It takes some time to become a professional translator and receive the best orders from your clients. However, the path on the way to this goal may be difficult for some beginners, because they simply don’t know the basics. We decided to share with you the most important tips that will help you as a freelance translator become the professional translator and grow in your expertise.
We have put together 5 tips for translators that will help you provide your customers with a high-quality translation and avoid some time-consuming mistakes.
It is essential to work from the very beginning till the end of the project with only one file format. If your order came from a translation agency, they usually require you to keep everything in one format, because it’s extremely difficult for a project manager to edit your translations if you provided them in a format that differs from the one you received it. Usually all professional translators use the specific software in which all the translations should be processed. The most famous program is CAT tool. Within the translators, every translation agency is aware that most of the translators use this program so they count on this and in most cases specify the required file format, which you will be able to keep only with the help of this program. This software is not free and there are some ways to avoid using it by finding freemium alternatives that help you set up the compatibility of the format of the original file and the one that you made all your translations in. However, CAT tool is so far the best software for all translation related purposes and if you work as a professional translator, it’s worth the cost.
Do not neglect any of the information your client or the project manager have provided to you. Use all reference materials, style guides, glossaries and terminology databases. If a client spent their time to create a glossary or translation database, it not only means that’s it’s crucial for them that this specific terminology has been used in all the translations, it’s also means that they treat all this very seriously and will be checking your work very thoroughly.
This is no less important than the previous one mentioned. Sometimes there might be mistakes in the glossary or the translation base. If you noticed them, this is your direct responsibility to inform your client or the project manager about them as soon as possible. If you don’t notify them they will ask why you didn’t and in both cases whether you tell that you decided not to because you thought that those are not mistakes or because you just simply didn’t notice them, they will consider this as unprofessionalism. Due to this fact you have to take care in the way you express your communication with your contact person and sometimes it’s right to have several ways of communication.
Also, if you encounter any issues of the format or the source document or foresee a delay in the delivery time, immediately contact your client or the project manager.
Usually when people look for professional translations they will expect a perfectly completed project performed by someone who has specific knowledge in this exact area of translation. So if you are the professional translator, whatever industry or area you specialize in, people will expect that you are the real expert and expect the excellent quality, respectively.
It’s best to fulfill your own knowledge about the subjects you usually need to do the translations about. If you get the order for the professional translation on the subject that you have not worked with before, then you better do massive research on this subject.
Some specific industries (e.g. medical or technical) require the translator have extensive experience to have the right to declare that he is an expert. So never underestimate any of the subjects you get the orders for and check the specific slang and other details on them.
Every translator has to know that checking their own work is crucial. We are all people and make mistakes. What’s important is to reserve some time to find these mistakes and to correct them. The work of the professional translator is very painstaking and requires no less attention and after-check then the work of a writer or a journalist.
One of the common mistakes the most inexperienced translators do, they don’t reserve enough time for proofreading or leave it until the entire translation is finished. When you have a large document to translate, let’s say 20 pages of medical or legal translation, it will take a lot of time from you to proofread it all once you finished the translation. Do not wait till this moment, proofread each short part of the document right after you translate it, make sure that everything is correct and it matches the context of the previous paragraph and the entire document. Some translators fail to do it this way and eventually have to send out the work without it being thoroughly proofread. Sometimes they are lazy, sometimes simply don’t have enough time. As a result the expectations of the client are lower and the translator’s reputation is in danger.
If you work as a professional translator on a regular basis, you know that one-time orders don’t come too often. Usually, there are only returning customers who are in need of the professional translation. And your main goal should be to build long-term relationships with these clients and do everything in your power so they remain satisfied with the quality of your translations and your efficiency. Remember, that timely feedback is always appreciated and it helps you to earn your client’s trust faster. Always treat even your smallest projects as the most important ones cause you never know what project you would be able to get from this contact person in the future.