As a freelance translation professional chances are you will work with Localisation Companies – your relationship with them should be value your work.
When I’m asked for advice by budding freelance translation professionals, my advice varies depending on who I’m talking to and what I’ve been experiencing lately. Sometimes my advice centres on practical things like how much to charge and how to gain experience, sometimes it’s a little deeper and more about the details of the freelance translation life.
For example, a lot of inexperienced translation workers don’t really understand the significance of Localisation Companies and the impact their relationship with them will have on their careers. In a nutshell, you’ll end up working with a lot of Localisation Companies, and how you manage those relationships will decide whether you’re happy in your work or not. The Localisation Company you choose to work with can either be a lodestone around your neck, or a necessary and vital buffer between you and the realities of the market.
Cost and Speed vs. Quality
No matter how skilled you are, no matter how great a translation professional you aim to be, you will very quickly have to deal with the ancient market struggle between your desire to do good work and earn a living wage from it and the customer’s desire to get that work faster and cheaper, faster and cheaper – an endless two-steps back sort of tidal cycle. Clients always emphasize the speed of the work and the cost of the work, and simply assume that no matter how little they pay or how quickly they demand that work, they will get absolutely top-quality work.
A Localisation Company should be a buffer between you and these demands. Certainly, they will always seek to satisfy their customers and accommodate these requirements, which means they will turn around and put pressure on you as the translation expert to work faster and work cheaper. But a good Localisation Company is one that values your skill and understands that there are limits: The faster you work, the worse your output, and the less they pay the less you’ll care about that output. You’ll encounter companies that don’t seem to care, who simply pressure you to work more and faster. A good relationship, however, should make you feel like you’re protected from this.
Signs of a Bad Relationship
Of course, it’s not always easy to tell at the outset that a Localisation Company will be a poor partner, but there are some early signs. When they’re recruiting you, you can often tell what their focus is going to be: Are they fixated on turn-arounds? Are they very demanding about your availability? Do they immediately try to negotiate down your rates? If you already feel battered and attacked in the interview process that gives you a clear sign of what your working relationship will be.
Certainly, speed and cost will always be huge factors in the translation world. But they shouldn’t be the only factors, and your Localisation Company should insulate you from the worst of it.
Image courtesy speakfactory.com