Should you be offering globalization services as well as localization services?

February 6, 2019
Should you be offering globalization services as well as localization services?

Working in the translation sector presents plenty of opportunities for lifelong learning – it’s one of the many exciting things about life as a freelance translator. Whatever your interests are, you can pursue them, whether that means undertaking scientific translation, marketing translation, financial translation or any other form of translation. 

Translation skills and income

Learning specialist skills brings not only the joy of personal achievement, but the potential for financial reward as well. Translators with legal or medical knowledge and qualifications to prove their expertise, for example, can charge a premium for their specialist services. 

Similarly, translators who also offer localization services are often able to command higher rates, as they can provide their clients with a more well-rounded service. Their services may also appeal to a wider group of potential clients as a result of offering localization services. 

Over the years, this has led many freelance translators to offer localization as part of their work. However, of late, there has been a shift towards globalization, which has seen some clients turning away from localization. As such, we take a look at whether freelance translators should now be offering globalization as well as localization services in order to maximise their income and appeal to a wider client base. 

Localization versus globalization 

Localization and globalization are, in some respects, complete opposites. Localizing copy means shaping it to suit the needs of a particular audience. That can incorporate changing sections of text, swapping out images, amending colour schemes, tweaking logos and even rewriting copy completely in some circumstances. The work is undertaken with the cultural, political and religious expectations of the target audience firmly in mind. 

Globalization, on the other hand, shies away from shaping copy to suit any particular audience. Instead, the process seeks to ensure that the document has widespread appeal – that it can be read by a global audience without causing offence or unintended humour. While localization involves detailed knowledge of a particular culture or nation, globalization needs to factor in a huge range of considerations from nations all around the world. 

When to use localization and globalization 

In practice, the translation task at hand will dictate whether it is best to localize or globalize the file you’re working on. A marketing campaign that is being designed with one specific country or audience in mind, for example, will benefit from localization. An app that has been developed with a goal of selling it around the world, meanwhile, will need globalization to ensure it holds maximum appeal for a wide range of audiences. 

Interestingly, not all translation clients are aware of such subtleties, so it’s important to discuss localization and globalization options at the start of each and every job, to ensure that every client ends up with the translation that is most appropriate to their needs. 

Globalization considerations

Much of the work involved in globalization takes place behind the scenes. A company wanting a globalized website, for example, will need to consider the SEO elements of the site carefully, working in partnership with their translator on meta-descriptions, images tags and suchlike to ensure that the site delivers on the global stage, particularly in terms of its search engine performance. 

Globalization is a big topic and one that requires expert attention to detail in order to deliver well. That’s what makes it such a valuable service and why translators with a flair for it can set their rates accordingly. As such, if you don’t already offer globalization services to your translation clients, 2019 could be the year to learn about this exciting area of work! 

Final thoughts

Do you already provide globalization services to your translation clients? If not, do you plan to start doing so in the near future? You can share your experiences with your fellow translators by leaving a comment below. 

By Ofer Tirosh

Ofer Tirosh is the founder and CEO of Tomedes, a language technology and translation company that supports business growth through a range of innovative localization strategies. He has been helping companies reach their global goals since 2007.



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