interview by Faye Magkouti
If you are a translator and you are on Facebook, it goes without saying that you already know all about Valeria and Rainy London Translations (rainylondontranslations.com). For those of you that don’t know her, allow me to introduce her. Valeria Aliperta is an Italian interpreter and translator, working with Spanish, English, and French and of course with her native Italian. She is also some kind of social media and marketing guru in our industry and as you would have understood by my last post, my personal favorite. Therefore you can understand how happy I was when she let me interview her. And without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Valeria.
Q. –How and when did you decide that you want to be a translator?
- – First of all… Thank you for the nicest of introductions! As many would already know, I sort of realised I wanted to work as an interpreter fairly early in life: at 11 I was in love with the English language and it was very clear to me that I wanted to go on speaking this language, learning new ones and be… an interpreter. Maybe I didn’t know exactly what that meant but still! How’s that for determination? That half replies to your question: yes, I always wanted to be an interpreter rather than a translator. I have a BA in Translation but my MA is in pure, raw Conference Interpreting! When I went freelance in 2007, the market made it very clear that I had to diversify. So I leveraged on my passions to find specialisations and become a translator, editor, voiceover artist, copywriter, tutor…
Q. – Why did you decide to work as a freelance translator?
A. – I thought that after years of sweat on books (and in the booth actually!)… I only deserved to try and work in the field I studied so hard for. I gave myself 6 months to make it work and even though there have been feast & famine ups and downs (we all have them!) I’m still here. My other big passion is creating interesting stuff and innovative ideas, so that’s why I incorporated Rainy London as a Limited Company in the UK and started ‘investing’ in an identity that people would recognise and trust. But that’s a different story, isn’t it?!
Q. What do you like best about our job?
A. – Apart from a short period as an intern – that gave me the structured approach to work, invoicing, money chasing that I still apply now! – I have never worked for anybody but myself. I love the flexibility and the variety – I tend to like new things and I’m a curious person – and the fact that even if I never do it I could go on holidays whenever I want etc.
Of course then there is the thing that you end up working all the time. Or spoiling your w-end when you’d rather watch a movie under the duvet or stroll in the park. Yet, with all the uncertainty and the never-ending issue of bad/late payers, I still think it’s great to be the Jedi of your destiny – allow me the geek reference! Regrettably not everyone can handle freelancing –true story! – so it’s also important to admit it and see what’s your real direction.
Q. I am amazed by the fact that 2.320 people follow your Facebook page. It is a large number for a professional translation page. I also happen to know that you have a lot of followers on twitter and Instagram. When did you go online and how did you manage to create all that buzz around your brand name? Was it something that happened by chance or did you plan it?
- –I know colleagues with 10,000 likes on FB so I’m still lagging behind 🙂 Despite being a planner for work and deadlines, my social media approach is and has always been based on passion. So even if I do plan my posts i.e. I schedule them with Buffer or sync them on several platforms – I just stay social because I like it. And I love inspiring people even when what I post to me seems just fun or relatively interesting. It’s amazing how a strong brand can indeed help creating the ‘buzz’ you mention – but ultimately it’s a matter of consistency and presence. And being yourself does help. I guess I love being genuine!
Q. How has this strategy helped you to grow your business?
A.- Again, as I always repeat at my seminars and talks…Being visible is key. Having said that, I didn’t start with “a plan” per se. I knew I wanted to make the difference for the greater good (laughs) but I can only be pleasantly surprised and proud when people / prospects find me and say they chose me because of my logo, my web or my profiles. Trust is built on this and of course on your professional skills first and foremost.
Another important factor of social media visibility is that colleagues will know you and you will get referred by them, as well. It’s a very good system and everyone should invest time in it: I recommend everyone to liaise with other translators. It’s crucial and that’s we do that every month at the LdnTweetUps and online, every day.
Q. How much time do you spend per day managing your social media profiles?
A.- [laughs] As I mentioned in the other question… I spend quite a lot of time using social media because I enjoy it. And it’s a very good way to update skills, learn and network. Of course, work comes first so sometimes it’s good to put all notifications off – but this is, in its own way, part of the marketing I want to do for my brand and business. The courses I give (as RL or via The Freelance Box) or go to, the conferences and the events, the talks etc. can circulate via my platforms and get shared and shared… so you can get known by both clients – who learn of your commitment to the profession – and by the colleagues, who follow your feed. The time I spend, well, it’s quantifiable in… many hours. But everyone is different! And while I like using ALL platforms under the sun, someone else may just choose one and stick to it. I’d say I dedicate at least 2 solid hours a day (including my free time). Don’t faint!
Q. Do you believe that every translator should have a professional website and at least one professional profile in social media?
A. Without the shadow of a doubt: yes. I am a big fan of professional websites – even though they don’t have to be very complex or very flashy/expensive. It all goes down to what you want it to do for you: mere information or profile, functions like uploading or downloading, integrated blog, feed updates… it’s up to you. But as you search for a company before working for or with them, why shouldn’t clients be able to check who you are? In this climate of frequent fraud and identity theft, I understand some may be wary of being too visible or public but remember that business-wise, it’s those who are out there that are going to be seen and possibly contacted first. I now help other professionals find their identity and voice, through my other website: www.rainylondonbranding.com You should check it out 🙂
Q. If you could give only one, which would be the most important advice that you would give to a language professional that wants to go social?
A. Find what platform works for you and plan very well WHAT you need/wish to achieve. Socialising with colleagues? Maybe a Facebook page or a LinkedIn profile is enough. Want to learn new things? I would go for Twitter. Want to use visuals and share info with an audience? There are plenty of options that are photo- or interaction-based (I have them all!). And of course, never neglect your presence – Google remembers everything and as you wouldn’t go out in your pajamas, why neglect your online persona? You are your business, you are a personal brand after all.
Thank you so much for your time! It was a real treat.