The first step to helping client’s get the translation they want is good communication between translator and writer. This is important so that you, as the translator, know the unique goals of the project and ensure the best possible translation project is created! Good communication starts with the basics – listening skills, and an ability to professionally and assertively state yourself both in written and verbal ways. Most translators possess these skills, some clients may not. Here are ways to encourage your clients towards the best outcome possible.
- Encourage specific communication about budget and timeline.
- Have your client state their main objective for the translation
- Encourage your client to be organized with project documents
- Communicate your own boundaries
- Know your limits and communicate them
Stating or negotiating prices is often difficult to discuss yet it is fundamental when kicking off a project. Some clients come with a price in mind and some don’t know where to start. Encouraging your client to name a price, start a negotiation, or discuss this part of contracting can be a challenge when they don’t. Using language that is curious, open and inviting can help this process along. Equally important is the timeline of the project. Knowing when the project needs to be completed will help you in planning, but will also help the professional relationship as expectations will be set, maintained, and managed if this is all discussed up front.
Do you know what your client is trying to achieve with their translation? Did they communicate what the goal of the project is? Once this is clarified with the client, it allows you as the translator to better integrate their voice with yours, producing a piece of work that aligns with the client’s needs.
You need things from your client in order to be effective and efficient for them. You need contracts signed, receipts, and of course, the documents to be translated. Missing documents, incomplete work, and late add-ons can result in deadlines missed and your additional work inaccurately reflected in the negotiated fee. The more organized and complete the source content, the easier it will be to ensure success.
Some clients assume you are available for them much of the time. Some expect emails returned within a few hours and may become persistent if this isn’t the case. It is good practice to communicate to your clients your availability, such as when you spend time responding to emails, what a reasonable turnaround time is for correspondence, and what days you work and which you do not. You can set an out of office email reminder that tells your clients you are not actively responding to emails at the present time. Being clear on your professional boundaries not only helps the progress of the project, but it supports your personal and self-care time, as well.
It is okay to be the person who doesn’t always say “yes”. Allow yourself to turn down projects if you have taken on too much, or the project isn’t a good fit for you. In those rare occasions, it is okay to ask for a deadline extension, within reason and with good arguments as to why you need more time. Likely, your clients with respect and honor your ability to maintain your limits and will appreciate your dedication to ongoing communication and client – translator relationship building.