Translation is a profession that often gets undervalued not only by people unrelated to the industry, but sometimes even by aspiring translators only entering the profession. It is no piece of cake, especially if you’re thinking about going freelance. It’s because it takes much more than an impeccable command of a language to succeed in this field. What are some of the most common mistakes that translators make during the early stages of their careers?
Common mistakes of novice translators
#1 Agreeing to very low rates
At the start of their career, novice translators might feel tempted to start with lower rates in an attempt to land more jobs and gain valuable experience. However, the strategy of dumping your rates might prove counter effective and inefficient in the long run. You will end up having to take on too many projects to earn any decent money, which may take a heavy toll on the quality of your service. Another possible disadvantage is that it might hinder your work satisfaction.
#2 Being afraid to turn down a job
As a beginner, you might be reluctant to turn down a project, for fear of losing a client. But if you take up too much work or engage in a project that is outside your area of expertise, you may risk missing a deadline. This will likely harm your reputation and raise doubts about your professionalism.
#3 Lack of specialization
You might be tempted to think that by choosing a specialization, you will actively limit your possibilities and decrease the chances of reaching a wide clientele. It may mean you’d have to turn down projects outside of your area of expertise, but this approach might prove highly beneficial in the long run. Having a clear specialization will make you stand out and contribute to your image of a true professional. Money-wise this may also be a good decision, especially if your specialization is not very popular and you won’t have to worry about competition.
#4 Poor communication with clients
When you’re just starting out and don’t yet have a lot of experience, it’s important to try to maintain a good reputation. You can’t afford to have your clients wait for too long for an e-mail. Make sure you respond to all the communications promptly, so that your clients know you’re reliable and trustworthy. Never hesitate to ask questions when accepting a new project, especially when something is unclear and needs further clarification.
#5 Undervaluing the power of networking
The truth about freelancing is that you must make yourself seen (and stand out!), so that other people can hire you. Never underestimate the value of networking and try to find some time for marketing on a regular basis. It never hurts to join a professional organization or take interest in translator events and conferences. It will give you more credibility and a chance to keep current with the changes within the industry.
#6 Not using CAT tools
One of the common mistakes is not using any of the computer-assisted translation tools. Many new translators don’t realize how useful they can be. Using a CAT tool in your daily routine makes you faster and more efficient. It is also helpful in keeping all of your terminology consistent. It is a must if you want to stay competitive and/or are planning to work for a translation agency (some of them won’t even register you for work if you don’t use a CAT tool). If you’re still a translation student, you can benefit from Atril’s Academic Partnership and get yourself familiarized with Déja Vu free of charge. Dozens of universities across Europe have already joined the program. If you’re unsure whether a CAT tool is worth investing your money in, read out CAT tools-related myths.