Not everyone is an experienced professional translator. It is a demanding field that requires great commitment and natural talent because, as a translator, you must constantly produce perfectly translated texts. As a translator, you must have the right linguistic and subject matter expertise no matter the project.
Here we will look into different dimensions when selecting your translation service to provide;
- Core competency translation skills
- Personal translation qualities
- Crucial freelance translation business skills
- Nice to have translation abilities
1. Essential core competency translator skills
These highlight the basic translator skills you need to consider when choosing your translation service provider.
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Advanced in different language knowledge
You can only translate something you best understand. Once the translator does not understand the text fully, there is a big risk of misinterpretation and delivering a text or a completely inaccurate translation. As a good translator, you need to understand all meanings, including the subtle nuances involved in the text. The professional understanding level requires a near-native level and good knowledge of your source of language.
As a good translator, you can gain advanced language knowledge through;
- Studying; involves doing lots of research in your language or different languages of your interest
- Reading widely
- Becoming an addicted consumer of source language media
- Visiting of source language destination regularly in case you are living in a different place
Excellent writing skills
To be a known professional translator, you must be immensely good at writing easily in your target language. You must always have the ability to write with flair and have a way with every word and do a variety of text styles like; promotional, marketing, technical, formal and many others. It is a skill you can always improve in and have experience over time through;
- Developing and doing a writing course
- Gaining from friends on how they translate things, wording and the variety of expression they use
- Noting down wording, you come across that are of your interests and add them to your repertoire.
- You are reading your translation loud enough to enable you to pick up the unnatural words or phrases.
In-depth cultural knowledge
A good professional translator must have a deep understanding of both the sources and the target cultures. He must understand different value systems and how people view the world, and culture-specific aspects like customs and more. The cultural knowledge helps you grasp the significance or implication of the texts and words you are translating.
A translator can extend his cultural knowledge through;
- Spending a lot of time in both target and source culture countries
- Consuming the media in both the languages
- Attending and participating in the cultural events
- Doing enough research on the cultures, you haven’t personally experienced
Sound Research Skills
As a good translator, you must have a profound response in researching wording, meanings, jargon, background, vocab and many more. A translator, however, can refine the research skills through
- Leaning the tricks on how to refine the google search engines
- Seeing and learning from your peers
- Bookmaking your most useful reference sources
- Asking from the translator forums in different platforms
Sound translation judgment
To be a good translator, you must make good translation judgments on things like the vocabulary to use, when to be more literal, what to research, how to conduct the research, and many more. These are always instinctive, but through effort, any translator can improve on these basic skills.
An easier way to improve your translation judgment is by; gaining experience in general knowledge. The more you translate, the better you will get, especially to those receiving constructive feedback.
Computing and the CAT skills
You must have an excellent command of the commonly used office programs like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and you must also be an expert in choosing the TM software.
However, you can always improve your computing skills by;
- Taking chances on free online Microsoft training
- Watching and taking online tutorials either on YouTube on how to manage the TM Microsoft
- Comparing notes with friends on TM productivity tips
2. Personal qualities every good translator must have
Any translator who does not have these qualities will not produce consistent quality and accurate well-worded texts.
Attention to detail
This quality enables translators to produce consistently fully accurate well-worded translations.
The internal willingness, energy, and drive constantly push you to do what you have to be doing and make you go the extra mile in whatever you do.
A professional translator must manage their time well, be efficient in what they do and have excellent record keeping.
You must always be responding promptly to your clients and always meet their deadlines.
A good translator should take non-standard translation projects from unusual clients and consider the reviewer’s critiques and suggestions with an open mind.
You must always by the rules and maintain confidentiality, observe business ethics, respect the clients, and maintain the suppliers’ relationships.
A good translator must professionally present himself. This quality will always aspire you to produce quality work constantly.
These qualities are always inherent personality traits, and they define your quality.
