Tenets of Building an Online Translation Portfolio to Gain Traction

An online translation portfolio is a document that comprises a selection of texts that have been translated professionally and some of the best examples of what possible clients should anticipate if they choose to give you work. Often, clients will ask for some sample text translation before they hire you. A portfolio is useful for deciding if you are the best person for the job.

The online portfolio will showcase your skills, expertise, and areas of expertise. There are some guidelines on the portfolio ought to look like and the things it should contain.

Content

A portfolio should contain texts that are extremely narrow and highly specialized. These texts will promote your skillfulness in the best way possible. The translations ought to create emphasis on specialization, and they should be those translations that are among your best.

It is advisable not to mix different specialties in a single portfolio. You make a couple of them which should be particularized for each of your areas of expertise.

You should make sure that you strictly adhere to the copyright laws. In circumstances where the translated texts have the Creative Commons protection license, the right attribution to the author of the text should be done. It should include asking permission after contacting the author.

Formatting

Text samples on your portfolio should be interesting, legible and short. Only use professional looking fonts, standard font size and color, no photos or clip art or emoticons on your translator portfolio.

Potential clients are only supposed to focus on your translation skills. Target and source text are supposed to be side by side, preferably on a similar page. All links in the documents should be okay. Having broken links on your portfolio is unprofessional.

Sharing

There needs to be a link to your portfolio on your resume or your cover letter. One should equally send it to every potential that is in contact with you and should be available for download on your site, assuming you have one. A link to your translator’s portfolio should be on all online translator marketplaces where you have a profile. It should also be on other freelancer networks. Sharing your portfolio on social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn could easily land you more clients.

How to Draw Traffic to Your Portfolio

To get the attention of more potential clients you out the portfolio on social networks. The portfolio requires to be updated on a regular basis. Every update is then shared with your target audience.

You can also share your portfolio on your company’s website. The site should be well – designed, should have high-quality content, should be fresh and should be SEO optimized. When your website is on the first pages of Google search, it will lead to an increase in the number of potential clients who will visit your portfolio and then give you work.

Other Contents on Your Portfolio

 A catchy portfolio should have all essential personal information. Translators with more experience and have developed their own translation companies place their company logo in the document. Translator’s comments are also critical to possible clients as they usually showcase your working methods. These translations typically come after every small translation and have few lines about every translation and a few select techniques that you employed to ensure the task was done.

Type of Client

Your portfolio is likely to gain traction if targets high –end translation clients.  From lists of clients, pick those with more significant influence in their field and then choose relevant samples.

Text Complexity

Include texts that have special terms and specifics of culture on your portfolio. It shows what you know and depicts your capacity to handle difficult translation tasks. Also, identify characteristics for sample selection depending on your choices.

In summary, a good portfolio is an introductory tool for demonstrating skills, and it is highly recommended that every translator has one.

Tell your translator the purpose of your translation

This text was written by Levent Yildizgoren and originally published on his company’s blog. I decided to republish it on TCZ because it addresses in a lot more detail one of the items tacked in my article Defining project specifications, namely, the importance of informing translators of the purpose of a text. Thanks a lot for sharing it with us, Levent!

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When choosing to translate any form of communication, informing the translator of the purpose of the text is paramount. Specifying the purpose of the translation will not only ensure that it is fit for purpose, but will also save you time and money. Is the translation required for a short business email, to be published on a website or just to understand the gist of the information?

Literal translations express text word for word and are devoid of any undertone or nuances. They are usually intended to understand the content of the source text, for instance back translations. With literal translation any internal inconsistency or error in the source text will be transferred into the final translation. A publication standard translation, stylistic and professional, is far from the literal example.

For the majority of translations, successfully conveying the meaning of the text is more important than remaining faithful to the original lexis. There are varying degrees of freedom in translation. The translator has to make difficult decisions with regards to grammatical and sentential issues, cultural transposition, tone, and social register. To classify a text can be tricky, but the key is to provide as much relevant information as possible. Generally it is clear whether a text is fictional or non-fictional. However, the purpose or context is often a point for clarification. Most non-fictional texts can be categorized as below:

  • Informative (commercial) – magazine article, advertisement
  • Informative (persuasive) – political tract, business pitch, marketing communication
  • Informative (empirical) – technical manuals

Is the article to convince, inform, inspire, console? The list is endless.

In order to ensure that the translator can classify the material correctly, it is important not only to supply the purpose of the text, but also the context in which it will be used. The sentence structure and vocabulary used in the translation will vary according to the information that you provide. For example, the level of language used for a user manual would not be suitable for a magazine article. The purpose of a text will also affect the manner in which cultural references and idiomatic phrases are conveyed.

With regards to context, if the translation is an addition to previous work (in a brochure, perhaps), providing any reference material or supplying a glossary of terminology will ensure that the translation is consistent and functional.

Who is the translation aimed at? The target audience plays a vital role in deciding the style and register of the translation. Tone has a great impact on the way the text is received and in turn how successful the translation is.

The amount of information that the translator has will determine the extent to which s/he can compensate for translation loss in the finished article. Professional translators are trained to recognize the requirements of a text, to make decisions that will effectively communicate the style and meaning of a text with minimal distortion of the original copy.

A translator’s choice of vocabulary throughout the translation process will directly affect the success of the translation. Providing the purpose and context of the translation will ensure that these decisions are informed decisions.

Translation agreements

“Spoken words fly away;
written words remain.”

– Latin saying

Once you have spoken or exchanged emails with the translator and all the relevant project specifications are well defined, the best next step is to put everything together in clear writing.

This can be done rather formally, by adapting a model contract to your needs and having both parties sign it. A translation agreement should be designed and customized to establish the specificity of the relationship between a translation buyer and a language service provider in any particular project.

Alternatively, a more informal way of specifying all pertinent details in writing is by email. I myself started using this email method at first: I’d write an email with all the specifications, send it to clients, and ask them to reply stating they agreed with the terms and conditions. Only then would I begin working on the project.

Lately I’ve been using a model contract and asking for signatures—it projects a more professional image and gives both parties a better sense of security.

In any case, I’d advise you not to rely only on spoken words or agreements.

Having a client–provider agreement is one of the requirements of the European quality standard for translation service providers (EN 15038:2006) and the Canadian Translation Services Standard (CAN/CGSB-131.10-2008), both developed to ensure the quality of translation services offered by translation agencies and translation companies.

A translation contract protects both parties: you and the service provider. Even if the translator doesn’t take the initiative to send you an agreement, you’re right to request one. Not surprisingly, some translators develop mistrust toward clients who refuse to sign this type of document. Come to think of it, if the service request is genuine, why wouldn’t a buyer want to formalize it in a contract? Conversely, you should be careful when dealing with a language professional who is not willing to sign an agreement.

Below is one of the most comprehensive model contracts I’ve seen, provided by the American Translators Association (ATA). There may be other specific issues either party might want to specify in writing.

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Post update – Jan 27th, 2012

Seeking to help translators draft their own contracts and agreements, the ATA Business Practices Education Committee has put together the Guide to a Translation Services Agreement.

This publication provides not only a customizable model contract in one column, but also enlightening explanations in the second column. While undoubtedly handy for language professionals, it’s certainly useful to translation customers as well.

To help with ease of access, this resource has been added to TCZ’s “Useful links” section (left column).