Guest post: 10 things translators need to know about machine translation 2

Meet Gwenydd Jonesa freelance Spanish to English translator and professional trainer. She has two MAs, the first in Translation Studies and the second in Legal Translation, and the DipTrans (CIOL). With 10 years’ experience, Gwenydd specializes in business, marketing and legal translation. She is also a copywriter.

Learn more about Gwenydd and some of the courses she offers by checking out her blog, translatorstudio.co.uk.


I don’t know about you, but I spend much of my life going from one translation project to the next. I want to learn about translation technology, but am always putting it off. Not my idea of fun. For me, m1074712_r55e018418b6a3achine translation is like the hologrammatic elephant in my home office.

Last June, I had to prepare a talk for the ProZ.com conference in Stockholm. Finally, an opportunity to confront the elephant. I set out to find answers to my questions, hoping to put my worries to rest. I wanted to find out: what is going on with machine translation? Is it a real threat to human translators? And if it is, what should we be doing about it?

In my webinar Your Essential Machine Translation Briefing, on 8 Feb, I’ll share what I found out. From the perspective of a technically challenged freelancer. In the first half, I’ll give you a summary of what is currently going on in machine translation. Then, I’ll share the strategies I’m employing in my work, to make sure I develop alongside automated translation. See you there!

In the meantime, here are a few things freelance translators need to know about machine translation.

  1. ‘Machine translation’ isn’t the same as ‘translation memory’ or ‘CAT tool’

Sometimes translators get these terms muddled up, which is understandable. A computer-assisted translation (CAT) tool is an application where you can write your translations. It uses translation memories (TMs) to keep a record of all your past work. Don’t confuse that with a machine translation (MT) engine. An MT engine is an application that automatically translates a text. You can integrate MT with your CAT tool, but they are two different pieces of software. They have different functions.

  1. Machine translation is more effective with certain text types

Since computers rely on data and rules, the more predictable a text, the better the output will likely be. Formulaic and simple texts work well. Creative and complex texts don’t. Life sciences, finance, IT and other technical genres lend themselves to machine translation. But while financial accounts are formulaic, an accountant’s blog is far less predictable. With the second, you may well be faster on your own, particularly if you use voice recognition.

  1. Machine translation engines get better results when they’re customised

Translators and companies that are serious about machine translation aren’t using Google Translate. They get their own machine translation engines and train them for a specific domain. They do this by inputting their translation memories. After that, they input more data on an ongoing basis, so the machine keeps adapting to them. This is how they get more accurate output. Then they post edit it and feed the final translation back into the machine. With a suitable text type, this helps them finish the translation faster than if they did it from scratch.

  1. Neural machine translation is a major change in the translation industry

The world of machine translation is starting to harness deep learning. This is based on neural networks. Neural networks have lots of uses in artificial intelligence. Language processing is one of them. So, computer scientists can use them to improve machine translation. Companies that are using neural machine translation include: Google, Microsoft and Facebook.

  1. Google Translate is now using neural machine translation in some language combinations

Google recently announced that it is using neural machine translation in Google Translate. For now, it is limited to certain language combinations. They rolled it out with a total of eight language pairs. All are to and from English, combined with French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Turkish. It’s free, but remember the data is public, so you can’t use it if you’ve signed a confidentiality agreement. Google Translate isn’t customised (see point 3), but it has lots of data. The jury is still out on how good the updated tool is.

  1. You can subscribe to your own machine translation engine and train it

You may not realise that companies that develop machine translation engines sell subscriptions. You can even pay to train your own engine using your translation memories. Post-editing isn’t just about an agency sending you texts. You can learn how to post edit, get a customised engine and then do whatever you want with it. The profits and control will be all yours.

  1. Companies that sell machine translation are battling for your business

If you want to try machine translation, you have to go shopping for a provider. The different companies that offer machine translation solutions (including SDL, Lilt and Systran) publish data to show how effective their software is. It’s all quite technical and confusing. And it can be biased. You can go to TAUS and the eMpTy Pages blog, for unbiased information.

