When you’re going global or building a global brand, it’s key to have well-localized content for every language your target audiences speak. But the costs of translating all that content can add up quickly. We think you don’t have to sacrifice quality when translating on a budget. Instead, it’s all about working smarter and using technology at strategic points. Below, we’ve compiled our best tips for ways to save money with translation.
Don’t mince words
The quickest way to reduce your translation costs is to reduce the number of words that need to be translated. But this doesn’t necessarily mean taking out all your adjectives or writing really short sentences. Reducing your word count can also mean thinking carefully about what actually needs to be translated. For example, your public relations releases in English might not be relevant to your social media marketing strategy in Japan–so you might choose not to translate those documents.
If you find that you write the same sorts of content over and over or draw heavily from a set list of industry terms, recycling your content can be a way to save your linguists from translating the same sentence over and over–thus saving you money. There are a couple of main ways to go about this.
If your content is very similar at the sentence or paragraph level, a content reuse plugin (there are a number of options for website CMS like WordPress) paired with your writing tool or CMS will suggest previously authorized and translated content when you type. Since you don’t have to recreate content every time, you save time. And because the sentence, phrase or paragraph only needs to be translated once, you’re also maximizing the value of your translation services.
On the other hand, if you’re using a core set of terms but approaching them in new ways each time you generate content, a glossary might be more efficient. Creating a glossary with localized industry-specific terms saves your linguists time as well. And if you’re lucky enough to have native speakers or in-country experts on your internal staff, you might ask your staff to create the simple glossary. (Don’t use your internal staff for all translations, though–making them responsible for the entire project will take them away from their regular work and extend the project in the long run.)
Glossaries and content reuse plugins are good pairs with machine or automated translation–and we’ll talk about that further down in the post.
Make a list and check it twice
Planning your translation strategy is a high-impact way to save money on translation costs. Making a plan that accounts for the big picture and the smallest details will help you avoid the potential pitfalls that come from improvising a large-scale project.
- Create a timeline for the project. A project scope document is one way to anticipate your project timeline, translation needs, and requirements. You can develop this internally or with a translation partner.
- Build in translation costs from the start. Are you going global next year? Have you translated into one target language but know you’ll be translating into a second? Knowing where you’re going will help you identify the points at which you’ll need translation.
- Finalize your content ahead of time. Any changes you make in the source text after it starts being translated are changes you have to make later in every single language by hand.
Another way that planning ahead can save you money on translating is by reducing the need for error-based retranslation. If you build in time to review your source content and ensure that it’s error-free, you save yourself the headache of having to go back over the translated copy and fix errors.
Optimize your web layouts and images
These days, we’re rarely translating just text anymore. So preparing your web layouts, images, and video for translation ahead of time will also help your bottom line.
Web layout: Since the length of translated text can change between languages, designing a web format that will accommodate all your target languages from the beginning is key. Translation costs can skyrocket when you have to adjust the web layout in the middle of a translation project. But if you’ve built a global template from the beginning, the web translation process will go smoothly and keep your costs down.
- Images and video: Ensuring your images are in a compatible file format and are free of embedded text allows your translation partner to easily extract the text for translation. If your translation partner has to translate images that are in PDF format or can’t extract text from an image, that will delay the project and ramp-up costs. Instead, ensure your images are scalable vector graphics (SVG) or have the text in content boxes.
With a little planning and legwork on your part, you’ll be able to seamlessly hand off a translation project and any source files to your translation partner without a lot of back-and-forths. The sooner they can get started on translating, the lower your costs will be.
Strategically use machine translation
If you have to translate high volumes of content, machine translation (MT) can be a valuable tool in your toolbox for reducing translation costs. The technology is well-developed enough now so that machine translation can fit into all sorts of projects.
In order to make sure that you’re getting high-quality machine translation, you’ll want to pick a translation partner that pairs their machine translation assets with in-person review and automates strategic parts of the process. For example, you can begin the MT process by running your content through terminology enforcement. This step in the process uses preexisting glossaries and translation memory to prepare the content and set industry-specific parameters for translating.
Machine translation can be an asset for translating certain types of content, but since there’s often a tradeoff in quality, we don’t recommend it for all content types. Use machine translation when:
- You have very large volumes of content or short turn-around times
- When quality is not the top requirement
- As a placeholder for instant updates while higher-quality translation is being carried out
But when the quality of your translation matters a lot, machine translation might not be your best option. Don’t use it when:
- Accuracy matters: when translating sales, marketing, legal, or safety content
- When errors could pose liability issues
- For branding, when you want an authentic voice
And no matter what your final product needs to look like, it’s important to have a human linguist take a look at the end of the process. A human editor can do light or heavy post-editing on your content depending on your final project’s needs.
Saving time = saving money
In the end, saving money when translating isn’t just about choosing the cheapest vendor or translation partner–it’s about working efficiently and making choices that don’t extend your timeline unnecessarily. Saving time is saving money, and saving money is usually a function of saving time.
You can save a lot of time by choosing a translation partner that’s equipped to automate much of their processes. Automating little tasks such as file transfers or generating review prompts, combined with appropriate use of machine translation assets, reduces the amount of project management and engineering time you have to pay for. And the minutes add up–we’ve recently saved our clients between 4 and 18 hours just by automating the little tasks.
As a result, you and your translation partners are free to focus on more important work. In the end, your project will be done faster, more smoothly, and with fewer errors.
Venga Global are an exhibitor on the HRTech247 Auxilary Services floor. You can visit their HRTech247 exhibition stand here.