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Instagurus and faking it up

Oliver Lawrence

Incisive English

PRO

So. I hear you’re diversifying?

Sure am. It’s the way to go these days, you know. Everyone’s got an online course, a membership programme, a coaching scheme or some sideline or other. It’s about time I got in on the act. I mean, how hard can it be? Sounds like a nice little earner.

You’re becoming an instaguru, then?

A what now? Don’t think so; social media isn’t really my thing, although I do have 37 followers on Twitter, you know.

Not Instagram, you lummox. Instaguru. An “instant guru”. A shiny expert with all the answers * available for a great-value price (hurry while stocks last!).

* The actual experience and expertise underpinning these answers may vary from that implied.

Hang on a sec –

– Because if you are, you might find yourself persona non grata.

I don’t like the sound of that.

Well, quite. We translators have been encouraged to put ourselves out there on social media, on blogs and at conferences, to forge a brand image and show what we know. (Even if some actually end up revealing how little they know.)

And with platforms like Udemy, or even ProZ.com, backed up by a barrowload of marketing advice, there’s a plethora of opportunities to make money by knocking out online courses.

Great! People could pay me to tell them how to create their own online course!

Please tell me you’re joking.

Sorry. You were saying.

Although there’s some excellent CPD to be had from people who really do know their singular “they” from their elbow, sadly some of the other material simply isn’t that good.

I’ve had some excellent learning experiences, but I’ve also sat through webinars with rudimentary content, presentations suffocated with bullet-point bindweed, and speeches that meandered along till the clock put them (and the audience) out of their misery.

I’ve read many an insightful article but too many vacuous, limply written trickles of consciousness that would have been better consigned to the recycle bin.

But I can’t teach an elite-level course for experts yet. I’ve got the basics down, but I’m still learning the advanced stuff myself, tbh.

Then you’d probably better hold off for a while. Or, at least, make clear that what you’re offering is for noobs. You want to be straight with people.

Quite. A dash of honesty with the hard sell, eh, heh heh?

I’d bin the hard sell altogether. You need to be very careful about selling at all; you get pushback pretty quickly if people feel you’re not treating them with respect. Especially if they’re your peers. Fellow translators and interpreters, that is.

But they know me; that makes it easier, doesn’t it?

Not if people think you’re abusing your position as an insider, a fellow member of the professional community. Look, I want to find out what services are out there that might help me do better work, but I don’t want to feel I’m being sold to in a place that’s supposed to be reserved for peers, a safe space where we ought to be free of such things.

It can backfire spectacularly if folk get the impression you’ve joined or even created a community just to “monetise” it later.

Yes, didn’t that happen on a well-known Facebook group for translators a couple of years back?

Sadly, yes (amid much disillusionment and general gnashing of teeth). For there’s a crucial difference in the relationship: colleagues aren’t like your clients. They’re your fellow pros. People you could be running into online and at conferences for years to come.

Some of them might be your friends. There’s less distance between you than there is with a translation client. They deserve special care and respect. Enterprise is commendable, but get it right, dude.

Gotcha. Quality content. Pitched at the right level. Respect, honesty, and a gossamer touch with the marketing. What about prices? You’re not going to say “free”, are you?

Some might, but I think we need to practice what we collectively preach about high-end work for high-end money by showing we’re prepared to fork out for quality CPD. The Institute of Translation and Interpreting’s Translate in Cambridge bash cost hundreds of pounds a punt, but the value was immense. A fat price tag focuses the mind.

I bet.

So, tell me you’re not going to be an instaguru. Please?

No, I think I’ll steer well clear of all that malarkey. I value my reputation too much.

Excellent. Keep going, laddie.

First published on incisiveenglish.pro

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