Perhaps, like me, you prefer to see for yourself. One way of doing this is to observe yourself for a month in your work, and see how many words you average per hour. Then, pick whichever machine translation software takes your fancy and use it for a month. Track your turnover to see whether your hourly average gets faster or not. Then you’ll have your own data to tell you whether it’s worth continuing to invest.

  1. Machine translation isn’t currently replacing human translators

Improvements in machine translation don’t mean we’re all out of a job. But, it may mean our jobs will start to change. Commercial translation is often about getting an acceptable translation as quickly as possible. You can complete some texts faster by using customised machine translation and post-editing. And sometimes that is what the customer wants. As machine translation continues to get better, we can expect demand for post-editing to grow.

  1. Machine translation pricing isn’t set in stone, yet

While machine translation has a long history, it’s still being consolidated in our industry. Lots of translators and translation agencies are struggling to get their heads around it. Some translators are concerned that post-editing means lower pay. Certainly, ruthless agencies will try to use it as another way of driving prices down.

But, that doesn’t mean smart translators can’t use it to increase their profitability. Why shouldn’t we earn more on the days we work as post editors? If we learn about it, and talk about it, we’ll soon know how we want to price it. We’ll know when to refuse a job. Translators can choose to accept post-editing jobs only when they’re going to make more money for their time.

  1. Freelance translators have options regarding machine translation

We don’t all have to go running for the hills before the robots attack. Becoming a post editor is just one option open to us. If you like the idea of it, you could post edit for agencies. But, you could also subscribe to your own engine and use it in your work. If you don’t want to post edit, there are a host of specialisation and diversification options.

Whatever path you end up choosing, now is a good time to get informed and come up with a plan. If major changes do take place in our industry, I for one will be ready for them. Ready to adapt. To continue being the one who controls my career. To protect my rates, serve the direct customer competitively, and understand the jobs (and prices) agencies offer me.

I encourage you to join me at my webinar on 8 Feb, Your Essential Machine Translation Briefing. I’ll share everything I’ve found out about machine translation, in simple, unbiased terms. I’ll also tell you the strategies I’ve come up with, and am now employing in my work. Sign up here!

Everyone has to start somewhere. What about you? Reply

As they say, everyone has to start somewhere. And, with ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference just over a month away, I was curious to know how exactly the event speakers got started in their careers as professional translators and interpreters. Here’s what I found out:


Tanya Quintieri
Country: Czech Republic
Session: The Outsourcing Freelancer: Outsourcing in the context of workload & CRM (Client Relationship Management)
Outsourcing freelancer at The Translators, President of the DVÜD e. V., organizer of events for translators and interpreters. Certified translator (CoC) for German and English, specialized in marketing and transcreation. Mentor and mentee, blogger and digital native.

“How I got started in translation? I was in school for business administration and worked at a restaurant 5 nights a weeks to keep the money coming in. I had two small children at the time and I was hardly at home. I came across an ad one day in a local newspaper: An IT company was looking for a freelance translator for German into English. I had no idea about the translation business, but I figured I would give it a shot, after all, I was raised bilingual, and this seemed like a good opportunity to make more money with less work, from the comfort of my home. Little did I know back then that this does not automatically make you a good translator. This was back in 2002. Ever since, I have come a long way. It took me about 7 years to understand what translation is, what it needs to be professional, how to deal with translation buyers… Today, I head an association for freelance translators, I have some pretty cool clients in my client base, I no longer work 12+ hours a day nor 7 days a week, and I outsource quite a lot. But the best thing is, I still work with that very first client from back then.”

3099d458a25cea759387f1ced54cd0a5_judypetersonJudy Peterson
Country: Sweden
Session: Are you ready to edit? – Typical problems fixed by professional editors
Since 1984, Judy Petersen has been (1) writing, editing, indexing, translating, and planning publications; (2) managing publication projects; and (3) training writers, editors, and translators.

“I started my business while on maternity leave from IBM where I had worked as a technical writer, editor, and production manager. My plan was to become a highly paid freelance copywriter and editor for a handful of international ad agencies. Instead, they kept sending me stuff that needed translation. One client even told me that he wanted “sexy” – and not direct translation. So that’s what I delivered – and still deliver.”

