The cost of translating and localizing your valuable original content is a mere fraction of the time and effort it took to create it in the first place.
Translation and localization are the easiest and most cost-effective ways to extend your reach, expand your audience, and increase your revenues.
In this article, you’ll see how to make translation, localization, and globalization services as painless and profitable as possible. You’ll discover various options available to you for creating a globalized, multilingual production system to make your original content available to all the new markets.
How Translation and Localization Services Can Extend Your Reach — and Increase Your Earnings
Creating original content is hard work.
There may be days when brilliant thoughts and eloquent sentences flow effortlessly from your brain through your fingertips and onto the screen. There will be other days when your creativity feels completely walled off and inaccessible. Whether you’re writing content yourself or paying copywriters for the job, you know that originality does not come easy, or cheaply.
Translating content is a different matter. When the original already exists, translation is a straightforward task… and a relatively simple one at that, at least for a native speaker of the target language.
The goal: to replicate the intended meaning of the original content as elegantly as possible. This is the key to making money from your translated content. The only question remaining is how and by whom.
Localization involves more than just translation. You don’t just need to know how to convert the language. You also must account for other “local” factors like the currency, the measurement system, and any other localized references in the content. You also need to consider any cultural sensitivities or preferences of the local audience.
When you help your client translate your content into multiple languages, you extend the reach of your content, multiplying the potential audience, and helping your client to bring in more sales and greater revenue.
By helping them understand their options for translation and localization, you’ll increase your value in their eyes.
And you can take the lead, arrange the services, and handle the details for an additional fee.
Getting Outside Help with Translation and Localization Services
If you or someone on your staff is a polyglot, familiar with both the language and the culture of your target audience, you’re all set. If not, however, you’ll need to look for help. That doesn’t mean you need to give up your byline. You still own the translated content. You just need to pay a bit to get your content into a foreign language and a format well-suited to a specific target location.
Due to both the demand for and value of communicating effectively with multiple foreign audiences, there is a highly competitive market among agencies providing professional translation services and localization solutions. A Google search on “content marketing,” “localization strategy,” or “website localization,” together with the names of the languages you need to support, will yield many options. So, how do you choose among them?
First, you will need to find agencies that have some expertise both in the specific language pair or pairs you require. The translator must be fluent in both the source and the target languages, but the target should be the strongest of the two, at the mother-tongue level. Check also that your translator has at least a few years of professional translation and localization experience.
The Professional Localization Services Process
The typical set up in an agency is this…
You first describe your task and perhaps send a sample of the writing to be localized. The service provider then responds with a quote, timetable, and sometimes questions for you. If all looks good, the contact person (who usually has a marketing and sales role) will pass you over to an account manager, who will become your primary point of contact, usually available in your preferred time zone.
A professional agency will usually manage a team, often consisting of one or more translators and an editor and/or proofreader. This team approach is advantageous because you have several pairs of eyes checking and rechecking your content. The localization services agency is also likely to have a technical department that can assist you with implementing localized content on your website.
Most agencies will provide a guarantee to fix any mistake found in their work, even after delivery and acceptance. The period of this guarantee varies from weeks to months, even up to a year. The work by professional agencies is usually flawless, but it’s reassuring to have this explicit assurance.
The drawback of working with a professional localization agency is that it costs more, usually twice as much as working with an independent translator. But you do have the teamwork and accountability built-in, which often justifies the extra cost.
And you will save your own time, especially if you want to translate your content into multiple languages.
Professional Translation from Freelancers
These days it’s easier than ever to find freelance translators. There are marketplaces like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer where you can find relatively inexpensive resources in virtually every language pair imaginable.
These platforms make it easy to vet translator you’re considering — showing their ratings, review, and portfolios — and you can negotiate the translation services rates as well, usually metered by the number of words in the source document.
The drawback is accountability. You are protected to the extent that you put your payment in escrow, usually tying payment to the successful achievement of milestones. You only authorize the release of your partial payment from escrow after the task is successfully completed. The problem is that, when dealing with individuals, things can happen, like sickness, or travel, or other factors out of your control. They can impact the timetable. There’s also the quality issue. How are you assured that the translation of your content is really good if there’s only one pair of eyes? (Tip: Consider hiring a second translator to serve as proofreader and quality control.)
Professional Translation by Machine? Tread Carefully!
The quality of machine translation has improved dramatically. Artificial intelligence methods called neural networks have increased the accuracy and naturalness of software-driven translation services. Best of all, most of them are free and just a click away. Visit Google Translate, Microsoft Translator, or DeepL and see for yourself.
There are a couple of things to keep in mind when working with machines. The best machine translator still cannot reach the quality of a skilled and experienced human linguist. While a machine translator may do well on common language pairs like English to Spanish translation, the results may be worse with rarer combinations.
Additional Resource: Why Hasn’t AI Mastered Language Translation?
Translating machines can be great to roughly understand foreign language content or to communicate with people who don’t speak your language. In these cases, there is higher tolerance for small errors and misunderstandings. But when it’s your content and your reputation at stake, you don’t want to take chances. So even if you use machine translation in your content creation processes, you will want to have a mother-tongue native speaker of the target language in the mix to check the work.
Ofer Tirosh is founder and CEO of Tomedes, a professional language services, localization, and translation agency which since 2005 has served more than 50,000 clients, supporting more than 100 languages and 1000 language pairs.