By Marion Rhodes
CTA Social Media Coordinator
June 2, 2014
Today, we are getting to know Elizabeth Blount, a French and Dutch into English translator from Denver. Elizabeth has a master’s degree in French linguistics and a bachelor’s degree in modern languages (French and Spanish) with a minor in physics. When she is not translating, she can often be found making music, whether it’s singing with a local jazz band or learning French chanson on her guitar.
Marion Rhodes: You’ve studied and worked in France and Belgium but now live in Denver. Where do you call home?
Elizabeth Blount: I was born in Chicago and still consider myself a Midwesterner. After nearly 5 years as an expat in Belgium, I moved to Denver to be near the beauty and nature of Colorado. I love it here!
MR: You’re an ATA certified translator for French to English. When did you take your certification exam, and did you notice an effect on your business afterwards?
EB: I took the ATA exam in September 2012 and received my certification four months later. I immediately noticed an upsurge in the amount of work I received. It wasn’t huge, but definitely conspicuous, and business has increased over time thanks in part to the visibility created by the certification. I still think it’s possible to be a successful translator without it, though.
MR: As a translator, you specialize in insurance, business and science-related translations. Do you work primarily for agencies or direct clients?
EB: Most of my current clients are agencies, but I’m looking to get more direct clients in the future, especially in the area of science, which is one of my favorite fields to translate in. Before I decided to go into languages, I studied for a career in physics and astronomy, and I’m still quite active in those fields on an amateur basis.
MR: How do you market your translation services?
EB: In the beginning, I sent out resumes to 25 agencies a week. Since then, I’ve set up a website, thoroughly updated my ATA listing, and attended several French-themed networking events in Denver. Joining the CTA and meeting fellow Colorado translators has been fruitful as well; I’ve been referred to several clients by other CTA members and try to return the favor as much as possible. Nowadays, I still send out resumes to new potential agency clients I hear about who interest me, and am currently designing postcards to send to potential direct clients.
MR: You’ve only become a full-time freelancer two years ago, in 2012. Do you have any tips for other translators who are just setting up their business?
EB: Read as many books as you can on becoming a freelance translator (I especially recommend Corinne McKay’s and Judy and Dagmar Jenner’s works), make your presence known on the Internet, and join your local translators’ association. If work doesn’t come in right away, stay active – get a part-time job if you need to, do volunteer translations for your favorite charities, and send out those resumes. If you make yourself visible and are a good, professional and reliable translator, the work will eventually come.
MR: The question whether to form an LLC or other business entity is on many translators’ minds. What led you to run your freelance business as an LLC rather than remain a sole proprietor?
EB: I began as a sole proprietor, but changed to an LLC on my accountant’s advice. The LLC simply gives me peace of mind – in the event of a lawsuit, only my business assets are at risk. In making such a decision, I’d say that it’s good to do research into and get advice on the different legal forms available so you can choose which one is best for you.
revised June 17, 2020