1639697_r56cebb0698fa5Robin Joensuu
Country: Germany
Session: The art of giving and receiving substantial feedback
Robin Joensuu is an English into Swedish translator mainly working in the fields of IT, telecom, marketing, and engineering. He holds a Master of Arts in Literature, Culture and Media (Lund University), and has studied various additional university courses in different ways related to his line of work.

“You could say I got started in translation by chance. I had just received my MA degree in literature when I met my girlfriend and left Sweden for Berlin, Germany to be with her, planning to find a job as a bartender or as a hostel cleaner. Soon after my arrival, a friend of mine told me that what I now know is one of the worst and most notorious bottom feeder agencies were looking for English into Swedish translators. Since I had studied English, Swedish, and creative writing at the university, I applied and got accepted.

I knew absolutely nothing about the ‘translation industry’ and I was constantly looking for alternatives, because my work conditions were awful. I had no idea that you could make real money from translation and I constantly felt like I was fumbling around in the dark. But after a while of hard work I got over the threshold to the mid-market segment, I realized I was pretty good at my job, and things started working out really well. I have never looked back since and I have no intention of changing profession. This is the best job in the world.”

805aacd319440ad103fc09c77a0bf992_Erin_LyonsErin Lyons
Country: United States/Sweden
Erin M. Lyons is a French and Italian to English translator, medical writer and consultant, business owner, and an Adjunct Professor of Translation at the University of Maryland. Having recently moved to Stockholm, Erin is the local organizer of ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference.

“Right out of university, I started teaching English in Rome. I was assigned to teach English at a company to the marketing executives and when they discovered that I was multilingual, they asked me to try out some translations for them. I had no experience in translation, but really enjoyed the challenge and research. After spending a few years translating at the company, I went back to university to do my Master’s in Translation and have never looked back.”


How did you get started as a translator? Was it something you planned, or was it a career that you fell into? Share your “getting started” story in the comments section below or in this thread on the event’s Facebook page.

There’s still time to register to attend ProZ.com’s 2016 international conference on September 3rd and 4th in Stockholm, Sweden. Reserve your seat today at: http://www.proz.com/conference/683

And don’t forget to watch Erin’s video invitation to the conference here:

Guest post: The 3 myths about selling translations and how to make it work for you Reply


Today’s guest post contributor is best-selling author, speaker, and business owner Andrew Lawless.

This is Andrew’s first post in a two-part guest blog series on selling your translation services.


Myth 1: It’s about price, speed and quality

Translation can be easily viewed as a commodity business. The competition is huge and fierce. Many translators believe that they can only survive if they offer the lowest rates, better quality and quickest turn-around times – preferably all three at the same time.

It is true that many buyers of translation services look at translation like I see electricity. They want it cheap, instantly and of good quality. They simply just ask several translation service providers how much they charge per word and choose the lowest bidder.

It is also true that translation is not that two-dimensional, just as color and price are not the only factors in buying a car.

This is evidenced in a recent survey by Slator. It surveyed all 75 US government-certified language providers and discovered the cheapest average per-word rate for English-to-Spanish translation has a low of USD 0.08 and a high of USD 0.30. The priciest language pairs, English-Japanese and English-Korean, have offers ranging from USD 0.14 to USD 0.57.

So, why would someone pay USD 0.30 for a word translated into Spanish when they can get it for USD 0.08 from another vendor? In the end, it’s all about how you market and position yourself to your prospect customers.

For one, experienced buyers value a good translator, like a many of us value a plumber who shows up on time, is friendly, listens, does a great job as agreed, and leaves without leaving a mess behind. Experienced buyers pay a premium for translators that save them time, money and frustrations.

The Sankt-Hedwig hospital in Berlin, for example, would have welcomed better translations when their surgeons improperly transplanted artificial knees in 47 patients. Instead of using a procedure in which the artificial joints are being cemented without a shank or shaft, they were implanted without any cement. This happened because the term ‘non-modular cemented’ was wrongly translated as ‘zementfrei’, which means ‘does not need cement’ in German. So, surgeons put in the knees loose and patients needed a second surgery.

