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If you have the gift of being able to speak and write in several languages, starting a freelance translation business could be an exciting new career.
You can start by doing the translation yourself, with the languages in which you’re fluent, and then grow to add employees to cover other languages.
But the first step is getting business in your (virtual) door, and to do that, you need to develop proposals that work. The freelance community has grown by 4 million freelancers in the last five years. So your translation proposal needs to stand out from the pack.
Let’s look at how you can develop a translation proposal that will showcase your skills and earn you work, while also covering what your clients need to know.
You can always use a template and modify it to cover the requests of the client, but even with that route, you’ll want to follow our 10 tips.
Having a translation proposal template will save you work in the long run, but you still have to understand and know the prospective client. Translation services are needed by a variety of private sector businesses and public sector clients, including medical offices, government agencies, law practises, insurance and financial firms, and more.
That means gaining some understanding of their sector, business, the work they do, and their clients or customers. If you have a specialty, like working for government agencies, look for clients that fit in your niche, so that experience can be part of your proposal.
Next up is to review the Request for Proposal or other document that the client has prepared detailing the work that needs to be done. It’s important to know the requirements and prepare a translation proposal that covers what they need.
Determine a timeframe for submission, and find out how to submit questions to cover any gaps in your understanding. Remember that the purpose of your translation proposal is to persuade the client that you’re the best person to do their work. Your winning proposal needs to have the right content as well as an effective structure.
Now that you’re ready to draft your translation proposal, start with an effective Executive Summary. Use this introduction to draw the prospective client into the remainder of the document. This is the most important part of your proposal, as it should outline your proposal and condense the key aspects of it in a way that anyone can understand. It should open your proposal, but feel free to write it last. At the very least, be sure to review and edit it once your proposal is completed.
Imagine that the Executive Summary is all the client will read, or that the client will decide whether to keep reading based on the summary ; it’s that important.
Include the name of the client, the work you’re bidding on (which could be a numbered RFP, for instance), and the name of your business. Summarize your proposal in terms of how you will address the client’s requirements, focusing on their goals.
Go through each of the client’s requirements and detail how you will be able to meet their needs. RFPs require differing levels of detail, so be sure you cover off everything that’s asked for in the original request.
While it can be time-consuming to write individual proposals, a tailored application will be far more effective than sending the same material to every prospective client. For instance, you may have to dedicate time to doing fewer proposals, but it will be worth it in the long run.
Make it clear to the client that you want to meet the needs of this particular job, but that you also want to develop a relationship that can be beneficial to both of you. For instance, your services can be expanded beyond the initial translation to include editing, proofreading, formatting, printing, or even translation services.
Provide details on your experience and how it will meet the needs of the clients. If you have past clients who have agreed to serve as references, include that information, including details on the work you did for them.
A professional proposal will outline milestones for the work, and a payment schedule connected to those milestones. That can include specific deliverables as requested by the client, time to review and approve, and final deadlines for the completion of the total project.
When outlining the costs for completing the work, provide detail so the client understands the payment schedule. A translation proposal could be outlined as a flat rate per word, for instance, by document, by chapter, etc.
There are always details that need to be covered in a proposal, such as time for any edits or alterations to the work. Another example is ownership of the intellectual property at the completion of the project. Make the client can contact you for more information, or suggest an in-person meeting if the client is in your area. Make it as easy as possible for the client to reach you and engage you in the work.
Take the time to go through your translation proposal again, with a particular focus on checking off the requirements, and on refining the Executive Summary.
Then, it’s time to send the translation proposal to your prospective client, before the deadline date, and get to work on your next proposal.
Or, download the standard PDF version