How ‘Happy Translator Academy’ came into being
It seems like just yesterday that I started my translation career, even though quite a long time has passed since then. And now, it’s a little daunting but also exciting that I get to share my translation career with others online. I am a native Korean and I translate between Korean and English. Language skills have always given me a big advantage, and I did quite a bit of translating before I took it on professionally. Still, I never thought that translating could become a full-time career. It was partly because I was busy working my other jobs, and also because I once heard someone say a long time ago that being a translator wasn’t lucrative at all.
However, regardless of whether I would earn a big or a small income, I wanted to spend my life doing something I was good at and that I enjoyed. Remembering the quote, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” I searched for a career where my individuality would be respected and my unique experiences could be put to use. At the end of the process, I decided — somewhat unexpectedly — to become a translator and began paving my path on my own, a path that was filled with challenges at times.
Looking back, I think that things really worked out in my favor. Not because I was particularly good at what I do, but I was quite lucky. I was still very busy doing a lot of other things, but I didn’t have to go through the financial difficulties that accompany the early stage of translation career. I was living in Canada, and there weren’t many people to seek advice from. For that reason, I had to research the translation career myself, think harder about how to grow it, and go through a lot of trial and error. But doing this afforded me great insight and understanding about the translation business and the technicalities of translating. I think that not being based in Korea propelled me to enter the North American and international translation market and also avoid unnecessary hurdles that translators stuck in local markets often face as I moved forward in my path.
I’m satisfied with my current translation business, which has grown to be quite sizable and stable now. Though I don’t earn paychecks big enough to boast about to others, I make enough to provide for my family, and my translation career allows me to live my life on my own terms and enjoy greater freedom of time. I also find it extremely satisfactory that I can design my life the way I want. I don’t need to ask for awkward favors nor worry about job stability. I can work when I want and rest when I want. Don’t get me wrong; I work very hard and diligently, and I have made it a habit to continually seek self-growth as a translator. However, I enjoy my work, and I work happily without feeling burdened, and my life feels satisfying.
Many people around me who have watched me live this lifestyle have asked me questions about my work and my way of life. And each time they do, I share with them my thoughts and the knowledge I’ve gained. After a while, word spread, and people I don’t know personally began reaching out to me wanting to know how to make a living as a translator. It was easier for me to offer my advice to people I knew, but it was a bit more challenging to help people I didn’t know personally since I didn’t know their general aptitudes or language skills. It generally took a minimum of five hours’ explanation followed by at least a month on the phone giving different pieces of advice to people until one would get somewhat situated in this career.
These experiences gave me the inspiration to start a blog where I could share my ideas and advice on translation career. And it also gave me hope that perhaps my advice could act as a guide for young people who love languages and have a knack for them. Recognizing the need, I decided to create my ‘Happy Translator Academy’ blog to offer information and strategic advice to those who might need it. This blog was first created in the Korean language and has been well-received by many young Korean people (go to happytranslator.net to see the Korean language version of this site – 행복한 번역가). Ultimately, I mustered the courage to translate it into English to reach a global audience.
Happy Translator Academy provides valuable information and advice on translation career.
In order to live happily as a translator, you will need the following:
- courage and faith
- talent, skills and effort
- information and strategy
- business insight
It is not my intention to scare anyone, but I think that those who have been doing translation for a long time would generally agree: our field isn’t a very well-known one, and a career in it can often be paved with a lot of ups and downs. Being in it requires one to have faith and courage. Not everyone who decides to become a translator will make it, and success requires talent, skills and consistent effort. There is no set path, and rarely will you find neatly packaged information, which makes starting out difficult. There’s no one to advise you on a viable long-term career plan, so you will need to seek out your own information and come up with your own game plan. Further, being successful requires more than simple ability to translate. You will need to see yourself as an entrepreneur and have the courage and insight to grow your business.
Despite these tough realities facing freelance translators, there are hardly any places that systematically provide much-needed information and knowledge and teach translators how to navigate their career step by step. As a result, most freelancers find themselves stumbling forward relying mostly on partial information they’ve gleaned after much labor, all the while committing all kinds of new mistakes and facing many unexpected challenges in this translation business battlefield.
