Prior to my life as a web copywriter…
I worked as a technical writer and translator.
Admittedly, I don’t speak multiple languages (unless you count Pig Latin and Hawaiian Pidgin).
My responsibility was more so to monitor and send out files for translation to a company we hired.
It sounds easy enough, but to me, there was one glaringly obvious issue with that… redundant translations and the money it wasted.
My former employer had multiple document types that had to be juggled.
Including, but not limited to:
- Product Datasheets
- Quick Installation Guides
- Marketing Collateral
- Website copy
Through a series of unfortunate circumstances, it became more efficient for them to send out documents as a whole for translation. Often times, the documents contained the same information, with varying numbers and specifications.
While it was more efficient for them to do it this way, the price they paid was just that… price.
I’ve always liked to implement some “outside the box” thinking when it comes to my work habits.
One tool that I’ve found to be invaluable is Microsoft Excel.
Using my knowledge of Microsoft Excel formulas (and Google), I created a document that acted as a translation file.
Any time that new content came back translated, it would be added to the file. After a month or so, I accumulated a list of about 1000+ entries to pull from. If the documents had differing values (IE. 50 km vs 25 km), it was easy to find and replace all the values.
Each file that needed to be translated had a corresponding excel file that broke down the translations by language (French, German, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Italian). Formulas linked together (think a Mickey Mouse version of programming) would clean the text and remove hidden characters and multiple spacing. Linking the main translation file to this language provided instantaneous translations.
After the first month of using my methods, translation costs were down $200 – 300.
After two months, down $500.
A few months later, it continued to decrease down to a more palatable number and ended up saving the company at least $1000 a month.
Money that had previously been allocated to the translation budget was able to be re-distributed to other areas to improve the product and grow the brand.