As a translator, there are lots of things you have to care about from the time you receive an assignment to the final delivery of the translation. Check out these tips!
Although most of the following steps may seem obvious, it is still very easy to forget one or two of these things, which can be enough to get you in trouble with your client and/or lose a lot of time/money.
When you work on a translation, you MUST do the following:
First of all, make sure all the conditions are perfectly clear.
1. The word count: if you don't agree with your client's word count after checking the file(s) for the first time, clarify the situation before you start translating even a single word.
2. Payment: Make sure your client gives you a clear deadline for the payment. Otherwise, you may have to wait for months as the client can take advantage of unclear payment conditions. You don't want to be sending mails everyday until you get paid, right?
3. How will you be paid? Some clients refuse PayPal, moneybookers or even certain types of bank accounts. Don't wait until the day before the payment deadline to provide your client with your bank information; do this from the very beginning, and make sure you provide all the necessary information. For example, for a bank transfer, you will need to send your full name, bank name, bank account number, and branch name/number.
4. Ask if there are any kind of penalties in case of quality or deadline problems. Of course it's not something you really want to talk about, but it's better to know what to expect from the beginning. Otherwise, you would likely complain after your client paid you only 90% due to a late delivery.
5. Ask if there are any particular instructions you should follow. For example, when you translate visual contents or do some dubbing, you will often have to respect a certain character limit. Some other clients will ask you NOT to translate some words or product names. You may also have to follow a certain terminology set (see Microsoft's language portal for instance). Your client may forget to mention these, so you'd better ask them at the start.
When all your working conditions are clear, you can start translating. Make sure you follow these rules:
6. Make sure you use the right software to edit texts. For example, if your client sends you a file made with Word '07, editing it with a previous version of Word may alter the former layout. This usually results in the client asking you to replace all of the texts again, using the proper software this time. You can easily imagine how much of a loss of time it is. So, if you ever have any doubts about the files you receive, ask the client.
7. If you have to translate technical or scientific words and don't feel that confident, don't hesitate to use a technical/scientific/medical dictionary. There are a few good ones on the Internet, and they usually come with some good examples and should help a lot. If your translation is related to a very small industry, with no specific glossary or dictionary, try to get your hands on some similar texts.
8. Some texts may have references to history or some points of the culture of a country. Rather than translating these things literally, open your encyclopedia (or your Wikipedia) and make sure you adapt all names and references properly.
9. Proofread your text once to remove typos and other small mistakes. Then, pay attention to the consistency of your translation.
Indeed, after a few hours of work, you will get more familiar with the text and maybe translate in a slightly different style. If necessary, make corrections so that the style is the same from the beginning to the end.
10. When you deliver your translation, ask for feedback. For your client, it will show that you care about the quality of your work. For you, it is a good opportunity to get reviewed and know what your strengths are and where you could improve.
11. Keep a copy of all of your translation works. This may sound stupid, but sometimes clients get back to you a few weeks after delivery and ask to have the file(s) sent again and/or to have a couple corrections made.