A lot has been said about the complexities of setting up shop as freelancers and whether to work with agencies or direct clients. If you have set out to find direct clients, you have probably invested a lot of time and effort specializing in a certain niche and researching your potential clients. Most likely, you have focused on offering a high quality product and developing excellent customer service skills. You attend networking events and have your business cards ready to hand out on every possible occasion.
However, there is one key question we tend to overlook: What do these elusive direct clients look for in a freelancer? What criteria do they use to hire one service professional instead of another?
This is the first of a series of interviews with professionals working in different industries who work with freelancers to meet their language needs.
Meet Fernando Pacheco, Marketing Director for Latin America at Jarden Consumer Solutions, a Fortune 500 Company with over 120 brands and a global presence.
Daniela: Can you tell us about yourself and your background?
Fernando: I grew up in Costa Rica, but I have lived in the United States for 20 years. I studied at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, TN, where I obtained both my undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering and my MBA. A few years after graduating from my master’s I began working as Product and Marketing Manager for Latin America at Thomson Consumer Electronics. I currently work as Director of Marketing at Jarden Consumer Solutions, where I am responsible for overseeing the development and marketing of small domestic appliances for well-known brands in Latin America.
Daniela: Tell us a little bit about your language needs. What types of pieces do you typically send for translation?
Fernando: User Manuals for various appliances – from a gourmet espresso machine to a basic blender – as well as recipe books, quick start guides, etc. Other departments in my company use translation services for websites of a specific brand or line of products, for example, aside from the manuals.
Daniela: Do you usually hire freelancers or translation agencies to meet your language needs?
Fernando: The short answer is that I have hired both. But to better answer your question I need to explain a bit of the internal process of the two companies I have worked for.
At Thomson I was responsible for the development and marketing of consumer electronics for Latin America, so we needed to translate the User Guides/Manuals. We had our own department in charge of writing the manuals in English, but we, as managers, had to outsource the translation and layout of these manuals. This was my first experience working with a freelancer. A colleague from a regional office recommended a translator who was also a graphic designer and she was a good fit for us. She would translate our manuals from English into Spanish, and then she would do the layout.
At Jarden we work with creative agencies which develop our manuals – from the original copy in English, to graphic design, to translation into multiple languages. However, because we are such a large corporation, there are different vendors and the quality also differs. Every project manager can use the resources available through these agencies or find new ones. For example, some managers choose freelancers to translate and then send the translation to the creative agency for desktop publishing. It is a bit more involved, but some managers report better translation quality this way. They really like the ability to talk directly with the translator and come up with the name of an appliance, for example. Also, some freelancers offer recommendations about how to present ideas in the target language, and this has proven to be a tremendous added value for us. This is something that is lost when the entire translation process is handled by a third party – typically a translation agency subcontracted by the creative agency. Another bonus is that freelancers not only translate, but sometimes even provide feedback about the copy in English.
Daniela: Can you tell us about the criteria you or your company use when selecting translation service providers – freelancers, specifically?
Fernando: Choosing a translation service provider is very important. Some of the criteria used when selecting a translation provider include:
- Quality/Consistency of the Translation – The quality of the translation is very important and it needs to match the quality of the products that are being developed and launched. A bad translation will communicate a lack of detail that will affect the consumer’s perception of the product or service being offered. It is also very important for the translations of all the materials to be consistent with each other. This is called branding.
- Customer Service – A proactive professional who provides feedback and even ideas and solutions. A responsive provider who takes deadlines seriously.
- One-Stop Shop / Added Value – Dealing with several vendors is time consuming, so we may favor a provider who can offer additional services, such as graphic design. Sometimes a translation agency is the best option if we’re dealing with a large, multiple-language project. When a more tailored translation/service is needed, however, freelancers may be the ideal providers.
Daniela: What advice would you give to a freelancer looking to earn your business, for example?
Fernando: Make sure to have an online profile of some sort so that we, as potential clients, can look at what you have to offer, your experience, etc. Having a professional-looking website is a major plus. Your contact information should be easy to find within your profile. Include references from past or current customers to read what others say about you. An up-to-date LinkedIn profile is another great resource.