October 11, 2017, by liapa2

LilyPad Translations: The Joys of Freelancing

“As a freelancer your biggest advantage is that you only need a handful of clients to succeed. Most companies need to find thousands of customers. You only need to find one at a time.” – Robert Williams, letsworkshop.com

Today we’re sharing the story of freelance translator and founder of LilyPad Translations, Lottie Valks.


Full name: Lottie Valks

Age: 26

Nationality: British

Company name: LilyPad Translations

What did you study at the University of Nottingham, and when did you graduate?

BA in Modern Language Studies, 2013, MA in Translation Studies, 2014

What made you want to be an entrepreneur?  

Before starting my business, I spent just under two years working in the translation industry, as a project manager for a large language service provider. I didn’t get to use my language skills very often and missed translating/writing on a daily basis. I also didn’t enjoy the office environment very much as there was a lot of pressure and stress, due to tight deadlines and a huge amount of projects per day. I knew working for myself would also be difficult but I have found that it’s a different kind of pressure, and I thought starting a business from scratch would be exciting. I enjoy the challenges being an entrepreneur brings and the sense of satisfaction that comes from achieving my goals. I also love that I only need my laptop and an Internet connection to work, meaning I can be much more flexible about where I work, whether that’s visiting friends and family mid-week or travelling abroad for a ‘workation’!

What is your business concept?

My business is all about communication. I provide accurate and specialised language services to a range of clients, with my main focus being translations from French, Spanish and Russian into English. I specialise in marketing texts and texts within the music, fashion, travel and tourism, and environmental sectors. My vision is to help clients achieve their goals, by delivering a bespoke and quality language service that ultimately improves how they are perceived by an English-speaking audience.

What stage are you currently at in setting up your company/business?

 I have been running my business as a sole trader since October 2016.

What challenges have you faced during the process?

My main challenges have been marketing myself and gaining a steady flow of clients. The bottom end of the translation industry is saturated as there are no barriers to becoming a professional translator – having qualifications, professional association membership and experience helps you stand out but when you’re a newbie to the profession, you face the inevitable ‘no-experience barrier’ and very low rates that are offered for the bulk of the work. However, I’m slowly learning to respect what my skills are worth, rather than offering up my services for low rates, and that there are a lot of clients who are willing to pay more for quality language services – it’s just about getting out there and finding them.

 How has being an Ingenuity Lab member helped you?

Working for yourself can be extremely isolating and I spent the first few months getting cabin fever in my small home office! For me, one of the best things about the Ingenuity Lab is having a space to come and work, where I can meet other entrepreneurs and find out about their businesses. Networking is such a key part of being an entrepreneur and, although I interact with lots of other translators on a daily basis, I rarely get to meet other types of business owner, so having a ready-made network at the Lab is a great opportunity. I’m also looking forward to becoming more involved in the various Lab events, such as the IL Roundtables and other networking events.

What are your goals for this year?

My goals for this year are mainly about gaining (and retaining!) new clients, particularly those within my specialist industries and direct clients, rather than agencies. I would also like to raise my profile within the translation community and the entrepreneur community in Nottingham, which is something I think will be more achievable by being a part of the Ingenuity Lab.


To keep up to date with Lottie and all things LilyPad, follow LilyPad Translations on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn

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Posted in MembersThe Ingenuity Lab