Monday, July 26, 2010

Creating a Marketing Plan for Freelance Translators

I am grateful to have a background in international marketing, both professionally and as an education. Now I would like to share this knowledge with other freelance translators and I get the opportunity to do so at the ATA:s annual Conference in Denver, CO on Saturday Oct. 30th.

Most of us know that we should have a marketing plan for our small (or one man) business. But how do we create one that is targeted specifically to our industry? The session will cover the elements of a marketing plan, such as objective, product/service, unique selling points or benefits, market and segmentation, competition, customers or prospects, what media to use and how to track, follow and adjust the marketing plan. Specific examples are given that are targeted and adapted to the translation industry from the standpoint of an independent contractor.

I hope to see you there, but if you miss this you can also watch/listen to a presentation on the subject at the ProZ Virtual Conference on Translator's Day, Sept, 30th, 2010.

Now you have a chance to also share your marketing tips for freelance translators by posting them as comments here. Do you have a marketing plan?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

While I was away - Six great blogpost for freelance translators

I am back from a whirlwind vacation. 10 days, three states (Idaho, Oregon, Nevada), 2,400 miles, two houses, three campgrounds, elevation 0 above sea level to 9700 feet above, plus family reunion and 50th anniversary party. Whew!

Here are some links to great blog posts that came while I was gone:

Right now there is a 10% summer discount on a great book for freelance translators. The book is "The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation" by Judy and Dagmar Jenner and contains all the bricks and mortar, plus great ideas on how to have a thriving freelance translation career. The book can be ordered here.

Here is a great blog post about quoting for freelance translation jobs and the ever popular topic on how to determine your rates from Naked Translations.

We all wish to have direct clients, especially direct clients that pay reasonably and quickly. Corinne McKay has a great blog post on how to ensure payment from direct clients on her blog "Thoughts on Translation".

Machine translation has been a hot topic for a while now and we are probably all following the discussion with great interest. I found this post "What is holding the wider adoption of Machine Translation back?" on eMpTy pages by Kirti Vashee. Very interesting reading stating reasons why MT is not more common yet. posted an interview on the Global Translation Certificate Program offered by The Global Institute. I did not even know about this certificate before, perhaps because they do not offer courses for English-Swedish. Does anyone else have any views on this certification program?

Eve Bodeux is gathering information for a Vendor Management seminar later this fall and is looking for your views and feedback on the relationship between vendor/agency and freelancer. Give your opinion and feedback here.

Well, I better start transitioning into working mode again. I am lucky to have two weeks booked already with translation projects into Swedish. Until later!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Linguistic quality assurance

The second of the four types of quality assurance for freelance translators is linguistic quality, which is the most important aspect for us linguists. The subject has been discussed in many venues and forms before but a refresher is always useful.

I summarized linguistic quality in my previous post as the following:
- Only accept projects that are within your expertise
- Have access to suitable, current reference material
- Use relevant tools that increase quality, for example translation memory and spell checking
- Proofread the end result carefully

Today I want to develop each of these points a bit further. Linguistic quality is the foundation for the “product” we deliver and the core of our knowledge. Many have tried to create “systems” for linguistic quality assurance. There are the ISO and BS systems, there is certification and accreditation, and there are quality assurance programs etc.

Are you feeling overwhelmed already? What can a translator do for quality assurance? Here are some tips:

1. Only accept jobs within your area of expertise/specialization and only translate into your native language.
2. Use CAT-tools to avoid omissions and eye mistakes and to keep the formatting.
3. Never hesitate to contact your customer for clarifications.
4. Find another translator to co-operate with for second proofreading when needed.
5. Always read the clients reference material and use their glossaries
6. Know the target audience for the final product and translate for this audience.
7. Understand the objective of the translation project; is it informative text, ad copy, brand identity…?
8. Use Translation Quality Assurance software if available. These are able to decrease the number of mistakes and improve the overall quality, even if they cannot detect everything, or detect too much/the wrong things.
9. Proofread carefully.

When you proofread there are even further tips to increase the quality:

1. Avoid rework by translating each phrase as if the translation were to be published immediately.
2. Keep a list of dangerous words that you often mistype, but that a spell checker cannot detect.
3. Run the spell and grammar checker. Before doing this though, select the entire document, set the language to your target language and make sure that the checker is fully active.
4. Learn study and comply with target-language typography and punctuation rules. I have noticed that this is one of the most common mistakes among newer translators. For example in US English you write $3,000.00, but in Swedish it is written USD 3 000,00.
5. Never use the “Replace all” command
6. Proofread by comparing with the source, but also by just reading the target text to check that it “flows”.
7. Check headers, footer, graphs and text boxes. These are easy to miss; even CAT-tools can miss them sometimes.

Last but not least, read in your target language often and take continuing education classes at conferences, universities, translation associations etc.

These are some of the tips I have collected. Do you have any you find valuable?
I will leave you with this rather long and heavy post for the month of July. I am off on a road trip to the Oregon coast for family reunions, parties and camping. Have a great summer!