Four Things Freelance Translators can Learn from Translation Agencies
From time to time, I see discussions among translators about how translation agencies are greedy and how they take most of the profits of translation projects.
You see that in social media, blog posts written by some freelance translators and on other media.
But the most positive discussion I have read recently was between Steve Vitek
and Dmitry Kornyukhov when they discussed how freelance translators can learn from the way translation agencies work, instead of just talking about them and considering them monsters.
Yes, freelance translators can replicate many things from translation agencies. These agencies make millions of dollars each month, which means they are doing something good and profitable.
In this article, I refer to translation agencies who work ethically and professionally.
Here are four things freelance translators can take from translation agencies.
One: Having Systems in Place
A successful agency always has some type of a system for everything they do. They provide guides for each process they follow. These guides explain exactly the steps the employees should follow to execute their assigned tasks. For example, when a new accountant joins the translation agency he/she can easily know exactly how to collect invoices and run payments because this all is written in a guide that explains the whole process of invoicing and payments.
Let’s be honest, many freelance translators are disorganized.
I know some freelance translators who send invoices months after the completion of the jobs. I was guilty of that too! That is because their workflow does not contain set dates for invoicing or a process to check for missing invoices.
As a freelance translator, you need to have a process of how to organize your work folders, at when to prepare your invoices?, how to track unpaid invoices, at what dates to work at your marketing…etc.
Two: Customer Service at Translation Agencies
Language services market is known to be a very fierce competitive market. There are many types of service providers in our industry and “if you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.” as Bob Hooey said.
Professional translation agencies know this rule.
The customer needs to be taken care of at all the phases of the business; while doing the sale and after sales.
Many freelance translators do not like to receive feedback from their customers. They take it personally; as if the customer is insulting them.
Freelance translators need to follow up with their clients and know if they have any concerns about their work. You need to build a relationship with the project managers inside the translation agencies or the end client contact you work with.
Be there when they have a problem and need your expertise.
Three: How to Manage Translation Project Effectively
Translation agencies work at different projects in many languages at the same time. This requires a solid background in project management. Each project may involve tens of resources to complete the project in time. Agencies Usually will have a set workflow they use to manage such projects to make their life easier.
Freelance translators need to learn this skill from agencies.
Sometimes freelance translators accept more than one translation task at the same time because they work with different clients too. There is nothing wrong with that as long as you know you can deliver all projects according to their deadlines with the required quality level.
Each freelance translator should have a spreadsheet or an application that logs all projects in progress with their deadlines. Also, a professional linguist knows how to prioritise these projects and how to sign them off.
Four: Consistent Promotion of Their Services
Freelancers in all industries love their professions, but do not have enough marketing skills. This is the same situation for freelancers in web development, photography, graphic designs, content writing and many other domains.
Translation agencies work really hard in their marketing. They take care of their social media channels, run advertisements and attend online and offline events.
As a freelance translator, you do not need to do marketing as much as a translation agency does, but at least work on it to some extent.
Check out local events near you, where your clients participate, try to be in front of your clients as much as you can and in your capacity as a solopreneur.
Your Turn now!
If you see something succeed, you need to see why this happened and try to replicate it. Try to embrace the success of translation agencies and see what they do that works for you as well and do it now!
I really like to hear your thoughts about that, so please do not hesitate to write down your comments.