Review: Balance your Words by Sara Colombo

Way back in October/ November, I was lucky enough to win a Twitter giveaway held by the lovely Sara Colombo by describing #myt9nstory – here’s my answer in case you missed it:

My prize pack from Sara...

My prize pack from Sara – how cute is Happy the bird??

As part of the prize, Sara sent me a copy of her book ‘Balance your words: Stepping in the translation industry’. What with Christmas, and work (!), writing a review of the book has taken me far longer than it should, but that’s life I guess. Anyway, better late than never, here goes!

Balance your Words is described on the back cover as a “fresh, witty insight into the translation industry” and that’s exactly what it is. Sara uses her own personal experience to create a book full of useful information for any newbie translator, or any other type of freelancer really! Short chapters are to the point and deal with topics ranging from social media, to health (one of Sara’s specialties!) and what to do when you feel like quitting.

One thing I really like about Balance your Words is that Sara doesn’t sugarcoat the freelancing life. It’s true that at times, everyone struggles, and Balance your Words shows you that you aren’t alone.

Top three things I took away (oh how I love a good list):

1. Use your personality

As Sara writes, “You are your brand.” The advantage we as freelancers have over corporate structures is that we can be flexible, and put an individual face to our businesses. I hadn’t ever thought about the differences between personal and corporate branding before, and it’s something I’ll be thinking about more in coming weeks.

2. Set up solid rules

This is something I am really not very good at. When I’m working, everything else goes out of the window and suddenly it’s 7:30pm, my boyfriend comes in the door and I realise I haven’t moved an inch in over ten hours. Yesterday, I came across an article (thanks to Caroline for sharing it) which reinforced Sara’s ideas – I’ll be setting an alarm for meal times from now on!

3. Create a portfolio

As I’ve mentioned on this blog, one of my goals this year is to get more direct clients. Sara mentions having a portfolio of texts to send to a client as a good marketing strategy, and it’s one Marta mentioned during the Business School for Translators course too. Do you have one? How do you present it to clients? I’m interested to know how you can use a portfolio in ‘real life’!

Overall, Balance your Words is a great introduction to freelancing and translation, and gives a very honest, personal and positive overview of the profession.

Disclaimer: I received the book for free as a prize, but with no requirement or request to review it here! I just wanted to share my thoughts on it.



  1. Hey! Good summary and (as I also love lists) terrific takeways.

    “Use Your Personality” is bang on – that is what gives your work its individual flavour. One needs to be fearless in embracing who they are and allowing it to bleed into their work.

    “Set Up Solid Rules” – Crucial especially if you lack discipline (as I often do). This can make or break your attempts to accomplish anything. It can also impact your health. For example: you may want to “power through” that last chapter or design… but do that too often and your body/mind can begin to suffer which results in lesser quality work, less quality relationships and less quality life.

    It’s always been tough for us, when working on say, a big branding package, to step back regain our lives and then return to work (as opposed to just sucking back another large coffee). However whenever we do, we come back fresh, excited and do our very best work.

    “Create a Portfolio” – YES! For a multitude of reasons. First off, you then have a professional history of your work to share with others. But more importantly, you have a history of your work to share with yourself! You can go back and be reminded that “you did that”. It can act as a confidence booster, as inspiration and also as a benchmark for your growth. I look back on some of my work from years ago, and although I cringe a wee bit, it opens my eyes to just how far I have come.

  2. Pingback: Business Resources for Freelance Translators | Carol Translates

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