Driven by +11 years of hands-on experience in translation and localization, with more than +4M words and +1K translation projects in different fields, especially the medical and pharmaceutical industries, this article is one of a series that provides some takeaways about the industry and are intended for those who would like to know more scenarios about how to deal with clients and job offers, potential scammers, pricing strategies, technical hacks, productivity techniques, troubleshooting, negotiation skills, payment practices, and more. This series of articles will shed some light on the most common scenarios language service providers, especially translators, usually encounter, and my input when you might come across such scenarios.
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Let’s dive in!
Imagine that you were on a vacation for a couple of days (i.e. Eid al-Fitr or Eid al-Adha in Muslim countries, Christmas, etc.) and you were contacted by a client to translate a medical project with a total 3000 words, and the client asked you to use SDL Trados Studio. What are your reactions to the following scenarios?
- Scenario One: The client is a well-known translation company from UK and specialized in the medical industry and you are offered a very high rate per word. It asks you to deliver that file within 48 hours. Also, this will be the first collaboration between both of you.
- Scenario Two: The client is a reputable translation company in India but offers a low rate per word for the project. However, the deadline to deliver the project after translation is 7 days and again this will be your first collaboration.
- Scenario Three: This client is a local one (an Egyptian company in my case) that offers a very low rate compared to its local competitors in Egypt, for example. In addition, it asks you to finish the medical translation project within 48 hours. Yet, this is not the first collaboration with the company and it is very reputable.
The post was being discussed on an Arabic Facebook group specialized in the medical translation industry named “The Hub of Medical Linguists” and it is intended to help fresh graduates and professionals of the medical sector (i.e. physicians, pharmacists, etc.) know more about the translation and localization industry.
Then, how can we deal with the three scenarios?
• Takeaways from Scenario One
Most language service providers (LSPs), especially freelancers, can receive a potential collaboration email from a client asking for some details, such as CVs, rates, industries and fields of specializations, the computer-aided translation (CAT) tools they use, among others. Yet, one of the best practices of professional freelancers is to start selling their language services and why they would be the best choice for that potential client. However, when you are contacted by a reputable client, especially during a vacation, taking a final decision might be confusing for some. Since we are in a very completive market, it is very professional to rock your first client with your unique selling proposition(s) (USP). These USPs may include, but not limited to, your responsiveness, especially when you will be able to handle that project on vacation. Plus, you can negotiate with your client to extend the deadline to one or two days.
Also, you can simply create a termbase (TB) during the translation process using the free Glossary Converter tool from SDL AppStore. I always create an empty Excel sheet, convert it into an empty termbase to be filled on the go. This does not usually take time and when you provide a termbase to your client, they would really appreciate your proactivity.
• Takeaways from Scenario Two
As a language service provider, you may be contacted by a client that is not targeted by your marketing strategy or not in your customer segmentation. Nevertheless, you may tend to collaborate with as many clients as possible, especially if you are a newcomer to the word of freelancing. So, what is the best scenario to handle such a situation? If you tend to refuse collaborating with clients with low rates, hold on! What if you can show your willingness to collaborate with that client provided that their future project size exceeds an X words; where X refers to your best milestone to make that future project profitable to your revenue expectations. By doing so, you hit two birds with one stone; simply you did not lose any potential collaboration with that low-rate client and you guaranteed a high revenue from that client in case there is a next cooperation. Plus, you can also negotiate on fast payments; the client can process the payment after one week of the project delivery instead of 30 days, for examples. It is a win-win situation for both of you.
Takeaways from Scenario Three
In this scenario, you have collaborated with that local client many times, which means that s/he knows your low rate well. He however contacts you on a vacation when most freelancers are likely to be unavailable. Unfortunately, if you are in a need to that low-rate translation job, no way to refuse it. On the contrary, if you have the upper hand, especially when you are very experienced in the project’s subject-matter, and that client is not among your targeted market, you can negotiate and impose your terms. You can negotiate on fast payment, bigger projects, flexibility in deadlines, etc.
We provide a language service and that service may be required anytime. If you have a ProZ profile, it is advisable to update your availability and working hours in the Profile Calendar. This will help your potential clients check your availability before contacting you. Also, prepare an impressive portfolio that includes a bio, your language services, your industries, your educational background, your USPs, your figures in the industry, your CAT tools, clients’ feedback, your memberships, documentation of your expertise, your payment methods, how you secure the clients’ data, your quality assurance procedures, samples of your previous work (without breaching any confidentiality agreements/NDAs) and your contact details. Whenever you are contacted by a client while you are unavailable, you can either excuse or try to build a long-term collaboration using your portfolio and negotiation techniques.