Translation agencies often get more corporate clients and general business than individual freelance translators who often take translation assignments as part time jobs from home.
This shouldn’t be a surprise.
Translation gencies usually work with a large number of professional translators so that they have a wide variety of language combinations at their disposal.
Big projects then will be broken down into manageable pieces for different language experts so that the turnaround time is faster for clients.
This way, meeting deadlines is less of an issue.
Translation agencies typically allocate a fairly sizable budget for marketing. As a result, they get more clients and more business.
Working with agencies does give you the potential of having more consistent translation jobs and interpreter jobs and that means a regular income stream.
But not all agencies are created equal. Make sure you are selective and do your homework before you sign up with them. Research the agencies on your list.
Eliminate those untrustworthy ones that have repeated bad reviews.
Stay away from shady agencies that do not have a website, or those that only use hotmail addresses unless you personally know them well.
Always call the contact number to see if someone answers the phone. If you never reach a real person, drop it and try the next one.
Reputable agencies almost always set up an appointment with you in person or on the phone to discuss the terms and policies.
That also includes payment issues so you know what to expect when you accept an assignment from an agency. Don’t be shy — ask about how much, when and how you’ll be paid.
Most translation agencies have a few favourite contractors for each language pair. They tend to get more freelance work than others.
If you: always act professionally; never miss a deadline; are helpful and courteous; and stay in touch with agencies on a regular basis, there’s no reason why you can’t make it to the top of their list.
But if you rely on agencies for all or most of your work, you are basically working for an employer. The only difference is that you don’t have any benefits or sick leave most other employees enjoy. And there’s no guarantee you will always have work.
In fact, if you put all your eggs in the basket of agencies, your dry spells are likely waiting for you just around the corner.
Translation agencies have their limits. When there are many different contractors involved in one project, there tends to be a problem with quality and consistency. They focus more on getting the jobs done correctly and on time, rather than maintaining harmonious personal flair in most jobs.
So you work with agencies and impress them every opportunity you’ve got. But don’t stop there.
You also need to go out and find your own clients.
No, you never steal clients from agencies. This will hurt you in the long run. There are plenty of small businesses and individuals who want to buy from professionals like you.
You offer something agencies don’t have. Personal touch! Whether it’s a brochure or some marketing material, a menu or a sports story, you would have the privilege of talking to the client directly.
You know what he or she wants; you get a hint of their personality, you then put a personal touch in the work you conduct.
Business is about people. It always has been and it always will be.
Try to reach out to more clients by packaging your products or services in different forms.
You can transform your knowledge of languages into readable versions such as booklets and e-books. You can even offer e-courses or tele-classes to many clients at the same time.
Of course to do that you’ll have to cultivate a loyal audience first. We’ll talk about that in another chapter.
Allow yourself to be different from others translators in terms of your business model and attitude. Be creative. Get out there in a big way. Learn from successful solo businesses in other industries.
Work with online and offline resources. Keep yourself updated with the industrial trends and technology.
Translation agencies are no different from your other clients. Treat them with respect, but never rely completely on them.
Always try to find different ways to fill your business funnel. If you get too comfortable, your business will stop growing.