+49 157 773 874 87 info@kristalfellinger.com

      So… your company is looking for a marketing translator? And you’ve started researching — that’s probably how you landed here. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed right now, that’s totally understandable. There are a lot of translators out there on the internet, and (let’s be honest) we all kind of look the same. On our websites, anyway.

      You’re probably thinking to yourself: I’ve found dozens of translators, and all of them promise that they’re “professional, detail-oriented and precise”. How do I pick? How do I know if a translator is any good?” You might be tempted to choose someone based on price alone… or pull a name out of a hat, for that matter. After all, a translation is just a translation, isn’t it? How much difference will it really make?

      The truth is, picking the right translator makes a very big difference, especially when it comes to marketing translations. Your company puts a lot of effort into defining your brand voice and image, and you need a translator who can carry that brand voice over into a new language. You need someone who translates not only the words, but the message, the punch, the pizazz.

      Not every translator has the skill to do that. That’s why it’s so important to find someone who does. In this article, I’m going to give you some tips that will help you find the exactly the right translator for your project — so you can get your message across perfectly in whatever language you choose.

      1. Check their educational background

      One sign of a good translator is their education or certification. Many translators get a masters degree in translation before they start working professionally, and that’s definitely a sign of professionalism. But translators can come from all different backgrounds. Some start out in a field like law or medicine and begin translating later in life. Some get a degree in translation right from the start. Yet others will be bilingual and skip the formal training altogether. 

      But — and this is a big but — not anyone who is bilingual can translate well. If you’re talking to a translator who doesn’t have a degree in translation, that’s totally fine — just make sure to look for other indicators of their professionalism and skill, which I’ll talk about down below.

      2. Check their certifications

      Many highly skilled translators, with or without a university degree in translation, get a professional certification. This gives them an independent, third-party evaluation of their work that proves to their customers that they’re the real deal.

      The testing process for the major certificates is an all-day event. Translators have to complete several timed translations in a testing center under strict conditions. There might be other tests (like intercultural knowledge) as well. The translations are then stringently evaluated by a committee, which uses several different criteria to determine whether the translation meets high professional standards. 

      The most highly regarded international translator certifications include:

      Only around 20-25% of translators who sit these exams pass them. Yikes, right? And I can confirm — even though I passed the  Diploma in Translation exam with merit and distinction on my first try, it was tough! Anyone who has one of these certificates under their belt has earned their professional chops and has the skills to give you a top-notch translation.

      3. Look for professional memberships

      Another sign of quality is membership in a professional translators association. Most countries have a professional organization for translators, and they generally have very strict entry requirements. For example, to join the German Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ), which I am a member of,  translators need to document their education, certifications, and/or multiple years of working experience. 

      This gives you, as a customer, the reassurance that anyone who is a member of the BDÜ is a qualified, professional translator who can deliver quality results.

      Other reputable translators’ associations include:

      4. Look for someone who specializes in the kind of translation you need

      Not every translator can translate every type of document — and they shouldn’t! Most translators specialize in particular subject areas. Just like it’s easier for you to write about subjects you’re familiar with, translators do their best work when dealing with subjects they know well. 

      Some translators specialize in document translations. Some specialize in a subject area like legal, medical, or marketing. And yet others niche down within those subject areas. This can get incredibly specific — I know one translator who specializes in marketing translations just for action sports companies! 

      My specialty? I translate B2C marketing communications for eco-minded companies. I do a lot of writing about ESG, electric mobility, sustainable manufacturing, and more!

      5. Do you get a good feeling from emailing them? 

      Certifications and specializations are all important, but if you’re looking for a translator to work with in the long-term, you want to make sure you get along with them, too. Do they take time to answer your questions? Do you generally get a good “vibe” from them? None of this has much to do with their skill as a translator, of course, but you should still look for someone who is a good fit for your corporate culture and way of working.

      6. What are their rates?

      Translators charge a wide range of rates. And, most of the time, it really is a case of “you get what you pay for.” Sure, there might be the odd translator on the lower end of the spectrum who is surprisingly good, but most won’t be.

      I’m not saying this to be elitist. I’m saying it because I have worked as both a translator and a proofreader, and I’ve edited the work of translators on both ends of the spectrum. It’s a simple matter of economics. The fact is, a really good translation takes time. To afford to take that time, translators need to charge more. If they’re working for low rates, they’ll have to rush through their work or they won’t earn enough to live on. When your company chose your copywriter or your marketing team, you probably made the decision based mostly on their skills, and less on their price. When it’s time to convert that copywriting into another language, you should do the same.

      I hope this guide has given you a few useful pointers that will help you on your search. Finding the right translator for your company can be a challenge, but maintaining your brand image is worth the effort!

      6 Tips to find the right translator for your marketing

      Wordsmith, at your service!

      Do you need copy for your website? Content marketing that converts? A translation of your German marketing materials? Let’s make it happen!