Translator Tips



After 7 years in the translation industry, I have had many highs and lows, more highs than lows, fortunately!  I have also learned to navigate the industry pretty well. Working with clients around the globe, adhering to tight deadlines and new translation technologies keeps things fresh and exciting.  I’m happy to have the opportunity to pass along some ‘translator tips’ to new translators, hope these help!


Translator Tips – Tips for Success #1

Confidentiality and Handling of Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA’s)

Translator Tips - Translation Agency Non-Disclosure AgreementsHere are some disclosure tips for new translators who maybe be put-off when approached by an agency to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). Let me put it this way:  It’s for your own good. 

We handle, at times, apart from fluffy marketing, poetry, novels, academic papers, and so on, some pretty heavy stuff.  We’re talking about serious legal documents, medical reports, criminal records, confidential financial documents, and so on. Sometimes we work with audio files of interviews with high-ranking individuals, sometimes they’re extremely powerful persons who need to receive some answers on issues that make or break their next move.  Tempted to go knock on a door of some journalist?

Stop right there. The industry is founded on trust and professionalism.  We sign these agreements because we agree to keep our names and ideas out of other people’s business.  Other than doing our job – translating, we just cannot get involved in any way.  A foreign language translator is not a crusader. Thinking about doing some independent research on the names that come up in a file after you’ve translated it?  That’s when things get messy.

Just don’t do it. Our only involvement is to precisely translate and proofread our client’s documents, and do a damn good job.  Then, we disappear. A saint in civilian’s clothing?  Perhaps.  Anonymous, behind-the-scenes, and low-key. This is the lifestyle we choose the moment we decided to become translators.

Trust. Everyone involved trusts that we are professionals and will handle all documents with the utmost confidentially.  We are expected to treat all information as confidential, and take steps to protect that confidentiality. Just sign the agreements.  Believe me, it’s for everyone’s good.

Translator Tips – Tips for Success #2

Prioritizing your work and avoiding NOS, or “Night-Owl Syndrome”

Hmmm, so you’ve put off working on a 2,000-word file until 9 pm and the deadline is 9 am the next morning.  Perhaps you’ve got a good start to filling up your career with all-nighters, and have become a real night owl.  I urge you to break that cycle, or simply don’t start.  Because once you start pulling all-nighters, it’s hard to break the habit.  Years will go by and you will have hundreds of all-nighters and fuzzy days behind you.

Translators -don't become are a night owl!

Challenge yourself from the start.  Get going with a disciplined program that lets you work specific hours during the day, and please, don’t be afraid to state your working hours on portals, databases, etc.  I know we have clients from all over the world, in all time zones.  But we all know what doctors say:  Rest up at night; it keeps the days fresh. And for crying out loud, get a good night’s sleep, every night!  (This, coming from an incessant night owl who has made it a habit to do midnight housework.  Hey, I’m a single mom of two young rascals!

Translator Tips – Tips for Success #3

Professionalism and Netiquette

Cause Some Increase

I have had my fair share of hounding Project Managers at times when work was low.  Yes, there will be dry spells.  Pressure for cash is never a friendly thing, but don’t become a pest to your clients.

Take advantage of the dry spells to do some marketing and professional development.  Jump on social media sites; update your resume, your profiles, and network with past orTranslators: Keep a positive attitude! existing clients.  Use the downtime to follow up on emails and perhaps even take an online course on new translation trends. As freelance translators, we’re not going to land that permanent translation gig that rewards us with a fixed high-class income, all insurance and benefit perks, a car, free cell phones, you know, that dream job somewhere in a tower overlooking the downtown harbor. But we have the flexibility, freedom, and pride of working for ourselves.

So even when times are tough, stay friendly, stay happy, show how much you love doing what you are doing (and if you don’t love what you’re doing then you probably shouldn’t be doing it). If a company doesn’t like your work and slashes your pay, chalk it up to experience!  If you find some good friends in the industry, keep them!

Do business as if you were overlooking that downtown harbor and driving a Lexis.  Stay cool and keep a positive attitude. I am going to suggest, however, that you treat everyone working on every level of the project with respect, and if there’s a lot of complaining going on, keep in mind that we do not know what this individual has just been through on any aspect of his/her life, just as they don’t know what we’ve just been through.

That’s all for now…. Happy Tips for Happy Times! 

Signing off from Sunny Greece.

Alexandra H. Greek to English Translator

7+ Years of Translation Experience. Certified Pro Translator.

Accurate Language Services provides high quality, foreign language translation solutions in all languages.  We are dedicated to offering cost-effective, superior translation services.  Click HERE to learn more about our translation solutions or call our office at 732-898-9144 to discuss your next translation project with one of our Project Managers.

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