Freelance writing is among the easiest of the freelance markets online to enter. However, the vast increase in recent smart translation technologies that can handle many of the basic translation needs for some people have made it a bit more challenging to enter the world of freelance translators successfully. Still, the ability to translate websites, documents or to provide other translation services can greatly enhance the ability of the freelance writer to become more successful.
Given the vast number of smart translation technologies and the relatively common methods for using them to optimize your ability to increase your freelance writing success, the first portion of this article looks at many of the more popular smart translation technologies that are available.
What smart translation technologies you ultimately select to assist you in your freelance writing endeavors will likely depend on numerous factors, not the least of which will be the limitations based on the tools you are using. While many of these tools will function across multiple platforms, each one also has certain restrictions and benefits depending on where it is being used.
Despite some popular misconceptions to the contrary, one does not need a desktop or even a laptop computer to become a successful freelance writer. It is probably fair to surmise that in this digital day and age, there are people today who can work faster on a portable device than others can on a full computer setup.
1.1 Google Translate, Translations and Human Intervention
According to Google, Google Translate works in over 100 languages and has over 500 million people every day using it for the purposes of document translation. Despite this, reviews seem to be mixed on the efficacy of Google Translate as a viable tool for complete translations.
In fact, at the base of each translation there is a link asking people to actively work together to improve Google Translate. “Your contribution will be used to improve translation quality and may be shown (without identifying you) to other users”.
Google Translate is primarily a tool for people using computer systems to access the internet, though it does serve some people well on portable devices. There is also a Google Translate app that is available more specifically for mobile device technology.
Google also recently released a Google Transcribe app in 8 languages for Android devices, though it remains a bit early to tell how well this is going to work, and whether or not it will be expanded to include more of the nearly 7000 languages of the world.
1.2 Portable Device Translation Apps
The list of translation apps on the Google Play store website is so extensive that it would be impossible to review all of them in a single article. The best one could hope to do is to review the top ten translation apps on the Google Play Store perhaps, though each individual will have their own preferences.
Perhaps the best advice anyone could give or receive regarding translation apps would be to read the existing reviews, see which most closely matches your needs and has good reviews, and try them out one at a time. While that may not be an ideal answer or solution, each individual freelance writer is going to have their own individual and unique needs and preferences regarding translation apps.
1.3 Website Plugins vs. Translation Services
When providing website translation services, it is easy for the freelance writer to just recommend the installation of translation plugins and extensions for the website. Perhaps the biggest drawback to this is the completely ineffective nature of translation plugins and extensions for search engine optimization. None of the translations available through these plugins will create actual pages that can be indexed by the search engines.
Website translation services should allow for each page of the website to be translated and established as a separate and unique page. Ofer Tirosh, CEO and owner of Tomedes notes that translation services that completely and accurately translate the entire website also provide the webmaster to include localization strategies as part of the website translation and vastly improve the performance of the website on the search engine results page.
The freelance writer that offers website translation services, even if using the assistance of a smart translation app or service, can use this as a selling point for a much more complete (and profitable) freelance job online, at the same time expanding both their portfolio and their freelance performance rating.
1.4 Smart Devices and Translation
Among the most popular of all Smart Devices are Alexa and Siri. Despite this, Alexa currently only supports 8 languages. Siri performs a little better in this department, coming equipped for 21 languages. Still, neither of these devices were specifically purposed as smart translation technologies.
A news report from the Engadget website from January 2020 noted that there were a great many new handheld portable translation devices at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada this year. Many of them claim they are as effective as the mythical Babel-Fish from “Hitchhiker of the Galaxy” fame.
In the book at least, one could simply place a brightly colored babel-fish inside the inner ear and perfectly understand any language spoken within hearing distance, though in all honesty this sounds more like an option to be avoided at all costs. That being said, while a smart translation technology device that would work so flawlessly does sound appealing, there are apparently not any on the market quite that good just yet.
Despite this, many of these devices, apps, plugins and other translation options do provide the freelance writer with most of the basis that they will need to provide accurate translation services. Though granted, the final translation may still need some editing and revisions by the freelance writer.
