What Readers Want – Translation & Interpreting Blog Survey Results (Part 3)

In Part 2 of these results we looked at the many reasons why people do and don’t blog. Unless you’re running a blog to improve your writing skills and keep a record of your ideas, you need readers. And to attract readers, you have to write about topics that interest them. Nearly 85% of the survey respondents read translation and interpreting blogs. Let’s find out why they read them and what puts the other 15% off.

As expected, the top response in favour of reading blogs was professional interest:

The main reason is to keep abreast of what is going on in the profession (blogs written by practitioners) and in the industry (blogs written by developers of T&I related products, and agencies).

To find out what other people are doing and try to keep up to speed with trends, tips, and techie things in the profession.

Tips and tricks of the trade, latest developments.

To have other insights on the industry, to keep track of how other translators work, to get some advice on how to run my business.

Always looking for new ideas and interesting solutions. It’s also rewarding to find some concepts that I was unsure about confirmed in other translators’ experience.

1. Because there is always something new I learn by reading them. 2. Most posts are very inspiring.

This is especially relevant for newcomers to the profession who have many questions about how our sector works. They may have switched to translation and/or interpreting from another career or studied an MA after their undergraduate course. Even if the MA programme contains modules to help students gain an idea of what the job entails, the real working environment can throw up a host of issues that might not have been addressed.

I’m a relative novice to translating and find blogs helpful for filling in lots of gaps in my knowledge of the practicalities of working as a translator which weren’t covered on my academic course.

To stay informed on industry news, learn about how other, more experienced colleagues deal with issues that I myself might be facing.

It’s not just recent graduates that read blogs for advice. Current students also keep an eye on trends:

I’m a translation student, I try to get to know the industry.

Some readers follow specific blogs because of the perceived added value:

The blogs I read enrich my knowledge about the industry trends and translation itself.

Mainly because the linguists I follow have interesting things to say – tips on using new tools for example, or strategies when dealing with certain translations (e.g. contracts, “untranslatable” terms etc.).

For interesting marketing tips and to keep up with leading voices. 

To keep up with the news, and because I enjoy the style of the authors.

Others are alerted to interesting articles because they are shared on social media, especially Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

I usually read them when I get a heads-up from a colleague’s Facebook page or occasionally other SM, or from a professional association (MET in my case).

A few respondents read colleagues’ blogs so they can feed content to their social media platforms:

I curate content for my social media channels (Facebook page and Twitter), where I publish every day, more than twice a day, so I have to keep an eye out on what’s being discussed.

Another reason for reading is to gather information for their own blog:

To know which topics competitors and colleague talk about and find new ideas and angles (not covered by them) for my own blog.

Some non-assiduous readers said they only read a blog when researching a specific issue.

I only read them if a search has thrown up a particular topic I am interested in.

Another popular reason for reading blogs is to stave off the isolation that can come from working alone in a home office and to network.

People mostly use a more personal tone in their blogs, so reading their thoughts and ideas helps me feel part of a community in a profession that can sometimes be a bit solitary.

I’m a new translator and I like to feel like I’m part of a community!

I enjoy reading other people’s thoughts, it’s a way to network.

My equivalent of “watercooler” chitchat.

However, some negative aspects were also highlighted by blog readers:

Useful for tips and for putting things into perspective sometimes (if you read the right blogs – some make you feel like you’re never going to be able to keep up with everything and be superwoman).

I read them occasionally, because I might find an interesting perspective on things that are happening in the industry. It’s sometimes better than a comment in a forum, as the author has taken the time to explore a matter in depth. The quality of such content can vary, of course, with copycat trash from clueless types on the one hand to insightful genius about aspects I’d never have known about on the other. After all, no (wo)man is an island. I am very selective, though, and bored of the nonsense and self-promotion.

Just for entertainment, but I rarely even think about it because it’s not a priority or something I need.

This negativity was obviously magnified in the comments made by non-readers. While a few mentioned they don’t read blogs because they don’t have time, most respondents that filled in this section find them irrelevant, repetitive, too long, boring or worse. And colleagues who have been in the profession a while are more likely to be the readers bored of the same old topics being rehashed again and again (despite acknowledging that these very same topics will be of interest to newcomers that have not yet been exposed to much helpful advice):

The vast majority of them could be best described as fluffy and superficial. Others are written by those who haven’t a clue about the profession, or seem to believe their circumstances apply to all, while others are clearly used as marketing devices (for selling to other translators while pretending to be their peer).

Some are pompous or vacuous — or both!

They usually state the obvious.

I’m not aware of many which focus on the art of translation rather than recycling variations on the theme “this is how you win clients & translate X zillion words EVERY day!”. Important, sure. But what about what inspires us about the craft of translation? I include commercial translation in that, otherwise why should anyone think the practice is anymore than typing from a foreign language?

Many are unknown to me, or not well redacted, or inconsistent with publishing, or not also available in audio podcast, or of superfluous content.

I used to [read blogs], but stopped because it’s mostly translators writing for translators about the same subjects over and over again. And most blogs are mainly written for self-promotion.

I work as a specialized translator, my time is as valuable as gold, why would I stop working so I read others’ attempts to get work/more work?:)

Same complaints and whining on every blog. Plus no time.

They can rehash some of the same old things in different guises. Probably not the blogger’s fault, but I’ve been reading them for some time so I tend to think those ones can be read by new translators. There is always a need.

After so many years of reading blogs, I think that a blog has to deliver something new and fresh and talk about current topics. Blogs repeating the old wisdom over and over again will not be read. There are too many out there who deliver just that. Boring. Also, blogs should be short! Just talking about that which has just come up and is worth sharing.

Most of them are boring and just plagiarise each other.

To be honest, I am beginning to think that the typical translation blog is running out of its useful life as only translators are interested in them. Now, if they were more client-focussed.

On a personal note, I’d like to end this third post on the survey results by thanking everyone that wrote me messages in their comments thanking me for running this blog and encouraging me not to stop. I truly appreciate your support.

The fourth and final part of the results will focus on bloggers’ difficulties in finding something to write about and posting regularly.

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