The 2 Non-Translation Skills That Translators Should Learn
When you go to study translation, most of us learn about the theoretical side of translation (formal or dynamic equivalence sprinkled with some Nida and Pym), and we get our hands dirty with some practical lessons. We learn the techniques of translation, how to use translation software, and we practice coming up with the turn of phrases that are simultaneously clever, accurate, and eloquently written.
Those are all important -- no, vital -- things that a translator needs to learn. But there are other, non-translation skills that may help you in your translation business.
That’s what this article is about. Below are the 2 top non-translation skills that translators would benefit from learning.
Translators take on a variety of projects. A one-off, minimum charge email, projects that take months, urgent correction requests, and more. And they’re usually handling this all alone. What’s more, is that we have different rates and pricing units on offer.
The first step to managing time as a translator is tracking it. After all, you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Using time tracking tools like LSP.expert will let you get an understanding of:
- How long it normally takes you to do certain jobs (makes it easier for quoting down the line)
- How productive you’re being
- How profitable certain jobs or certain clients are for you
Once you get used to how long things take, it makes it much easier to plan your days and your weeks for ultimate productivity (and not just business).
Marketing & sales
These two things are never taught in a translation programme but are the two things you need to attract, convert and retain your clients (especially direct ones).
Although they’re different things, they both relate to one vital skill for your business: dealing with the client.
These skills have a bad reputation. Translators (amongst other professionals) feel they’re being pushy, salesly or bothering people asking for money. It needn’t be this way.
Marketing is simply making it known to the world what you offer and for whom. It’s making sure that the people who NEED you can find you easily. Even word of mouth is a form of marketing, so get talking to people about what and who you translate for.
The sale is the point when a customer actually calls you for a quote or shows interest in your service. This is when you need to show them that you’re serious and you’re going to provide them with what they need. Sales is an interview for both you and the client to make sure you’re aligned. If they’re looking for a cheap service, it’s not an insult to the translator -- it just means your services aren’t aligned with what they’re looking for (you can help weed out these people by fixing the messaging in your marketing).
Sales isn’t about convincing people to buy something. It’s about showing how you and your service will solve a problem.
Above all, be a good translator
These skills will help you grow your translation business and professionalise how you operate. The most important thing, above all, will be to do your job well. Be a good translator, be open to feedback, and most of all -- learn from the feedback.
What’s the most useful skill you’ve learned other than translation? Would love to hear about it in the comments!