Great xl8 Communities is an interview series about peer-led communities, groups, and initiatives for translators and interpreters. Peer networks bring together professionals with different backgrounds but similar needs, fears and problems. Some are about providing advice, support and learning opportunities. Others serve as cosy oases for networking and fun.

My guest today is Dmitry Kornyukhov, founder of The Open Mic. Dmitry launched his blogging platform and network for translators in 2015, and the community-driven project has been growing ever since.


Every new initiative is based on the person who starts the ball rolling. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and why you do what you do?

I’m an English-Russian translator and video game localization specialist from Toronto. I help video game developers, localization companies, and game publishers translate their awesome video games into Russian so they could reach a wider audience and improve their sales.

I’ve been working as a full-time freelance translator for almost 7 years now and I’m loving every minute of it. I decided to specialize in video games because I love the creativity involved in every single project, plus I’ve been an avid gamer for more than 20 years now. The Open Mic was my way to give back to the community and try to create a unique space where all ideas are equally important.


What is The Open Mic? What is the focus of your community?

The Open Mic is a blogging community for translators and a social network for people who’re looking for professional translators. Our main focus is on knowledge-sharing and promoting the image of our profession. We also love helping clients find the perfect translator for their projects.


What do people who join The Open Mic look for? What do they find?

We have created a multi-layered community where professional translators can share their knowledge and expertise and use The Open Mic as a channel to express themselves, share their ideas through blogging and amplify their reach. Less experienced translators can benefit from continuous learning and reading the stories of more experienced colleagues that are published on our home page.

We also have profiles for clients who can freely browse through our impressive directory of freelance translators, and connect with the right professionals for their translation needs. Our project also includes a discussion forum, a Slack community for translators, and a weekly talk show where we discuss various translation-related topics.


What aspect of your original idea prompted you to move from “what if” to reality? Can you tell us something about the challenges of building and managing an online community?

The Open Mic was launched in 2015 and at this point it’s really hard to recall what exactly helped me push forward. I just had an idea of a blogging community one night and the next day I was already building it. There were plenty of challenges, of course – like technology, for starters. I’m a translator first and web-developer second, so everything you see on The Open Mic was built by someone with very limited technical knowledge.

I had to invest countless hours into learning web-development and best practices, so I could visualise the idea that I had in mind. There are a lot of things that could be improved from a technical and design standpoint, but I’m really proud of what we’ve achieved so far.

Funding is also a challenge. It’s extremely difficult to support a project of The Open Mic’s scale with limited financial resources. We actually have an ongoing crowdfunding campaign to help us cover our expenses and development work.

Unfortunately, the campaign itself didn’t bring the desired results so at this point we need to bootstrap as much as we can until we’ll find better funding options and monetization strategies. It’s tough to build a company, but we try to stay optimistic and hope that everything will work out eventually.

Which brings me to the topic of trust, which is essential for community-driven projects.

One thing I know for sure is that building a community doesn’t happen overnight and it will probably take many more years before The Open Mic becomes a household name for online communities for translators. But I’m up for a challenge and I’m very excited about The Open Mic’s future – the progress over the past year has been tremendous and I couldn’t be happier.

We also place a very strong emphasis on transparency and frequently share news and our thoughts about the future of project. This really helps us with building a great and transparent platform.


How can translators get the most out of The Open Mic?

By having a complete profile and interacting with other members of community. Those who frequently engage in the activities offered by our platform (blogging, forum, Slack community) can reap great benefits in the form of improved online visibility, and social networking and learning opportunities.

But even if you’re just a silent observer you can still use The Open Mic and read stories of other members to find inspiration and food for thought. And by having a complete profile you really increase your chances of being found by potential clients (direct clients and translation agencies alike).


What about Translators On Air? Can you tell us a bit more about the talk show?

Translators on Air is a weekly talk show hosted on Crowdcast – an awesome online platform for webinars (I’d even say the best webinar platform on the market). We already recorded 2 seasons of our show and plan to continue with a third one happening at some point in late Spring – early Summer.

The idea behind our show is very simple: my amazing co-host Elena and I invite awesome people of our industry to have fun and relaxing conversations about a variety of different topics. Our audience can participate too, by leaving comments and asking questions which make these webinars even more fun. The topics vary from guest to guest, but we mostly talk about translation, linguistics, business, marketing, social media and everything in-between.


One last question. What are the “rules” for joining The Open Mic? How can translators learn more about your community, and keep in touch?

No strict rules for joining, really. You just have to be a translator or an interpreter or a client who’s looking for translators/interpreters. Just visit our home page where you’ll be able to find out more about The Open Mic and signup for a forever free account.