How Do I Start a Translation Agency?

start a translation agency

In the previous blog posts, I talked about my collaboration with my Taiwanese partner when we ran a Chinese Translation Agency together. I also told you about how our business relationship ended. By the way, my partner worked for my translation agency as a Chinese translator for a long time, because I still received assignments for Chinese translations. Our business relationship worked very well.

Starting a New Business Alone

Before this ending, which by the way went in incredibly good harmony, I had of course already formed some ideas about how to proceed on my own. Of course, you can see in advance that you cannot continue together in the future and that something has to change. A whole new world opened up for me and I saw plenty of opportunities. On the other hand, I also found it a bit lonely and exciting to go on alone.

I asked myself the following question: How do you actually start a translation agency? I was well aware that I needed other people for this as well. At that time, I also didn’t feel confident enough to provide translations from English or German into Dutch myself. In retrospect, I could have managed this with my knack for languages, step by step. However, I thought that the responsibility was still far too great with my language background.

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Outsource Possibilities

So, I had to look for translators and study the types of translations I wanted to provide. It’s also such a big field, so looking for a translation niche seemed like a good idea. Since I had already completed some online marketing courses myself, it seemed logical to look in that direction and see if I could find someone who could help me with the technical part in my area. I took over the compilation of the website again, because I had already achieved some successes in this field with the Chinese Translation Agency. Again, I chose a URL name that would describe my translation niche.

I know there are many SEO and marketing experts out there who believe that it is not necessary to include your niche name in your URL. However, until now it has always worked for me to get my website to the top of the search results. So, I chose the name: Webtranslation. A clear name that described exactly what kind of translation service I provided, namely translations for websites. I was also able to provide some technical service that I outsourced to another IT company.


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Putting Customers First

I found and still find it difficult to outsource services that I don’t know much about myself. I do have some knowledge of computers and software, but it is not specialized enough. I definitely need IT techs to solve computer problems. Besides, I am a bit impatient myself. If a customer comes up with a problem and applies pressure, I want it to be resolved quickly as well. If you are just starting a business, you also cannot afford to disappoint customers. Positive feedback is so important in the beginning for the construction of your translation agency. I can still vividly remember that one dark night I literally drove to my IT team’s house to ask if he could please fix a problem ASAP.

Yes, if something really has to happen for a customer, then I tend to go extremely far (maybe too far?). In the past, I have also often helped clients who were in trouble. I once even went to court in Antwerp for a client to legalize her documents. She did not dare to do this herself. Especially when starting your company, in my case a translation agency, it is always important to interact with customers in an empathetic way. You will receive good reviews with which you attract potential customers. In this way, I have been able to build my translation company over time.

Finding Freelance Translators

But with only a website and an IT specialist, I still didn’t have a translation agency. It was obviously important to also approach freelance translators who could work for me. But how do you get reliable translators who are also so affordable that you can offer an attractive rate to your customers? If a client approaches you for a potential assignment, you naturally want to be able to respond immediately and not have to search for a translator first. At that point, it is therefore important to be able to provide a quote for a translation immediately and to respond quickly. That also inspires confidence in a potential customer.

I have set myself the rule that I always respond to a request for quotation the same day, and preferably within half a day. Usually, I don’t have to send a quotation right away, but first need additional information about the desired translation. If you provide a quotation based on limited information, you can get into trouble afterward.

I will tell in my next blog post how I approached translators to work for me. There are also a number of factors at play with regard to any proofreaders that you can and sometimes need to engage. All of this also affects the ultimate profit you can make per translation product.

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