10 Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing A Translator

Hiring a translator is often a valuable business move. You can expand your reach by hiring professionals who will open doors to brand new communities and cultures. However, translation is a complex and often underrated job. 

A good translation company can be difficult to come by. You need to work with someone who can sufficiently transfer knowledge from one culture to another. Bad translations can lead to sloppy or even offensive translation mistakes that harm your business’s brand.

We have put together ten mistakes you should avoid at all costs when hiring a translating agency. 

1. Giving a vague brief

Think of a brief as a workman’s set of tools. If a skilled workman is handed a hammer and nothing else — and expected to build a house — they are probably going to do a poor job. However, if they are given a full toolkit and proper building materials, they are far more likely to do a good job.

When it comes to submitting a brief, the more specific and detailed your instructions are, the better equipped the translator is. Even the best translators can’t do a great job if the instructions are unclear.

2. Underestimating the budget 

A dangerous mistake is making a vague estimation of what the translation service will cost. While websites may have specific prices, there are lots of added costs you often have to factor in. For instance, do you need text-only translations? Is there any embedded text? Do you require translations for more than one language? Do you need desktop publishing? It’s essential that you factor all of these in.

3. Not asking for references

It’s impossible to know what a translator’s reputation is without asking for references. If the agency or translator doesn’t have a reference section on their website, it’s a good idea to ask for these to be emailed to you.

4. Taking the cheapest quote

Good translation requires skill and experience. There are lots of translators who charge less than the going rate, particularly on freelancing platforms like Upwork, but unfortunately, you usually get what you pay for. The copy is likely to be error-filled and inaccurate. Investing in a skilled translator can seem daunting but it will always pay off in the long run.

5. Not asking for a written quote

It’s important that you outline all of your translation needs and get a written quote before moving forward with a translator. 

These are all details you will need to include before getting a written and accurate quote from the agency for your translation needs.

6. Using a translator that relies on auto-translate

There are translators who rely heavily on machine translations before editing out obvious errors. This usually results in poor copy that won’t deliver your message effectively. A good translator has a cultural understanding of both languages which they use to translate the entire message in a compelling way. A good way to avoid this happening is by steering clear of translators whose prices are below the market rate.

7. Demanding short deadlines

Quality work often takes time. Of course, if you are running a business, it’s understandable that you are working around tight deadlines. However, we strongly urge you to factor in a decent amount of time for translations. Translation projects with rushed turnaround times can often result in poor-quality results.

8. Submitting poor-quality text for translation

While a good translator will do their best to work with any text, they are far more likely to produce high-quality translations if they are given high-quality text. When submitting text for translation, it’s important that it makes sense and has as few errors as possible.

9. Not using images

Try not to underestimate the importance of images. These can play an important role in providing context especially if you plan on using images alongside the text after it’s been translated. 

10. Hiring an uncommunicative agency or translator

If it takes a long time for your translator to respond to you, this is usually a bad sign. A good translator should be highly communicative and will usually ask you specific questions to ensure that they do the best possible job.

Hiring a translator or translation agency is similar to other business partnerships. You want to hire someone skilled, professional, and communicative. However, there are specific things worth looking out for when it comes to translation — and this list offers a good overview.


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