The secret is to build a list of customers who value the benefits that you bring and then foster a relationship with the people on that list. It’s not the quantity of people that are on your list. Otherwise, everybody in localization could buy a list of names from a database acquisition service and be a millionaire in no time.

That’s why in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services’ I will show you how to build a relationship with your audience, so that it becomes natural to buy from you.

Myth 2: Digital marketing is only for big LSP

Years ago, this statement might have been true. Today, not so much. Forrester Research Inc. reports that by 2017, 60% of sales will involve the Internet in some way, either as a direct e-commerce transaction or as part of a shopper’s research. Buyers of both products and services are online, connecting with other buyers on social media and evaluating options on their tablets and smartphones. As a result, modern customers are 65-90% of the way through the purchase decision process before they contact sales.

That’s different from 10 years ago when we were dependent on a sales person to show us what they thought were our best options. Today, buyers have all information upfront – and you will need to deliver that information to them.

While it is true that the higher your budget, the grander your digital marketing campaign can be, don’t assume that you need tens of thousands of dollars to get started. In fact, in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services’ I show how small-budget marketing campaigns can be very successful.

Many pitches from translation vendors are all so similar, it’s nearly impossible to discern the differences. The constant use of digital buzzwords can make it difficult to tell vendors apart. But asking a precise set of the right questions can make finding the right customer much easier. It’s like in job interviews – always good when the candidate has the right answers, even better when he or she asks the right questions.

What also leads to this most common myth about digital marketing is that many small businesses and freelancers believe that they have to generate and post new content every single day.

But the simple concept of dividing campaigns in marathons and sprints will keep your material fresh and readers interested. That’s why I focus on developing a consistent schedule where new material is published two to four times a month.

Remember, 96% of 18 – 29 year olds are online… and so are 93% of people 30-49, and 81% of 50-64. Your customer base is online – and if they can’t find your business… they’re probably looking at your competition.

Myth 3: Webinars don’t sell

Most business owners and freelancers view webinars as just a means to present a product or service. If you are one of them, you might think that webinars attract a lot of your competitors that want to learn more about you and copy one or the other thing from you. You might attract a few customers to view the webinar, but you won’t sell.

However, presentation of a product or service is only about 15% of an entire, well-integrated webinar strategy.

A truly effective webinar strategy involves 5 key stages (planning, pre, live, post, automated) and there will be cash exchange at the end of your presentation. A webinar is more than just showing a set of slides, a product demo and a Q&A session at the end.

Specifically, great webinars include strategic content that precisely aligns with your paid services or products. It also includes list building, email marketing plan, user engagement, and much more. And most importantly, there will be an exchange of cash at the end. A webinar strategy gives you the opportunity to grow your business at will.

I always highlight the importance of webinars in my workshop ‘Build your marketing machine to sell translation services.’ Many students in my course are stunned to learn how many opportunities a webinar can create – even if they do not have or own any content.

You can use webinars for Q&A sessions, inviting people to come ask you questions around a specific topic. Topic like ‘Grill the Consultant’ or ‘The Roast of the Translator’ can produce wonderful results. So can topics, such as, Best Kept Secrets, Common Mistakes or What’s Working Now.

What counts is that a webinar provides value to the audience. Great webinars solve a problem.


Interested in learning more from Andrew about selling your translation services?

On June 7th Andrew will be hosting a free webinar on “Three no-cost list building strategies.”

Learn more and register today »

Translator training: You have the knowledge, ProZ.com has the tools Reply

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Translators and interpreters make intercultural communication possible through language, sharing ideas and concepts with people throughout the world. It is important that they understand the substance of translated material, use up-to-date software and platforms, and keep an eye on new tendencies in the industry.

The ProZ.com training platform helps beginning and  experienced professionals alike to develop their skills and reach new levels in their careers. Sessions are offered one-on-one, live, or on-demand for greater flexibility in delivering content to translators, interpreters and language professionals. ProZ.com trainers are experienced freelancers and outstanding members of the ProZ.com community who have decided to share their knowledge and expertise with their colleagues through the site’s training platform.

