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Hi all!

We're planning to publish a blog post featuring advice for becoming a Preferred Translator next month, and we'd love to hear your best tips!

Please share your advice and experiences on becoming a Preferred Translator - What are the things that you wish you knew when you first started? What do you think have been key actions you've taken to become a PT? What's your best advice for fellow translators who would like to increase the number of customers they're a PT for? :)

Please also share with us your language pair so we can mention it in the blog post alongside your advice.

Looking forward to reading everyone's tips!

Lara

14 comments

  • 8
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    kvstegemann

    OK, let's get this started. (My pair is English to German)

    Of course, what first comes to mind when aspiring to be a preferred translator is to deliver a flawless and stylish translation. But this is actually not the key point. The customer expects this anyway, and in most cases, the customer does not speak the target language and can therefore not really appreciate the quality of the translation.

    I think that the essential factor is to win the trust of the customer. And in order to do that, you have to communicate with them. Show the customer that while Gengo is a widely automated and anonymous service, there are real living people working for them at the other end. And more than that, show them that you are a smart person who is not simply dishing out a quick reconstruction of their source in your target language. Show them that you really understood what their source text is about, and even more important, ask for clarifications and context wherever you are in doubt. Asking questions does not make you look stupid, on the contrary, it shows the client that you really care for the content and want to do it right. Don't tell anyone, but I sometimes even ask questions when I am rather sure what the answer will be, just for the sake of starting a communication with the client.

    Other forms of feedback are also helpful. Encourage the client to provide context and background information and praise the client when they do that on their own. Point out typos in the source. Give feedback regarding the client's instructions to show that you really read and followed them.

    Some clients also do appreciate it when you do the translation very fast. But you have to be careful here. I have had a case where I delivered a translation so fast that the client at the other end suspected me to have used machine translation. Since the client did not speak my native language, they could not determine the quality of my work, so this suspicion could have been justified. I could convince them that my translation was a professional piece of work (by the communicating means described above), and now I am one of their preferred translators.

  • 1
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    Haru.K

    I'm working on EN>JP pair, and I totally agree with kvstegemann. When you try to communicate customer and openly ask for additional information or context, you are more likely to be chosen as PT. In my case, for instance, Japanese has clear distinction between polite writing tone and casual writing tone, and also has various 1st-person pronouns,  so I sometimes ask customer what style or first-person pronoun is desirable.

    What a bit surprising to me was that I was often chosen as a PT by a customer who sent me a correction request. When I get a correction request, I try to answer politely and immediately as possible. Some customers would be impressed to your attitude when the things didn't go the way as expected.

  • 2
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    Giuseppe Bellone

    Hi,

    I agree with what kvstegemann and  jesuisunchat0423 said here above.

    I would only add that the customer certainly feels, in most cases, the kindness and the proactive attitude in the messages we send them, so it's certainly worth asking them for clarifications, but also helping them correct same possible mistakes they made in their source or asking them whether what they wrote was really what they meant to say.

    Sometimes they don't realize that their source message is not clear at all. Helping them in any possible ways, apart from translating their texts, is very important, and in the end the reward comes out.

    I am PT for several customers and I am very happy I helped them in all possible ways. I remember writing several messages for a single word only, till we found the best possible rendering of the term. The customer was thrilled!

    Edited by Giuseppe Bellone
  • 3
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    MelanieKoster

    Yes, I agree with what has been said so far, but I'd like to add that it also matters how you communicate with the customer. When working on collections that have been declined by other translators I see the comments they left. And sometimes those comments are quite impolite, like simply "There's no context!!!"

    I suggest always phrasing your comments in a polite way, even though some customers are just as curt in their replies. As translators we provide a service and politeness is part of that service, at least in my opinion.

  • 1
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    Sergio

    Hi,

    My language pair is EN>IT. I think that the best advice I could leave to my fellow translators about being a PT is to remember just a thing: customers are the most precious "thing" we have, which lets us work, improve the knowledge of our languages and get more and more confidence on the wide variety of jobs we'll be likely to deal with.

    Hence, communicate with customers, let them know every single time you're really not sure, ask for more instructions with difficult texts that lack them, be ALWAYS polite and, above all, try to understand customers' needs THROUGH the jobs you've to understand, first, and translate then.

    If you're required revisions, stay calm and try always to find any mistake. Even though there are no mistakes, in some cases you can improve your translation anyway (and you'll be surprised of that!)

    I wish to conclude saying that, even if you won't be any customer's PT, just keep doing your best to deliver quality translations, respecting the rules.

    That will be much more than being a PT!

