Earning more for less time investment is known as working smarter, not harder – and here are a few tips to accomplishing this in your translation work.
All of life, I am convinced, can be broken down into processes. For the life of a freelance language translation professional, one of the stages every single one of us goes through is the epiphany that instead of seeking more clients and more projects on which to spend our limited conscious time, we should instead be seeking to raise our per-hour rates so we can make more money while working the same – or even fewer – hours.
You could call this the ‘Smarter Not Harder’ epiphany and it hits every one of us at different stages in our freelance careers – usually after we hit a wall when trying to increase our earnings the hard way, by getting more work.
More than Just Money
That’s low-hanging fruit, though. For the translation services professional who really wants to work smarter, getting your rate up is just the most obvious way. The next step is to use your time more wisely so you’re getting more work done in the same amount of time without having to break as much of a sweat. Combining a rising rate with a more efficient workflow eventually gets you to the point where you work as much as you want and earn as much as you need, without having to chase clients.
How do you do it? Here are four things to consider when overhauling your workflow and practices. None of these things is guaranteed to transform your earning potential, but working all four fronts at the same time will definitely at least make you more efficient.
1. Go Digital. You would be amazed to discover how many of our peers are still poring over thick printed reference materials instead of investing in digital versions. Having your reference materials on your computer offers so many advantages it’s hard to list them all, but the main ones would be: Constant updates keeping the information current, easy searching, easy copy and paste, and multimedia support. I could go on.
2. Translation Memory. Chances are you’re using a TM system or at least some sort of home grown database, but if you’re not – do it. Over time these databases and tools can speed up your work immeasurably as you don’t have to waste time re-translating common phrases over and over again.
3. Ask Up Front. When you get a new job from your client, ask a lot of questions about how they want the material delivered – format, file type, layouts, anything you can ask. The more you know going in to the beginning of the job the less time you waste getting revision requests because of layout problems or formatting errors.
4. Get Samples. When starting a job, ask if they’ve done recent projects. If so, ask for a sample. Seeing approved final work can help you get your job right the first time.
As I said: Nothing is a magic spell. But these four efficiencies will help you work smarter, not harder.
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