Defining Targets Differently © Frits Ahlefeldt-Laurvig
Working with translation agencies
Readers of this blog will know that my focus is on working with direct clients. However, I do recognize that translation agencies have their place. Many translators start out working with translation agencies and some translators choose to continue working primarily with translation agencies throughout their careers. Aspiring specialist translators without any industry experience will likely benefit greatly from working with good agencies that provide constructive feedback, particularly in the early days when they themselves recognize that they still have a lot to learn and are motivated to do so.
Marketing to translation agencies
Marketing to translation agencies is a different kettle of fish to marketing to direct clients but it is marketing nonetheless. I, as a freelance practitioner who does not outsource work, receive many badly written applications from freelance translators every week – I wrote a blog post about this last year which you can find here – so large translation agencies must receive a large number of such applications every day.
Finding agencies suited to your skillset
As a translator my advice would be to refrain from sending out mass applications to large numbers of agencies but to drill down and find those agencies specializing in the fields and languages you yourself specialize in or want to focus on. These will often be smaller boutique agencies and translation companies which have the added advantage of being small enough to be in a position to treat their translators as individuals rather than simply as names in a database.
How to make contact, information to provide
Some agencies have forms on their websites which prospective translators need to fill in. Others ask for applications by email. When emailing translation agencies it is important to specify your language pair(s) and direction(s), your specialist areas and, very importantly, your rates. You are the service provider: translation agencies don’t have to agree to work with you on the basis of the rates you suggest, they may propose or require a rate adjustment as a condition for including you on their list of translators, but you should not let them dictate rates to you either. Be aware of how low you are prepared to go and stick to your guns. You are not destined to work with every potential agency.
Advice from the agency’s perspective
I recently came across this useful Translator’s Guide to Contacting Translation Agencies by Email which Affinity Translation has written about best practices, things to avoid and advanced techniques for contacting translation agencies. The Guide includes advice on what to put in the body of the email, why it is important to differentiate yourself from other translators and why it is essential that your follow up. Perhaps readers of this blog will find it useful.
Tess Whitty’s most recent podcast interview on Marketing Tips for Translators Episode 045: Marketing your translation services to translation companies/agencies, which I listened to this morning, also provides some good advice from a translation company’s perspective. Be sure to check that out too.
Regarding disclosure, I have no commercial relationship with the company Affinity Translation of any kind, and provide the above information purely for information purposes.