Interview #5: Nicole Y. Adams


Today, our guest is Nicole Y. Adams. Nicole specializes in marketing for small-businesses. Now an established freelance translator, she even set up her own coaching system in order to help new translators develop their business. A prolific author, she has a highly anticipated book in the works which will deal with diversification in the translation industry.

Hello, Nicole and thank you for your participation! Could you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?

Hi Emeline, thank you for inviting me to take part in this wonderful project. I’m really pleased to be a part of it! I run a boutique German/English translation business specialising in marketing, PR and corporate communications. I launched my business, NYA Communications, in the UK ten years ago and am now based in Brisbane, Australia. Apart from language services, I also offer coaching for fellow freelance translators to inspire them and help them to grow their businesses. I find it very rewarding to see someone’s business go from strength to strength after mentoring or coaching them, and I think it’s important that we all help one another in the industry and share our knowledge with colleagues.

 What makes you so passionate about languages and translation?

I’ve always been a language enthusiast. Maths and science have never been among my strengths, but languages have always come easily to me. Back in high school, my final thesis was on comparing the German translation of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath with its English original. So I must have had a thing for translation even then!

After working in-house for a number of years, I decided to go back to university in 2003 to complete a Masters in Contemporary English Language and Linguistics at the University of Reading, and I loved every minute of it. I never formally studied translation and took the exam to qualify as a state-certified translator in Germany as an external candidate, flying in from England just for the day. The examiners thought I was crazy, but I think some of us just have language and translation in our blood!

 How do you usually celebrate International Translation Day? Is this day special to you or is it just like every other day?

Well, it’s a great excuse to demand gifts from friends and family, isn’t it? 😉 But jokes aside, I usually spend it in the office like any other day and attend an online event, usually one of the online conferences hosts every year to mark the occasion.

 Which difficulties do you face as a freelance translator ? Did studying your specialization (i.e. marketing) help develop your business?

For me personally, the main challenge was relocating from the UK to Australia in 2010. I took my client base with me, and while it all went smoothly overall, the time difference did prove to be an issue for some clients whom I now no longer work with. The second major problem has been currency loss. As nearly all of my clients are based in Europe, the declining exchange rate over the past three years since moving to Australia has made things a little interesting at times.

In terms of specialising, yes, I did study marketing communications and public relations to consolidate my practical experience. I believe when we specialise, practical experience, e.g. in a marketing department for marketing translators, is ideal, but it should be underpinned by theoretical knowledge and relevant qualifications. This combination will best equip us to position ourselves as experts in our fields and find the right clients who will happily pay our expert rates.

 On the other hand, our profession has great aspects. What’s your favorite and why?

One of my favourite aspects about being a freelance translation professional is that I can meet up with fellow freelance colleagues for coffee or lunch to discuss the industry or the latest news and events. These ‘business meetings’ are definitely a major plus and I recommend everyone schedule in at least one every other week!

I was also thrilled that, as a solopreneur working from my home office, I could finally throw away my corporate wardrobe and work in comfort instead! I’m most productive in comfortable outfits and could no longer imagine working in a business suit all day.

The third and perhaps most important aspect is the huge amount of flexibility self-employment gives us. I feel blessed to enjoy a fantastic work/life balance, and I never need to miss out on my children’s school performances or other family outings because I can simply schedule my working hours to suit my personal preferences. I certainly couldn’t imagine a more rewarding career choice!

 What do you think the future holds for us translators?

I think the future is rosy for freelance translators. When I carried out a survey among 250 freelance translators in July for my upcoming book Diversification in the Language Industry (see for more information), I was thrilled to discover that while a total of 19.2% of respondents consider themselves ‘struggling freelancers’ today, only a total of 4.4% expect to be struggling five years down the track, with 6.4% seeing themselves working in-house or in another industry. This is very encouraging and indicates that there are fresh impulses in the freelance translation industry. Many of those impulses relate to diversification, meaning more and more colleagues will choose to offer services or products in addition to ‘pure’ translation. These services may be connected to their core service of translation, or they may relate to a completely different area of entrepreneurship within the language industry. I think these are very exciting developments, and I firmly believe that there are bountiful opportunities for freelance translators to grow their businesses and succeed in the language industry, today and in the years to come.

Thank you so much for this highly insightful interview, Nicole!

One thought on “Interview #5: Nicole Y. Adams

  1. […] interviewed include: Olga Arakelyan, Megan Onions, Catherine Christaki, Tess Whitty, Nicole Y. Adams, Judy Jenner, Carolyn Yohn, Sara Colombo, and Lloyd Bingham. You can read my […]

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