Freelance Translator Essential Skills for Success (Part III)

This is the last article in the series that speak about valuable and essential freelance translator skills to land jobs and work successfully and sustainably.

V- Using CAT tools such as SDL Trados

A professional translator must possess and know how to use a CAT tool. Even basic SDL knowledge will boost your productivity and in some cases improve the quality of your end product.
1- SDL Trados will keep track of your progress and it will ensure that you translated all the file.

2- It will divide your text document into segments which will make translation easier.

3- It will keep the same formatting of the source document.

As a matter of fact, you will be better able to assess the time needed to finish your project, and save a lot of time formatting the document.

It is noticeable that in the last SDL Professional updates, the formatting of languages from right to left and left to right are done properly, for example when you translate from English to Arabic, the formatting of tables, bullet points etc is automatically taken care of by SDL Trados.

Moreover, when applying your resume should contain at least one CAT tools and you will often be asked about the CAT tool you use when you fill the form of a freelance translator in agencies websites.

VI- Being responsiveness and ethical

Thunderbird & Outlook should run on windows startup. In fact, even if this sounds basic not replying email coming from agencies promptly means you may not bid for these projects as they will be assigned to other freelancers.

In your browser, if you are still using Gmail, Yahoo, install extensions that notifies you about new emails.

Personally, I have also changed some parameters in my email client (Thunderbird) so that I respond faster to incoming emails and I am notified easier and quicker.

To do this I have tuned up my thunderbird as follow:

1- Check for new messages every 1 minute

2- Show the alert for 30 seconds
3- Change the sound of incoming emails alert to be longer and more noticeable

As a rule of thumb reply to emails in less than one hour if you want to land more jobs.

VII- Ethic: accepting project you can handle and deliver on time

Be aware that you will have to open the document to check if you can translate well that document and respect the deadline.

If it is a technical document scan through the document, extract technical words, use your resources to be sure that you can translate these words. If these words are hard to translate and you are not used to the subject, plus the document is laden with these terms you’d better not accept the project.

To build a healthy and long-time relationship with clients you should only accept projects you can handle well and finish before the deadline. If you follow these two pieces of advice you will create a good image and this will pay off after some period of time. In fact, you will be able to rise you rate and build a reputation of a reliable and trustworthy linguist. Individual clients and translation agencies will keep coming back to you and thus you will have repeat customers that ensure regular projects.

VIII- Communication

As a remote freelance translator most communication is done via text (emails). As a matter of fact, you need to be very careful with what you write.

1- Reread what you write and be sure that there are no grammatical or spelling mistakes.

2- Write concisely and be to the point, there is no need for long sentences or paragraphs. Don’t write paragraphs that contain more than 4-6 sentences.

3- Make breathing space for long emails, that is to say use more white space by limiting the number of lines of each paragraph and avoid at all cost a block of text.
4- Use bullet points, bold, Italics and color to highlight what is important in the email.

5- Be sure that you understood in details the project requirements, if not reread the project description or ask the PM or the client.

If you have any suggestings feel free to add a comment below. There are no doubts that this series does not contain all the skills but only the competences I deemed most valuable and essential. I have thought to write about overdelivering and overpromising in this post, but at the end, I have decided to dedicate a whole article to this matter.

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