Responses help me draft a strategy
I’ve written one or two blog posts that have provoked a reaction before, but three weeks ago I really hit the jackpot, at least in terms of the quality and relevance of the response. If you remember, it was quality I was talking about: my concerns about how to improve the quality of my work. And the help I received in the form of comments on the post and private messages has certainly helped me to clarify my thoughts about the way forward.
My post ended with a request for advice, as I admitted I really didn’t know what I was going to do about the problem, but I was equally clear that doing nothing wasn’t an option. There is a simple reason for this: as I have mentioned before, I firmly believe that within a few years time most of the standard, relatively easy translation work will have been taken over by machines. It follows that translators intending to stay in business away from the post-editing sausage machine need to move towards markets where machines won’t be able to go, and that means providing high-quality, crafted translations. At the moment, I am moving in that direction, but I’m not happy that my work is consistently error-free enough to qualify for that distinction. Something, as I have said, needs to be done.
So this is the action I’m going to take, using the same headings as I used last week to outline the difficulties:
1. Slowing down: I’m not planning to deliberately slow down the pace of my work. However, I am determined to be even stricter about not taking on more work than I can handle comfortably. I’m also going to try to reschedule my work so that whenever possible I do not perform the final edit of a translation on the same day as the preliminary edit. This might mean pushing some jobs closer to their deadline than I do at present, but I think any delay will be worthwhile for the additional safeguard against errors provided by coming to the text fresh on a new day.
2. Technology: I’m going to learn more about using PerfectIt more effectively. I’m also going to look at other proofreading tools and tricks in places like Louise Harnby’s blog, as suggested by Victoria Patience in her comment. Finally, I’m going to get to grips with QA settings in MemoQ to reduce the false positive “crying wolf” factor I mentioned last week.
3. Outside editing: I’m going to work towards having all my translations for direct clients worked on by an outside editor while recognising that it’s unlikely that I’m going to achieve this for existing clients. I will do this by quoting much higher prices for new direct clients, asking for more generous deadlines and actively seeking potential editors in the hope of finding one or two who are compatible with my style and working methods.
4. Sample reviews: In the short term, I see this as probably the best method of improving the quality of my translations. I am already in discussions with a couple of colleagues about exactly how to do this, and I’m looking forward to the results.
5. Two-tier pricing: I still don’t like the idea of giving clients price and quality options at the initial stage. However, I realise I may have to be flexible and offering alternative prices with different levels of service could be something to consider during negotiations.
I’m extremely grateful to the colleagues from at least five continents who responded with help, advice, suggestions and even introductions to possible new clients. People who are not freelancers often ask me how I cope with working on my own rather than in an office surrounding by supportive colleagues. But who needs an office when you have the whole world?