This is a guest post by Karolina Łachmacka, a full-time English to Polish translator with a specialization in marketing and creative texts. She also works as a content marketer and develops her skills in SEO. When she is not working, she reads a lot of different books and loves to spend time with her cats, drinking her favorite peppermint tea. You can learn more about her at www.karolinalachmacka.com.
I think that I am not the only one who has noted that topics like diversification and burnout are trending. And this is for a reason.
However, have you ever come across diversification and burnout discussed as being related to one another?
That’s my point today. I want to tell you how diversification has been the remedy I use to prevent burnout.
Expectations Vs. Reality
Back in 2016, when I started my MA in Specialised Translation at the University of Westminster in London, I learned that our curriculum includes a block where we were meant to talk about the practicalities of being a translator and an interpreter.
Our topics covered different areas of the professional life of a linguist. I remember that we were encouraged to specialize in a particular subject, or had to prepare a proposal for continued professional development (CPD).
I felt this was pretty exciting and, like many students, I had many expectations I believed would become a reality. I often heard that if your work is your passion, you are a lucky one. And I had already started working in the profession.
I am pretty sure that today, our topics during this special module would cover burnout or remote working as well.
When I started freelancing full-time, I thought that this fresh excitement would remain with me for years to come. But I was wrong.
The reality is that we don’t always have the chance to work on things that excite us, are thought-provoking, and lead to this beautiful conclusion that if you love your work, you won’t spend a day working.
Specialization Is Good
I already mentioned specializing. Yes, it is a good way to become a professional translator. No successful professional can be a jack of all trades. And specialization improves the quality of your work (because you work on things that you know about), and makes your life as a translator easier (because, gradually, your work is more predictable).
I didn’t think about diversification during my first two years of freelancing. And that was a mistake.
There were several problems. First was that I still didn’t feel I was a specialist in any field. I had already passed an exam in Poland as a translator specializing in art and culture. But I didn’t feel I had the experience I needed.
Secondly, my lack of professional confidence led me to problems with asserting myself in professional situations. I was afraid of rejecting low-paying offers and didn’t invest my time wisely instead. So, despite feeling unqualified, I couldn’t focus on skilling up.
Low-paying offers led to the fact I couldn’t hit my financial goals. This was a vicious cycle.
I slowly started losing the passion I had in the beginning.
I even started thinking that perhaps I was wrong about choosing this profession. But in reality, I was wrong about the reality of the job market.
The job offers I received were more mundane than I expected them to be.
And then I read about SEO translations. It seemed like a new, still unexplored territory to me. I started to learn about SEO outside of translations, and this changed everything.
My Path To Diversification
I highly recommend looking not only for translation specializations but also for things that are somewhat removed from translation (and/or interpreting) itself. The reason is that with this approach, you are open to building skills and you get positively surprised with things you were not aware of before.
Why did I choose SEO? I think it was because I always wanted to make a living from writing. I wrote screenplays, I even worked as a film director who wrote her own stories. But this wasn’t related to making any money (it involved spending money, to be honest).
I commenced a Content Marketing Certification at the Smart Blogger. Although I had worked mainly in Polish, I started writing a blog as an amateur with an American audience in mind. That was the requirement for this course. And, this certification included an SEO module — and that is something you need to know inside and outside for writing content that ranks.
SEO (search engine optimization) is like a science, or an industry itself. Small, medium and large businesses work with it more and more often. In the simplest terms, SEO is making sure your content, for example, your website is ready to be found by search engines.
Or, to be more specific, you want to be the one to get to your client. They enter a keyword or a phrase into a search engine like Google, and they want to have their search intent (the reason why they are searching through Google) satisfied.
I learned there are many different types of SEO tasks, not just writing content. For example, Google includes over 200 ranking factors that impact the search results you can see. One of them is backlinking, and that is where you need to learn to deal with rejection as, just like with other cold outreach activities, you send cold emails to people who don’t know you and you want to build a relationship with them. And there’s so much more to SEO!
Step by step, I found my solace in different tasks I performed, not necessarily translations. However, when I moved back from the SEO area, I was happier to translate again.
Also, I started working with different AI engines supporting content creation, including Surfer SEO and Jasper. These are the kinds of software you should know to succeed in the world of content writing.
In the meantime, I passed the certification at Surfer SEO and managed to advertise myself in their directory. And this brought me some job offers I didn’t even expect!
I know that I was close to burnout, yet I managed to save myself, love my skills, and build confidence every step of the way.
Being an introvert, it’s not easy to expose oneself to some changes and modifications. Yet you need them more than you think.
Translations or Content Writing?
Perhaps you’re wondering what my translation to SEO ratio right now is. The answer is: it depends. I love many aspects of SEO, so when I get a translation task, my most important criterion when accepting or rejecting the offer is: do I enjoy the job?
It might seem surprising that it’s the main factor but it made me love what I do more. I feel I have more choices.
Additionally, the content creation industry can be really well-paid. The results that generate the traffic and lead to sales are clearer to measure than how your translation works for your end client. Especially when you deal with a translation agency.
Change Is Good
Most of the time, we all fear change. And that fear is nothing unnatural. I am happy I managed to act before I could see the unwanted consequences of burnout.
Diversification is stimulating, and if you are afraid of possible outcomes it might bring, think twice. But, at the same time, don’t overthink it. Just act.
With changes like these, you challenge yourself. But I strongly believe that this challenge is worth it.