How to Ensure your Translation Project Is of the Best Quality

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Individuals, B2B, B2C


Whether you are an individual or a business that wants to have your content translated into a different language, it is important to determine what a quality translation entails before you hire a translator. This article is for you if you would like to come up with the best quality work possible that is worth your time and money.

In this article, we will discuss the translation industry and how it can help you best communicate your ideas. Another popular concept is localization, which is used when we translate websites, applications, and software to adapt them to a specific country or geographical location. Localization falls between translation and cultural adaptation. This article is for individuals or businesses who want to determine the prerequisites for selecting the best translation service provider. As a senior translator and business executive, I can promise you that by the end of this article you will have learned:

  • What to look for in a translation and localization service provider.
  • How to select the best translation service provide for your project.
  • How to secure your relationship with your clients as a translator and/or localizer.

Let’s dive in!

A Quick Myth-Buster, from Experience!

Translation and Localization require much more than knowledge of the target language! Knowledge of a language is probably the first criterion on which most people base their selection of a language service provider. However, the work behind your project is huge and more than just that.

I have been working in the translation industry for over 10 years. Before I even graduated with my BA in Translation and Interpretation Studies, I landed my first job on the internet. By telecommuting, I concentrated in a quiet environment and made sure that there were no distractions around me. That’s always best, right? We all can agree on this especially if you want to get the job done.

I was working with a South Korean publishing house in 2011. I must admit that I made a mistake that helped me learn right off the bat that translation is not only the knowledge of a language. I was asked to translate a book from English into my first language, and I thought to myself, “Nice, that’s easy-peasy!”

Well, it turned out that it wasn’t as simple as I thought. There are a lot of steps and processes involved in the translation process, which I am sure the client wasn’t even aware of. The issue was that their budget was so little that they couldn’t afford the best translator at a big budget. I had my laptop and Wi-Fi, but I was working independently. The budget was so tight that I couldn’t even hire someone for a second opinion unless a volunteer. I took the gig on and translated the book in three months.

After I went back and looked closely to what I had done, I noticed two crucial things that were at play in my final work:

  • There were things that I could have rendered differently for ideas to be more accurate: On this, I went back to the client later and asked them to fix some concepts.
  • I should have asked someone else to look at my work before I sent it to the client: This I didn’t do. The budget was only an excuse.

The Biggest Mistake I Made… Accepting the Job!

Oh, you were lucky to get the job! Why was that a mistake? I will explain… Accepting a job that one can’t handle is the biggest mistake ever. Don’t get me wrong. By “handle”, I mean “do a good job”. Bad quality output puts a translator’s and client’s relationship at stake. The same client had several other books that they wanted me to translate but were not willing to pay enough. They only paid a flat rate. They didn’t even call it payment – It was little enough that the client called it honorarium.

I had already figured a big gap from my first experience. After thinking over the responsibility that was associated with the translation of those books, I figured that I would never produce a good quality output alone. There were a lot of requirements that the client wasn’t ready to help me meet, so I decided to let them go.

4 Golden Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Decide Who Should Take Care of Your Translation or Localization Project:

1. Is the translator or localizer trained?

First of all, some people are naturally talented and can do a good job without necessarily being trained. However, the language industry is way different. Training is crucial and must be among the first criteria while hiring a translator or localizer.

Once trained, we are able to apply our language skills without bias. Some common mistakes in the translation are over-translation, under-translation and mistranslation. A trained linguist will be able to avoid these issues, but an untrained one will not even know they are there.

This question is also very simple, and most applicants elaborate on their training in their resumes. From experience, we go beyond resumes and find out proofs. As a CEO, I have personally interacted with many applicants so far. To my surprise, most of them confirm to me that they don’t have the qualifications mentioned in their resume for different reasons. Select your provider with caution!

