As a Translator, What Value Do You Provide to Your Clients

What Value Do You Provide To Your Clients?

When faced with this question, most translators might answer "translation." After all, the end product we give to our clients is a translated document. Looking at this question from the perspective of a business model though, translation isn't a value - It's a translator's job or activity. The value we give to a customer is something else, and that certain something depends on who your client is.

The 9 questions we should ask ourselves as a freelancer:

3. How do you promote, sold and deliver your value?
4. How do you interact with the customer?
5. How does your business earn revenue from the value?
6. What uniquely strategic things does your business do to deliver your value?
7. What unique assets must your business have to compete?
8. What can you not do so you can focus on your Key Activities?
9. What are your business’ major cost drivers?

A Translator's Values For Indirect Client Are Simple

When translators work together with agencies or language service providers (LSPs), they hope that the translator will provide three values: low costs, ontime delivery, and high accuracy. Even though the values that agencies are hoping for don't really go beyond these three, the values will also be different because of different markets they target, and these differences will have an impact on the how these values are weighed and prioritized.

Of course, not all translation agencies are chasing after low-pricing. Some still need to look at the type of enterprise that their sought-after clients belong to. A "company" or "enterprise" is such an extremely vague concept. The profit-earning capabilities of companies that straddle different industries and positions could be poles apart, so translation agencies or LSPs must go out and define which markets they're going after.

For example, a generalist translation company selling its services to everyday, run-of-the-mill, small and medium-sized companies might be sensitive to pricing. Conversely, a translation company whose bread and butter is academic paper translations would be willing to pay a translator more than a generalist agency.

Owing to the simple value given to indirect clients by translators, add on that in that situation, our agency will help us to deal with the costs of communicating and haggling with the end client, it's easy to run into a financial ceiling when working with agencies.


Providing More Value to Your Direct Clients Will Garner You Much More Room for Profit-growth

Each enterprise has its own professional and operational objectives. When translators work directly with clients, there are opportunities to realize the value the client really wants through the translation. If a translation is done well, you'll have a chance to obtain business value much greater than the market price.

However, it takes time to figure out what values your client wants. Seeking after this group of clients also takes time, and so translators need to claim their stake in a niche market. At the least, you can't be too greedy when you first start out in your niche. When you understand your clients, you know where you ought to go to find them, or you know what values to incorporate to have them find you. You'll more noticeably provide these clients with whichever values are important to them, subsequently raising your own earnings.

If somebody asks: "So do direct clients not care about pricing, delivery speed, or the quality of your product?" Your answer should be "Of course they do!" These clients will never NOT consider these values just because they communicate directly with a translator. What I'm emphasizing here is that when a translator is directly working with a client, that aside from the basic requirement sought after by a translation agency as mentioned above, that we still have opportunities to provide a more tailored service which the company needs, thus helping to take our own translation career to newer and greater heights.

Below is an example that will allow you to concretely understand what I mean by the above.


Real example: Translators Who Don't Use Translation as Their Greatest Selling Point

Tess Whitty, a famous translator from Sweden, has this written on her website:

I’m a human translator, I’m a marketing expert and I’m certified.

This part clearly states if the client chooses Tess as their translator, that she will provide professional and expert marketing, human translation, and moreover, that her translations have been certified.

I can help you gain brand awareness, reflect your company message, increase website traffic, optimize for search engines, and increase your customer base and revenue in Sweden.

There are no words in this segment related to translation work. This all has to do with what Tess' potential client's really care about for their product. If you only read the first segment, you might mistake that Tess is a marketing professional and completely forget that she's a professional translator. This part also allows us to see that Tess is a cross-domain professional: She not only understands translating, but marketing too. Her casework already proves her expertise in marketing.

Let me translate and adapt your text, copy, software and online material to Swedish.

This segment expresses the parameters of the service she provides.


Talk More About Values the Customer Cares About

From Tess' marketing copy, we can see that she places the values the customer cares most about front and center, and then expresses that she, in her capacity as a translator, can help the client reach their goals.

If you want to be like Tess, who can speak to what's at the bottom of her clients' hearts, the premise is that you will clarify the professional area of the clients you want to develop, then spend time getting to understand them, and after that, you can then speak to them in a way that will resonate with them.

If you already know which area you want to head towards in developing your clientele, start considering what your niche clients truly care about, being as diligent as an anthropologist out conducting a field survey, trying to understand your clients!

career translation


Joanne Chou

Joanne is an English-Chinese translator, a UI/UX designer, and the co-founder of Termsoup.