More than 30,000 site users have participated in training sessions proposed through the ProZ.com training area. One of the most beloved training formats – webinars – are always of interest to translators as they allow site users to communicate with the trainer directly and get answers to their questions live. Webinar attendees also enjoy unlimited access to the video recording of the session as well as any course materials. Participants are awarded certificates of attendance after these sessions, some of which can be verified as credentials at ProZ.com.

Another great source of knowledge for translators and interpreters are tutorials on ProZ.com, as well as videos recorded during the site’s free webinar weeks. You only need an Internet connection and a headset/speakers to attend, and videos, can be watched in your free time and at your own pace.

“Being a trainer helps me in my own professional development. It is a great opportunity to share what I know with other translators.”

Over the past few years, trainers from 45 countries have generously shared their knowledge and expertise through ProZ.com’s training platform, on topics ranging from business skills and marketing to software and translation tools, services and specialization, project management, industry trends, and more. Among these trainers are experienced and well-known conference speakers; experts in medical, legal, technical, literary, and environmental fields; experienced marketing specialists; and technology aficionados. Despite their varying backgrounds and specialties, these trainers all share a passion for the translation profession, endless curiosity, readiness to take a risk with a new service, and a willingness to share what they have learned with their colleagues.

“I have been a trainer at ProZ.com since 2010 and have enjoyed it immensely. The ProZ.com Training Department provides an intuitive webinar platform as well as feedback and ideas for trainers to ensure success.”

Becoming a ProZ.com professional trainer requires no previous knowledge or experience with e-learning technologies, and the course creation process offers helpful tips and comprehensive guidelines on how to create an effective promotional page for a new training.

“The amount of support I get from the ProZ.com team is what has kept me as a trainer here for 5 years, even though I have my own web-based school.  I love the ease of the communication, the extraordinarily good suggestions, the initial in-depth discussions we had when I was just starting, and the intelligent comments I receive today. Thank you for encouraging me to  become a trainer, making it possible afterwards, providing the specialized platform and technology support, creating the marketing packages, and – best of all – giving me the opportunity to work with an amazing team!”

The new year has come bringing a lot to the translation industry. Let’s learn together about new tendencies and tips for translators through training at ProZ.com.


About HelenHelen

Helen Shepelenko is a ProZ.com staff member working out of the site’s office in Kharkiv, Ukraine. As the manager of ProZ.com’s training area, Helen oversees the recruitment of new site trainers, and reviews proposals and suggestions for courses offered through the platform. If you are an experienced language professional and are interested in sharing your knowledge with the ProZ.com community, please contact Helen through the Trainers section of the site: http://www.proz.com/translator-training/trainers/

Mar del Plata, playa, sol… ¡y seminario de ProZ.com! ¿Qué más se puede pedir? Reply

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¡Hola! Soy Paula Durrosier, traductora recientemente egresada de la UNLP y oriunda de la Ciudad de Mar del Plata. Hace unos meses que integro el equipo de ProZ.com en Argentina y en esta ocasión me gustaría invitar a toda la comunidad ProZiana local a visitar mi cuidad de origen y aprovechar la oportunidad para aprender, conectarse con colegas y pasarla bien en la séptima edición del seminario “La traducción como actividad independiente: secretos y estrategias para tener éxito” que se va a realizar el sábado 28 de noviembre en la Universidad CAECE.

Este seminario de jornada completa está orientado tanto a estudiantes de traducción, como a profesionales que estén dando sus primeros pasos en la profesión. De la mano de Juan Manuel Macarlupu Peña, un joven profesional con una vasta trayectoria en el mercado de la traducción, y de Enrique Cavalitto, ingeniero, miembro del PMI y también parte del equipo de ProZ.com, el seminario trae las respuestas a todas las preguntas que tiene un profesional de la lengua en sus comienzos:

  • ¿Cómo se plantea la traducción como profesión y como negocio?
  • ¿Qué posibilidades de trabajo existen para un traductor?
  • ¿Cuáles son las ventajas y las desventajas del trabajo independiente y del trabajo en relación de dependencia?
  • ¿Qué herramientas informáticas debe saber usar un traductor?
  • ¿Cómo se gestiona un negocio de traducción y qué riesgos existen?
  • ¿Cómo se consiguen clientes?
  • ¡Y más!

