Transpanish’s April 1st post focused on things that novices to the craft of English-Spanish translations should avoid. This weeks post will focus on the business side of freelance translating. Novice Spanish translators may be eager to please their first few clients, and that makes sense. But beware of being so eager to please that you end up exhausted with very little return or making mistakes that could potentially turn clients off from being repeat buyers.
To avoid this, keep the following in mind:
1. This is a business! As a freelance translator, you are first and foremost a business person. Your translation services are what you sell, but you also need sound business practices to survive and thrive. Consider taking a course in running a freelance business at your local college or adult education center.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate with your translation buyers. Don’t stalk them and update them on every miniscule bit of progress you make, but do keep in touch with them. Ask them clarifying questions and remind them that their answers help you provide them with a superlative end product. If it’s a large project and the deadline is far off, don’t just disappear. It’s good relationship building to check in occasionally, even if it’s just to say that you’re making progress.
3. Be realistic about what you can complete. Don’t jump at the chance to take on a project if the terms seem unrealistic. If the buyer wants 10,000 words translated in a day, be honest that this is not realistic. Rather than taking on a project that’s too large and then renegotiating the terms after, only agree to projects you know you can accomplish. As you start out, you may have a learning curve about your output which could cause some sleepless nights but as you go you should start determining what you can really do.
4. Get the project terms in writing. How many rewrites and adjustments are you willing to make before tacking on extra fees? Do both you and the buyer understand the terms of payment? Sort this out beforehand and set the terms down in writing before starting a Spanish translation project.
These four tips should get you started as you think about how to manage your freelance translation business and apply whether you freelance after a day job or want to translate full time. Being prepared will have the dual benefit of protecting yourself and keeping translation buyers happy.