This is the first part of a list of ten DO’s that a professional translator should always remember when taking on a project. Some of these may seem quite obvious –even for a beginner – but many translators either forget or don’t bother to think to follow them in the first place.
1. Always remember to thank a client for taking the time to contact you with an inquiry or quote. This should be done regardless as to whether or not you’re actually receiving work from them.
2. Always be sure to respond to inquiries from clients, prospective clients, and even people about whom you have doubts as to whether or not they’d even be interested in your services. Feeling ignored or unimportant is a huge turnoff for anyone, especially to someone who is looking for a person to do a job for which attention to detail is extremely important.
3. (This is an extension of the previous item...) Always respond to inquiries after an absence as well. This includes going on vacation, moving house/offices, having computer/server problems, being sick, anything at all... Even if it’s too late to take on a job that may have been offered, showing that you’re professional and polite could lead to more work down the road.
4. Always be honest about your ability to meet a deadline. Promising a client that you can finish a translation in two days, and then having to take an entire week to finish it not only makes you seem unprofessional and green, it also makes you look like a liar.
5. Always check the entire source text before agreeing to a certain deadline and fee. “Eight pages” certainly sounds much longer than “three pages”, but “eight pages of a book for small children” is usually going to take much less time and effort to translate accurately than “three pages of a patent”.
6. Always provide a fair quote in regards to your rates. That is, don’t assume that one client can afford to pay twice as much as what you would charge another client for the same work, and then charge accordingly. You may unwittingly drive off a client altogether, if not a job that most others would gladly accept for much less money.
7. Always check through the source text when what appears to be a mistake or discrepancy comes up. There’s a good chance that it’s explained further along in the text, and especially if this is obvious, you’ll end up looking lazy or dependant.
8. Always offer to review your own work for free when asked to go over it again, no matter how long. “Being careful not to make mistakes” should be included in your initial fee; there’s no reason to charge a client for doing what you should have been doing in the first place.
9. Always request confirmation of reception of deliveries, purchase orders, invoices, and quotes. This is especially true for deliveries. You don’t want a client to assume that you were being lazy or had forgotten about them when the server eats your mail, and with a confirmation you can be sure that they’ve received your submission.
10. Always be respectful and polite in regards to other translators as well as clients. For one thing, no one likes dealing with someone who constantly badmouths others; and on top of that, for all you know you may be missing out on amazing opportunities that a client would have introduced to you, had you not already expressed your dislike for someone else related to the projector company of origin.
Hopefully these ten items will be of use to you in your dealings. Next time, the list will continue with the DON’T’s.