    Edited by Sergio
  • 1
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    Sebastian

    My pair is EN>SV. I'm currently at a perfect 10/10 score, and although I don't know whether that score is shown to customers, I think it's clear that writing according to the language specialists' preferences is also appreciated by the customers.

    Often the customers don't understand the translated text, but they may use machine translation into English to check it, or search for single words in the target language to see in what context they are used otherwise. Thereby they can judge the quality and find out if the translator has interpreted something wrong.

    We've all had jobs with single words that can be either nouns or verbs, or have a lot of meanings as nouns. In most cases the context in form of the other jobs in the collection is enough to decide how to translate such words, but I sometimes write a comment to make the customer aware that it can be unclear.

  • 1
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    Mahmoud Ghanem

    Hi,

    First of all my language pair is En>Ar.

    From what I have experienced so far, customers love when you communicate with them politely and answer their questions (if they have) rapidly! Also, sometimes it could happen that they check the translation using machine translation or try to search for certain words, so you should keep in mind to read their comments and understand it. Add to that, most customers need the translation for commercial purposes, so they like to have it fast, while keeping the quality at the top! Finally, Always ask for more explanation and context if needed, customers appreciate that, and they will trust you and choose you to be PT. 

  • 2
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    Carola

    [EN > GER]

    I agree with what was said above: communicate politely, inform the customer of choices made and typos you might discover.

    I also recommend:

    - Work on small collections. It might be 50 cents now, but a large collection might be just around the corner. And treat these small jobs like big ones regarding supporting and polite communications. If you cannot give a low-paying job the same attention as a high-paying one, don't take it.

    - Do the whole collection, not just the jobs you can do on the fly. It signals to the client that you are willing to engage with their content not only provide automated responses.  

    - Be honest and polite if there is something you cannot do. Once in a while, a client will say "I've changed my mind. Can you translate this new phrase instead of the work you have already done?" or "Can you just quickly do this as well?" The skill here is to know when to say "Yes" and provide additional translations, and how to say "No" and help the customer - as mentioned above - understand that at Gengo we are people working on the translations, not machines, which means additional translations are not paid. I've had a few clients get back to me with 5/5 despite me turning down their requests.

    Hope this helps!

    Edited by Carola
  • 0
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    kmorgan135

    To be honest, I have noticed that there is a sign indicating that I am a "preferred" translator by a variety of jobs, but looking at them, they usually seem unrelated to anything I've done before and probably not from the same customer. Therefore, I presume that rather than preferring *me*, they have made some kind of preference request for translators above a certain score. Based on this, the advice I would give is to keep a high score. 

    Edited by kmorgan135
  • 1
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    miguelrene

    I have been working on JP to EN (US) translation for a few years now, but for the most part, other translators have already posted the best advice above:
    1. Make an effort to communicate with the client.

    2. Ask questions if you need more context or details.

    3. Be polite and professional.

    The one thing I would add to this list is, read any and all comments that the client supplies to you. This includes any style guides or reference documents. Also, before you communicate with the client, take a second to check what language they would like to correspond in. As other people have said above, the client often does not know the target language, so if you are going to write to them, use the language that they have specified on their job board.

    When you do communicate with your client, use an appropriate tone and do not make any spelling mistakes or grammatical errors in your comments. For Japanese, be sure to use keigo (polite language) to avoid offending the customer. When I write to a client in Japanese, I always try to start with an appropriate greeting like お世話になります or 大変お世話になっております, and close with a version of 宜しくお願いいたします. While these greetings only apply to Japanese, they are all part of my efforts to be professional and to keep the language level appropriate for business. It might seem like overkill, but if the client thinks that you don't really understand the culture of the target language, they will be less likely to make you a preferred translator. It takes very little effort to impress the client, but it also takes very little to leave a bad impression.

  • 1
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    irsawa

    Hello.

    Since other translators above have mostly advised about how to communicate with clients, I should focus on the translation skills themselves.

    I am a EN-JP translator and my current score is 9.8 or something.

    I sometimes have a chance to read what other translators have done on gengo and I have noticed their lack of basic understanding of the target language, not the source language.

    So my simple advice here is: "Learn more about your own mother tongue."

    Only accumulation of tiny, daily efforts can perfect your language skills, I believe. (This is my advice to MYSELF, too)

  • 1
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    Zwig

    All the advices provided by all these excellent translators so far are great tips for those who want to be a good translator like me. Thank you all, you are so great and kind in sharing these valuable assets.

    As a Gengo translator once being chosen as PT by more than 40 clients, I have some lessons to share with you:

    1. Always be polite when communicating with clients or Gengo supports. Human makes mistakes, do not put your personal feeling into your business.

