A Personal Experience: What Translation Agencies Want When Hiring Freelance Translators

Today, I want to share some survival tips from my personal experience in contacting and being contacted by translation agencies. Dealing with an experienced project manager can be a daunting and psychologically demanding task. They know what they want from you and they know how to extract it. It’s up to you to stand up for yourself.


They will come for your rates. They will come for your time and your dignity. Can you defend yourself? Can you survive? Have you survived? Has your rate survived?

Being a successful translator does not mean having constant work. It is no good to have lots of projects if they are paying you peanuts.

Try paying your bills with peanuts. Try raising your family on peanuts.

Being a successful translator means protecting your professional dignity. It means standing up to bossy agencies and not lowering your price every time they ask you to.

If you ever step onto that downward spiral; if you ever get sucked into that void of constant price reduction and accept a servile mentality, you will become the favorite with some agencies, but will it be worth it?

Do you know how many agencies there are that pay good money? A lot.

Do you know how many of them will deliberately avoid you and your submissive translation rate that gives off a stench of low-quality translator? Every one of them. Not will you only attract the scummiest agencies on the market, but you will end up doing more work than you will actually get paid. Do you really want that?

Be Responsive

A project manager is a person whose head is just about to explode from micromanaging single and multiple projects at a time. That is a why a project manager loves to work with a responsive translator, one that will not make his or her life even more difficult.

Do clients find you easy to work with? The client experience—your communications, responsiveness, amiability, grace under pressure, and so on—is every bit as important as the quality of your creative output.

This does not mean that you have to kneel at every one of their requests. They expect you to uphold your dignity, but they don’t want more troubles than what they already have.

They appreciate the ability in translators that can provide them with brief, but informative answers that don’t require further questioning. Read their emails and queries well, and provide them with all the necessary answers right in the first mail they get.

This cuts time for them and for you on unnecessary communication and waiting for replies, time which they can use to close the deal with the client faster. The entire responsiveness process is reflected at the other end as well. If the client is able to close a fast, good deal with the project manager, everyone gets paid!

Not only that, but you will be their favorite translator to work with, and one that creates the least amount of troubles for them.

Don’t Be Arrogant

It is easy for a translator to get arrogant. There are several opportunities for that. One of them is when his/her work is being sent to a reviewer despite the fact that he/she has lots of experience and projects behind his/her name.

Don’t get arrogant in such situations. You can easily get knocked of the train as an arrogant bastard if you can’t accept your errors (if the reviewer returned with any).

Many agencies have a policy of performing occasional revisions to see where their translators stand at the moment. In other cases, the nature of the project itself requires several revisions or maybe the client wants complete thoroughness.

After all, we all need to be reviewed from time to time. It’s the only way in which some translators can be forced to maintain their quality.

Don’t ever let your guard down. If you notice you are being arrogant, stop. It may cost you a client.

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