In every relationship, whether it be business or personal, trust is very important.
In every relationship, whether it be business or personal, trust is very important. Unfortunately, for freelance translators looking for online work, this can sometimes be a tall order because there are many unscrupulous agencies just waiting to be approached by inexperienced translators. There probably isn’t a translator out there who doesn’t have their own horror story of working with an unscrupulous translation agency; and this might include unreasonable expectations, having to deal with rude and demanding Project Managers, late payment (or even worse, no payment at all), right through to being forced to take legal action in order to receive payment for the work they’ve completed. And on the other side of the coin, most translators have worked with great translation agencies; the ones that are efficient and pleasant to deal with, provide a steady stream of work, and agencies that always pay on time.
Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to tell which category your new translation client will fall into until you’ve completed the work and it’s too late; so in this article, we’ll offer our advice on how to spot both good and bad translation agencies right from the get-go.
- Good Communication Is Vitally Important
In every relationship, communication is key. Once you’ve made initial contact with a new translation agency, they should respond to emails and phone calls without any delay and be courteous and clear in their requests. They may ask you to complete their online form, ask you to undertake a translation sample, or request your financial information for payment purposes. There may be a contract to sign or an online training module for you to complete, and none of these should be deal breakers. Quite the contrary actually, because a certain amount of paperwork is a healthy sign that the company is above board. In an ideal situation, you’ll be dealing with only one contact person and not being bamboozled with emails from different departments all asking for the same being. The point here is that if they’re not able to communicate effectively within their own business, they’re probably not going to be able to communicate effectively with you.
- Get Your Instructions in Writing
When a translation agency approaches you with a job offer, it should be very clear as to their expectations regarding the price, the deadline, and other requirements involving the text. Don’t start any job until you have their instructions, in writing, to commence. Ideally, you’ll have a project order number, and this should be used on all your communications with the agency, including your invoice. We know that not all translation agencies use project order numbers, but either way, you still need written confirmation that you can proceed with the translation.
- Is the Agency Happy to Discuss Translation Issues with You?
When you’re working on a translation project and you encounter an unforeseen problem or have a query and need to contact the agency, it’s important that they’re (first of all) available, and (secondly) happy to assist in any way they can. It’s the agency’s responsibility to ensure that the client receives the best quality translation, so it’s not a very good sign if they show no interest in working with you. Obviously, you shouldn’t annoy them with endless small questions, but if you’re seriously encountering problems with the translation, it’s their duty to work together with you to ensure that the translation delivered to the end client is accurate and of high quality.