2. Do they work independently, or in a team?

Teamwork is very important when it comes to handling a translation project. After working for so long in a team and realizing how one crucial point can be overlooked by one team members but caught by another, I can’t imagine what the final product would be without a team!

If you have other people who will look over your work before you start using it for the intended purpose, it’s fine to let an independent (single) provider handle your project. At Golden Lines Translation, Inc., we have linguists all over the place since the Coronavirus pandemic broke out. Even so, each one of them has a specific task as a team member. We set up our projects and allocate who should perform each task until the project is completed. If you wanted to go ahead and hire a loner and expect them to give you a final product, I would advise you against that!

Do you know what went wrong in my first gig I mentioned above? I was working alone. I would never do that again. When I do take on language tasks, my responsibility is to deliver the best quality possible but also help the client to know that they should have somebody else look at it. The best way some people do this is to ask as many people as possible.

One of our criteria when assigning a task to a linguist, we highlight in the job description that they will perform reviews as multiple times as needed so that they know what to expect before accepting the job.

3. How can I be sure if they’re who they say they’re?

During our language service certification process, our auditor gave us a brilliant idea. I didn’t realize how crucial it was until we started to hire more resources for our business. The idea consists in asking questions to applicants in a way that’s a bit different than an interview.

What’s that? Well, we do check our linguists’ qualifications to determine if they are really competent. To join our team, you MUST submit your training documents to us. You will see that on our website. Proof of qualification is one of our primary criteria when it comes to hiring. You cannot pass before you prove your qualification to us. Does that sound over the top to you?

In essence, no job applicant will say to a potential employer that they are incompetent. We all want to sell ourselves out there… especially if we do need a job. I was away on a long weekend in the summer of 2020 and had to shut my computers down. Upon opening my emails, I noticed that we had received about 100 applications in that one weekend. Applicants sent their CVs and explained how best they are at translation and localization among other services that we provide.

With the shortage of work due to COVID-19, jobseekers nowadays changed their strategy. An email subject says what they are capable of, in a catchy way so that’s it’s worth the employer’s attention. I am not trying to be critical about job applications because I do sometimes apply for jobs myself. However, a few times, we have asked people who wanted to join our team if they can prove what they put in their resumes… only a few can. Most applicants do not even get back to us.

It can be absolutely frustrating to hire an unqualified language service provider. What can you do before you decide? Ask questions! The best ones out there are: What is your experience in this field? How long have you done this for? … These ones are general and usually easy to answer. But when it comes to Do you have references? or Can I see your qualification documents? Not many will answer those.

4. Is the budget reasonable?

The budget for translating your project doesn’t have to be exorbitant. However, it should be good enough to determine the quality of what you will get from a service provider. If you don’t have enough budget, maybe it’s not the right timing for your project to kick off. I have noticed over and over how budgets can affect the quality of our work. Therefore, we do decline jobs that do not seem to have enough budget allocated to them.

3 Best practices before you outsource your project:

  • Ask for a quote: A quote will help you decide if you have enough budget to kick off your project. Some language service providers like us will give you a free estimate of what your project will cost. We understand that there could be a need for your project even though you don’t have a budget yet, or your resources could be limited. No worries! We will not charge you to estimate your cost and timeline.
  • Allow some insights: One of the important phrases we use in our business is, “Please let me know if you have any questions”. This is an invitation for our clients as well as team members to ask as many questions as needed to make sure that we are on the same page. Our quotes include what we will do for the client so that they know what they are paying towards.
  • Don’t take their word for it: As a client, ask the language service provider as many questions as possible to understand what they will do, how they will handle your project, how much you will pay them, and how long it will take. This will help you to know what to expect from them and hold them accountable later if needed.

Message to My Readers:

I hope you found my article helpful. I would love your feedback below. My goal is to add value to my readers and, particularly, to clients by making their businesses more profitable and hassle-free. If you would like to learn more about how our language services can support your specific business model, I would be pleased to connect and discuss your questions further.

Sim Ngezahayo

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