First of all, I want to focus on empathy. Understanding the client you are trying to service is essential. Imagine that you are the executive in charge of an international project, or the product manager of product sold in several countries. You will require translation of everything from packaging materials to instruction manuals, not to mention employee manuals and internal newsletters for your own purposes. How do you go about this? The answer is most people do not. In stead, they contact a translation agency. Usually these companies will look towards translation agencies capable of handling all their language requirements so that they do not have to even lift a finger, just pay the invoice and the translations will arrive magically down through the chimney. This is where it’s time to think outside the box.
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I will start the next paragraph with the phrase “if you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” because it so eloquently applies to what I am about to suggest. What this boils down to is working on your contacts among other translator colleagues, establishing contacts with other translators and to take on assignments together. This can be an invaluable tool when it comes to getting projects you would not normally be considered for. This is because you by yourself cannot hope to offer all the languages the client requires. However, if you form an alliance with other translators so that you are collectively able to offer all the languages necessary for a potential client, you are in different league altogether. Most international companies do not want to have to deal with the headache of managing different translators in different countries, so you may have to provide this service for them at no additional charge. Yet this is small price to pay for a potentially large reward.
I will use an example from my long standing relationship with a client of mine. It started out as just a one-off job that I was given through this very website, and I am very happy that I made a bid on that posting during a slow period several years ago, because the collaboration with this client has since made me thousands of dollars. I discovered that the client also had other translation needs, so I teamed up with a few other translators and offered the client to take on all their translation needs at a cost far below anything they had ever received from an agency, yet at a profit that was larger to my fellow translators and I than what we have ever received working for any agency.
So there can potentially be a large reward for you when discovering the needs of your clients, just make sure to fulfill them in a very satisfactory manner, and make sure any translator partners you team up with do the same. In my particular example, the client could not be happier because they were able to use the same translators for multiple projects over the course of several years, and this also resulted in consistency in all their materials, which would probably never have happened if they had used a translation agency. If that had been the case, the jobs would just have been outsourced to the lowest bidder for each individual job, and there would not have been any consistency in the materials whatsoever. This is another important benefit for the client in addition to competitive pricing.
Your challenge will be to overcome the barrier of the client not being sure that you are capable of handling their translation needs at a satisfactory quality level. So how do you convince them of this? Offer them to do a free sample, or even do one of their projects for free. As I talked about in my previous article, going out on your own will always require some form of investment on your part, either in the form of time or money, or in most cases both. Again, this is a small sacrifice compared to the large benefit you will get in return from a prosperous relationship with clients and other translators alike, that could last several years, and who knows, possibly even a lifetime.