So, you’re in need of a translator. No one could blame you for thinking that, as for most things in our lives these days, a Google search could be the right place to start. But Google the term translator and you’ll get about 150,000,000 results. Not exactly narrowing things down.
Once you’ve scrolled past all the automatic translation tools like Google Translate, you’ll start to come across the biggest translation service providers out there (or the ones with the best SEO).
It will be mostly translation companies or agencies taking the top spots, but you should soon start to spy a few freelancers, too. But should you be betting on a company, or relying on a freelancer?
If you prefer the personal touch and decide to go with a freelancer, you’ll still probably be a bit overwhelmed by choice.
With so many possible options out there, how on earth can you begin to figure out which one is the perfect match for you?
Some people take the ‘the cheaper and quicker the better’ approach, and contact a few providers from their Google search and then pick the one that can do it within the shortest amount of time, for the lowest amount of money. But if it’s quality you’re after, cheapness and speed definitely shouldn’t be the determining factors.
So, if Google isn’t the place to look, where are all the best freelancers hiding?
Where to find a fantastic translator
Your best bet when you’re looking for a freelance professional of any kind is usually a respected freelancing site dedicated to the niche in question. Generic freelancing sites like Zaask or Upwork can be a good place to start as service providers bid for your job, and you get to select who you work with, based on reviews. But, sites like Upwork are often called ‘content mills’, churning out work with
So, if you’re on the hunt for a quality translator, most people would recommend translation-specific websites like ProZ.com or TranslatorsCafé. It’s pretty standard practice for a translator to have a profile on these sites, and clients can leave reviews on translators’ profiles. ProZ also has their Certified PRO Network, a group of professionals that have to have their background and credentials verified before they can join, which is great for clients who want extra peace of mind.
As well as those sites, you can always turn to the professional
Requesting quotes for your project
Rather than picking just one translator straight off the bat, it’s always best to reach out to a few translators that you think might suit your purposes so you can then decide between them. Whether or not you get a satisfactory and accurate reply, however, will largely depend on what you include in your message. Make sure you give your candidates the following information, so you both know exactly where the goal posts are:
• Document type/format: in an ideal world send over a file or a sample. If you can’t, then give them a clear description of the document (a contract, a CV, a PowerPoint presentation, web content, marketing, medical, etc.) let them know the format (Word, Excel, PDF). If it’s a scan that’s difficult to
• Languages: a vital detail that a surprising amount of people leave out. Specify the variants of the source and target languages, such as Brazilian Portuguese, Latin American Spanish or American English.
• Delivery date: when you need it by. Bear in mind that a professional translates 2000-3000 words per day, but this may be lower if the text is very technically complex. Also, the translator may not be immediately available.
• Purpose of the translated document: this information helps the translator to establish what services you’ll require. If it’s going to be printed or published, an extra proofreading stage might be necessary after the design stage to make sure there are no typos or formatting issues. If translating software, a testing stage might be helpful to check all buttons and hyperlinks work correctly. Legal documents might need to be certified by a public notary or the country’s consulate.
How to pick a gem
When you get your answers back from your candidates, it’s time to make the big decision. When hiring a freelance service provider, I generally ask myself the following questions to help me decide.
• How quickly did they respond?
• Did they ask relevant questions?
• Do they have a strong social media presence? Professional website? Testimonials?
• Did they provide details about the service they offer?
• Were they enthusiastic and friendly?
• Are they available?
• Are their prices within my budget?
You may well have a few other criteria that will help you make your choice, but if you ask yourself the questions above and listen to your gut feeling, you’ll never go too far wrong.
Now, all that’s left is to make a formal offer, send the files off, and be available to answer any questions that might crop up.
When you’ve got the finished product, be sure to leave your translator a detailed review to give them a boost, and make life easier for anyone else who finds themselves in your shoes!
I try to do my part to be a good example. Contact me and ask for a proposal for the translation of your content and see if I tick all the above boxes.