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Cold-calling companies about their websites
Thread poster: Libero_Lang_Lab

Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:12
Russian to English
+ ...
Mar 22, 2003

Has anyone tried this - either with regard to providing localisation or offering a revamp of a badly done localisation job? I am currently thinking about both areas. I know there is a niche for providing English versions of sites from scratch in one particular area I work in, but as an English speaker I also come across many sites every day belonging to non-English orgsanisations, whose English pages could do with a top-to-bottom makeover.



I am interested to know whether any of you have ever decided to take a proactive stance and approach the owner of a badly localised site and offer to sort it for them. And if you have, did you get a positive response?


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xxxncfialho  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:12
German to Portuguese
+ ...
I once did... Mar 22, 2003

although it was a site of a Translation agency and it was in german, I only gave them a short mail to tell them it would not be good for their credibility ...and they answered and wanted to know if I could review the site and asked by the way for my prices for translation, I told them and never again heard from them.....

Regards and good luck

Natália


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James Calder  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 14:12
Member (2006)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Be diplomatic Mar 22, 2003

Hi Dan



I tried this out with a construction company in Spain about a year or so ago but with little success. The translation into English of their website left a little bit to be desired (\'campos de golf\' translated as \'golf fields\' etc.) so I decided to call them and offer my services. I didn\'t say the translation was poor but tried to focus on the need to improve certain aspects and target it to English speakers and the UK (their main area of business); don\'t forget you may be talking to the person responsible for the website and they may not take too kindly to hearing that their work or the work of the person they got to do the job is substandard. Don\'t forget also that the service you are offering represents an extra cost that they may not be willing to pay, however poor the English version of their website is. They said they were interested and would consider what I had to say but when I called back about a week later I was told they had got someone else to do the work. I notice, however, that the website was never revised.



Obviously they weren\'t interested from the off although I wasn\'t particularly pushy about it and I didn\'t try to arrange a meeting with them (I\'m not a great cold-caller to be honest). Perhaps you could do this and show them some sample translations pointing out the improvements you would make and why.

Some companies don\'t see a well-translated website as a priority so you might need to open their eyes to the advantages of this, something I didn\'t really do in hindsight.

It would also help greatly if you had a contact in the company.

More than anything it depends on how willing they are to rectify something they should have done properly in the first place. Good luck.


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Yelena.  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:12
English to Russian
+ ...
I had the same idea... Mar 22, 2003

Thanks, Dan, for bringing this up... I myself have seen quite a few websites with an absolutely horrendous English version... I even emailed one company, pointing out just a few silly mistakes (a room in a hotel, for example, was translated as \"number\" - direct translation from Russian) and just advised them to hire a professional translator to do the job. I knew very well, however, that many Russian companies are not prepared to pay good rates for translation to use my services, some even would try to find a way of doing it for free. A few months later, those mistakes are still on that website. If they want to drive their foreign customers away, their major clients, it\'s their problem!



I have also seen many English websites with an appalling Russian version. And I am also thinking of approaching them... Has anyone got any experience?


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Roberta Anderson  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 14:12
Member (2001)
English to Italian
+ ...
I did not have much success, but did not try very hard either Mar 22, 2003

Hi, Dan.



I did just what you describe in a couple of instances, and received pretty negative answers - something like \"that\'s none of your business\".



On the other hand, I was also approached by a site owner (travel agency) who asked me for a quote, and never heard from him again; I guess translation fees are seen as too high and people are happy to settle for less quality for less money...



It\'s a different story for larger companies who already face localization/translation issues for their products; they usually handle their Web localization in the same way as they handle their product localization, through the same vendors. In these cases it\'s better to approach localization vendors than the company itself, as they usually give all languages to just 1 large vendor, who then deals with the various translators.


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Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:12
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Roberta Mar 22, 2003

Yeah, what you say makes sense. I\'ve not really tried it yet - and was asking because there seems to be particular scope for bilingual sites in a sector I\'m working in, and many of those which exist already aren\'t done very well. I\'m about to dip my feet in the water. If I have any interesting experiences I\'ll let you know how I go.

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sylver  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:12
English to French
Did it a few times... Mar 22, 2003

Prices are definitely a put off. Many a company does not get beans back from its web site and sees no point spending extra bucks to get it in other languages as well. Other thinks that their machine translation is already enough. (A lot of web site \"localised\" with MT out there. A lot of fun for us, too)

For those who paid for translations, I suspect that if you tell them it\'s real bad, they will contact their past translator and get him to review the stuff or pay the money back. In that case, no business either, or later.

I suspect the only way to go is to select web sites for which more translations means immediatly more business, (e-learning for instance) or look for the big companies who can\'t afford a bad image.



Good luck.


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GoodWords  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 07:12
Member (2003)
Spanish to English
+ ...
Some success, but at a low rate Mar 22, 2003

I tried this when I was starting out and didn\'t have any established clients yet. Out of some 50 attempts, I received about 8 expressions of interest, half of which turned into jobs. I translated 2 websites, and in the other 2 cases, I wasn\'t successful in persuading them to fix their website, but I was offered some other small translations by the companies concerned.



In each of these cold calls, I included in the e-mail a paragraph from the company\'s own website retranslated properly, to show them what I could do for them.



Now that I have a regular portfolio of clients, I have given up on the cold calls, but I must admit that I am still tempted sometimes when I see a really sad, sorry website and I am itching to improve it. Not because I need the extra work, but because of the desire which we all have to see it done right.



