As is true for so many of us, when I started my freelance career in 2015 I had no idea what the future would bring.
But I hoped that, if nothing else, it would allow me to grow. To grow as both a professional and as a person, by experimenting, learning from my mistakes, making my own choices and taking responsibility for them. I always pushed myself to make sure that I wouldn’t be just one more faceless translator complaining about the industry and struggling to survive.
Over the years, I’m grateful to have cooperated with so many companies of different shapes and sizes within various industries that regularly entrust me with their requests for translations into Portuguese.
And even though I’ve always been an independent professional, I soon started to build a team of freelancers around me.
Not by means of a random recruitment process, based on price and translation tests, but by creating a network of inspiring professionals that are motivated and passionate about their work, with proven reliability, that I know personally or have been recommended to me by trusted colleagues.
This meant I had more capacity than a solo freelancer but still held on to that personal touch. Clients only ever deal with one person (that’s me, Teresa) but they can rest assured that there’s more than one pair of hands on deck to keep things running smoothly.
Also, as I don’t believe in asking for freebies or favours if you want to be taken seriously, I’ve surrounded myself with professionals in other fields that handle a lot of tasks for me so that I can focus on what matters most: providing high-quality language services to our valued customers.
And isn’t it cool that they’re spread across different continents and time zones?
During a typical week, I’ll have a skype-meeting call with my VA, who works from the beautiful city of Aveiro, in Portugal. Then I’ll ask my copywriter, who lives in a cave in the south of Spain (yep, she really lives in a cave, check her out) to polish a blog article or work on some new copy for my website.
I’ll finish up by asking my graphic designer, a digital nomad, currently traveling through South America, to create a nice image for my newsletter or work on a new downloadable guide.
However, I couldn’t be less interested in the idea of “growing” into a big traditional company, with lots of departments and employees, all kinds of formalities and a strict hierarchy. In fact, just the thought of it gives me nightmares.
Last December, I registered TAGS – Language Solutions, Unipessoal, Lda, a sole proprietorship based in Portugal that I run while splitting my time between Porto and Brussels.
Despite the big corporate-sounding name (let’s call it TAGS for short, ok?), I can proudly say my values have stayed the same and that this company merely represents the natural evolution of my freelance career, so I never made a big fuss about it.
But this year, I took a deep breath and summoned the courage to hire my first full-time team member. Marta, who works remotely from her home in Portugal under the watchful eye of her cat, Augusto, is my second pair of hands and eyes with translation/proofreading. And that kind of gave me the feeling of “Oh, crap, I’m running a real company”.
So that it didn’t sound as scary, I decided to go with the term ‘boutique translation agency’. I’ve always liked the concept. Coming from a family of small-business owners, the idea of setting up shop, welcoming clients, listening to their individual needs and delivering a customised solution always really resonated with me.
Then, there’s the specialization part. Over time, I started to realize which fields I could work best in, made a huge investment in continuous training and started to work almost exclusively with marketing and creative translation requests. This year, I’ve even dipped my toe into my first copywriting jobs, writing content from scratch for the fashion and interior design industries.
I’ve also parted ways with a few clients who used to only assign me technical translations (not before referring them to trusted colleagues) so that I could focus on the ones who really need the skills that I’ve put so much work into perfecting.
So, I guess that’s it: I’ll just keep writing my business story and hopefully continue to help other businesses grow too, working with them on their multilingual content strategies.
If you’re reading this and thinking that it’s time to take the next step and expand internationally, I’d love to hear all about it. Book a call with me and I’ll help get you on course to achieve your goals.