7 questions you need to ask before you start spending translation money
Expanding internationally is the dream of many an ambitious company. But with growing international success comes increasing marketing and localization spending. If your company does not have unlimited budgets (which is true for practically every company we know), and if you want to keep your translation spend under control, then it might be a good idea to ask yourself the following questions.
1. Does my content need translation anyway?
This might sound like kicking down an open door, but it’s a question many marketing and technical writing professionals forget to ask. Do you really need all those target languages for your document? Have you had a good look at the geography and demographics of your target audience? Maybe your product is not applicable in certain countries, or maybe you are targeting an audience with a very good knowledge of English as a second language?
2. Can I make my text shorter and simpler?
Cutting down on your word count can save you a lot of money. Before sending your document in to your translation agency, you might want to check if you can remove any redundant parts. Maybe you can even rewrite certain parts of your text into a shorter version. Moreover, translators love texts that are simple and clean. Anything that can cause confusion is something you want to avoid. So, get rid of unnecessary, language-specific idioms, jargon or cultural references that only a certain part of the world will understand. It might save a revision round or two, and the time and cost that goes with it.
3. Does my agency use a translation memory?
Working with a professional translation agency that is using a translation memory is another way to lower your translation bill. A translation memory will enable you to pay less for content that has been translated before (both for so-called exact and fuzzy matches). But not only that, your translations will be much more consistent too. We discussed the topic of using a translation memory in length in another blog post.
4. Am I writing consistently?
You should expect some degree of consistency from your translator. A translation memory will certainly contribute to that. But consistency in your source text is just as important. Make sure you use correct terminology all the time and make this information available in your company, so everybody in your team is on the same page. Develop a style guide or a glossary and publish it on your company’s intranet. More consistency from your side will result in less time and money spent on discussions and review rounds with your translator.
5. Is my company reusing content through structured writing?
Structured writing with an XML language like DITA is a proven way of document authoring that relies on content reuse. In fact, DITA projects make use of a content repository, which allows you to “write once”, but “use many times.” This heavily reduces the time and cost needed to create content, because there’s a smaller amount of words to be translated. DITA also separates content and layout, so translators need not worry about any kind of formatting and have less layout work afterwards. Structured writing with DITA can be very beneficial for your company as well as for your translation agency.
6. Is this the right format for my translation agency?
Some document formats, like PDF, will require extra work for your translation agency. Usually, the text needs to be extracted from a document and then imported again into the layout of your choosing. To avoid unnecessary costs, use editable formats like Word, InDesign, FrameMaker, or even consider using structured authoring standards, like DITA.
7. Can I involve my translator earlier in the process?
Tight deadlines usually come with a price. Planning your translations well ahead on the other hand gives your agency the opportunity to tackle unforeseen linguistic issues and maybe avoid unnecessary review rounds. Your translations will benefit from a longer deadline too. More time equals more quality, also for translators.
We can help you answer these questions
We get you. Professional translation costs money. Whether you see it as a cost or as an investment, you should think about how you can reduce your translation cost wisely. And what’s more, we can help you do that. If you want to know how, then let’s get in touch and discuss!
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