person for the job, and that consideration trumps costs, within reason.

And a recommendation is worth a hundred CVs.

So keep honing your craft, by all means. Reflecting on your translation theory and practice. That should go without saying.

But at the same time, don’t forget to cultivate your connections, deliver excellent service, and make life easy for those you work with. That way your chances of being the first person who comes to mind increase exponentially.

And one fine day, you realise you never have to go looking for clients again. Because your clients are doing all your marketing for you.

Free of charge.


* The last time I wrote a post about this kind of thing, I included a picture of a spider. I then had to spend an hour dealing with complaints from the assembled arachnophobes, so Iearned the lesson 😃

Editor's note: This blog post was written by Andrew Morris - and posted as part of the Translators and Interpreters ( group on Facebook. This post appeared first for group discussion on July 14, 2020 as part of a series of reflections on how he got established as a freelancer.


The Facebook group (Translators and Interpreters) includes over 40,000 members as of this posting. Joining is free for those registered at Andrew, a published author, translator and agency owner, moderates the group and often sparks discussion with posts like this one.
Mike Donlin

Written by Mike Donlin

Subscribe to Email Updates

    Lists by Topic

    see all

    Posts by Topic

    see all

    Recent Posts