These days, almost every translation agency or language service provider has its network of freelance translators. But how can this relationship best work to keep all involved happy?
The rise of freelancing
It wasn't so long ago that freelancing was frowned upon by many people in 9-5 employment. But, times change and, as the working world continues to evolve, more and more people are choosing to freelance over traditional full-time job roles. There are risks and negatives with this career choice and lifestyle but many freelancers will argue that not being bound by the subjective norms of ‘normal employment’ gives them a sense of freedom and personal autonomy over their lives that aren’t possible in traditional full-time employment.
It also enables them to work on several different projects at the same time, which can be hugely motivating and rewarding. Popular industries for freelancers include teaching, photography and, of course, translation work. Indeed, some estimate that there might be as many as a quarter of a million freelance translators out there!
What is the best way to manage the relationship between freelancers and translation agencies so that we can ensure great working relationships between the two as well as the perfect professional outcomes for clients?
It goes without saying that it is in everybody’s interests to maintain a positive working relationship between translation agencies and their freelance translators. Freelancing can be a double-edged sword with boom and bust periods of work and sometimes a lack of stability with the clients freelancers work with. It is therefore in every freelancer’s best interests to find reliable project managers whom they can work together with to help create a good working relationship; project managers who can provide regular projects for the freelancer while ensuring the best results for the client.
What is important for freelancers?
We asked our freelancers about what is important for them. Their answers say much about the importance of the relationship between them and the translation agencies’ project managers:
“Very constructive and helpful project managers are the most important thing,”
“It is essential to have a Vendor Portal that makes job acceptance and all conditions, including deadlines completely transparent and quick to grasp,”
“The most important thing is being assigned challenging tasks that motivate you to learn more, and acquire new tools and skills”
How does Tilde keep its freelancers happy?
Tilde’s freelance translators rate communication with Tilde’s project managers very positively. In surveys, translators score this relationship as a very impressive 4.87 out of 5. Clearly, this relationship works extremely well. But what is the secret?
Tilde would say that the key is to provide your freelancers with tools for their job that they love. It’s important that translators can experiment and gain their own feedback! Tilde provides its translators with machine translation systems with dynamic learning for projects that allow MT translation in the process.
"The cool thing with machine translation is - you don't have to spend as much time writing mechanically, there is more time for intellectual reasoning about the meaning and composition of sentences," Kaisa, Freelance translator for Tilde
6 tips for freelance translators to effectively manage client relationships
If we want to understand how freelancers can effectively manage their relationships with translation agencies then it’s worth speaking to the vendor managers themselves for advice. Here are 6 tips for translators from Tilde’s vendor managers:
“Freelancers should be very clear about what they are good at and what they would like to offer. Each freelancer should define their main areas of specialization. It is very important to create a professional image of themselves. Think of yourself as a brand! Create and maintain a portfolio of your work. Consider creating your own website." Evija
“Your CV should describe your experience in clear and concise detail, including subject areas, if possible, client names (mind the NDAs!), volumes. Any additional skills can be a plus, like knowledge of additional languages (ideally the translator can work from 2 languages into their native tongue), various tools, graphic design programs." Aleksandra
“My advice to newcomers is – be precise, eager to learn, persistent, and do not give up after your first mistakes or failures. Show that you are ready to learn and willing to improve. Most translation agencies are interested in helping promising new candidates to develop.” Kerli
“I’d say to freelancers: strive to continuously educate yourselves! Be open to learning from both positive and negative feedback. Learn from mistakes! Constantly educate yourself and be open to new CAT tools. We offer help to anyone that wants to learn by offering training and remote access and licenses to our CAT tools. From an agency perspective, it’s important to provide excellent technical support for freelancers using those tools.” Evija
“I can’t overstate how important communication is. Timely, swift communication is absolutely essential. I always encourage freelancers to inform project managers as soon as they possibly can whether they can take a job or not.” Aleksandra
“It’s easy to give in to the temptation of putting your own personal slant on a project. And yes, there is a time and place for this. But my advice is to always follow the project instructions. It might not seem so but this is very very important. Do your best to stick to the desired format and formatting. But by all means, add any reports if required.” Kerli
Want to join Tilde as a freelancer?
Or contact any of our vendor managers mentioned in this blog directly through their Linkedin profiles:
Resource Manager/Vendor Manager
Resource Manager / External Talent Recruiter