• Abi Prowse

The Freelance Diaries: Meet Subtitler, Translator and Podcaster Dot Roberts

In our latest interview series, The Freelance Diaries, I chat to freelancers and remote workers around the world to understand what inspires them, the things they love about their job, and any tips they may have to offer to aspiring freelancers.

Dot Roberts has carved a name for herself in the world of translation and subtitling as much for her professionalism and skill as for her hilarious Instagram Reels, her beautiful pet rabbits, and (of course) her Meet the Translator podcast. Working from German and Dutch into her native English, Dot specialises in audiovisual content, e-commerce, sustainability and marketing. In this interview, I chat to Dot about her freelance career journey, her aspirations, and any advice she may have for aspiring translators.

Connect with Dot on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and at DotRobertsTranslation.com

Hey, Dot! Thanks so much for doing this interview with me. Could you quickly introduce yourself to readers?

Sure! My name’s Dot and I’m a freelance translator and subtitler. I translate German and Dutch into English and specialise in entertainment, marketing, and sustainability. I’m based in Manchester, UK, I’m an active member of the North West Translators’ Network events team, I’ve got two adopted bunnies, and I host my own podcast called Meet the Translator.

Talk us through your career journey so far. How did you end up becoming a translator?

German was my favourite subject at school, so I took a year abroad working as an au pair in Berlin and then decided to do a BA in German with Dutch at the University of Nottingham. My favourite part of the course was translation, so once I graduated, I moved to Manchester to study a part-time MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies. Alongside my studies, I started taking some freelance translation jobs, so after submitting my audiovisual translation dissertation, I just continued freelancing, and I’ve been doing that full time ever since!

Was freelancing something you always knew you wanted to do? Would you ever consider working in-house?

Since I started freelancing during my MA, it only made sense to continue down that path. It was going well, and I was enjoying it, so I didn’t really consider working in-house. I have since looked into it a little, but I feel like freelancing is more for me.

You specialise in subtitling. Do you have a certain genre, medium or industry you particularly like to work in?

I mostly subtitle movies and TV shows, as well as the occasional marketing video. My absolute favourite thing to subtitle is rom coms - they make me so happy!

I love your podcast, Meet The Translator. How important is it to you to have that connection with other translators?

Thank you! Having a good connection with other translators is not only super valuable, but it’s my favourite part of my job. I love getting to know other translators and working together with them. I think it’s so important that we support each other and lift each other up, especially when so many of us are just working on our own at home. And we can also learn so much from each other, as well as recommend each other for translation projects.

My podcast was initially a blog post series idea, kind of similar to this one. I wanted to chat to a variety of different translators and hear about their experiences and expertise. It was a fellow translator, Chris Drew, who said my idea sounded like it would make a great podcast, so I went for it! I was super nervous to start out because I’d only been freelancing for less than two years at that point, but I’m really glad I did it. It’s been amazing so far, and I’ve loved all the interesting conversations I’ve had with other translators.

What do you do in your spare time to help disconnect your work life from your private life?

My absolute favourite thing to do is head to the beach in the evening and go for a swim in the sea at sunset. It makes me feel amazing and really helps to clear my head after a day of work. I’m also a very sociable person, so I love hanging out with friends whenever I can.

Tell us about a mistake you’ve made throughout your career that has helped you grow.

Taking on projects that I’ve really not enjoyed working on. I know not every piece of work is going to be fun and amazing, but after taking on a few tasks that have contained super distressing content, I’ve decided that it’s not for me. I’m now a lot more careful with the type of content I translate/subtitle because I don’t want it to affect my mental health.

Choose one: coworking or WFH.

Ooh, tough question! Can I pick coworking from home? I do love working alongside other translators in coworking spaces, but I also love the comfort of my own home. So, sometimes I invite my freelancer pals to come and cowork at my house.

Do you have any pearls of wisdom for budding translators or freelancers? Is there anything you wish you’d known before starting out?

I would say: always remember why you chose to do what you do – if you chose to go freelance so you’d have the flexibility to work whenever you want to work, then don’t let yourself be persuaded to work at times when you don’t want to work. If you went freelance so you could work only on the types of projects that you want to work on, then make sure you do that. Don’t do anything that doesn’t feel right for you.


Read the previous instalment of our interview series | The Freelance Diaries: Meet Social Media Manager Íris Gylfadottir

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