Translation budget: get the best bang for your buck

Your translation budget is a key element to factor in when you decide to hire a professional translator. As an Italian translator and English translator, I’m often asked to translate English to Italian content by companies planning to target the Italian market or already working with Italian clients. As I explain in my article Qual è l’Importanza delle Traduzioni per le Aziende? it’s crucial to speak the language of the audience you plan to market to, especially when it comes to client- or customer-oriented material such as websites, newsletters, product descriptions, advertisements and so on. But how can you get the most out of an often limited translation budget? Let’s take a look at a few strategies.

  1. To optimize your translation budget, the first thing you need to do is hire a professional translator.

Once you decide to hire a translator, the first choice you need to make is what kind of figure you want to work with. If you’re on a limited budget, you may be tempted to ask your friends, your family or – worst of all – resort to machine translation (e.g. Google Translate).

There solutions work well if you don’t really care about quality and just want to save money. However, if your content is designed to really help you increase sales and revenues, the only effective solution is to hire a professional translator. This is especially true for things like websites, blogs, newsletters, product descriptions, advertisements, etc. as these speak directly to your customers, and you don’t want to get that wrong, do you?

A professional translator has a number of benefits:

  • they are easy to communicate with, so you can explain your needs and provide any information or clarification directly to the person actually doing the job, with no middle men. If the translator asks (intelligent) questions, don’t worry: it’s an excellent sign! More about this in my article How To Best Work with Translators;
  • they are experienced and know how to produce translations that read like originals, something your audience will greatly appreciate;
  • they use the style and terminology that best fits each type of content;
  • they are proactive and will have no problem accommodating any changes you may request, even mid-job.

The initial investment may seem a little higher, but you will get top-quality translations, do justice to the value of your products or service and avoid looking bad in the eyes of your customers. Ultimately, the quality of the results and the benefit you will get will far exceed the cost.

  1. Work closely with your translator and clearly explain what you expect from them.

Reworkings, changes, corrections are all extra costs. In order to get the most out of your translation budget, before you even start working with you translator you need to provide them with key information, including tone of voice, target, any parts or words that don’t need to be translated or that require special treatment, any terminology requirements, etc. By letting the translator know exactly what you want right from the start, you’ll get the result you’re aiming for and save time and money.

  1. Prioritize the content you want to translate

Not all content has the same importance. For example, promotional or marketing text, product or service descriptions and legal stuff such as your privacy policy and cookie policy should be translated more carefully than, say, blog articles, which are often replaced by newer ones and are usually given only a cursory reading.  In addition, if you need to translate creative content such as ads, payoffs, slogans, etc. remember that a conventional translator might not be the best solution – what you probably need is a transcreator.

  1. Look for ready-made translations

It may sound obvious, but parts of your text may already be available in your target language. For example, standard content such as privacy policies and cookie policies can easily be found online, already translated in many languages. It’s a good idea to have your translator check anything you find online, but you’ll still be saving time and money.

  1. Make sure your content is right for your target market

Before sending your content out for translation you always need to ask yourself, “Is it interesting for my target audience?”. In my experience, clients often commission extensive translations, but it may be that only a small part of that content will grab their audience’s attention. Or conversely, their content may lack key information for a specific market. A good translator will be skilled enough to advise you on what to add or take out and some, like me, also offer a content creation service.

  1. The cheapest translator is not the best translator

You get what you pay for. That does not mean the most expensive service is surely the best, and it’s important to spend your money wisely. However, cost is just one of many factors you should consider; other discriminants include experience, specialization in your industry, flexibility, proactiveness, turnaround time and ease of communication. Suspiciously low rates may be a red flag: you might find yourself working with an unreliable translator who will use machine translation, deliver poor quality work and have a cavalier attitude to deadlines. As I mentioned, you may need to invest a bit more to get a professional translator, but that extra money will be sensibly spent on someone offering a profitable cooperation, reliability and quality results, not to mention peace of mind in knowing that your content is in capable hands.

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