In order to be successful in the translation industry, you have to be good at what you do. Success is not automatic; you need excellent translation skills to go far. Happiness is the next goal for those who have already achieved the basic goal for a successful translator: having a steady stream of work that brings in a reliable flow of income. But, how on earth do you do that?
- What is the market looking for from a translator?
- Working for an agency
- Freelance translators: on the hunt for customers
- But, what about automatic translation
- Other professional opportunities
- Our advice
What is the market looking for from a translator?
Regardless of whether you are a specialised medical translator or a sworn translator, for example, all good professionals must also adapt to the demands of the market. One important thing to bear in mind is that companies are always looking for people who show initiative and can work independently, or in other words, they don’t want to have to be constantly telling them what to do. So, they are looking for professionals who always know what they need to do.
A professional translator also has to be decisive. When a customer uses the services of a translation company, for example, the last thing they want is more problems. Customers are always looking for solutions and an end result that reflects their actual needs.
The market is also looking for a range of professions. What does that mean? It means that different types of translators are required. For example, some translators are in charge of proofreading projects once other translators have finished them. There are others who pull the finished translations together and others who simply translate the text when they receive the job.
And yes, the translator market also wants specialisation. Can you imagine having to explain to a painter how they should paint the walls of your house? I bet you can’t! It’s exactly the same in the world of translation. The customer does not want to have to explain to the translator how to do the job. If the professional translator is specialised in a specific field, they will understand the particular features of that field. This means that everything will go more smoothly.
It’s not enough just to be good. You also have to know how to sell yourself and be good at communicating. A professional translator must do this and good translators always stand out.
Working for an agency
One option is to work for a translation agency like Okodia. There you will work in a team of people with different roles: project managers, who manage the translations; marketing or accounting specialists, who look after the brand image and invoices; and translators on the payroll. However, most agencies mainly work with freelance translators. At Okodia we have a section on our website where professional translators can leave their details. However, at times we have also used other platforms, such as Jobsora, to find the most appropriate professionals for our needs.
These are job-search platforms that allow users to create a profile and find the job that best suits them. They also allow us to find the most suitable candidates for our translation projects. Furthermore, if we need to offer interpretation services in a specific city, it allows us to find the candidate by city or region.
Freelance translators: on the hunt for customers
The majority of them admit that they get clients by word of mouth and through the translation agency they work for instead of cyberspace resources. At Okodia we have a section on our website where professional translators can leave their details. However, at times we have also used other platforms, such as Jobsora, to find the most appropriate professionals for our needs. Furthermore, if we need to offer interpretation services in a specific city, it allows us to find the candidate by city or region.
On another hand, the Internet is a good way to make a name for oneself, but not to get new clients. At least, this is what a survey conducted by Okodia Translation Agency on the professional translation sector found. The survey revealed that most professional translators get more clients through their contacts and via recommendations than through online methods such as websites, blogs or social media.
More than fifty language professionals took part in the survey, which showed that professional translators hardly use personal blogs and websites despite frequently using social media. According to Okodia’s CEO, Luis Rodríguez, “some translators consider dedicating time to this type of platforms a waste of money instead of an investment”.
A translation agency in the UK such as ours is always committed to quality, which is why having a well-trained and professional team of people is a must.
But, what about automatic translation?
Aside from this, the translators spoke about the practices being employed by some translation agencies which use machine translation as a complement to human translation. They all agree that it will “never” replace human jobs, wherein quality is much more than a literal translation of words taken out of context.
According to Rodríguez, the evolution of new technologies—specifically the deployment of machine translation—has led to “less appreciation” for translators’ work by clients “that increasingly demand translations with shorter turnaround times and at lower cost. I get the feeling that clients expect translation professionals to do their jobs at the same speed as machine translation, at very low cost but with a very high level of quality”, he added.
Professional opportunities for translators
When we hear the word “translator”, we all think about a professional who is in charge of expressing a text in another language. Although this is the most recognised part of the work of professional translators, it is not the only one, since there are other professional opportunities for translators.
Many companies contact Okodia Translation Services because they are looking to translate their content. The work requires more the just one translator, because after the initial translation we put our projects through quality control before they are delivered to the customer. As a result, there are translators who proofread these translated texts and this is another professional opportunity for translators.
Apart from that, translators also have the opportunity to work as project managers, software translators or localisation specialists, content creators and more. They can also specialise in any area of translation that appeals to them, such as sworn translation, legal translation or medical or technical translation.
There are also some professionals who decide to teach. If you are a professional translator you can also work as a language teacher. However, if what you enjoy is translating, the best idea is to work for a translation agency. I’m sure that you will find the right job for you.
Self-respecting translators do not put their clients first to the detriment of their own quality of life. Neither do they charge low rates nor do they stand for shady payment practices. Doing any of these things will lead to negative feelings of loss of self-determination and independence: a terrible sacrifice when this is something that all freelance professionals should be free to enjoy.
Having time for family and friends is something everyone wants. But, what else? Do you have a favourite sport or leisure activity that you enjoy? If that’s the case, you should take time off to enjoy some of the best things about being a freelance translator: financial independence and the freedom to take a break when you want to. If you want to learn a new skill—be it a new language, watercolour painting or mountain climbing—, find time for it.
A good way to be happy with what you do is to keep daily frustrations to a minimum. For many translators, this means using tools to help them in their daily work to make life easier.
Lastly, you’ll have to first experience the joy of being a translator yourself and set your own goals. Only then will you be able to determine the right path for you.