For anyone who’s a translation buyer, here are two excellent blog posts on what makes a good client. Ryan Ginstrom’s Five practices of agencies that get it gives five specific examples of how his agency clients have impressed him. I agree with these wholeheartedly; especially the feedback piece. It’s not hard to understand why clients are reluctant to pass on negative feedback; they don’t want to get into a “your word against mine” argument with the translator, they’re not in the business of training translators, and it’s probably easier just to dispense with using the problematic translator and hire someone else in the future. However, I think that clients are often equally sparse with their positive feedback because they’re busy, they’ve moved on to another project and (possibly the strongest factor) they assume that good translators know how good they are. Clients, trust us here… most people who are excellent translators are excellent in part because they are perfectionists who are very critical of their own work and constantly striving to improve. Even a simple “the client was really pleased with it” or “it required almost no edits” goes a long way.
Then, make sure to check out Jill Sommer’s 10 simple rules for project managers to live by and keep me happy. I love these tips; many of them help remind clients that although translators (and other freelance service providers) are often willing to go the extra mile for our clients, we are not their employees. Because most translators are relatively tech-savvy, asking us to do formatting, OCR, etc. may work out in the end but it will often slow the project down and take our time and energy away from the job we are really good at…translating. Likewise, pushing your translators to work longer, faster, etc. for more than a few days at a time will likely backfire, especially if the translator is not compensated accordingly.