Freelance strategies in the translation business
Working for an agency or for private clients?
One of the main challenges for freelance translators is to find suitable clients, and once they have found them, one of their main concerns is how to retain them.
As a freelancer you may well find that working for translation agencies rather than for private clients offers both peace of mind and a more reliable flow of orders.
As a professional freelancer you are doubtlessly well aware of the many benefits of freelance work. Most of these will be associated with themes such as independence, freedom and – if you are lucky – considerable revenues.
However, you may also have discovered a number of serious downsides to this kind of work. The one cited perhaps the most frequently is the ongoing pressure to attract clients.
Although we know of no research to verify it, there is a law in the translation business which states that a freelance translator who has no work, is not a good translator.
The opposite is also true: a good translator will never be at a loss for work. Even so, your order portfolio as a freelancer will also depend, at least in part, on your commercial skills in attracting clients, offering your services to potential clients, and building up networks.
Once you have found enough clients for a sustainable business, moreover, you may find it difficult to balance your capacity with their needs.
In view of these considerations, it might be a good idea to offer your services to translation agencies as well.
The rates they offer may not be as high as those of private clients (understandably, as the agency will need to safeguard its own profit margin and deduct a suitable amount from the client’s payment before passing it on to you), but once you are well established
in their files you may find their constant flow of orders a great relief compared with the situation in which you have to attract business yourself.
In fact, working for a translation agency offers a range of significant advantages. One has to do with capacity.
When you work directly for a large private client, capacity is clearly a limiting factor, as you will not be able to take up all their translation requests – especially as you have other clients to tend to as well.
Of course you would not have any more capacity when working for an agency, but the agency itself would.
By spreading translation work over different translators, agencies can obviously absorb far more work from individual clients,
which makes it possible to develop a more or less exclusive relationship with them and for you to gain specific experience of their organization and terminology without necessarily having to do all their translations.
This suggests that, overall, not only your capacity but also your professionalism will benefit from working for agencies.
Freelancers will usually not be able to benefit from the type of feedback supplied by colleagues and quality supervisors at an agency.
There are also advantages for the client, as companies that hand out translation orders to different freelancers will not benefit from any coordinated effort to safeguard consistency in style and terminology that an agency can offer.
Another true advantage of translation agencies is that they will enable you to specialize in particular areas of preference.
With private clients this is far more difficult to achieve, as the pool of clients to pick from would obviously be much smaller compared with those in a larger agency’s files.
For example, a successful translation agency that specializes in tax law will probably have all the major tax firms on its files, which means that by working for that agency you would be introduced to a broad spectrum of practitioners in your field of specialization.
If there is one disadvantage to working for translation agencies it must be the word rates that they offer, which are usually lower, considerably lower even, than those a trusted freelancer would receive in a direct relationship with a private client.
This is obviously not unreasonable, as the agency has its own overhead, provides added value services that both the client and the freelancer will benefit from (terminology management, layout and editing tasks) and, most importantly, provides you with work without any need on your part to attract clients.
And don’t forget that while the rate per word may be lower, the constant flow of orders that reliable freelances tend to receive from the agencies they work for should more than make up for that in terms of sustained and sometimes even more or less predictable income levels.
One further drawback of working for an agency is that it will not be considered ethical for you to establish direct contact with their clients with the purpose of working for them directly.
To the more entrepreneurial of freelancers, this means that the more they work for agencies, the smaller the number of interesting companies they would still be able to work for independently.
To sum up, as a freelancer you basically have two options when it comes to attracting orders: working for private companies directly and working for them indirectly through translation agencies.
Either option brings benefits and disadvantages, especially as regards pay and professional development.
Private clients tend to be more lucrative, but you will have to attract them, convince them of your qualities, and retain them while the chances are that your capacity will not be sufficient to fill all their orders.
On the other hand, translation agencies usually offer lower rates, but they take all the marketing off your hands and will offer you as much work as you want once you have established yourself as a reliable supplier.
In addition, you will be able to benefit from coordinated feedback from the client, the agency’s experts and fellow freelancers alike.
The preference for either option depends on your commercial appetite, and your need for security and feedback from peers.
Translator Prerequisites and the A-Z of Becoming a Translator
If you are serious about becoming a translator, you must be able to fulfil the following criteria, at the very least.
