10 tips for freelance translators working with agencies

Wednesday 11 November 2015

If you are a freelance translator then you may have found that sourcing and acquiring translation work can be difficult, especially in the early stages of your career. It is therefore often appealing to wish to partner up with a translation agency in order to secure a steady stream of work and to not have to worry about additional elements such as marketing, sales and customer service.

Before approaching translation agencies, however, there are a number of key considerations to be aware of in order that you not only improve your skills as a professional translator, but also make yourself infinitely more attractive to translation agencies when bidding for work.

  1. Always deliver high-quality work
    It goes without saying that the only way you will get repeat business is if your work is high quality. If possible, get your work proofed by someone else within the industry prior to submission. As well as the accuracy of your translation, the quality of your document formatting will also be crucial. Ensure that you fully understand in what format your translation is required so as to avoid someone within the agency having to tidy up your work.
  2. Be polite
    Simple manners and courtesy go a long way in a crowded and competitive market, be nice.
  3. Have an accurate CV
    The worst thing you can do is lie about your experience, this is one way route to cutting yourself off from the possibility of future work within the industry.There are lots of scams within the translation industry with fake CVs being submitted. Ensure yours is 100% truthful, honest and an accurate reflection of your translation qualifications and experience.
  4. Be able to demonstrate previous work
    Anyone hoping to assign work to you will expect you to give examples of past translations. You could list these on your CV.
  5. Be considerate
    Your role is to assist and be accountable to your translation agency. Always be as helpful and proactive as possible if you wish to be used again.
  6. Consider time zones
    The translation industry more than most is subject to having to work with colleagues all over the world. Bear this in mind when making calls and aim to have emails sent in time for the agency’s work day.
  7. Be dependable
    Agencies do not like to be let down. Stick to the brief and submit work by the deadline specified. Learning to plan ahead and setting up a schedule will help you to keep on track with your projects.
  8. Understand that you may get paid less
    Some people automatically believe they will be paid more by working for themselves. Bear in mind an agency will take a top-slice of payment on your job and this is the cost of them sending the work to you rather than you having to source jobs yourself.
  9. Relinquish some control
    Even though as a freelancer you work for yourself, when working with an agency it is important to understand that their requirements come first and in some cases, such as translations required for court proceedings, your level of service and commitment can have a huge impact.
  10. Added value
    Always try to ensure that you meet or exceed the expectations of the agency.  This will make you stand out as a ‘go-to’ supplier. Be careful not to over-service as this could leave you out of pocket but often being extra helpful here and there, e.g., taking on smaller-scale jobs or short-notice jobs, when asked, will ensure you are considered for future work.

By following these simple steps you will be much closer to establishing long term preferential supplier relationships with reliable and successful translation agencies.

Expert translators RL Translations can translate in any language in any subject. With almost a decade in the industry and a 1500 strong team of translators, contact us for a free quote with your translation enquiry.

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