3. Critical business skills every good freelance translator have
A freelance is someone in business, and you need these skills to ensure your translation business is successful.
A client focus
A successful business person must always look at things from the client’s point of view. You constantly need to ask yourself what your clients want. Once this mindset is developed, everything will always fall into your line.
Most of the translation clients always seek the assurance that you will get a good job and that everything is on track as a translator. By assuring your clients, you must be;
- Responding promptly to your clients
- Easy to reach by the clients
- Always professional-oriented
- Doing what clients want whenever possible
- Proactive when looking after the client’s interest
Good communication skills
Clarity is always the key. As a translator, learn always to take your time and ensure no misunderstanding and mere confusion over what you mean. Learn to use a business-like tone when submitting the written texts and be succinct.
A translator must be a skilled writer, and it should always come naturally. When communicating through the phone, be polite, business-like and friendly.
A professional image
Every client would want to deal with someone who is professionally oriented. Therefore, you need to always protect your professional image in everything you do and in all components of your business that a client may potentially see.
Creation of professional image;
- Make sure that when sending emails, they are well laid and accompanied with a quality signature.
- Reviewing of your website content, focus and the design
- Ensuring your translations are always attractive to the client and are nicely formatted
- Responding promptly to client requests
- Brief, direct to the point and professionally answering clients’ phone calls.
Business system knowledge
A professional translation service provider should have basic sound systems that consist of the following;
Money: Receivables, banking, invoices, accounting
Compliance: the business registration and renewal fees, returns recorded in your day to day occurrences
Security: Safety of your website, emails, records and files
Record Keeping: the working files and all the required regulations
4. Translator nice-to-have abilities
These abilities make a distinct difference in your translation profession.
Ability to specialize
The specialization may be the domain you have a formal qualification in, a field you have been working in, and you are very experienced in, or in a subject area that you have researched.
Advantages of specialization
- Familiarity with the used terminologies. It will help you research and relate to the words faster.
- You will be in a position of using the right style
- You can charge more because it is your area of expertise
- It is easy to target and market to the new clients
How you can develop your specialization
- Getting a formal qualification in your area of expertise
- Researching and studying the subject area until you become an expert in it
- Finding or creating your specialist glossaries
Marketing and sales ability
Not everyone is good at marketing. Marketing helps you reach a wide range of potential clients.
A professional translation service provider must know his target audience and direct adverts that best market his expertise.
Ability in networking
Networking helps you improve your business portfolio. The networking helps you meet clients who are potentially looking for your service. The internet will help and guide your business to grow because, through your profile, clients can easily know who you are, where you are located, how to contact and connect with you and what you do best.
If you are efficient with not, it will boost you in quoting, invoicing, accounting. Good numeracy skills help you do calculations quicker and innate sense whenever something is not right.
However, when you are not proficient in numbers, the following tips will help you in your numeracy skills;
- We are using mathematical tools available around you like calculators or using the available formulas in Microsoft excel.
- Doing sanity checking on every work before submitting it to the client
- Considering the use of project management software that is equipped with largely automated quoting functions.
- You are getting efficient in numbers to double-check your work or delegate the tasks to them.
It implies the extent to which you understand your business and being in a position to recognize viable opportunities to expand and improve the business. Some people are experts in always finding better ways of conducting things and from far can sense the business opportunity.
Ways in developing grater business nous;
- Intensely analyze what you do, taking key consideration on how you make your income, the production line, how you spend and manage your time. Through this, you will always have bare potential areas for growth and improvement.
- Acquiring a business mentor
- Self-education; reading business books and business articles to acquire and gain a better understanding of how the business should run and better ways in operation
- We are learning from successful business colleagues.
There are various characteristics that people look for when considering potential translators. When one spends a long time detailed to produce a document, they want them and make sure that the quality of the produced work is accurately conveyed in the translated version. Translation can be stressful at times. Translators have to be aware of the tone, attitude and traditions that distinguish various cultures.