Your standard of education must be very high; with very few exceptions, a degree is essential, though not necessarily in languages – it is a positive advantage to have qualifications or experience in another subject. Postgraduate training in translation is useful.
You must be able to write your own mother tongue impeccably in a style and register appropriate to the subject and have a flair for research on technical subjects.
It goes without saying, that you should have a thorough grasp of the languages in your language combination, you must also be familiar with the culture and customs of the country.
The only way to do this is by surrounding yourself with the language, i.e: by living/studying in the country where the language is spoken. German is spoken in 5 countries: Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Luxembourg. There is no substitute for first-hand experience of living in a foreign culture, and as an Irishman living in Berlin, Germany, I can only recommend this course of action.
It is best to have a specific field that you specialise in, be it literature, technical, medical, legal.
Have invested in a minimum of equipment and software
– At a minimum you should have a computer and appropriate word-processing software; fax machine and internet connection; suitable dictionaries, preferably online dictionaries like LEO, which return results at the touch of button, saving you an enormous amount of time searching through printed dictionaries.
A telephone; answering machine (and, optionally, a dictating machine); increasingly, today’s translators are also using translation memory software and other translation tools. In an office translation environment, the use of the Computer-Aided Translation (CAT)-tool Trados has become the standard. CAT-tools like Trados or Déjà vu can cost quite a handful.
If funds do not allow, seriously think about taking out a loan to cover start-up expenses. The investment will pay off.
While it is not the industry standard, Wordfast also offers a very resourceful alternative as it has the functionality of Trados and Déjà vu, but doesn’t cost you a penny. Donations, however, are welcome.
Produce a well-typed, well-presented curriculum vitae, briefly describing your education, qualifications and the languages from which you translate (source language/s). For Germany, you should usually include a picture of yourself beside your name and address and choose a tabular layout.
A translator translates from a source language into a target language. You should translate only into your mother tongue (target language). Make sure you mention any other degrees you may have or relevant work experience. Say how you produce your work (word-processing software) and whether you can communicate by email or fax.
Never shy away from asking a friend who works in business or in the language world to take a critical look at your CV before sending it out. It is, after all, your career we’re talking about! In fact, if they can help you even more, all the better.
If sitting at home all the time does not appeal to you, then you should not rule out the possibility of working as a freelance translator with a 9-5 office job. I myself worked in an office where the majority of translators were freelancers.
An online translation forum is a great way of getting your foot in the door. Sign up for e-zines and newsletters.
You should send your CV and a short covering letter to possible places of employment: Not just translation companies though, try local exporting/importing firms of whose products/business you have special subject knowledge. If you are a student, there are plenty of companies out there looking to take on apprentices with a view to later full-time employment.
A-Z Checklist for Translating
Business-like is a word you should not forget! As long as you have an answer to my a-z of questions, and tick them off when you’ve an answer for each one, then you should be ok.
Pre-Translation – You should know…
a) Who is the translation for – this can be helpful when determining the register of your translation.
b) Is there a contact for queries? Make sure you have records of the contact person’s details: name, email, telephone…remember business-like as always. Always keep records.
c) Find out if the language has to be translated into a particular variant. UK English or US English?
d) Are there particular terms that the translation should include for consistency?
e) If working under contract for a translation company, do they have a style guide that you should follow: i.e: Rules for translating dates etc.
f) Are text areas, embedded in tables and images, to be translated as well? If so, knowledge of graphic editing programs is of an advantage.
g) Are you required to use a specific word processing software for the translation?
h) Are you required to use a specific Computer-Aided Translation (CAT)-tool for the translation e.g. Trados, Déjà Vu?
i) Is there a translation memory available for the translation?
j) Before delivering: has the translation been double-checked for accuracy, consistency, spelling, font styles the same?
k) Does the text sound as if it was translated? If in doubt get someone who doesn’t speak the source language to have a quick read through your translation.
l) Where is the translation to be delivered? To the customer’s address, Internet address?
m) When is the translation deadline?
n) How is the translation to be delivered? By fax, email, post?
o) Do copies of material sent have to be returned?
Charging and Extra Charges
p) How will the translation be charged? Time, per word, per sentence?
q) Will there be an additional charge for irregular difficulties?
r) Will there be an additional charge for research? Specialist terminology?
s) Must the translated text be proofread?
t) Will VAT be applicable?
u) How and when is payment to be made?
v) When is payment to be made?
w) What method of payment is to be used? Bank transfer, cheque?