Además, todo el que quiera y ande cerca, puede unirse al grupo de asistentes al seminario en una merienda grupal a las 18:00 horas en Antares (Olavarría 2724).

Yo ya me anoté, ¿y vos? ¡Sumáte! Para más información sobre el seminario (programa, ponentes, precio), visitá la página oficial del evento: http://www.proz.com/conference/673

¡Nos vemos el 28 en Mar del Plata!

Are you ready for free webinar week? 1

It’s that time of year again! From November 2nd to the 6th, ProZ.com will be hosting a week-long series of free webinars, giving attendees the opportunity to sit in on workshops and informational presentations on CAT tools and other translation technologies.


Across Personal Edition for NewcomersAcross Personal Edition for Newcomers
Time: November 2nd at 13:00 GMT
Trainer: Andreas Rodemann

Have you downloaded your free Across Personal Edition and would you like to start translating right away? This webinar will provide you with the needed basic skills for a successful jump-start. We will give you a brief overview of the main features and explain the first steps with Across in a straightforward way. Among other things, you will learn how to set up relations and languages, use the translation memory and terminology system, set up translation projects, work in the translation editor, and check out finished documents. Armed with these basic skills, you will quickly get accustomed to your Across Personal Edition and will have no problems processing your first translation projects.

A beginners guide to SDL Trados Studio 2015A beginners guide to SDL Trados Studio 2015
Time: November 2nd at 15:00 GMT
Trainers: Ed Flower & Emilie Shannon

This webinar will include an overview presentation and a live demonstration of SDL Trados Studio 2015:

  • A basic introduction to Studio 2015
  • A walk through of the user interface
  • How to create and add a Translation Memory
  • How to create and add a Termbase
  • How to add an AutoSuggest Dictionary and get the most from the new AutoSuggest 2.0 feature

Atril – Unleash the potential of Déjà Vu X3 CAT toolAtril - Unleash the potential of Déjà Vu X3 CAT tool
Time: November 3rd at 15:00 GMT
Trainer: Claudio Duarte da Costa

Déjà Vu X3 Professional helps you achieve high-quality translations easily, quickly and efficiently. Join us to discover or improve how you can take full advantage of the potential of Déja Vu X3. We will go over the technology that exists only in Déjà Vu: DeepMiner, AutoWrite, Fuzzy Match Repair and File compability and Interoperability. In addition, we will cover some classic features: Alignment, Analysis, Pre-Translation, AutoTranslate, AutoPropagate, and AutoSearch.

TM Town – Getting the Most out of Your Translation MemoriesTM Town - Getting the Most out of Your Translation Memories
Time: November 4th at 13:00 GMT
Trainer: Kevin Dias

This webinar will go over how to get the most out of your translation memories through TM-Town’s unique translation platform. I will demo different features of TM-Town including:

  • Loading your work into TM-Town’s safe and secure system
  • Creating new multilingual termbases from terms automatically extracted from your text
  • Productivity analysis tools
  • Automatic text alignment
  • Searching your TMs
  • Selling your terminology glossaries on TM-Town’s Terminology Marketplace

MateCat - a free online CAT tool which integrates collaborative TM and MTMateCat – a free online CAT tool which integrates collaborative TM and MT
Time: November 4th at 15:00 GMT
Trainer: Alessandro Cattelan

Learn how to use MateCat – a completely free and online translation tool for LSPs and freelancers that handles 100 languages and most of the file formats used in the industry, including scanned images. Disrupting the current status quo: Offering for free what used to be charged thousands of dollars.

