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3 Guidelines For Reducing Translation Costs

You have a global vision for your business and you’re ready to take action. But translation isn’t cheap. And even though you know that translation and localization is a worthwhile investment, you also want to implement any cost-saving strategies so that you can get the best service at the best price. To help you stay within your budget, here are 3 key guidelines you should follow.

1. Simplify and reduce word count

  • Translation costs are mainly dictated by the word count of your document, software strings, video content, and website pages. Therefore, editing down the number of source words can help reduce your translation costs.

  • Be strategic in choosing what you want to be translated versus what may not be necessary for a particular market. For example, your online public relations releases for the States may not be relevant to your sales efforts in Japan, so you may not want to send those out for translation.

  • Consider simplifying the file format of your content before sending it off to translation. File formats such as PDF, PowerPoint, Illustrator, Photoshop, and the like require your translation agency to spend time (and time is money, after all) to extract the content from the files, translate it and then re-introduce the translated content into the original file format. Ideally, send files in Word, Excel (without macros) and plain text formats and these will decrease your translation timeline and overall translation costs.

  • Avoid embedding text in graphics. This too, requires your translation agency to spend extra time on extracting the text and re-inserting them post translation. This adds to desktop publishing (DTP) costs. If you do have text in graphics, pull the text out and place them in an Excel file for translation.

Note: Simplifying and reducing word count may not be feasible, or even a good choice, for your high-level marketing and branding content. This content tends to be more complex, nuanced and highly strategic and therefore would benefit from going beyond localization and being sent out for transcreation and creative adaptation.

2. Choose the right provider for your translation project

I’ll be frank, a translation agency may not be the right choice for your translation project. Depending on your needs, it may be best to work with an agency, or maybe you simply don’t need to and can save money by working with an individual translator who has less overhead costs.

  • If you have a small, one-off non-strategic translation project in one language, look into hiring an individual, professional translator. Check out the American Translators Association, which can source vetted, trained translators in nearly any subject matter, in nearly any language on earth.

  • What kinds of projects are a good fit for a translation agency? Projects where speed is an issue, as well as projects with multiple languages and content types (i.e., web, video, documentation, etc.) are a good start. If you will be frequently translating content, many of the software tools and processes used by translation agencies can ensure brand consistency and lower the long-term costs of translation. To get you started, we have put together some key questions to ask an agency before hiring them.

3. Plan ahead and stick to the plan

  • We all want to plan ahead (especially for vacations!), so consider a novel idea that has worked well for our clients: include translation costs in your sales budget at the beginning of your fiscal year. Ask yourself, “Is this going global?” and if so, try to build translation into the cost.

  • Unless it is absolutely necessary, complete all content and edits before submitting them for translation. In other words, “freeze” your content as soon as you send it to your translation agency. You may think that changing only a few sentences after submitting the original content won’t be a major concern, however, when you amplify that by the number of languages in your project, all of a sudden, there can be significant rework and re-translation costs.

  • Ensure that you and your translation agency are on the same page, knowing exactly who the content is for and what results you want it to create. A project scope document is a vital part of this process. Not only does this help the translation agency focus on how best to articulate the information, it reduces unnecessary questions or confusion, and in turn, costs.

You want to invest in the best translation services you can afford, which is why it’s important that you first invest in the way you plan, prepare and process your content. By taking the time and spending the energy necessary to do so, you will shave off additional translation costs and ultimately, find more room in your budget to work with the translation agency that will take your business global more swiftly and more efficiently than any other.

Venga Translation Process