Liability and Compensation
x) Is the translation to remain confidential?
y) Does your indemnity insurance, and you will need indemnity insurance, cover all possibilities?
z) Is the early termination of a job subject to compensation?
And that’s it! If you can answer these questions then you’re one step closer to becoming a professional.
By John Neilan
Translation Service Now Open All Hours
Thanks to an exciting new service being launched by antipodean translation company New Lingo, no business need ever be lost for words again – whatever the time of day or night!
For New Zealand’s leading Internet language services company recently added a new string to its corporate bow, with the launch of a 24-hour translation service.
Given the 24/7 culture which prevails in international business circles, this news will undoubtedly be sweet music to the ears of New Lingo’s many clients worldwide. New Lingo is a perfect example of the new breed of “virtual” company, and its pedigree is impeccable.
Established only three years ago, the dynamic language services provider has a well-deserved reputation for excellence, due in no small part to a policy of having every translation independently proof-read.
Moreover, with all staff home-based, New Lingo’s operating costs are kept to a minimum – a benefit which is passed directly on to their clients in the form of highly competitive rates.
As language experts who pride themselves on their state-of-the-art translation technology solutions, New Lingo staff are renowned for their ultra-modern approach to business. Indeed, in the words of Christof Schneider, chief of operational improvements at New Lingo:
“This new service is just the latest in a series of technology-enabled firsts. It offers organisations which operate under time-critical conditions an immense commercial advantage.”
He continues: “It also gives our clients complete peace of mind to know that while they’re sleeping, the documents they require for their meeting the next morning are being translated!” Korean-born project manager Austin Kim explains: “
The nature of our business lends itself perfectly to a 24-hour production system. Many of our clients are multi-nationals and operate 24 hours a day themselves.
Moreover, our translation team already spans all time zones, so providing a round-the-clock service is simply a natural extension of what we already do.”
In-house (and at New Lingo, that means her own house!) German expert, Barbara Bäumer adds: “We have a close reciprocal relationship with a respected UK translation company which works really well. Through them we regularly provide translations for prestigious end-clients such as Microsoft, Orange and Honda.”
Impressive names certainly – but equally impressive is what New Lingo itself has achieved in a relatively short timescale.
The maths is simple: a network of tried and tested translation professionals, all beavering away during “normal” working hours in their own time zones, but collectively working 24/7.
Add to this equation the New Lingo factors of project management experience and state-of-the-art translation tools, and you have a winning formula: a round-the-clock stress-free professional translation service for members of the global business community.
Today’s translation agency Services
Presently translation agency services re booming with the growth of the web content development companies. Generally, the translation agencies provide various translation services on various languages.
It deals with the translation services of various languages like English, French, German, Italian, Australian, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Hindi and many more.
The most obtainable translations service deals with the translation from German or French to English. There are various translators who does the translation job on behalf of several agencies or hired by some agencies for the translation job.
The ideal website that provide various translation opportunities for translator and different language specialist translators are also available is www.traduzioni-tecniche.com
Various specialist translators of different part of the world are ideally suited to translate any kind of document such as economical, medical, lawful, sales and marketing, political, historical, entertainment or any other subject.
The website provides the absolute solution to manage all the translation and interpreting requirements. The main objective is to provide the best language service possible in almost all fields of work. Based on the translation job the translators are paid accordingly.
There are various businesses which simply run on translation services. So, for them incorrect translations can effect in random losses due to misinterpretations of proposed interactions.
Improper and imprecise translation services can even damage the business scenario and can boast a long lasting distressing result on the profit margin of the organizations.
It is awfully vital for any kind of trades to utilize popular translation services and hire efficient translators and translations mistakes into the business set ups should be avoided. The translation agency should be competent of creating a refined and perfect copy of the original documentation.
For offering perfect and proper translation services the agency must possess proficient trained employees with specialization in pertinent vicinity of translation services.
Many of the translation agencies utilize the services of resident translators who translate foreign language documentations to their mother tongue.
This guarantees best quality of translation services as these inhabitant translators possess meticulous knowledge of the local civilization and dialect influences on the aimed language. These language experts excel in this field and provide flawless translated copies due to the expertise in their own native language.
Even these efficient translators boast some focused division and specific information to offer specific translation services.
So, just log on to the website www.traduzioni-tecniche.com to hire best quality translators and avail best quality and high profile translation services.
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