Translation requires a lot of skills and talent. But according to distinguished translators, it’s not enough to know the rules. For those wanting or planning to be a translator, here are some secrets that are essential for you to know
1. Have all the necessary equipment
Before you start a translation job, make sure that you have all the tools that you need. Of course there’s your pen and paper, your computer and your coffee to keep you awake, but you also need other tools for the task you are about to work on. Dictionaries and encyclopedias are always handy. Idiom dictionaries and bi-lingual dictionaries also simplify the work. Electronic dictionaries can also save you precious time when looking for words or phrases you need. Speech recognition, CAT or Computer Assisted Translation tools are always present in translation projects. For some, even Google Translate help them with their translation projects. Having these tools with you and preparing them in advance before you start a project can simplify the work and save you more time and effort.
2. Don’t specialize
Be a generalist. There are not enough translators around, that’s why it’s not really advisable to specialize in translating one or two languages. But for some, it is wise to do so since you can have a niche market and you can get more direct clients. However, working for specific clients or specific languages may also mean that you are translating commonly translated languages that can’t really give you a bigger salary. Try to start off with a specialization, and then learn new languages to translate as you go along. You don’t only educate yourself in the process, but this can also give you a wider variety of clients. And by doing so, you can start demanding for higher rates as well. But if you do want to specialize in a certain language to translate, make sure that what you choose is one that is not so in demand so that you won’t get a lot of competition.
3. Learn how to listen and get the idea
And I don’t mean just listen or read just for the sake of doing so, but listen or read and understand. Listen to what your clients wants, listen to what your clients are asking from you. Just listen. A secret to a good translation is getting the general or main idea of what you are translating and make parts of the text understandable. Pay attention to what you are reading or listening to so that you would know which words are appropriate to use when you translate the material. Even if you think you already know what you are going to do or already have an idea about the task, never be afraid to listen and understand again just to make sure that what you are doing is precise and high quality.
4. Ask a native speaker about your work
Even the best translators need help at times and it’s not wrong to admit that you can still learn from others even if you think you’re the best. You can check and recheck your work when you’re done with it, but there might be times that you would feel that there’s something missing or worse, something wrong with your work. So, what better way to check than to ask the help of a native speaker to proofread your work? They will not only check you work for mistakes or discrepancies; they may also give you suggestions on how to translate their language better or easier. Native speakers can also make your text sound more natural and relatable. Some translators even go the length of contacting the authors of the materials they are translating to ask for suggestions and tips.
5. Be reasonable with your rate
Right after finding the right clients, you need to determine your rate. Translator salaries vary from earning ten cents per word to six figures every month. But if you are just starting out as a translator, be reasonable with your rate but also be competitive. Make sure that the rate you give your clients is worth the quality of work you are going to present to them. You must consider your target market and your competition to determine your price. There are a lot of companies that might be offering the same services as you so be sure to give your best at what you do, start off with a low rate, and just ask for a raise after you have proven your worth to your clients. Remember, no businessman or woman became successful in a day.
6. Have the right attitude
Every person who has already succeeded in their chosen fields or are already earning more than they ever imagined would tell you to love your work. Love everything about what you do and you will be a success in no time. Love your work and appreciate the lifestyle that comes with being a translator. Translators are usually not over-worked; they are not the over –caffeinated, overly stressed out workers most people imagine. Love what you do enough that even if you are making six figures already, you are still humble enough to share your success stories and secrets to others for them to have the chance to be as successful as you. Also, having the right attitude would show when you are closing a deal with new clients. Having the right attitude would also lead to having the right clients.
7. Be a chameleon
Different writers have different styles of writing. It’s the same with translators; however, they really cannot force their writing styles. You need to adapt to how the author wants you to portray his or her work down to the last detail. It is as important as conveying the meaning of what you are translating as some readers might blame the translation if they don’t like some aspects of the story or its plot; giving stress to “being lost in translation”.