Given these circumstances, Happy Translator Academy volunteers to take on the role of a companion and ally for freelance translators as they walk through their translation career. With this blog, I wish to offer the following to translators:
- Show that being a translator can be a fabulous career choice and help people walk down this career path with courage.
- Teach people what kind of skills and general aptitude are needed to be a translator and provide methods and tools to help develop them if needed.
- Provide practical information to help translators secure free personal time and financial security and offer knowledge and information ranging from technical information to long-term career strategies.
As the author of this blog, I have worked as a full time translator for the past nine years. Because I didn’t start out in Korea, I was able to begin my work without pre-determined conventions, and not having mentors meant I had to resolve myself to finding my own answers, putting them to work and personally assessing them. This blog is the fruit of these efforts. With this blog, I wish to share everything I had learned from this process with my readers.
The blog will introduce the translation career to those who are starting out and help them self-assess their aptitude for the job. For those of you who have been working in the field for a while, it will offer advice and strategies on how to further develop your career and obtain plenty of personal time and financial security.
Structure of Happy Translator Academy
Happy Translator Academy has three components, as illustrated by the diagram below.
The blog contains the following categories:
- How to Become a Translator: Introduction to the translation industry, the first steps to becoming a translator, and the tools and techniques for translators
- CAT Tools: Introducing the CAT tool market, comparison of CAT tools, and how to use them
- Translation Business: Business aspects and strategies for translation career
The above categories are shown on the top of the page, and you can read all the blog posts written under each category by clicking on the name of the category you’re interested in. Here is a further explanation of each of the categories.
- How to Become a Translator: This is the category for people who have just become translators or who have recently decided or are considering becoming a translator. It contains basic information you will need in order to make a living as a translator but also offers various methods and tools aimed at improving translation efficiency for those who have been in this field a while.
- CAT Tools: I’ve created a separate category to talk about CAT tools rather than lumping them into How to Become a Translator since they involve a different level of specialty.
- Translation Business: This category deals with methods which will enable translators to come up with long-term career development strategies and develop an entrepreneurial mindset and time management skills so as to live with greater freedom and abundance.
- Bryan’s Stories: This category deals with my personal life and is where I share the stories of my life and my thoughts that are not related directly to translation. I’ve deleted and revived this category several times before finally deciding to include it in the blog. I may delete it again. :D
The newsletters are sent via email. I’m aware that sharing one’s email with others is something that requires caution. I don’t disclose my email address to just anyone either. So for those of you who have trusted me enough to give me your email address, I will send out newsletters containing only valuable information and knowledge, free of charge. For all subscribers I provide the following:
- discount coupon for my information products in the Translation Courses and e-books
- a mini-course on the path of a translator.
The subscription field for the newsletter is the first thing you’ll see on the right side bar. If, after your subscription, you feel the newsletters aren’t meeting your expectations, you can simply unsubscribe at any time by using the unsubscribe function found at the bottom of the email.
Translation Courses are the e-courses and e-books I’ve developed which can be found here (it is like another category). I also created an overview page for the translation courses. You can view roughly twenty percent of any paid course by using the preview function. You can also purchase these courses at a 10% discount that comes with the newsletters. After the purchase, you can take the class by clicking on the My Translation Courses, and you can pace your studies at your convenience. Should you have any questions about a course while viewing it, you can contact me any time using the contact function inside the course page, and I always do my best to respond as quickly as I can. You can always return to courses you have already completed and review them as often as you like.
What to do now
What to do now.
I suggest that you begin using the Happy Translator Academy blog by following these steps:
1) Subscribe to the ‘Happy Translator Academy Newsletter’. Simply enter your email address in the subscription field on the right-hand sidebar and then click the Subscribe button.
2) Like my Facebook page on the right-hand sidebar. (You will get notified when a new post is published.)
3) As you begin to receive the newsletters, read the blog posts under the category which best suits your current situation and phase in your career (choose from How to Become a Translator, CAT Tools, and Translation Business) and familiarize yourself with the overall landscape of translation career and translation work.
4) As you gain more knowledge and information through the newsletters and the blog posts, I would be extremely grateful if you choose to utilize the various opportunities for discount and purchase any of the paid courses or e-books in Translation Courses. Of course, you don’t need to purchase any courses and simply use the blog. :D
At any rate, I hope this blog will be helpful to you in many ways.