In any crisis, there will be economic winners and losers. There are profiteers and short-sellers who exploit the suffering of victims. But all of us can make the most of a difficult situation, pulling together to cooperate and get back to work, stronger than before. In the engines for recovery and reconstruction, smart businesses can take advantage of marketing online to foreign markets to expand revenues. And the key to reaching new overseas audiences is localizing your marketing content to speak their language. We’ll look at how expanded translation services can increase income flows from abroad.
Coming to Terms: Clarifying the Meaning of Translation and Localization Services
The global language services market size hit $49.6 billion in 2019 and is projected to rise to $56 billion by 2021. But the language services industry is highly diversified, covering a lot of ground. Leading the way are translation services, which cover adaptations from one natural language to another. There are also industry sectors like transcription, which converts spoken words to text, and interpretation, which adapts speech from one language to another. Transcreation is creative, free-form translation.
The translation is a subset of localization, which includes an adaptation of date and time formats as well as currency and measurement units as well as accounting for cultural differences between markets. Even if languages are similar, huge variances divide American English and the UK variety, between the Portuguese of Lisbon and the version used in Rio de Janeiro. And that’s just a fraction of the differences when you translate from one language to another.
Localization covers the conversion of digital content, including websites, social media, and software apps. A major trend in the past decade has been to globalize digital content, especially for marketing and sales. Digital localization is a two-step process. First, you internationalize computer code, to prepare it to accept various locales. Every piece of content, whether natural language phrases or non-language numerical units and format are arranged in a matrix, with each column representing a language and each row representing a phrase of a unit of meaning. Then each locale gets its own column in the database. And each user gets the digital content in the language suite to their location, either selected by the location of the device or the user’s selection.
So How Can You Make Money from Translation and Localization Services Now?
Language services these days are rendered remotely. Translation, interpretation, and localization take place in the cloud. There used to be pockets of interpretation face-to-face, but COVID-19 put an end to that. What came instead is Video Remote Interpretation: order an interpreter in the desired language pair by videoconference.
The current crisis has taught us that there are health and economic benefits from staying home – if, of course, you find a way to work and profit from remote working. The beauty is that other business people are reaching the same epiphany, so you can set up meetings to market and sell with far less hassle than was possible in the days of “meet for lunch”, “grab a coffee” and “have dinner after the conference.” You can still get the work done, more efficiently, by Zoom, Hangout, Skype or Whatsapp.
Is Going Beyond English the Key to Reaching the Rest of the World?
Even when we’re able to fly and go out as we once did, remote marketing is here to stay. The challenge is marketing in unfamiliar languages. That’s where remote translation and localization services come in. Chances are that your website and social media are in a single language or two at most. But the big platforms localize in a few dozen languages. Do they know something you don’t know?
The incremental cost of translation and adding a new language “locale” is minuscule compared to creating original content. You’re reading this in English, so chances are that this is your preferred language. It’s the language of business, right? But the reality is that 1.26 billion people speak English, that’s less than 1 in 6 humans. The second to fourth place language add up to twice as many. So if you have products or services with global demand, and the cost of adding language is trivial, why not use your time in lockdown to add languages and sell to locations that were beyond your reach? Localization is not just for the big boys. Affordable translation services are a click away.
Where Can You Find Affordable Translation and Localization Services?
About five years there was a revolution in how computers did the translation. The software began using an Artificial Intelligence called neural networks to improve translation quality. Today, all software use neural network translation to match and sometimes exceed the quality of human translators. Services like Google Translate and Microsoft translator can do a decent job with the structured text, but they still are no match for human translation for creative and marketing texts.
If you develop applications or websites, you can also buy localization software which provides translation management tools to add language to your sites and apps easily.
There are freelance marketplaces like Upwork and Freelance.com where you can find translators for more than 100 language pairs. Post your translation or localization job and freelance translators will bid for your job. You can ask questions and negotiate the best rate. Or you can proactively search for translators yourself. The platform intermediates the deal, payments, and reporting. A tip is to hire a pair of translators, one to check the work of the other and to serve as a backup in case the other one flakes out. The average translation rate in the US is $0.22/word, but you can negotiate for less.
If you have the budget, the safe way to go is via a professional translation company. They provide a one-stop solution for all languages and all language-related services. They take upon themselves the management of linguistic talent, and they crack the whip to ensure delivery on time and on budget. You’ll pay roughly twice what freelancers charge, but you’ll gain accountability and peace of mind.
To get going, send a query to 3 to 5 agencies, summarizing your project and target languages. You should get a response, with a proposal and timetable, within hours. Make your pick among candidates based on price, speed, reputation, and chemistry you feel.
Post-corona, the business will be challenging, but the crisis has taught us that the world is smaller, and, at least in terms of marketing communications, more accessible than ever.