Should you say "Yes" to a free German to English translation to prove your translation skills?
This is a fairly common request.
It normally comes up when a potential client wants to be sure that the German translator can do the job before being officially given the go-ahead.
Although you wouldn’t expect a plumber/doctor/taxi driver to meekly agree to an unpaid test installation/examination/journey, somehow translation is regarded differently.
It’s “just translating”.
However, seen from the view of the outsourcer, your potential client, why should they spend potentially significant sums if they have no guarantee that the translation you’ll provide meets professional standards?
They want to avoid wasting time and money getting your text redone.
So, when asked, your answer is....JEIN! ("JA" and "NEIN" – i.e. "yes" and "no"!)
As so often, it depends.
You may agree to a free German to English translation test when you:
On the other hand, you might REFUSE to provide a free German to English translation where:
I’ve occasionally come across forum discussions on translator community websites warning about outsourcers who attempt to obtain a free German to English translation by asking several translators to provide “sample translations”.
Each translator is sent a separate section of the original text as the outsourcer attempts to get the entire text translated free of charge.
Luckily, active discussion and blacklists maintained by the translator community makes this sort of practice increasingly rare.
.....the idea of a free German to English translation comes from you!
This is a really good way of showing a potential, direct client that you can really help their business by providing quality translations.
Limit the offer to 5-6 paragraphs, examine the company literature/website for a text which has either been badly translated, or not translated at all, and show what you can do.
This is putting your money where your mouth is, and a good sign of your determination to do a good job.
Go get that client!
To secure the job, and hopefully win a new client offering repeat work, you may be tempted to offer a special reduced rate for a first translation.
But bearing in mind that it’s always harder to put your prices up than to reduce them (!), the terms of any such offer have to be clearly spelt out.
Quote your standard German translation line or word rate, and then offer a once-off discount, as a percentage. You might also want to specify a maximum text length to which this offer applies.
Any serious client will appreciate this offer.
This solution indicates that both sides are interested in entering a professional partnership.
I hope this gives you a little food for thought and helps prepare you for the inevitable free German to English translation request!
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I'm a German to English translator living and working in Vienna, Austria. I turn German texts into clear and accessible English, allowing clients to present their stories, ideas and information to a completely new audience. My business and marketing clients rely on me to get their message across clearly and effectively. How can I help you today?