Life after translation: easy add-ons that can set you apart

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So you finished translating a text—now what? What extra mini services can you offer to your clients without compromising the scope of the work and within your professional and personal comfort zone? While translation already involves multiple steps—from initial research, terminology checks, drafts, and revisions—there are ways to increase the value of your services and enhance the overall quality of your work. Going the extra mile will strengthen your relationships with clients, add variety to your professional life, and push you to explore adjacent fields. In a competitive globalized economy, the extra “icing” you put on top of your translation work might be what will set you apart.

What does “going the extra mile” for your clients might mean in the language of translation? What are some organic ways to enhance quality of not only your work, but also your skills? 

1) Review, edit, and proofread your work. Hone your copy-editing skills or work with professional editors. While this service might already be included in your client package, many translators overlook the value of a good edit. As we already spend hours—or days or weeks—dissecting volumes of information, researching terms, scrutinizing words, our eye get accustomed to the text at hand. As a result, we are more prone to skipping letters, skimming, or glancing over typos. Plus, by the time a translation is editable, you’ve already seen it a million times—no chance a mistake snuck in, right? Wrong!

Although translation and editing go hand-in-hand, not all translators study editing. And even if they are naturally gifted at it, they might put it off until the very end of the transition cycle or skip the step altogether.

Handing over a typos-free, clean, well-organized, and consistent copy to your client is just as important as getting the translation right. A good way to ensure editing and proofreading are integrated into your approach includes making a list of steps to check off before you fire away your translation: is the tone in your document consistent? Are page numbering, indexing and heading correct? Do you adhere to the established style guide? Are proper names spelled correctly? Build a database where you list your clients’ preferences including anything from fonts to their opinion on the Oxford comma.

2)  Offer a summary of the translated text, a bulleted outline, a presentation based on the content of the translated document as an extra service. Put yourself in the shoes of your client: will they need to present the thick manuscript you just translated to their teams? Would they want a summary of the translated file? What will the future of your translation look like? Don’t hesitate to ask your clients how they will be using the translated document, or what their future usage might be and if you can help them adapt to those needs.

3) Is your document image-heavy? Are you skilled at photo-editing software? Any way to make the translated text more visually digestible for your client? Discuss any possibility for information hierarchy, fonts that might work better to communicate the message, text placement options. If images communicate just as much information as the text you’re translating, learn how to enhance as needed.  

4) Be open to receiving feedback: if your client has comments or questions about the translated file, encourage them to reach out to you. Keep all lines of communication open and offer to revise your work in case your clients receives feedback.