Success story: Martin Riordan - Portuguese (BR) to English, legal and corporate

August 5, 2019 / by Jared Tabor

Martin Riordan is a Portuguese (BR) to English translator and lawyer specialized in legal and corporate translations.  He is based in Brazil.Martin_Riordan



Q. How did you get started in translation?

Martin: I moved from Ireland to Brazil in 1975 and spent 35 years producing pig genetics. That went belly-up in 2010 and I had to find another profession. Obviously, after 35 years, I was very proficient in Brazilian Portuguese, both spoken and written. I had done some paid translations in the past and, with the advent of the Internet, found that I could work as as freelance translator. Gone were the days of receiving a floppy disc by post and returning it with the translation some days later! I started doing translations for some Brazilian agencies and then found the international market on the Internet.

Q. What are the most challenging aspects of what you do?

Martin: Each job has its own challenges. Researching the correct technical terms for specific translations is one of them. I once received a routine for cleaning a cigarette factory to translate and it had half a dozen terms with no apparent meaning. As the factory was in the state I live in, I rang and spoke to the head of maintenance. He was able to explain all the difficult terms for me! I felt satisfied for being able to attend my client well.

Q. Describe a favorite experience with a client.

Martin: When my client told me she had sent my translation for review and the reviewer had removed one hyphen! Positive comments from clients are stimulating as I always do my utmost to produce a good translation.

Q. What do you like best about where you are in your career now?

Martin: The freedom and the rewards! I can translate what I want, where I want and when I want, and the remuneration pays the bills plus a bit.

Q. In what way have you been successful?

Martin: Since 2011, I have built up a portfolio of faithful clients who appreciate the quality of my work, so I no longer have to look for new clients, though I get 2-4 enquiries via my profile each month. I receive a steady stream of jobs which produce an income that is sufficient for my needs.

Q. What has been the secret to your success?


1) Good communication with PMs, always answering emails ASAP, even just to confirm receipt of instructions.

2) Providing high quality translations by the client's deadline. My clients know they can depend on me and I go the extra mile to find the correct terms, whatever the field.

Q. What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

Martin: Focus on KudoZ. Answer as many questions as you can and build up KudoZ points. The more points you have, the greater your visibility when someone searches for a translator in your language pair and field. Take jobs at rates lower than you would like at first, build up your portfolio of clients and then increase your rates. It worked for me.

Q. How has helped you meet your business objectives?

Martin: Since 2011, my professional activity has been built through Through QudoZ, I increased my visibility. Jobs began to come in. It snowballed, with clients coming back for more as they liked my communication, punctuality and the quality of my translations. I have never used other translators' websites as ProZ offered everything I needed to achieve my goals. It is an amazingly complete and efficient website.

Q. What are your predictions for the future of the industry?

Martin: MT and AI will change the role of the translator. Already, MT in my language pair (PT-BR>EN) improves month by month. However, I believe that there will always be a role for people who know how to create, use and manipulate language effectively.

Q. What is next for you in your career?

Martin: Well, at my age, to keep paying the bills until they stop coming! But, as an insurance, I recently completed a law degree and qualified as a Brazilian lawyer.







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Jared Tabor

Written by Jared Tabor

Jared oversees Member services at An ex-language teacher, he has lived and worked in Argentina since 1996. He has been with through the La Plata office since 2007. You can follow him on Twitter, @taboredinc .

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