1.5 The Importance of PEMT in Translation Services and Freelance Success
If you are just getting started as a freelance writer, translation is perhaps something that you are taking up in order to increase your potential as a remote language service provider and your potential to earn a living online. It is likely that you already are at least bilingual if you are adding the translation services to your offering, or at least comfortably familiar with the language pair to some degree.
What all of these online translation tools and translation apps have in common, is the fact that they are largely restricted to literal translations. PEMT stands for Post Edited Machine Translation. Rather than using these tools as translators and depending on them to be completely accurate, the human translator should focus on their strength as computer assisted translation (or CAT) tools.
The individual needs and desires of the human translators will be so unique as to make virtually any of these tools a viable option for somebody. Once the tools are selected however, it will be the job of the freelance writer or human translator to ensure the accuracy of the document translations, website translations or other services which these devices and apps will be used.
Care should also be taken however, to ensure that the final human translation is also limited by the localization necessary for a complete and accurate translation to occur. Even when the parent language remains the same, local dialects will vary depending on many factors, especially at the national level. As languages spread, they also tend to evolve, occasionally leading to the same language having to be “translated” into the local variation for another location. What?
1.6 Localization With Smart Translation Technologies
Even someone who has grown up in a bilingual household may face some challenges working as a freelance writer and especially as a translator. This is largely because the local dialect of their language pair will still most likely be very localized and thus, somewhat limited. What does that mean?
Large cities and small cities will have distinct linguistic characteristics. Local vernacular will be present at the local level, including idioms, expressions and other figures of speech that may be unfamiliar to those living in separate geographic locations.
There are even different forms of speech and expression that may impede an accurate and complete exchange of information between different age groups within the same region. Think about the different phrases that your grandparents had, and terms they used that you did not understand. This is what is involved in the localization of the translation process.
The English spoken in the United States will differ greatly from that spoken in the United Kingdom. The same holds true with Spanish and Portuguese translations as well. Thus, it will be necessary for the freelance writer and translator to have at least some knowledge of the linguistic variations in order to be able to accurately convey the text and meaning when providing translation services.
1.7 Improving Freelance Writer Success
When going out to find a job as a freelance writer or translator, it is easy to get caught in a trap, constantly looking for work on the freelance job sites. While many of these sites can be a great place to get started working as a freelancer, they should not be considered a viable career choice.
It is far too easy to rely only on the freelance sites and to spend more time looking for writing and translation work than you will spend actually doing the work and getting paid. There are some steps however, that will help you to build your career as a freelancer and continue the growth of your client list and your freelance rates.
Establish a base of long term clients. In all of your ads, bids and other communications with clients, inform them that you are looking for long-term work. Even those people not looking for long-term workers will be more likely to hire you, as this also indicates that you will be more concerned about the quality of your work since you are relying on clients to come back to you when they need more work done.
Constantly seek out new long-term clients. Even as your reputation as a freelance writer and translator grows, you will need to continue seeking out new clients. When you do reach the point that you have a sufficient work load to keep you busy and to help you earn a good living as a freelance writer or translator, you will still need to keep looking for new clients, though generally at a higher rate than what you had previously been charging.
Incrementally increase the rates you charge. This should not be done randomly, but added on to the last step. When your client list is full, continue to seek out new clients, but post your writing and translation services at a higher rate. When you get a new client who has accepted the higher rate, explain to your lower paying clients what you have, and offer them the opportunity to retain your services at the new rate.
If the old writing and translation clients refuse your new rates, you already have a new client to replace them with. If they accept, you move on to the next low paying client and offer them the same deal. By expanding in such a fashion, you can continue to increase your workload and your income as your skills in freelance writing and translation services increases.
Even as the global Covid-19 pandemic winds down, there is a projected growth of people working at home. Working as a freelance writer or as a language service provider offering translation and interpretation services is an excellent way to get into the business. Following what you have learned here will ensure that you can continually work and increase your income, working from home and being your own boss.