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How to Increase Your Rates as a Freelance Translator

Increase your translation rates I am sometimes asked about how Velior manages to maintain translation rates above the industry average in the highly competitive English to Russian language combination. I think the key to this is quality. You might say, “Wait a minute, you’ve just mentioned high competition, shouldn’t that drive quality across this combination?” You are right, of course, it should, but, judging by the translations I get to edit, it basically doesn’t. For this reason, a translator who puts quality first has a better chance of outdistancing competitors. So, which specific steps can you take to achieve this? From my experience as an editor who looked at several million translated words over the last five years, I can think of at least three main development areas for you to focus on:

  1. Literal translation. Because English and Russian are extremely different, very few texts actually allow literal translation. In most cases, a literal translation is hard to read, unclear, and often ridiculous. Nevertheless, this kind of translation is commonplace in our combination. I hear two main explanations of why this happens, which both seem quite amusing to me. First, a translator often knows that the translation is poor, but just won’t do anything about it due to the lack of motivation, time, or skill. Second, many translators simply think this kind of translation will do, because they’ve always delivered this level of quality and got little or no feedback. Make it your job to never resort to literal translation, and you are on the fast lane on the road to success in your translation career!
  2. Poor understanding of the source text. I strongly believe that understanding of the source text has a major impact on quality, but you might be surprised about how many translators think otherwise. It is not at all uncommon for people to translate without a clue as to what they are translating about. The bad news is that machine translation is evolving. One advantage of a human translator over MT is the ability to add value through better understanding of the text. Think about this: without this advantage, your translation becomes similar to MT output. As MT continues to evolve, human translators must invest more effort in understanding the text or be prepared to be put out of business. Change your direction today: instead of producing one vague translation after another, give more thought to what you write and look everything up on the Internet. Resolve to understand as much of the text as possible before committing it to your target segment.
  3. Failure to use quality assurance tools. Although numerous tools, including free ApSIC Xbench and CheckMate, are available, many translations are delivered unchecked. In fact, one of our agency clients got so fed up with the errors, which can be easily detected automatically, that they put a special policy in place to discourage this kind of errors. This software became an integral part of our translation workflow long ago, since it improves quality and saves time otherwise spent on manual checks. Because I am so used to it now, I find it increasingly difficult to understand someone who doesn’t use translation environment tools on all or some of their projects. When I hear about this, my first thought is, “But this way you don’t get a bilingual text and can’t do automatic QA!” One of the best things about such tools is their simplicity—you can add them to your process easily and start benefiting from them almost immediately.

If you want your translation to be completed by professional Russian translators who follow these best practices every time, ask us for a free quote.

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About the Author

Roman Mironov
Roman Mironov
CEO & Founder

As the founder of Velior, Roman has had the privilege of being able to turn his passion for languages into a business. He has over 15 years of experience in the translation industry. Roman has helped dozens of clients increase sales by making their products appealing for speakers of other languages.