Setting Up for Success: How to work with a translator

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So, you’ve evaluated your translation needs, made a search on the ATIA membership directory or connected with a good translation agency, and assessed your candidate’s qualifications to find someone professional, trained, and deeply experienced in the exact area of translation that you need. Now, how do you optimize your working relationship with this translator?

Good communication is key to any working relationship. Provide a detailed description of the services you need and a clear outline of requirements and deliverables. With a comprehensive understanding of the nature and complexity of the project, the translator will be able to not only provide you with a more accurate picture of cost and delivery time, but also flag any potential challenges or stumbling blocks.

It is important for both client and translator to set clear, agreed upon terms and conditions from the beginning. When agreeing to hire a translator, make sure that you have the answers to the following questions:

How does the translator charge? You’ve probably already considered how much the translator charges, but make sure you understand how he or she charges – per page, per target word or per source word? If the translator charges per source word, the cost will be based on the number of words in the document you provide. If the charge is based on the number of target words, or the words in the translated document, the final cost will vary depending on whether the target language tends to use more or fewer words than the source language.

Does the translator include revisions in their cost estimate? If so, how many and with what turnaround time? Revisions and comments are an expected part of any writing project, so it is best to make clear and agreed upon arrangements in advance about how comments and revisions will be handled.

What file format will the completed translation be provided in? Make sure that the translator knows how to provide the finished work to best suit your needs.

What are the translator’s confidentiality policies and practices? Translation agencies will have their own confidentiality policies in place, but a freelance translator may not. Note that all ATIA members are bound by a Code of Ethics that protects your confidentiality. When in doubt, ask for an ATIA-Certified Translator.  

Ask about discounts for large volume jobs, redundant translations or not-for-profit clients. Not all translators will provide discounts, but it is worth making inquiries about discounts at the outset of a project rather than during the course of the work or after receiving an invoice.

And finally, make sure you understand the terms of conditions of payment and pay your invoice in a timely manner!

Establishing a clear understanding of your project’s priorities and needs and your translator’s practices at the outset of the project is the best way to set yourself up for a successful working relationship!