Whenever we have idle time because we don\'t have enough work, we should spend that time enhancing our lives (both personal and professional). Some ways to do this are to spend time doing things we enjoy with people we love, study and read to improve our translation skills, and work on marketing. All these activities help to make us a happier person and a better language professional. Marketing can include polishing our marketing materials, keeping in touch with past clients, networking, and... cold calls.



If you succeed in even one of these cold call offers to translate a website, then you will have a public display of your work that you can included in your portfolio. Just check it very carefully first to make sure that no changes were introduced in the posted version that might compromise the quality of your translation.



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Michael Tovbin  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 07:12
Member (2006)
Russian to English
+ ...
tried it recently Mar 22, 2003

I tried it recently with a tourist site in Spain, got a nibble, quoted a very reasonable price, and was told that they would take it under advisement. What Roberta says makes sense. The smaller companies still make money with their sites despite the linguistic blunders.



I am not discouraged, though. There is still the Government, or Governments in several countries, whose sites could bear improvement. I haven\'t thought of a good way to approach them yet, though.



Regards


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Elizabeth Adams  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:12
Member (2002)
Russian to English
+ ...
another approach Mar 22, 2003

You could always try to find out who developed the site (sometimes the web designers put their logo or a little link somewhere inconspicuously). Then you contact them and see if they will be doing any updating of the site and may be interested in pitching a good translation to the client at the same time (unless, of course, they did the crappy one in the first place).



That way, the end client isn\'t having to meet any new people, it all gets handled and billed through the web developers.



I\'ve done one job this way - actually, I was put on to it by a friend who knows the web developers, but it struck me at the time that this might be a way to get better site translation jobs, since you know that the company is willing to pay for pretty design, and translation services may not seem so expensive to them.



just a thought


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lcmolinari  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 08:12
Member
French to English
+ ...
It's all in the timing Mar 22, 2003

The one and only time I contacted a company about the atrociousness of the English on their website, I struck gold. As Good Words said, I didn\'t do it so much for the job but because it really made me cringe and bothered me to see this, particularly since it was a very large and respectable multinational company.



I contacted several people at the company, not knowing who would be responsible for the site, and told them that considering the quality of the company, the quality of the language could be much better and I would be happy to review it and fix it if they liked.



Well, I got a call from one of the executives who was painfully aware of the situation and it turns out that right when I contacted them, they were finalizing all the information for a site update in Spanish. So, since they updated the Spanish they decided to do the same with the English, and retained my services.



I considered myself very lucky as it was quite a large site and work continued in many forms for months.



I have thought of trying it again because there are so many bad sites, but I don\'t waste my time on \"small\" sites or companies because I know they won\'t care and/or won\'t have the funds to pay the going rate.



I\'m sure I\'ll try it again though when the right opportunity comes along! It can\'t hurt to try and you may get nothing for months, but maybe next year when company X is updating your site, they may have your info still somewhere around.



Good luck!


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Konstantin Lakshin  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:12
English to Russian
+ ...
Think football :=) Mar 23, 2003

Quote:
Has anyone tried this - either with regard to providing localisation or offering a revamp of a badly done localisation job? I am currently thinking about both areas. I know there is a niche for providing English versions of sites from scratch in one particular area I work in, but as an English speaker I also come across many sites every day belonging to non-English orgsanisations, whose English pages could do with a top-to-bottom makeover.




Did not have a chance to do this, but the idea is very tempting. Given your interest in football and all the talk about improvements in European football as a service industry, I think it may be worth your while to approach Russian clubs, etc. to see if good localization may help them (they should have the money to pay for the service). (Btw, the journalistic Russian on the UEFA site seems to be very decent.)



The makeover issue is a bit trickier, IMHO.


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Libero_Lang_Lab  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 13:12
Russian to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Hey Konstantin Mar 23, 2003

Funnily enough.... that\'s what I\'ve been thinking. As you say, I don\'t think UEFA need any help by the looks of it.

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Konstantin Lakshin  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:12
English to Russian
+ ...
Go for it, Dan Mar 26, 2003

Quote:


>Funnily enough.... that\'s what I\'ve been thinking.<





Well, your original post was transparent enough. :=)



Quote:


>...I don\'t think UEFA need any help by the looks of it.<





But this may be very good news for you for several reasons....



First, this creates a positive precedent, i. e. somebody in their industry cares enough to pay good money for good translation (localization). And you may need this to give your prospects a reason for action.



Second, UEFA is likely to be approachable on this front. If you have enough time, you can write (co-author for more credibility?) a review of \"localized\" football websites (something along the lines of \"why English fans don\'t like Russian FCs\"), have it published in your favorite fanzine, and then pitch to FA, UEFA, etc. Hmm, you may even end up mounting you own campaign for clear international communications in football. Eh? :=)

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Fuad Yahya  Identity Verified
Arabic
+ ...
I keep doing it, with almost little to no positive outcome, but that has never stopped me. Mar 30, 2003

The list of entities I have contacted include:



State Development Department, Queensland, Australia



Al-Azhar University, Cairo



Universe Technical Translation, Houston, Texas



Frech Connection, UK (FCUK)



Council of American Muslims for Understanding





So far the outcome has been mostly no response at all, or tepid interest with no action.



That has never slowed me down.


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