Monday, August 29, 2016

Communication Is Everything!

There are probably not many translators out there who remember when the world of translation was a lonely place indeed; when the only communication a translator had with another translator was either in person or over the phone.

The World of Translation Is an Entirely Different World Today

Then came the Foreign Language Education Forum (FLEFO) which provided translators with instant access to their colleagues, across national borders and across oceans; followed by the newsgroup sci.lang.translation and the mailing list Lantra-L. Fortunately, today, translators are linked via mailing lists, numerous websites, and social networking sites. Having this wide variety of tools allows translators to, not only exchange experiences and information about certain clients but to consult translators all over the world about an idiom or a certain technical term. Now, translators are available to their colleagues to both offer and receive advice from other colleagues on how to handle translation problems and other business situations.

Services Available to Translators

In the past, translators were on their own when it came to clients who refused to pay for completed translation projects, but today there are facilities and sites dedicated solely to defending the business interests of translators, regardless of their specialization or their language combination. And, of course, there are dozens of mailing lists catering to translators working in certain areas of expertise (medicine, law, patents, and so on) and in certain languages. Payment Practices has become a lifesaver to many translators, and client rating sites such as the Translator Client Review List and ProZ can be used for both denouncing a client who’s reneged on paying for services completed or for obtaining information about a specific client prior to accepting a translation project.

All Power to Translators – Worldwide!

One cannot overestimate the power this gives the tens of thousands of translators worldwide, in being able to communicate with each other, to exchange valuable information, and being able to act on this information by deciding how to deal with a certain client. A translator located in Thailand could well be offered a translation project from France, but refuse the job simply because they consulted Payment Practices and discovered that a translation colleague based in Argentina recently had a negative experience with that client! And isn’t that the great thing of globalization!

Because we now have access to the internet (and thus the world), any company or individual who mistreats a translator or fails to pay for services rendered can’t expect to stay in business for very long.  Today, clients aren’t simply dealing with an individual translator – they’re dealing with the global translation community, and this community is linked electronically and thus capable of exchanging information within seconds.

So, if you’re a professional translator and you’ve yet to make yourself aware of these invaluable services, then you’re putting yourself at a distinct disadvantage in the business world because today’s business world is the world that ignores distance and national borders.

Monday, August 15, 2016

How to Become a Professional Translator

Many professional translators and translation agencies are asked what qualifications are required in order to become a professional translator. Is being bilingual enough? The answer to this question is ‘No, it’s not enough! Of course being bilingual is a great skill, but being fluent in another language means that you’re able to speak, comprehend, read, and write in that language at a high level – in fact, you must have as much knowledge of the language as an educated native speaker. Being fluent in the language is just one step to becoming a professional translator. And, just like every other profession, it requires experience, lots of practice, and ongoing training. The path to success is different for everyone, but here are some guidelines that may help –

Having Credentials Helps!

If you want to become a professional translator you need to get some sort of certification or accreditation, because credentials provide the documentation that’s required to prove that you have the skills to translate professionally. If you do some research, you’ll find that there are many universities out there offering advanced degrees and professional certifications in translation. Find out if your state offers accreditation programs for translators, because being certified through one of these organizations will ensure a listing on their website directories – and it’s here that your potential clients will find you. Understand that certification is not a prerequisite to becoming a successful translator, but it’s a really good place to start!

Take a Language Proficiency Test

There are language proficiency tests you can take to show potential clients that you’re fluent in your second language, and of course, it looks great on your resume. A well-known proficiency test is the DLPT (Defence Language Proficiency Test). This test is used by the Department of Defence in the United States in order to assess the language proficiency of native English speakers in a specific foreign language. Again, go online and find a language proficiency test that best suits your situation.

Get as Much Experience as You Can

In order to climb the ladder of success, you have to gain experience. Most people began their work career working entry-level jobs and doing internships, and becoming a professional translator is no exception. It’s absolutely vital that you gain as much experience as you can so you can get recommendations and show samples of your work to potential clients. If possible, take classes in translation, and look for work opportunities on campus, volunteer work, or wherever you can gain some experience.

Start Marketing Yourself

Now that you’ve got your credentials and you’re getting lots of translating experience, you need to start marketing yourself and your translation skills to government agencies, language agencies, police stations, hospitals, law firms, and any other business you can think of that may be able to use your services. In general, translators work for their clients on a contract basis, and not as full-time employees. Make sure your resume is up-to-date, and you have your rates list ready. Not having an established rates list is the first tell-tale sign that you’re not a professional, so make sure this doesn’t give you away! If you’re not sure what to charge, either contact other translators or check out professional translators’ websites to see what they charge. Many professional translators have their own website, with an active blog, and you might like to consider joining an active community of online language professionals.

Never Stop Learning!

Have you considered specializing in a specific subject? Are you keeping up with industry trends? Are you familiar with and comfortable using translation memory software? Translating is a very competitive industry, but many others have achieved success and you can too. Just remember to always keep your knowledge and skills up-to-date, and never stop learning!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Why Do Some Freelance Translators Make It and Others Don’t?

In this post, we’ll take a look at translators who are still in the freelance launch phase and try to identify the pitfalls that cause so much worry and stress when just starting out in the business.

Don’t Make the Mistake of Expecting Too Much from a Half-Hearted Marketing Effort

Unless you already have direct clients to kick-start your translation business, then sending out a few applications to translation companies is not going to be enough. Sorry, but it’s going to take a lot more than that! You’ve decided to become a freelance translator, so your job now is to market, market, market and continue marketing until the day you decide you no longer wish to be a freelance translator - because the marketing of your translation business should never end!

Don’t Expect a Short Start-Up Phase

You’re starting a new business and you’re going to be looking for clients - this all takes time. Don’t make the mistake of expecting the start-up phase of your freelance translation business to be just a couple of months. You need to start marketing (looking for work), then you need time to do the work and time to get paid; so realistically, six months would be the very minimum to expect for start-up. It could well be a year or longer!

You Must Have Strong Language Skills

Many professionals believe that it’s difficult to develop the cultural and linguistic competence professional translators need without spending time in your source language country.

You Need to Be Prepared to Put Yourself Out There

As with any other business, people can’t possibly know about you and hire your services if they can’t find you! You can’t be shy about this: you have to put yourself out there. People can’t refer clients to you if they don’t know what you do, so let people know who you are both in person and online.

Get Your Rates Up as Quickly as Possible

A trap for new translators is getting stuck on the low-rate treadmill. Obviously, no-one sets out to be underpaid, and we know that working is certainly better than not working, plus, when you’re trying to break into an industry you have to start somewhere. The intention is usually to start low then trade up to better-paying clients, but the problem arises: when and how do you do this? Some translators keep working long hours at low rates, just to pay the bills, and because they’re not confident of retaining their clients, they stick with their low-paying clients.

Being Self-Employed Is Not Always a Walk in the Park!

You may have heard the saying about the entrepreneur working 60 hours a week so they don’t have to work 40 hours a week for someone else. Even though working a lot of overtime is not advisable, the essence of this statement is quite true. Yes, working for yourself is indeed a lot of work, but people who choose to be freelancers prefer to take responsibility for their own future by making their own decisions. Being a freelance translator does not suit everyone, but for those who do choose this path, it can provide an amazing lifestyle.