By Marion Rhodes,
CTA Social Media Coordinator
January 26, 2015
Many translators have unique stories of how they ended up where they are today. Take CTA member Jennifer Nielsen, a Spanish-into-English translator and owner of Spanish 2 English Translations. In this interview, she tells CTA about her path that has led her from behind a desk at the Colorado DMV to the business world of Guadalajara, Mexico.
Marion Rhodes: You are located in Mexico. What ties do you have to Colorado and the CTA?
Jennifer Nielsen: The short story about my ties to Colorado and the CTA is that Colorado is my home and Corinne McKay [who also lives in Colorado and is an active member of CTA] is my personal hero. The somewhat longer story is that although I have been living full-time in Guadalajara, Mexico, since 2010, I was born and raised in Colorado.
I first came into contact with the CTA when I signed up for Corinne McKay’s How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator course in 2007. It was at that point I realized that I needed to spend time in a Spanish-speaking country in order have the language skills to become a professional translator. It took me a few years to get here, but when I did, I fell in love with Mexico and Guadalajara, and now I feel at home here, too. I was also able to attend the CTA conference in 2013 and I’m hoping to make it again this year!
MR: Your professional life started out as a property manager. How did you become a translator?
JN: You could say that it took me a long time to find the courage to pursue my passion and dream of becoming a translator. Although I was interested in and studied Spanish since a young age, I wore many hats before deciding to make a career as a freelance translator. My other past lives include high-school Spanish teacher and Motor Vehicle Department clerk—jobs which have given me valuable experience and skills and have allowed me to be successful as a translator and freelancer.
MR: You specialize in law, academia, business and marketing. What made you focus on those areas?
JN: I have chosen to specialize in law, academia, business and marketing for a few reasons. First of all because those are the fields I have real-life experience in, and secondly, because of the demand for translations in these fields in Guadalajara. Many of my family in the US envision it as a small town, when in fact it is a very large (6 million people) and cosmopolitan city with many US and international businesses.
I chose legal translating specifically not only because I feel it is one of the more profitable specializations, but also because I began my career with an interest in court interpreting and continued to study legal translating and interpreting. I also truly enjoy legal translating as it is comforting to know there is a smaller range of what is ‘right’ as compared to say literary translation, for example.
MR: Not all translators have professional websites, but you are one of those who do. Did you create it yourself?
JN: No, I did not create my current website myself. I had created one with a colleague of mine a few years ago when I was first getting started, and because of the clients I felt I reached through it at the time I learned that it was a useful marketing tool. I recently decided that due to my lack of technical skills it would be worth the investment to hire a web design company and get my website online again.
MR: Has your website helped you in attracting clients?
JN: Yes, my website has definitely helped me to attract clients. I just today spoke with a client who contacted me through my website and expressed his frustration at not being able to find a translator. Another way it helps me to attract clients is when they find my name in a translator directory where clients see my listing with the link to my website and are deciding between someone they can see a lot of information about and someone who is just a name and email address.
MR: How else do you market your translation services?
JN: I am currently the president of the Mexican Translators Organization (Organización Mexicana de Traductores), so I spend a lot of time networking with my colleagues and organizing workshops. Being involved in the organization has also allowed me the opportunity to co-organize our yearly conference and interact with colleagues from around the world. Another one of my marketing strategies is living in Mexico. As a US citizen here with a good elevator speech ready for anyone who wants to hear it, I tend to make an impression on people I meet in professional and social situations who then recommend me or contact me when they need translations.
MR: What are your goals for 2015?
JN: My goal for 2015 is to use laser-beam-like focus to employ the marketing plan I have developed in my recent session of Corinne McKay’s Beyond the Basics course to increase my earnings and quality of work and life, part of which means spending more time in Colorado with my family, friends and CTA colleagues.