Freelance translators are the managers of their own destiny so far as their working time and practices are concerned. While most start out doing everything themselves, there comes a point when many freelance translators find they are left with too little time to get everything done.
At this point, freelancers have a choice – they can accept that their hours are taken up with the work they have and that they should decline any additional jobs that come their way, or they can choose to work smarter instead of harder by outsourcing a range of tasks to others.
Outsourcing can have a number of benefits. Essentially it provides translators with a way to make more money through working more efficiently and thus having time to take on more work. Paying for the skills of professionals in other fields can also provide translators with access to increased expertise in areas such as marketing or financial administration.
Outsourcing also gives freelance translators access to skills that they may not have themselves. Marketing activities such as website creation and social media promotion, for example, are specialist roles that are likely to yield better results if undertaken by professionals in those fields. It’s not that professional translators can’t undertake these tasks themselves, but outsourcing them is likely to achieve a better end result.
The same goes for the outsourcing of financial and administrative tasks such as invoicing and basic accountancy. Again, while this is something that translators can undertake themselves, using a professional in that field may garner better results.
Proofreading is another task that works well for outsourcing. As well as freeing up the translator’s time to focus on his/her translation work, outsourcing proofreading means a fresh pair of eyes on the translated text, which can often lead to typos and other errors being caught before the document is returned to the client.
Type setting also works well as an outsourced task. Many clients want their translated document to look the same as the original. When this comes to marketing copy such as flyers or company brochures, many translators are out of their depth. Thus using a professional desktop publishing expert can save a great deal of time, freeing up the translator to increase his income by tackling other translation work rather than fiddling around with images in complex desktop publishing programs.
Choosing to whom to outsource must be done with great care. The wrong decision could end up costing the freelance translator unnecessary time and money. Thankfully, the existence of freelancing sites such as oDesk and Elance mean that every translator has a range of experts on hand for all manner of outsourced tasks. Workers are graded by other clients for jobs they have completed, so translators can select carefully to ensure that they person to whom they choose to outsource has the right skills for the right price.
In the spirit of taking outsourcing to the next level, some freelancers find that they also end up outsourcing translation work. Those who can find fellow translators with sufficient linguistic skills but charging less than they themselves do are able to get their work done and make a profit from their clients when all they have to do is check over the translated copy.
Of course, with any outsourced tasks, the freelance translator needs to be sure that the sums add up – paying another freelancer an hourly rate that is higher than you can earn is definitely not the way to outsource efficiently! To see whether or not you are ready to outsource, think through your working week and consider what you could outsource and why. Then do some calculations and figure out how best you can make outsourcing work for you.
Which tasks do you outsource and to whom? Let us know by leaving a comment in the box.