Back in early January 2018, I decided to create the translation and interpreting blog survey because I wanted to find out whether blogging was a worthwhile activity for colleagues and myself. I’d noticed that many blogs listed in my blogroll had disappeared completely (so I had to remove them) and others hadn’t been updated with new posts for months and in some cases years.
It had also been suggested that Facebook, with its immediate exchanges and discussions taking place in a large number of groups ranging from general (Watercooler, The League of Extraordinary Translators, Things Translators Never Say) to specific (Tourism Translators, Translators who use Speech Recognition, memoQ Users), was the new preferred hangout for translators and interpreters.
Despite sharing the survey on all my social media (this blog, Google+, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) and many colleagues sharing it on their own accounts (for which I’m extremely grateful), I was disappointed to receive only 190 responses (one was myself checking the flow with ‘no’ answers, so I ruled it out). I’d thought and hoped that this topic would spark far more interest than my last survey on revisions, which received over 40 more responses. One of the reasons for this could be that some people erroneously believed the survey was targeted at bloggers rather than anyone in the profession regardless of their views on blogging. This might also explain why over half the respondents (57.6%), far more than I’d expected, had tried their hand at blogging at some stage or other.
The main result is that blogging is certainly not dead since 84.3% of the survey respondents read blogs. And out of these readers, 57.9% say they read blogs once or more times per week. Less than 10% only read posts occasionally (once every six months or once a year).
In fact, blogs are by far the preferred place for respondents to get information on translation and/or interpreting (72.8%). Twitter, where colleagues often post links to blogs and discuss their content, is in second place (55%). Lagging almost 10 percentage points behind Twitter is Facebook (46.1%), followed very closely by association magazines (45.5%) and LinkedIn (45%).
There is then a large gap to the bottom four, led by Proz.com forums (20.4%), followed by The Open Mic (18.3%), then Medium (which was not a typo for media as one respondent thought) and Other. These other places included the SDL Community, Mediterranean Editors and Translators (MET) resources such as ‘The Hive’, books, academic articles, peer-reviewed publications, association websites, translation email lists, Slator, conferences, Google search, discussions with colleagues and Scoop.it.
Is blogging beneficial for your business? Only 29.3% think it is with the majority (52.4%) plumping for the ‘it depends’ answer. For some, blogging is definitely a positive experience:
I get job referrals from peers who read my blog. Clients see proof that I’m expert in my field.
Raises your profile, hones your writing skills, good icebreaker at industry events, contact with colleagues.
Running a translation blog gives you the opportunity to reach clients, to communicate with colleagues and to write about what you most love to do. When you write about what you love and show your passion about your profession, people who are not involved in it have the opportunity to know you and your job from a different perspective. The blog is your visit card, not only for colleagues, but also for your potential clients. It’s an investment for your business.
It is a way to spread news, disseminate information, share best practices, and defend ourselves as a professional group.
When used appropriately, a blog can help build relationships with people from all over the world, exchange ideas with readers and even find solutions to common problems, and establish oneself as a knowledgeable and active professional.
My blog has indirectly brought me work, and recognition within the profession for having a good writing style. This was never a conscious objective on my part: I did not seek to impress my colleagues via my blog! […] If I do not blog for any length of time, my business does not suffer. What benefits my business is translating well and providing clients with good service.
Quite a few mentioned that they blog because it’s good for marketing purposes and SEO (Search Engine Optimization):
I know from experience that having a well designed site with a blog is key for SEO.
It is useful only if you have a proper strategy in place. Ie. SEO-focused writing to get organic traffic, or writing for colleagues to improve your brand awareness, etc.
If you link it to your webpage it can be beneficial since you show up in searches.
However, for others, blogging is time-consuming and doesn’t provide enough benefits:
It has led to some work, but not as much as I had hoped and certainly not enough to compensate me for the effort I have put into blogging.
I’m sure it took up more time than any work (through referrals) it could possibly have generated. Although impossible to measure. It might be worth pointing out that the inane content posted by some who fall into the “post frequently” trap means I wouldn’t refer a job to them if they were the last translator on earth.
It may get your name out there, but it’s mainly a waste of time (writing, moderating comments, dealing with emails from people offering guest posts…).
But the main reason why it depends is that blogging for colleagues is not perceived as a good means of attracting clients:
I don’t think it attracts clients, since they are usually not interested in translation beyond getting a good service.
Sometimes it attracts clients, but others have disqualified me from projects after perceiving a (false) conflict of interest.
My clients don’t even read the usual information on my website, let alone a blog. People do not have the patience to read these days.
Not sure that blogs for other translators are a way of increasing business (apart from raising your profile which can of course lead to jobs being passed on or collaboration with colleagues), but I think a very well managed client-oriented blog, associating your name with a specialist area, could be beneficial.
I don’t think most clients will really be interested in a blog about translation. At best it could serve as a writing sample. A blog about one’s subject matter expertise would be better. And it helps to have something to say that hasn’t been said before.
As the last two respondents mention, running a blog targeting clients needs to be about a topic they’re interested in, such as their specialist area, or provide them with useful information.
Blogging for clients, when you have a very defined niche and people are interested in the nuts and bolts of translation, can be effective. However, only really when you work for direct clients who are interested in that kind of thing. Clients have been more impressed with some of my technical IT security tips than anything language-related.
In Part 2 of the survey results, we look at the reasons why people do and don’t blog.