How to Avoid Common Project Translation Pitfalls

There are many ways to approach a new translation project or even a new final client.
Rodrigo Demetrio
2 min
Table of Contents

Of course, we could just plunge into the mix of the original text, unknown (at first sight) terminology, oceans of virtual ink that seem to overwhelm our initial steps and more. Nevertheless, after a few years in the business, instead of using blunt tools, we could sharpen our insight and approach new challenges with the proper attitude, mindset and intellectual equipment.The following includes several tips to guide your experience in terms of new translation endeavors and day-to-day practice.

Essential questions before accepting the project

Whenever you receive a new project proposal, it would be advisable to answer the following questions before you accept the assignment:

  1. After careful reading of the text, is this material within my fields of expertise? Do I feel comfortable working on this subject matter? The best policy to work happy and achieve a high-standard quality is always being faithful to your mind's and heart's desires.
  2. Is the original text editable with any of the CAT tools I have? Am I proficient enough in such a CAT tool, so that I can successfully fulfill the potential task? If you don't receive a properly editable file, consider requesting such document to your client.
  3. Are the offered contract terms convenient for me?
  4. Is the deadline schedule coherent? If not, try to reschedule with the client. Always be polite.
  5. Do I agree with the translation rates to be applied to the project? Always try to establish your own translation fees. If not possible, negotiate rates to your best interest and considering the need to maintain the client, but do not sell yourself cheap. This policy always brings deeper and long-term losses for the translator.
  6. Do this project and its subject matter enrich my knowledge on the field and improve my expertise?
  7. Does the project word count raise my yearly translation volumes?
  8. Is this assignment convenient for my overall financial goals?
  9. If not, will this assignment, if successful, secure my position within a specific translation team for the client? If so, accept it. Sometimes it's better to focus on long term objectives, such as inclusion into a team, instead of merely concentrating on the immediate "loot".
  10. If all your replies to the above mentioned questions seem up your alley, accept and enjoy the job! (*)

(*) Of course, as you gain experience, you'll be able to reply to all those questions in a rather shorter amount of time.

Project accepted, now what?

The Big "IFs"

When you face a new project, it is good to take the following into account, in terms of goals:

  • If this is a translation test, make sure that your work has the superior quality needed, so that the client grants YOU the new account, and hires you regularly.
  • If this is a new client, make sure that your work has the superior quality needed, so that they include YOU in one of their specific teams (per client or specialization).
  • If this is a project from a final client for whom you have already worked, make sure that your work has the superior quality needed, so that the client contacts you again, for future assignments.

Translation Process Tips

  • Conscientious reading of the original text.
  • Extensive reading both in the original and target language, in order to immerse your mind into the subject matter and specific terminology.
  • Researching resources in both languages for contextual reference.
  • Searching for specific terminology according to area of knowledge, expertise, and subject matter.
  • Locating potentially useful glossaries and dictionaries (online and in paper. Yes, even in 2022.)
  • Focusing on the text at hand as if it were the only thing in your mind, when you are facing the computer.

A simple way to increase the profitability of your future translation projects

A Three-Way Practical Goal

When approaching a project, you should consider immediate benefits, as well as longer term outcomes.If possible, always try to: Improve Yearly Number of Projects + Wordcount + ProfitDesign and prepare a personal business plan for the coming year, including expected improvements, both in figures and in percentages.


Don't take anything/anyone for granted. It is always advisable not to settle for the couple of usual and historic clients who have become your "bread and butter" with time. It is better to have a few potential new clients under the sleeve, in case everything else goes down the drain. Even during temporary dry spells, it's best to read, study, attend seminars and keep your game up to speed, so that your tools in the translator's kit do not turn rusty.And last, but not least, never lose sight of the reasons why you chose our beloved profession. Doing what we love is always a blessing in itself.

Rodrigo Demetrio
Steering the marketing ship at Bureau Works with 17+ years of MarTech under my belt, I transform mere ideas into tangible realities. Passionate about languages and their power to build bridges, let's build a new one?
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