    2. Alway value the quality in your mind. Read carefully comments from the clients or Gengo supports, always double check your translation before submitting. I once took it for granted that all the comments given by the client were the same with the jobs of a collection, and did not get two important instructions, resulting in a low feedback score from the client. That's a terrible experience!

    3. Know what you can do. Do not take the jobs your are not good at but just for money. I once found terrible errors in a partially submitted collection, where the translator localized the variables when translating  a software UI, that would certainly result in crashed program. Apparently, the translator did not have any experience in software localization but "bravely" took the job. 

    4. Remember it's not easy to be a Gengo translator. Be professional whenever translating on Gengo. I once took a job declined by the client, and found the translator apparently used the Machine translation but do little post-edit work, though the translator submitted his job very quickly, maybe sometime he/she would be lucky enough approved by a not so careful client, this kind of behaviour will certainly damage Gengo's credit and eventually the translators'.

  • 3
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    M8net

    Hi, I'm Michele, my language pair is EN-IT and my current score is 9.4.

    If being a good translator, or even an excellent translator is a quality that helps money flowing in, to be a "preferred translator" represents an investment. In simpler words, if you want to be "Preferred" you have to switch from the mindset of "making money out of your trade" and put yourself in the mindset of investing time (hence, earning less money) in the attempt of adding value to the text you are translating.

    I remember once I had to translate a very simple product listing. It was a no-brainer, a task that could be done in half an hour, with no dictionary at hand. Something in the Power Bank description I was translating did not fall in place, though, and doing some research I discovered that the same device was sold by different sellers reporting different specifications. I had to trace the producer, and check for the official documentation. Eventually, no one reported the feature correctly. I pointed that out to my customer, and we agreed on a translation that was different from the source. He edited the english description of the item and I did the translation in an accurate way. This is how I became "Preferred" for that customer. Instead of thirty or forty minutes, it took me nearly two hours to sort things out and translate the listing, but at the end the result was more valuable than the source.
    Another time I was requested to translate a text where "Linguini Alfredo" was supposed to be a "Typical italian recipe". Now, I'm not a cook, I can barely boil an egg myself without leaving a terrible mess in my kitchen, but at least I am an eater, and a good one, too, good enough to know that "Linguini Alfredo", is almost unknown in italian restaurants, definitely not known enough to be a "Typical italian recipe". I did verify my suspicions and explained the fact to my customer. Eventually we found an agreement on a truly italian specialty (Pasta alla Norma, if memory serves me right).

    So, it is not only a matter of understanding customers need and interacting with them. In my experience, I became Preferred when I was able to make a real difference while doing my job, when I saved my customer from some awkward statements or helped my customer in his brand promotion.

    Does this mean that I have many customer that consider me one of their Preferred translators? Not at all. Do I use this technique with all my translations? No way!
    There are texts that simply cannot be improved, either because they are crap from their origin, or because they are already good enough. There are customers who simply are happy with a work done quickly and accurately and those who don't want to be bothered with too many questions.
    Adding value to a text is something that requires a lot of care and sensitiveness. Like I said earlier, it's an investment, something that should be done once in a while, when a favorable conjunction of conditions is met: the text itself must have some potentials, the customer must be a scrupolous person and open to suggestions, the translator must recognize, or at least have some concrete clues about what's wrong with the source text, and be willing to invest some time and learn. 

    A translator is often asked to translate everything, but he or she cannot possibly know everything. I learned a lot about power banks, restaurants and metronomes, about gaming keyboards, sports apparel and enectronic cigarettes, and the list goes on...

    Adding value to a text is something that probably many of you do more or less naturally, but if I had to give some advice to a newbie, this is what I would recommend. Invest in learning, add value to your translations whenever you can, it is an investment that in the medium-long shot pays out.

    Edited by M8net
  • 1
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    Bettina

    I know this is an old thread, but I just had an idea on the question about tips for becoming a preferred translator. This is because I just received an email informing me about a new customer who chose me as preferred translator. (As I mainly translate for those who already did these days, this does not happen that often anymore.) As always, I was curious to find out who it was and to which job it relates, but the email only states the customer number, with no links to jobs I did for the customer. So apart from going through all completed jobs one by one, I have no way to find out (as far as I know, there is no search function on completed jobs). 

    Here is my suggestion: To know which job the customer is linked to would help us translators to understand what we did right in the translation and communication to be selected as preferred translator, and though we treat all customers and jobs with equal care (I assume), maybe we would still learn something from this feedback that we could apply in the future to become preferred translator for other customers as well. 

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