Ask interpreters or translators to describe their first days in the industry, and you’ll hear very interesting stories. If you want to become an accountant or a lawyer, there is a rather clear path. But if you aim to become a translator or an interpreter, you will need to make your path.
Be a Professional
At the initial stage, your main task is to enter the “main cage” of translators to ensure that you consistently get orders. This allows you to gain the necessary experience, develop and consolidate skills, knowledge, and abilities in a new field, and create approaches to work. With a stable workload, labor productivity increases significantly. Also, adequately assess the cost of your services. However, being a translator is much more than that as the industry is dynamic. So, it’s very reasonable to go prepared. Here are some of the things that’ll help you do that.
12 Rules of Translation that You Need to Know
1. Expand your vocabulary
Learn terminology related to translation activities. This is very useful for a clear understanding of the translation tasks set by your customers and will allow you to ensure the high quality of the finished translation. Read relevant materials, try to take an active part in discussions on professional forums, in communities, and on social networks. Use new words, phrases, terms, and other vocabulary items as much as possible in your daily communication.
2. Make money
Knowledge of the language is usually determinative, but a successful, professional translator needs to make money. This means finding customers all the time and a lot of them. It is better to be a good translator with unsurpassed marketing and customer search skills than the best translator in the world without the ability to find new clients. Each time you receive a positive response from a potential customer, send them a handwritten thank-you note and a business card.
3. Solve problems
The translation is a business. To succeed, you need to solve the problem, that is, translate. To do this, you need to know what issues your clients face. The key is to ask the right questions. You don’t want to waste customer time or ask obvious, pedantic, or paranoid questions, but you need to make sure the project is within your reach before you say yes.
While translating, you will probably come across a word, phrase, or term unfamiliar to you. Here’s how you should deal with them:
- check this term for specialized dictionaries and glossaries;
- check the term for reliable sources;
- сheck the use of the term several times through search sites and see how and where the term is used in different sources;
- check the deadline on relevant translation forums and other professional sites.
Sometimes this can take a long time, but it is crucial to ensure the highest quality of the finished translation.
5. Cross the borders!
The importance of respecting cultural diversity in translation is difficult to overestimate. If the topic is broad, the translator must choose terms, words, phrases, and idioms for translation very carefully. Your goal is to ensure your recipient understands what they are reading/listening to. So, if you want to make your translation a reliable and understandable source of information, make sure it is tailored to a specific audience in a specific part of the world.
6. Be perseverant
Experienced translators have many advantages. But experienced translators are capricious, complacent, and perhaps even a little lazy when it comes to requesting new clients. Many beginners pay attention to the latest smarter methods, so they ignore much of a successful business that has been running for years: to give everything to what you do. And this is worth paying attention to.
7. Look where you should
Don’t go “Twitter!” or “Instagram – that’s where it is!” Focus on your strategy. Find out your goals and make long and short plans to achieve those goals. Some of the best translation and localization services are always looking for new translators because the work is in full swing. If you can handle such a quick job, meet deadlines, you can get a good experience and decide what specialization you want. It’ll simplify your work when you switch to other types of clients.
8. Own a site
What you need to do in your work for development is to create your website. As a translator, you want people to come to you, find you. A professional website is the best way to achieve this. It’s also important to remember that when customers start responding to your inquiries, it’s tempting to say yes right away without knowing what the job involves. If the potential client is an agency, check its rating with services such as Better Business Bureau or Payment Practices.
9. Keep track of your grammar and syntax
Grammar and syntax are extremely important for both comprehension and communication. Knowledge of the rules is crucial for understanding the text and performing a high-quality translation. Getting the correct interpretation of the meaning is valuable not only for translation but also for other activities, such as localization, transcription, copywriting, and more.
10. Communicate with customers
One of the essential rules for new translators is the value of communication. As a successful translator, you will not hide behind your e-mail. We do not recommend calling potential customers, a real meeting is the most precious resource in the arsenal of freelance marketing.
11. Keep a checklist of questions to ask before the project begins
- How many words or pages does the document have?
- In what format is the document? What is the main topic?
- In what format do you need a translation?
- What is the deadline (specify time zone)?
- Does the client have any existing translations?
Never accept a translation without seeing the entire document you are going to translate, or at least a sample text.
12. Study the history of language
Languages are born, develop, and change over time. A translator familiar with these processes can recognize older language forms and find appropriate language forms in the language of translation. In addition, we should not forget about etymology. Researching the “history” of a word, phrase, term, or even name is very useful for enhancing personal and linguistic skills as well as the quality of the final translation.
Take up New Challenges
The work of a translator is hard. It requires intense mental activity, perseverance, attention, and, of course, professional skills. Do not expect to be given easy texts to translate right away. Each new order is necessarily an effort to learn something new. Translating an unfamiliar technical text is a challenge to the level of your linguistic and technical knowledge. Understand the author’s idea and competently reproduce it. There should be no “white spots” in the translated text. Only such an approach to the issue allows achieving high-quality translation. And, of course, the order must be fulfilled exactly on time.