One of the most important things for translators is Quality. In translations not only the linguistic quality matters, but also the quality of your service, the overall quality of the files delivered and the value you offer for your client’s money. Sloppy sentences are bad but they can to some extend be compensated by your service. But when you deliver bad service too (missing deadlines, bad communication) you don’t need to expect clients to come back. In the end that can mean the end of your translation business.
To help you and to share what works for me, I defined 5 steps you that can improve your translation business.
The rationale behind this post is simple: I want to deliver qualitative translations and outstanding service. Less important but still meaningful is that adding quality to the process will result in less work after having delivered my translation.
One of my clients always runs a quality check after every translation that has been delivered. Sometimes the results do not make sense at all but sometimes they do. When I worked first for that client, I got bored from those checks. However, after a few projects I knew what to expect after the delivery and where to look at. I then made some changes to my translation process to overcome lost time for making improvements afterwards. That helped: the quality checks were no longer surprising and I also had to make less amendments. I’ve now adapted that approach for every job I do, which leads to some peace of mind as well.
Below I share the process and each individual step. The process is a 5 step process to keep it simple. You may feel free to add or distract certain steps.
You’re more then welcome to share you comments below!
Step 1: Prepare for your job
A job, how big or small it might be, requires some preparation. The scope and extend of this preparation however can vary for each project and from person to person.
Before accepting a job, you should check if you’re familiar with the subject matter and if there are any things that require special knowledge or a special approach. Running into problems on the day of delivery because you overlooked something is not only stressful for you and your clients but does not reflect much professionalism too.
Part of the preparation stage is also thinking about how to approach this translation. Do you need a CAT tool? Which? Do you have a special TM or do you need one? And what resource can help you to deliver an outstanding translation?
Also important are the specific requirements set by the client. Does he want a partial delivery? Does he need to receive both clean and unclean files? Or are you required to work with a file you cannot handle?
Overlooked many times is your internet connection. Do you need one? And do you have one?
Ask any questions you have in an early stage to allow your client time to answer them.
Step 2: Translate
After the preparation stage the translation stage comes.
Sometimes not everything is covered and you may still have outstanding questions. You nevertheless need to bear the deadline in mind, so it’s not always possible to wait until the very end before you can start.
For your translation you can use a CAT tool although this is not always possible or necessary. I nevertheless recommend it: a CAT tool can improve your consistency and output greatly in terms of speed and quality.
Make sure you have the resources at hand. Work at your own speed. Make a query log with all your questions and comments. Go for the extra mile and mention any typos or inconsistencies you encounter in the source text.
Not required but recommended is to inform your clients about the status and progress of your job. I’ve done it for many big jobs and clients appreciate it highly. When they need to guess the status they can get stressed and that’s bad for your reputation and collaboration.
Step 3: Proofread and edit
No one is perfect. That’s not the most friendly but still the most realistic lesson in a life of a translator.
Even with the most dedication you can fail. What about typos, crooked or sloppy sentences or double spaces? And that are only a few things that can occur.
Proofreading and editing your own work is very important then, even when you know your work will be checked by a colleague.
Tackling mistakes, omissions and other failures before an other does is good for everyone.
When you can deliver clean files, it offers you a good opportunity to edit the text: read it thoroughly and check if it reads fluently and if you can approve the quality by making sentences shorter or better legible. Be aware for blind spots and read every word: after having read hundreds of words you can easily miss one word or think you know the sentence while it actually is different.
If your work is proofread by a colleague, you can ask your client to discuss directly with the editor so you can make clear any uncertainties that can rise.
Step 4: Check your quality and results
Until now you already have done some important things to deliver a high quality translation. Proofreading and editing is the most important part before you deliver your translation.
You can nevertheless go an extra mile. Download XBench and check the quality of your translation. Of course you can use the QA checkers that are build in some CAT tools like MemoQ as well.
Running a QA check can make clear some important issues, like missing tags, inconsistencies in translations, double words, etc.
Solving those issues will certainly improve your reputation as a qualitative translator. And this way you can avoid the same reports from your client when you don’t expect them too.
Another important part is to offer your clients a Post-DTP check, if possible. In that case you will receive the formatted files to have a last check. Although it is not always possible to receive those files, you should certainly try to get them. In many cases you will see that the designer has a clear lack of linguistic knowledge or that he had to edit the text to improve the design. In any case that can result in wrong hyphenation, double punctuation marks, etc. Clients often appreciate this extra service because they want to have the highest quality as possible. Furthermore you as a translator know the local market and can do the last improvements for the client to deliver an outstanding presentation.
Step 5: Deliver
The last step is to deliver the translation. That’s easy, huh?
Count those times that you was stressed about the deadline and encountered email problems. Or those times that you was leaving off when the client rang that the file couldn’t be opened.
Be prepared for that. Make sure you have some time to solve any problems that might occur. Check if the files can be opened. Check the upload limit for your email account and make sure you have an alternative option.
And always ask your client to confirm receipt.
Of course there’s more to say. Everyone has it’s own methods for delivering an outstanding translation. And first and foremost you need to be good in translations to deliver a qualitative text.
But service is almost equally important. By combining both qualities you can secure business for years.
Any other comments, tips and tricks? Share them at http://www.vertaalt.nu/blog/5-steps-improve-translation-business/