Freelance Blog + sources

Guest Post: The Twin Approach to Freelancing

By Judy Jenner
Yes, we are twins; identical twins. Even though we live on different continents, we run a boutique Spanish and German translation business together, Twin Translations. I work out of Las Vegas, Nevada, and my twin, Dagmar, works out of Vienna, Austria.

You don’t need to be a twin to try our approach, which is simple enough: team work. Find someone you feel comfortable with and review each other’s work. Of course, our business is primarily translation, but we do quite a bit of copywriting as well. Regardless of the focus of your freelance business, we recommend the following:

  • Decide if there is someone you trust enough to be your second pair of eyes for your work. He/she will be the second step in your revision process. The third step will be the incorporation of the editors’ changes into the final document.
  • Once you have found that person, ask if he/she is interested in working in a synergistic team with you.
  • Be sure to clarify the details of this relationship: how much proofing/editing is expected? What are the time frames? And how do you handle if one person has much more proofing to be done than the other party? Establish some ground rules that work for both of
    you. Our only rule is that we always add 1-2 days to the final turnaround we quote our clients to allow the editor to work on the document without being too rushed.
  • Don’t forget to talk about formatting/style of editing. Do you want to use track changes (we do) or add comments, or both? Perhaps you want handwritten notes (we don’t) on a scanned image? It’s important to agree on this beforehand so you don’t get irritated when you received a document in a format that you do not want.
  • You should also agree on who has the last word on the revisions. In our case, the author has the last word, but we feel comfortable discussing every edit to make sure we have found the best possible solution.
  • When choosing your editing partner, we suggest picking someone whose work you are really familiar with and who you would recommend without hesitation. In addition, that person should be someone you can trust with your life (well, not with your life, but with your translation, your reputation, and your deadline).

In choosing your editing twin….

  • Don’t choose someone solely because you like him/her.
  • Do choose a fellow linguist or writer who has a solid reputation in the industry, preferably in your field of expertise.
  • Don’t overpromise. If you don’t think you can proof two projects per week, say so.
  • Don’t set each other up for failure by having unrealistic expectations.
  • Do set specific deadlines and stick to them. We like to add them to the subject line of the e-mail: Please proof by Wednesday, January 21.
  • Do give your editor as much information as you can about the project. Who is the target audience? Is this for the web, for print, etc.? Who is the client and what tone are you going for?
  • Do define where proofreading ends and editing starts for you. Are you expecting and editor or a proofer? We edit each other’s work, which in the case of translation also means that we thoroughly read the source text.
  • Don’t charge each other for the editing. Hopefully, you will each do an equal amount of editing for each other. If that does not hold true after some time, you might want to re-discuss the arrangement.
  • Don’t choose someone solely based on geography. It doesn’t matter where your partner is physically located, unless you really want the face-to-face interaction.
  • Do get Skype (or other free phone services) and some sort of free instant messaging
  • program (Gmail chat, AOL instant messenger, Yahoo, via Skype or Facebook, etc.) so you can effectively communicate about your project. We discuss everything via instant message instead of writing endless e-mails.

You will find that having a solid working relationship with an editing partner will increase your productivity, your confidence, and will make you a better translator (or writer). We are constantly amazed by the corrections we make to each other’s work. It might sound trite, but a second pair of eyes really is priceless. And in our case, free.

Judy Jenner is a Spanish/German translator, writer, and Vegas expert working from the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas. She left corporate America to join her twin sister full-time in their translation business, aptly named
Twin Translations. She writes about the business of translation on her blog, Translation Times, and about the Vegas foodie scene on Vegas Food Finds

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Guest Post: The Twin Approach to Freelancing + sources