How to Choose a Translator: Part 1
by Elizaveta Naumov
April 23, 2014
Translation is a lot like choosing what to wear on a trip: there’s no one-size-fits-all option that will work in all situations. Sure, there are some basic items that you need to pack, like clothing, but even that depends on a variety of factors. The same goes for translation projects; there are a lot of elements that you need to consider before starting your project. You need to look at the type of documents or web content you need to translate, the complexity, the volume and your own budget and timeline.
Today, there are many translation options available for businesses. They all come with their pros and cons, which is why we’re giving you a quick guide the different types of translation services.
This is a popular option among many small (and large) companies. It seems like the quick and easy way to make your brochures or website multilingual. While it may seem like your best option, you may think twice when you analyze it a bit deeper. Here are a few key points to remember about translating internally:
- It isn’t free: your employee is being paid as part of their normal work day, so that time that they are spending on translation (which is often longer than what a seasoned translation professional would need) is not free
- It doesn’t guarantee good quality: even if you’re using a native speaker, they may not be an expert in the industry or even a good writer (do you really think that your accountant Pierre will write great marketing content for your French website?)
When to use it: internal translation can be useful for understanding customer comments or internal emails, but for all business communications, including replying to your customer’s comments, you should use a professional translation service.
Freelance translators are professionals who can translate from one or several languages into their mother tongue. They often have several specific areas of expertise, whether it is technical knowledge like mechanical engineering, or creative writing experience such as marketing content. Here are a few points to keep in mind about hiring a freelance translator:
- Not all freelance translators are created equal: even ones that speak the same languages have different writing styles, areas of expertise and years of experience
- Freelance translators don’t speak all the languages of the world: Don’t expect to hire one translator for all 10 languages of your website; you’ll need to hire a separate one for each language as professionals will only translate into their native language
- They have other clients: It’s important to remember that they are probably working on several projects at the same time, so don’t expect them to drop everything just because you have a last-minute press release that you need translated in the next hour.
When to use a freelance translator: They are best for smaller projects that require a sophisticated writing style. You will need to remember to plan ahead and communicate your needs with the translator.
In recent years the availability of online translation platforms has been making it easier and faster create multilingual content. These types of platforms usually have a mix of professional translators and preselected native speakers that will work on your document. Here are a few things to keep in mind about using an online translation platform:
- Give instructions: Online platforms make things easier, but they can’t read your mind (yet). To avoid confusion and wasting time, tell the translator exactly what you’re looking for, both terms of writing style and localization.
- Choose the right service level: Many of these platforms have different pricing options based on the service level that you choose. You may be tempted to pick the cheapest, but you should take a look at what each level includes. Often the lowest level is for simple word-for-word translations of product descriptions or simple texts. If you’re looking for Shakespeare’s sonnets, you’ll need to choose the appropriate premium level.
When to use online translation platforms: This is best when you have a high volume of content to translate or when you need multiple languages. Online translation platforms let you manage everything from one place rather than dealing with several freelance translators. For more complex file formats or areas of expertise, you may need to contact to online translation company before making your order to see if it’s possible on the platform.
Wait! There’s more!
Today’s blog post featured translation options for the most common types of business needs like documents and web content. Tomorrow we’ll look at complex translation projects and what you need to think about when choosing a solution.