How much frustration is wrapped up in the translation jobs you have right now? Didn’t you get into this line of work because you love the language and you want to enjoy doing language stuff all day. We’re guessing the dream is to slough off the frustrations, the wasted efforts, the ill-paying and ill-equipped projects.
The trick is just to find those language service providers (LSPs) that share your values. When you do translation work from home, it’s okay to expect respect, transparency, cutting-edge tools, generous support, real choice, and a positive and homey work environment. Those are all things capable of bringing us together as an industry community.
Common Headaches from Freelance Translation Projects
Undoubtedly, you have been offered work by LSPs that made you feel like a mushroom—kept in the dark and treated as though you were interchangeable with every other translator. It is an entirely common practice for LSPs to offer projects to the first available linguist, regardless of whether they are right for the job, and also to favor certain translators for reasons other than their talents.
You’ve probably also faced that situation where you’re offered a job but have little context to make a confident choice to accept or pass on it. That lack of transparency and support up front is likely representative of the working conditions ahead of you. It doesn’t even occur to many LSPs to provide their translators glossaries, translation memories, or reference material—or they’re not willing to expend the resources necessary for this kind of comprehensive toolbox.
More LSPs than you might expect are still behind the times in terms of technology and tools for translators and clients alike. If the best-case scenario is that you operate in an intuitive and streamlined platform setting with generous resources and direct contact with the client and their product, the flip side of that is that you’re wasting time, energy, and sanity shuffling files, chasing down support, and waiting. You might wait for jobs, wait for communications, wait to get paid. Or, on the other hand, you might be rushed when the vendor has no respect for reasonable timelines and your life in the background.
Is it possible to get paid what you’re worth? For a job you can enjoy and get behind? With the tools and support to take your translations to the next level and help to evolve the product in question?
What Translation Work from Home Should Be
There is better translation work to be had. But you have to know how to find it. To begin with, let’s think about what a really attractive translation job looks like.
Of course, it’s great to work from home. But the distance and blindspots make it that much harder to achieve things like transparency. And it makes it that much easier for companies that don’t value transparency to hold things back and leverage their own interests in unequal proportions.
Ultimately, transparency is a sign of respect. When an LSP takes the time to detail what work they have, whom it’s for, and what it pays, that is the very basic level of respect and transparency. You should be able to take that for granted. But beyond that, you want to believe that they actually value your time and talent and they value the client and the product.
Be bold enough to demand a commitment to openness on all sides. That means open communication that doesn’t get hung up on outdated email and file formats or on a pattern of withholding. That means teamwork designed to value everyone’s input. That means a single source of truth where you can build the client’s product together with no waste. That means you set your rates and are valued for your experience, your expertise, and your direct involvement in every project.
There’s no good reason to opt for industry work that is behind the times. Tools like translation memories, style guides, and term bases should be a given. They save everyone time and headaches, and they help to ensure quality and consistency.
And, of course, the technology is improving all the time. You want to feel confident that you’re equipped with the best tools available. Just as an employer expects the best work from you, you should expect an ideal level of support to get the job done efficiently.
Choice should not be a luxury. When a job arises, you should be able to request a sample, a glossary, info about the client, the timeline, the translation memories available. You should have all the details at hand to decide whether you really want it or not. Is it the right kind of content for you? Is it something you’re even interested in doing today? You’re not getting paid for chasing down information about the project in order to make that decision. LSPs that respect you enough to make those details available see the value in you choosing them and their work.
Being free to refuse work is a basic tenant of freelancing. But it would also be nice to have the work you want to do—topics you are familiar with, pay rates that honor your talent—earmarked especially for you. This kind of thoughtful relationship with an LSP helps you deepen and develop your skills as they apply to specific clients and subject matter.
Positive Work Environment
As a freelance translator, your work actually becomes part of your home environment, so let’s hope it’s contributing positively to your vibe and your work-life balance. Working for an LSP that offers engaging jobs that match your talents is a good start. Feeling like a member of the team—with open communication and collaboration with colleagues, managers, and even the client—takes the positivity a step further.
In fact it’s unusual with translation work from home to feel as if you’re not working in isolation. When you need some quick details to complete your task or you want to bounce ideas off another linguist, working on a collaborative platform makes it possible. It can begin to feel as if you’re in an office setting with the resources, the camaraderie, and the visibility that come with it.
Get Paid for What You Enjoy Doing
Finding consistent work you enjoy with an LSP allows you to become part of the ecosystem of translators, editors, marketers, and others who are working along with you in this environment. You’re more likely to excel when you enjoy your work. You are likely to work more and earn more too.
You have a lot of reasons to work better, operating on a new-generation platform, radical transparency, and resources like Slack, PayPal, and Payoneer. Technology-forward companies have innovative, industry-leading clients that are exciting to work for.
If you’ve been settling for less-than-ideal translation opportunities, call it quits and start fresh.
Bureau Works offers translation work from home for a wide variety of languages and clients. Linguists use our new-generation localization platform and are automatically matched with suitable jobs and generous support. If this kind of opportunity sounds good to you, reach out to join our team today.
Written by Luciana Passos
Luciana is Bureau Work’s COO. She is known as a gap bridger and a heart follower.
August 13, 2019