This past American Translators Association Conference, which took place in late October in Washington DC, I became the Administrator of the Portuguese Language Division (PLD). Prior to that, I had been acting as their blog editor to help spread the word about our activities―as well as to feed the journalist in me.
I'm happy to say that, since I stepped down to act as the PLD Administrator, my dear colleague Bia Figueiredo has stepped up to take over blog duties and make for a seamless transition, leveraging the system that I had in place and improving upon it while migrating to a new platform recommended by the ATA.
One of the first things I did when I started working as the PLD blog editor was to implement a free organization tool called Trello. I had already been using this resource at my company, Word Awareness, but with a different purpose in mind: organizing invoices and translation requests, so Project Management and Accounting could be on the same page.
As far as blogging duties are concerned, Trello has helped me create a visual board available to all members of the PLD Leadership Council, so we could see the stories that had been pitched during our monthly online meetings. On our visual board, we have the following lists:
- Potential Posts
- Posts Ready to Be Edited
- Posts Ready to be Published
- Yearly Stories
Whenever the Leadership Council would get together to brainstorm new activities and topics of discussion to benefit our members, I'd write down the ideas we had for blog stories―whether one of us would be in charge of writing new content ourselves or had found something interesting and wanted to invite someone to be a guest blogger. By creating a "card" with the potential headline and adding a deadline to it, the entire team could follow story developments, from idea pitching to final publication.
Once the article was ready in Google Drive―yet another free tool that makes collaboration easier―I'd move the card from "Potential Posts" to "Posts Ready to be Edited," so I could share it with one of our copyeditors to make sure the material is print ready. Not only would I share the Google Doc itself, but I'd also add the copyeditor's name to the Trello card, so she could move it from "Ready to be Edited" to "Ready to be Published," thus indicating that the item in particular could be added to the blog at our earliest convenience.
And that is when I would put on my journalist hat and roll up my sleeves. I'd structure the article on our blogging platform, making sure all links were clickable to improve the experience for our readers. Then I'd add the author's bio and picture to the footer of the page to give them proper credit. And I'd also select an attractive, relevant image that would make that article stand out. Being aware of copyright issues, I'd only use creative commons images, such as those found in websites like Photo Pin, Pixabay, and Death to Stock Photo, or even create our own visuals with PixTeller.
Once I hit Post, that's when the fun begins! Leaving a post sitting there on a blog, waiting for readers to come, isn't the ideal approach, so I'd paste the link to our Facebook page to let our followers know about our most recent update. I'd also share that Facebook post to our closed PLD members group and other translation and interpretation groups I belong to. That way, we can promote our Facebook page as our main "hub" and keep track of how the news is spreading, since every time someone shares that post, page managers are notified. We can also see how many views the post had and how many new likes our page got with this grassroots, organic content promotion strategy.
Our Leadership Council members could also share the post to their own social media accounts, and our former Assistant Administrator was in charge of spreading the word on Twitter, using hashtags to increase visibility.
All in all, having a solid system in place is only half the work. Consistency is key when it comes to growing your audience, so I planned myself to post something new to our blog every Wednesday, also known as "hump day," when social media analysts say that people are more prone to look for distractions online, right in the middle of the work week, turning their attention to blog posts and news articles.
Following this recipe, we've been able to average about 30-35 articles a year since 2015, and that was one of the reasons why I participated in a round table discussion with other ATA division leaders to share the best practices we've been able to implement at PLD and help others reach out to their audiences among the translation and interpretation community as well.
RAFA LOMBARDINO is a translator and journalist from Brazil who lives in California. She is the author of "Tools and Technology in Translation ― The Profile of Beginning Language Professionals in the Digital Age," which is based on her UCSD Extension class. Rafa has been working as a translator since 1997 and, in 2011, started to join forces with self-published authors to translate their work into Portuguese and English. In addition to acting as content curator at eWordNews, a collective blog about translation and literature, she also runs Word Awareness, a small network of professional translators, and coordinates Contemporary Brazilian Short Stories (CBSS), a project to promote Brazilian literature worldwide.