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Virtual translator

Virtual translator

How to start?

You are successfully connected to the Internet. Now you can place your advertisements on professional services on various websites (for example, on the Russian Internet www.joblist.ru or abroad). But in practice this method is not so effective.

It is way better to start from preparing your professional CV. The question is where to send it. For example, you can get a list of translation bureaus.

On website www.translatortips.com/tranmail.html you can purchase the database including over 1800 addresses of translation bureaus, the database which can be purchased on page www.macroconsulting.com/reputable_translation_agencies.asp includes 5509 addresses, moreover, they specify the payment methods used by the companies. You can also search free lists on the Internet: www.cbel.com/Translation_Services - 696 links, www.texastrader.com/Business/Business_Services/Translation_Services - 1373 web addresses. You can also use such search services as www.nothernlight.com and www.bestoftheweb.com, focused on commercial companies search.

On some websites of the translation bureaus, you can fill in a CV form. But still the most effective method is to send your data directly to the translation bureaus which email addresses you have. But you should note that all successful translation bureaus (except for newly created) are likely to have a complete staff of network translators and you will need to compete with them. Thus, before you start sending out your CV, you should try to form a clear view about the world translation market (see the insert).

It is also important to determine your rates. Unfortunately, this is the question hardly discussed on the websites for translators. This is the case when everyone for himself. In practice the rates vary greatly - from 0.02 USD to 0.06 USD per word. This is rather good in comparison with the rates of Belarusian bureaus, but you should keep in mind that they apply high requirements to quality. You would better not even try to translate into a foreign language. A good quality is possible only when translating into the native language.

HR Departments at the translation bureaus carefully process all received CVs, but you may not get a confirmation as usually the translation bureaus are too busy. For the same they can think of your CV in a year when there is a project on your speciality. On average you can get a reply within four months, and only about 15% of the bureaus you contacted, do reply.

You can also try to send your CV to prospective clients directly, but I have never tried this.

Useful links

You may look through the links and resources: Cecilia Falk’s famous Home Page (www2.sbbs.se/hp/cfalk/indexeng.htm, resources for translators homepage.uibk.ac.at/~c61302/tranlink.html; you can find a lot of interesting links on www.nowtranslations.com, useful links to the vocabularies on the Internet www.cetrodftt.com/translate.htm, a large catalogue of online dictionaries for 150 languages can be found on www.yourdictionary.com (in particular, Russian - www.yourdictionary.com/languages/slavic.html.

Some specificity

While translation bureaus and clients consider your applications, you need to prepare for a routine work on the Internet. I will not consider the issues of the translation work itself, it would take us too far away from the subject. Let's talk about the peculiarities typical for this work when it is done over the Internet.

Firstly, you need to create at least two email addresses. One is the main, which can be fee-based. You will need it to receive large files with images, let's say, as multi-volume archives with a total capacity up to 10-30 megabytes. The second one is reserve - as even fee-based services do not work properly sometimes. After starting to send out your CV, you need to check your mailbox at least three times a day. It will allow you respond to the received proposals quite quickly. If you are going to vacation or busy and cannot complete translations for a while, you must notify all the clients about it.

Some clients sometimes use fax for communication; therefore, you should have an opportunity to accept and send faxes. The easiest way is to use a computer-based fax.

Then you need to install an anti-virus program, for example, Dr. Web (www.drweb.ru), and do not forget to update the virus data base on time. A home computer is your place of production now, and you cannot afford to lose connection with clients due to an accidentally sent virus even for a couple of days.

For the same you should consider having a spare computer. It will allow continuing work during the settings, modernization, and repair of the main working place. Besides, you will be able to study a new software with safety.

Useful tips

  • Do not cause a client problems with work and communication. Try to solve even those technical issues that formally are not included in the scope of your work. You should not underestimate this condition! Become “friends” with the client.
  • Always meet the term of the work completion. If they ask to send the work by 10 a.m., send it, if possible, half an hour earlier. This is the clients who set the term, not the managers! If you do not cope with the task, it is better to notify the manager about it as early as possible.
  • Always notify the manager you work with about all issues you face during the work! If you cannot do the work - do not take it!
  • Once you received the work, you should alway confirm the receipt of the file specifying the files received. A manager of the translation bureau as well as a client can make a mistake. Nothing would be worse when during the work delivery it is found out that for some reason you did not get a couple of the original files.
  • In turn, when sending a finished work by email you should always ask to confirm the receipt and wait for a positive reply.
  • When communicating with a manager, you should remember that you work with humans. Try to make the life of your manager simpler - he has got a dozen of translators like you.
  • If you doubt you can do work properly, never take it! Muster courage and say NO!

Exactly, oddly enough, but a translator who works remotely sometimes need to learn unexpected programs and formats. It can be various publishing systems, programs for vector and bit-map graphics, drawing programs, even animation and video systems. And sometimes you need not only complete a translation, but to replace the text in the original files with it, for this you need to know the respective software well.

For sure, most often you get work in MS Word format. But pretty often you can find here traps and pitfalls. Client companies often input the objects prepared using third-party programs through a wonderful technology OLE to their doc-files. The issue is that if you do not have the respective programs, it is impossible to edit (and sometimes properly reproduce) such objects. It is almost useless to contact clients in such cases. A translation bureau as an agent will never put you directly through with them, but even in case of a direct contact a client may simply not understand what the issue is (“It works fine here. Don't you know how to use Word?”).

Sometimes a translation should look identical to the original, have the same execution, a number of pages. Since a Russian text occupies, as a rule, 10-20% more place than an English text, it is not so easy to achieve it. In such cases it is good to have an assistant who can do this time-consuming, but generally not a difficult work.

In no case you should delete files with a finished work, at least until you get paid for it. It is impossible to foresee all possible misunderstanding. Files can be damaged at delivery, infected with a virus at the translation bureau, a client system may be incompatible with the fonts used in the translation etc. Finally, it may be simply necessary to amend the translation. And in case the client is satisfied with the finished work, it is likely you can receive another order from him in a while. Most probably that the same techniques as in the previous text will be used, and even the whole parts of it will repeat (this is very typical for technical instructions and partly for legal documents). You can save a lot of time using your archive. If you regularly receive orders from many clients, you can install a CD-RW drive that will help you avoid issues with the finished works archive storage.

How to get money

There are no issues with money transfer within Russia, a foreign client has a several options:

  • Client just send you banknotes in a hard envelope by a registered mail with insurance of the entire amount sent. Thus, he is insured from money loss during sending. Though in this case you violate the mailing rules. But life is life, everyone crossed the street against the red light.
  • A client can use Western Union services.
  • You can register a credit card with a bank and receive funds to the account.

Don't forget to pay taxes once a year and you can sleep well.

As a conclusion

As any other activity translator's work on the Internet becomes really profitable when there are stable trust business relations. Thus, try to learn from your own mistakes, and if possible, from other's. Probably you may need to acquire a translation automation program (for example, Trados 5.0 or Transit 3.0) in case of large volumes of translation or upon a respective requirement of a client, but this is a separate issue.

Good luck on the Internet!

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Virtual translator