Every translation job is different – that goes without saying. Every client has their own set of requirements, and every job presents its own unique challenges. What can translators do to ensure a project goes smoothly from start to finish? Well, one of the best and most straightforward things you can do is to ask the client some questions.
It’s a good rule of thumb that you should never be shy to ask questions about a job. If you’re new to the translation industry, you might worry that asking questions is a sign of inexperience or insufficient training – but it’s not at all. In fact, many clients like to be asked smart questions: it shows that the translator is a professional who cares about getting the job right. And, as we said right at the start, every job is different. It doesn’t hurt to double-check details if something is unclear. As we’ll see, you might even spot something important that hadn’t occurred to the client.
Some caution is understandable, of course, and even necessary. It’s possible to go over the top and bombard the client with hundreds of questions that you could easily have answered for yourself. But it’s easy enough to apply some common sense to the matter and avoid wasting your client’s time. A short checklist like this can be helpful:
- Is the issue something I’ve encountered before?
- Can I look up the answer to the question online, or elsewhere?
- Has the client provided any reference material that might answer the question (or is it available on their website, for example)?
- Is there a single, clear course of action that I should take?
If the answer to any of these is “yes”, then you can probably resolve the problem by yourself. If you still don’t have a solution, though, then feel free to ask away! Here are some questions that are often worth asking if the answer isn’t immediately obvious.
What is the target audience?
This is a potentially huge question…
You can read the full article in our ebook The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Successful Freelance Translator.