memoQ tips & tricksmemoQ tips & tricks
Time: November 4th at 17:00 GMT
Trainer: István Lengyel

memoQ is well-known for its unique productivity boosters. In this webinar was designed for freelance translators and reviewers, and the following features & concepts will be discussed:

  • Drag & Drop with default project template
  • The one TM and term base per language pair is a really helpful initiative for new users of memoQ and dragging and dropping files to do this makes it even easier
  • Using LiveDocs alignment
  • Using reference files in LiveDocs – If using this show how a translator can see the context of the file by right clicking on it
  • Using MatchPatch
  • Sharing TMs through LT

What makes CafeTran unique?What makes CafeTran unique?
Time: November 5th at 13:00 GMT
Trainer: Hans Lenting

This webinar will guide you in:

  • Creating a first project
  • Opening a legacy TM
  • Adding glossary entries
  • CafeTran’s unique Finding and Replacing features
  • CafeTran’s Drag & Drop concept for the Dashboard and the Target language pane

Star - Right word, right place - How do I use and maintain terminology dictionaries?STAR – Right word, right place – How do I use and maintain terminology dictionaries?
Time: November 6th at 13:00 GMT
Trainer: Kerstin Froese

To start with, you will see how easy it is to create a new database and dictionary. With this dictionary you will learn more about structures and fields that you can use in your terminology work. Next, we will put this into practice by viewing, searching, filtering, and editing terminology. Finally, we will show you various useful key combinations that will make your (terminological) life easier.


You can find the full list of all free webinars offered on ProZ.com – including a session on how to meet clients at ProZ.com – here: http://www.proz.com/translator-training/format/free-webinars

Any questions? Check out the free webinar week FAQs.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Guest post: Effective email communication with the customer for a translator Reply

Anastasia Kozhukhova is an English to Russian language professional specializing in legal and marketing texts as well as website localization. In addition to being a successful freelance translator, Anastasia is also a ProZ.com professional trainer, sharing insight that she’s gained throughout her career with the community. In today’s guest post, Anastasia shares some tips on how to effectively communicate with clients. 


“A good business letter can get you a job interview, get you off the hook, or get you money. It’s totally asinine to blow your chances of getting whatever you want with a business letter that turns people off instead of turning them on.”

Malcolm Forbes

Anastasia_KozhukhovaFor the last three months I have been thoroughly studying the issue of communication with clients from the point of view of translation business and discovered a paradox – though Translators usually make their translations in a clear and concise manner (at least, they are expected to), very often their business writing and communication with the clients lacks this persuasiveness and conciseness. As a result, many Translators do not get the results they want when cooperating with their customers.

Being Language Specialists, we must understand that each email we write is a snapshot of our writing skills. Without well-written communication it is unlikely a Translator will achieve success in the translation business on the whole. The thing is that many Translators do not know the difference between usual writing and business communication. Meanwhile, good business writing implies more than simply following the rules of Grammar. In today’s age of digital job hunting and endless online searches, email communication implies:

  • Expressing your ideas in a clear manner so that you reach your objective in each email (reach the client you want to cooperate with or win the project you want to translate);

  • Impressing your clients so that they hear your voice among the noise of hundreds of other applicants;

  • Understanding your target audience perfectly (you should know who is going to read your email).

On the whole, business communication experts describe business writing as follows:

  • Conversational but not too chatty;

  • Crystal clear, but not too simplistic;

  • Professional and polite, but not too formal

  • Action-oriented (it should encourage the reader to take specific actions)

However, it is not that easy to use these principles in practice and many freelancers keep on making the same mistakes when writing cover letters to their prospective clients. The most common of them are as follows:

  • Using ready-made templates from the Internet (When applying to a job post many Translators use cut-and-paste emails for every application. However, using one and the same template for all of your clients will never increase the number of your projects.)

  • Not mentioning the name of the Recipient (emails starting with Dear Sir/Madam)

  • Talking only about yourself, your skills and experience without linking these points with the client’s needs

  • Writing too long emails with long paragraphs without highlighting any key words (causing problems for Hiring Managers who tend to scan emails instead of reading them thoroughly)

  • Making dull endings without call to action (e.g. Thank you for your time. Please feel free to contact me at xxx@mail.com.)

