In a previous post (“Have you overlooked something from your professional experience that may reveal to be useful to your career as a translator?”) I approached the question of specialty fields as a translator, and shared part of my experience on how I developed my first specialty, medical translation.
I now have 3 specialties and two working areas in development. The reason for this post is that I wanted to share something with aspiring translators or newcomers in the translation business.
Developing a specialty, besides training, research and experience in a particular field, requires the acceptance of the fact that things may not always work the way you expected. Part of the process is a trial and error one, and whether a specialty you’re trying to develop isn’t really working because of a lack of previous research (Is there a market for it? Highly demanded? Rare specialty? Already too many competitors in your language combination? Doesn’t pay well?) or simply because you discover you don’t really enjoy it, or that it’s not profitable –don’t forget that as a business, you need to make some profit- you may need to drop it and focus on other areas that work better and bring you more projects.
But first if you’re still looking for a niche to develop, or are developing one, remember that you need to give it enough time – and work- to reach cruise speed.
However there may also come a time, when you’re starting to realize that this one is not working for you, and it’s OK to quit something that isn’t really working for you. Better do that than stubbornly stick to something which consumes your time and doesn’t pay. Now understand, I’m not talking about changing your course according to your mood, yes, consistency is important for your business image and your brand. I’m talking about adapting to circumstances and do the necessary adjustments. It actually recently happened to me, so I switched the specialty that I enjoyed but wasn’t working really well (not profitable) back to a simple “working field”, and upgraded a working field for which I do get more steady traffic, and that is more profitable, to the status of specialty field, as I acquired enough experience in this latter now to do so.
It’s like moving furniture around in your house, to make room, or render it more functional. Or, you know, when a store you go to, quits carrying an item because it doesn’t sell well or there is not enough demand for it.
This is about making the right decisions for your business. So focus on what works for you.
Annabelle C. Vergne