How to Run a Profitable Translation Project with Your Freelance Translator
If you own a small or medium business, working directly with a freelance translator is a good idea. Not only will you cut out the agency costs, but you’ll also get complete transparency and control. This article will help you manage a successful translation project.
You as the project manager
Getting things right first time leads to time and cost savings. This is an objective in your role as a translation project manager. An experienced freelance translator can support and guide you in this role. Ask for their input to help you get the best possible translation results.
Translation project timeline
You’ve chosen your professional freelance translator, and agreed rates and payment terms. Now, you want to get the project underway. Below are the steps to follow, to make sure your translation project is a success.
Don’t feel embarrassed if you need to ask your freelance translator to sign a confidentiality agreement. Translators do it all the time.
Complete original text
While you may need to send samples to get quotes, don’t send a text for translation until it’s completely finished. It takes time for the translator to make changes one they’ve started work. So, this may raise the cost of the translation. Changes also generate confusion. They increase the chances of the final text containing errors.
Word format, if possible
The simpler the formatting, the easier the translator’s job. Don’t send a PDF if the Word file is available. When translators have to mess around with formatting the project takes longer, so the price goes up. Also, difficult formatting distracts from the text, which increases the likelihood of error.
If you’re not sure what to do about formatting, then talk it through with the translator. They may have ways of dealing with more complicated formats, like InDesign files.
If you need to discuss more than one thing with your translator, use numbered points in your email. The translator can then respond to each point using a different colour.
If the project involves lots of emails, keep them all in a single thread. Avoid random messages on apps like WhatsApp as they’re easily forgotten. All this will make life much easier should you need to refer back.
Avoid stress by asking the translator to commit to a specific timeframe. If you’re translating blog articles, share your planned publication dates. That way the translator will know when you need each delivery. If you’re translating several texts, mention if one is higher priority.
“Urgent” is an unspecified amount of time. It’s much more effective to say “I need this by 8:00am Tuesday morning”. “As soon as possible” creates similar problems. If you say “by 20 April at the latest, sooner if possible”, then everyone knows exactly what’s needed.
What key information related to the text do you know that the translator doesn’t? Perhaps there are past translations the translator can use for reference. Maybe you want them to follow a specific style guide or spelling rules. Are there any internal acronyms that the translator may never figure out? Information like this can be crucial to help the translator get it right first time.
SEO keywords and/or glossaries
If you have any terminology requirements, then tell the translator at the beginning. For instance, one of my clients prefers to use the translation “townhouses” for the Spanish “adosadas”. This isn’t an obvious translation, and it’s a key term for them. They told me this when we first started collaborating and it lead to us developing a glossary together. If they hadn’t told me, they’d now have 20 published blog articles with the wrong keyword.
Tell the freelance translator how involved you want to be. Do you want to see translator’s notes or hear ideas? Perhaps you’d prefer them to take care of the details, and only bring up big issues with you?
A professional freelance translator will have experience with a wide variety of clients. The more information you give them, the faster they’ll be able to adapt to your working process.
Ask the translator to acknowledge receipt of your emails and do the same for them. It builds a stronger relationship and stops you worrying about emails going astray.
If the translator doesn’t write back when you expect, don’t hesitate to send a follow-up email. Several times a client has thought they wrote to me and the email got left in their draft folder. I’ve also encountered issues with server delays and emails going into spam. If you’re worried, pick up the phone.
The translator may need a while to get used to your processes and terminology. Help them by telling them if you’d like them to do something differently.
It’s worth taking a little time to instruct them on the processes and terminology in place in your company. Top professional translators will adapt to your way of working, and be ready to offer guidance.
For a freelance translator, a customer who pays on time is one worth keeping. If you’ve found a good professional, then respecting payment terms is one of the best ways of retaining them.
A profitable long-term collaboration
These simple steps will help you be as efficient as possible in getting your translation. They’ll also help ensure the highest possible quality from your freelance translator.
Remember that the translator’s words will be the voice of your company in the new language. Treat them as a member of your team, and you’ll have a long-term collaborator who pays for themselves ten times over.