Have you ever got depressed and fed up with some of your clients and their attitude towards your work? Maybe you are choosing the wrong clients and you would be better off doing translation work at the higher end of the scale rather than the bottom of the barrel.
The reality is that if the main question that a client asks before you do any translation for them is how much you are going to charge and how fast you are going to be, it probably isn’t worth it. There are plenty of clients out there who are looking for high quality translators and not having to go back and get the translator to repeat what they have done or pull them up on their proofreading.
Do you find that you spend some of your workday complaining about clients? Do you think some of them just don’t understand what high quality translators do and that your efforts are unappreciated? It’s a waste of time spending any time worrying or complaining about clients who just don’t understand that there is no point in shortcutting translation. It’s more productive to make sure you take a long, hard look at how you choose your clients and change the way you present your profile so high end clients can find you more easily.
High quality translators are not just bilingual or multilingual people who think they understand more than one language. It is a skill that develops with experience. Good translators often tend to specialize, not just in a language that they understand best, but in what they translate. Good clients have come to realize that translators who understand what they want translated are much more valuable than those who don’t.
That means legal translation is best left to professional legal document translators who have a thorough understanding of the legal terms and system of the countries whose languages they are translating. Marketing translation needs translators who understand the culture and idioms of the people for which the messages and websites they are translating are trying to reach. Scientific and medical translators have often spent time working as scientists or in the medical field and use their knowledge to their advantage.
If you are getting fed up with low paid work and poor job satisfaction, these are some of the things you can do:
• Improve your knowledge of the languages you offer in translation. That means spending time growing your vocabulary and understanding of grammar.
• Specialize in one or more types of translation. This means spending time learning the unique vocabulary, expressions and terminology of the type of document or task you have decided to specialize in, acquire dictionaries and textbooks, read magazines and articles that help you to advance your knowledge.
• Make sure you always give a realistic turnaround time. It is better to be honest about how long a task is going to take. If you don’ think you can handle it, let the client know. When you do take on a task, make sure you stick to your deadlines.
• Don’t shortcut on proofreading. This is what ensures your translations are as perfect as they can be. If you are unsure how to improve proofreading, find out. There is plenty of information on the Internet which you can use to help you.
• Spend time on making contacts and networking. Go to translation conferences and read blogs and updates which provide tips on how to perfect your translation ability.
• If you do a good job for a client you can communicate with easily, spend time on making sure you get repeat work from that client.
• Be confident in your own ability to attract higher end clients and be appreciated for the good work you know you can do.
And if you get that annoying client who asks you yet again how low your prices are, maybe it’s time to tell them that you may be too busy to do any work for them right now and maybe they should find someone else!
Alexander Zeller is a project manager and translator working with The Migration Translators in Australia, providing translation services in over 150 Languages. By blending the best of both offline and online translation services, The Migration translators deliver experiences that surprise and delight – on budget, on time, on scope.
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