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Self-Starter Stories: From being a shop assistant to becoming a freelance Italian translator and interpreter

Martina Eco

Martina Eco

By: Nadine Burzler

This week's #selfstarterstory features Martina Eco. Founder of 3P Translation. Martina is an Italian translator and interpreter based in London, UK.


Looking back, what lead you to be where you are today?: My main drive has always been passion. My passion for languages and foreign cultures is what led me to my studies, my passion for communication led me to this career, and my passion for freelancing has led me to public speaking and blogging.

What was the most challenging part of starting a business?: When I finished university, I knew how to do my job, but I didn't know how to run a freelance business. The most challenging part was thus understanding the value of what I was doing and pricing my services, as well as learning how to market my services, find clients, and manage a business in terms of administration and finances.

What did you want to be when you were a child?: A rock star! And I kinda feel like one from time to time, when I get a nice message from a client or a colleague, or I get mentioned in an article or get shortlisted for an award.

What was your last job?: Before going freelance I worked in a hotel as a receptionist and as a shop assistant in a cosmetics shop.

When did you choose to PICK YOURSELF instead of waiting to be chosen by someone else?: I knew that I wanted to be a self-employed professional the moment I decided I wanted to be a translator. However, at first, I didn't really consider myself a business owner and an entrepreneur. I was basically a remote employee for my clients.

Moving to London and studying marketing made something click: I became more and more aware of what it meant to be a freelancer, I gained confidence, I really started to understand my value.

That's when I began to think and act as a business owner: I now have my terms and conditions, I choose my projects more carefully, I work on my communication channels actively, and I have a detailed plan for growth.

What did you learn from your worst boss?: That you can be the best at what you do, but if you don't look after your clients, your business won't live for very long.

Do you do everything yourself? What do you outsource?: I sometimes outsource projects that require a skill I don't have, for example, translation in a language combination I don't work with, or in a technical field, I'm not familiar with.

What is your productivity secret?: Vivaldi's Four Seasons and baroque music in general. And my very Italian Moka pot.

What is your favourite app?: Spotify. I just couldn't live without music, and the Focus playlists are AMAZING.

How do you market your business?: Mainly through networking. I strongly believe that meeting someone face to face really helps build trust and transparency from the get go, and it helps build a more solid business relationship. I'm also currently revamping my website to make it more client-focused and SEO friendly, and I use LinkedIn to get in touch with people I'd love to collaborate with. Referrals from other translators and interpreters are also a good source of new clients, so keeping my profile and reputation positive is something I actively do.

When you first launched, how did you get your first paying customers?: One of my lecturers at university gave my name to a theatre company that needed an interpreter, and that was my first paid job. After that, I spent days researching potential clients, mainly translation agencies, writing cover letters and sending CVs. It took a few months, but it worked!

3P Translation Website August 2017

3P Translation Website August 2017

How did you get your first traffic to your website?: At first, I didn't really have an online strategy, so traffic was very sporadic. Then, when my first public speaking engagement was confirmed, I decided that I needed to revamp the website and start a blog. I also began to write in a more SEO friendly manner and to promote my posts on various social media profiles and groups. That's when my website really started to have a good amount of traffic and a wider reach.

What would you say to someone who is toying with the idea to start a business but haven't yet?: Go for it! Do you need a plan? Yes. Do you need it straight away? Not necessarily. Do you need to follow it word by word? Nope. Listen to your gut, follow your instinct, fail and try again. To paraphrase an Italian saying, no one is born with all the knowledge in the world. It's ok to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them to improve and grow.

If you could have dinner with one entrepreneur, who would it be and why?: Richard Branson. I always pictured him as someone you could have a really fun time with. No business talk at dinner though, enjoying a meal with someone should be all about enjoying yourself, socialising, and relaxing.

To keep up to date with Martina's journey, connect with her via her social media channels below:

Martina Eco has qualified for the #PickYourselfUK Small Business Entrepreneur of the Year award 2017. If you'd like to enter yourself or nominate a small business entrepreneur for this award, please submit your story below.