The top five languages in the world—Chinese, Spanish, English, Arabic, and Hindi—represent more than three billion native speakers. Meanwhile, another 167 million people speak Russian and 122 million people speak Japanese – not to mention German and French which are big consumer markets in Europe. All this to say, if you’re reading this in English and want to reach the widest audience possible, chances are good that you may someday need translator to get your message out.
Here are some key questions to ask when hiring a translator:
Can you speak and write the desired language? And is it your native tongue?
There’s a big difference between speaking the language and reading and writing it. Make sure your translator has experience with both speaking and writing the language you need. A native speaker may also have more experience with colloquialisms or nuances if that’s important to your project.
What type of documents do you have experience translating?
From Powerpoint decks and legal documents to blog posts and social media text, the types of documents you may need to translate can vary widely. Ask your translator for examples of the materials they have worked with in the past to be sure they have the experience you need for the kinds of content you want translated.
What target audiences or markets have you translated for?
When you’re dealing with language, you are also dealing with dialects and cultural understanding. The copy you craft can read entirely differently depending on the audience.
You’ll want to take time to investigate the following different types of content you’ll need translated:
Business content – Learn what your translator knows not only about your business practices, but about the industry itself.
- Email marketing
- Internal websites / intranet
- Landing pages and microsites
Web content – Writing for the web is an increasingly important discipline, especially as it changes across different regions and audiences. Operating a business today means having a seamless web experience and localized experiences that consider your customers and the regions they live in. The ripple effect has an impact on a variety of content you’ll be publishing on your website, including:
- Product descriptions
- User support documentation
Social Content – Customers today often hear about your business on social media first. Your translators can help you write content that is required for each social channel. Keep in mind that while some social networks are huge here in America, there are completely different ones in other countries, including channels with a huge emphasis on conversational communication and chat-based commerce.
How do you price projects?
Come to an understanding about the breakdown for your project. There are big differences for smaller and larger projects, and some translators charge by word, by project or by time spent writing.
What is the turnaround time for your work?
Chances are, you probably need this work done last week. Get some sort of understanding of the timeframe for turnaround of your copy deliverables. Also, don’t be afraid to ask about seeing examples of work and talking about accuracy and proofreading. The difference between a misspelled word or a missing character can be costly.
Finally, be sure to read reviews like those you find on Thumbtack and ask for (and check!) references. A good translator will have no shortage of either and be happy to provide them.