Should you say "Yes" to a free German to English translation to test your translation skills?
This is a fairly common request. It normally comes up when a potential client wants to be sure that the German translator can do the job before being officially instructed. Although you wouldn’t expect a plumber/doctor/taxi driver to meekly agree to an unpaid test installation/examination/journey, somehow translation is regarded differently.
It’s “just translating”.
However, seen from the view of the outsourcer, your potential client, why should they spend potentially significant sums if they have no guarantee that the translation you’ll provide meets professional standards? They want to avoid wasting time and money getting your text redone.
So, when asked, your answer is....JEIN! ("JA" and "NEIN" – i.e. "yes" and "no"!)
As so often, it depends.
You may agree to a free German to English translation test when you:
On the other hand, you might REFUSE to provide a free German to English translation where:
I’ve occasionally come across forum discussions on translator community websites warning about outsourcers who attempt to obtain a German to English translation free by asking several translators to provide “sample translations”.
Each translator is sent a separate section of the original text as the outsourcer attempts to get the entire text translated free of charge. Luckily active discussion amongst the translator community makes this sort of practice increasingly rare.
You may want to consider offering a special reduced rate for a first translation. But bearing in mind that it’s always harder to put your prices up than to reduce them (!), the terms of any such offer have to be clearly spelt out.
Give your standard line or word rate and then offer a once-off discount, as a percentage. You might want to specify a maximum text length too.
This solution indicates that both sides are interested in entering a professional partnership.
I hope this gives you a little food for thought and helps prepare you for the inevitable free German to English translation request!