  • Lack of proofreading which results in typos and lazy writing (e.g. pls, thanks) which is unacceptable in business communication

Today I will tell about one aspect which I consider to be one of the most important ones in communication with clients when you just start cooperating with them and want to prove that you deserve being their reliable partner when it concerns supply of translation services.

This aspect is about being READER-FOCUSED in each email you send to your customers. I am sure that you have already heard and read a lot about focusing on your client. But how can we achieve this in practice? This remains a confusing question for many freelancers.

This is true that people like reading only about themselves and their problems. They are not interested to know about your professional experience and skills even if the latter are really outstanding. The clients only want to know how you can solve their problems and make their life easier. To achieve this and motivate the prospective clients to read your emails, I suggest focusing on using You/Your pronouns instead of I/My in each email you send. Below you will find some examples of how in one and the same idea we can shift the focus from ourselves and our achievements to the customer’s needs and problems.

So, please compare:

  1. Responding to a job post on ProZ.com (beginning of the cover letter):

Wrong:

Dear Tom,

I am writing to apply for the position of a Freelance Translator published today on ProZ.com. Let me introduce myself. My name is XXX. I am English to Italian Translator with 10 years of experience and excellent language skills. Since 2006 I have cooperated with many companies…

Right:

Dear Mr. Smith,

I am contacting you concerning your job posting at Proz.com. As I understand, you are looking for an EN-IT Translator to translate your marketing brochure in a compelling manner by March 14th

As you see, in the first sample the Translator applying to a job post focuses only on himself and does not make an attempt to link his skills with the requirements of the company mentioned in the advertisement. In the second sample the Translator does his best to emphasize that first of all he carefully read the job post and understood the customer’s problem and main requirements.

  1. Asking the customer for further details of cooperation:

Please let me know your time zone so that I take it into account for my convenience

Please let me know your time zone, so that you can receive translations from me at the time convenient for you.

From these samples you can see how you can shift the focus to your customer even when asking such simple and routine questions like these. Please mind the usage of pronouns I and You in these samples.

  1. And one more example – Sending an update informing your customer about the new services you can provide):

I am pleased to inform you that now I have built my team consisting of Professional Translators, Editors and a Designer and that we are open and ready to accept larger projects and provide translations in a timely manner. Your projects will be turned around more quickly and you will enjoy a higher degree of accuracy than was previously available, because I have built my own team of Professional Translators, Editors and Designers which is now ready to work for your business.

So, now you see how powerful the usage of pronouns and shifting the focus to the customer can be in business communication with both your prospective and recent clients.

Start applying these easy-to-use principles in your daily business communication and see how quickly your results and effectiveness will increase and how many new projects you will get!

If you are interested in making your email communication even more effective (especially with your prospective customers), you are welcome to attend my Webinar on ProZ.com which will take place on July 28 and which is called “Effective Email Communication with the Customer for a Translator”.

During this Webinar you will receive many more examples of making your business writing reader-focused and learn how to provide solutions to the customers’ problems so that they choose YOU as their translation services partner. You will also find useful tips on how to effectively communicate with the customer in other situations:

– when submitting a quote via ProZ

– sending your CV to a prospective direct client

– accepting or rejecting a job offer

– sending an update on your skills and services, so that to keep your customers engaged.

I will be glad to see all of you on July 28th and wish you good luck in improving your business writing right after reading this article!


Thanks to Anastasia for sharing this information with us!proz-101-events

There are still a few more seats available for tomorrow’s training session, which will elaborate on some of the communication strategies touched on in this post. To register, please visit: http://www.proz.com/translator-training/course/12214-effective_email_communication_with_the_customer_for_a_translator

Be sure to check out upcoming training sessions and on-demand videos offered by Anastasia – covering topics ranging from CV writing to finding high-end clients – here: http://www.proz.com/translator-training/trainers/1234/courses

I hope you enjoyed this guest post. As always, comments, feedback, and suggestions for future topics can be submitted below or via Twitter @ProZcom