Video transcription, captioning and subtitling – the perfect sideline for translators?

by OFER TIROSH 21/03/2018

There are various reasons why freelance translators look to build up additional income streams. While some choose to focus in on specialist translation – legal translation, medical translation and so forth – others prefer to branch out and take on complementary kinds of work. In that spirit, we’re taking a look at whether video transcription, captioning and subtitling could be the perfect sideline to complement a career in professional translation. 

Translation side gigs

Earning income from a range of sources is a way to spread risk. This is important for many freelance translators, as income from a single source has the potential to suddenly dry up. For others, translation side gigs are simply a way to achieve more variety or more flexibility in their working lives. They are also a great way to cope with periods when translation work alone isn’t enough to pay the bills. 

Video transcription

Video translation is far from simple. Before the translation can begin, there is usually a requirement to transcribe the content. That includes not just the words spoken, but who is saying them and any other significant sounds that occur, from door bells and telephones ringing to car horns sounding. 

Those with a love of languages may well enjoy transcription work. It is detailed and contains an element of personal challenge, as you see how fast you can transcribe content (then aim to do it faster). For translation purposes, video transcription also includes the need to timestamp the copy, which is great for those who like working methodically and with attention to detail. Timestamping ensures that the translated copy can be fitted to the visual elements of the video without going out of sync. 

Video captioning and subtitling

Captioning and subtitling are ways to present the audible content of a video in text format. Captioning is more detailed than subtitling; while subtitles present a text version of what is said, captions tend to include more detail about other sounds, from background music to birds singing. Captioning is designed for those who are unable to hear the audio portion of the video. 

Translation talents

Video transcription, captioning and subtitling allow translators to put their linguistic skills to good use. An excellent vocabulary and superb spelling and grammar are essential tools, meaning that those who already work with one or more language have a distinct advantage. 

The fact that video transcription, captioning and subtitling can be undertaken with or without a translation element means that translators can offer their services not only to video translation clients, but also to those who need same-language services. This broadens the base of potential clients, thus providing additional sources of potential income. 

Other translation sidelines

There are plenty of other jobs that complement the work that professional translators undertake and allow them to boost their income while adding variety to their working life. Those with creative flair may find that providing desktop publishing services works well. Meanwhile, more technically minded translators might like to try their hand at web design. Copy writing, proof-reading and editing are also attractive options for those who enjoy making a living working with languages. 

These are all services that may or may not contain a translation element. By adding them into the mix, translators can ensure that their services appeal to a wide range of clients by providing a comprehensive ‘one stop shop’ translation service, as well as numerous same-language specialisms. 

Final thoughts

Do you stick to providing pure translation services or have you branched out to offer other specialisms? What have you found works particularly well as a complement to translation work? Share your thoughts via the comments. 

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