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Aside from having the obvious language skills, being a freelance translator today requires you to be an expert in online communication and a master of organization. I translate from German and Dutch into English. However, my clients often want to translate websites, brochures and marketing text into other languages as well. European businesses especially are often active in a number of markets and want to give themselves the edge by offering products and services in local languages.
These projects often fall to translation agencies that farm out the different languages to various freelancers – and take a sizeable cut for themselves. Agencies often offer translators minimal rates which means the latter are forced to work faster. Quality suffers and both the client and the various translators are frustrated.
One solution is to team up with other freelancers who offer other language combinations. The team can either take on the project together or one freelancer can subcontract the parts they can’t do themselves to other translators for a fair share.
Finding suitable coworkers has its own set of problems. A bricks-and-mortar coworking space might have a few graphic designers, a PR expert, and a programmer or two. But it’s unlikely you’ll find an entire team of translators. Browsing ancient forums and paying to be listed in various databases is still commonplace in the translation industry.
Online coworking platforms like Bisner streamline the search. The platform’s membership can span the globe and include many more members than a physical coworking space. Finding outstanding partners is as easy as browsing for freelancers and companies by expertise or location and connecting. And there’s no cost involved.
Of course, taking on a large translation project requires trust between the translators and water-tight quality assurance, including checks that the translation is consistent across all of the languages.
Project files, translation databases, multiple versions, scheduling meetings – when a group of people all work on the same project asynchronously, keeping a tab on progress and version management quickly becomes a larger task than the translation itself. Teamwork like this requires impeccable communication. More often than not, group emails are bounced back and forth, edits are made and sent as attachments, and before you know it, someone has made further edits to a version that has already been superseded.
Great. Extra work.
Bisner can help here too. In the project phase, Bisner becomes the online equivalent of a physical office. Everyone has their own desktop and their own private space to work and yet they all know what the other team members are doing and how they’re progressing. Scheduling becomes transparent and that second pair of eyes to catch any slip-ups or suggest an improvement are not far away. All of the versions, notes, and files are in one place. And there’s not an email in sight.
Bisner enables freelance translators to take on multilingual projects and to charge the same as an agency would – the difference being that they are paid fairly for the value of their work so they can spend the time on the project that it deserves. And the work is in their name – not an agency’s – and so they take more pride in the product. By cutting out the middlemen quality is improved, the translators are happier, and the client is happier.
So that’s how virtual coworking helps me, my coworkers, and my clients. But this way of working is by no means limited to translation.
Do you use coworking to take on larger projects? Do you work in a team of freelancers? Connect with Bisner and tell us about your experiences! Tweet us @Bisnercom.
Written by Robert Compton, a freelance translator using Bisner
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