Affordable Translation in 5 Steps


One of the biggest competitors for translators is google translate. I get it. When you need affordable translation, especially for small to mid-size businesses, non-profits, or government agencies with limited funds, it is hard to resist a free tool that will allow users to get the “gist” of the message. Adding a google translate widget to your site allows users to access information in 100 different langauges. However, it might create content that is good for a laugh. But what if you don’t need 100 different languages? And you definitely don’t need anyone laughing at your website! What if you could create quality translations in an affordable way for the markets you want to reach? Well, you can! I’m going to give you a 5 step strategy that will help you keep your expenses down while providing human-sounding translation for your global markets.


Most translators charge by the word, so keeping translations affordable is simply a matter of keeping your word count low. Here are some ways you can do that in order to focus on creating understandable content for your target markets.

1. Identify your global markets

If you are on the web, you are global. Most likely you have people all over the world looking at your website. But, of those people, which ones are looking for your product or service and would be more likely to convert if they had access to information in their language? To find out, you can use google’s Global Market Finder. You can enter your keywords and it will tell you which locales are looking for those terms. Then you can narrow down which languages your translated content would be most effective for converting new clients. Start with one or two languages instead of 100!

2. Create a list of important terms, keywords, glossary items

Before you send your whole site to a translator, identify common terms, keywords, and industry words to build a glossary. You might even find glossaries that exist already for your industry! Building a glossary is a simple process.

  • Create a spreadsheet in google drive or excel.
  • Create headers per language
  • List the English terms to translate
  • Have linguists help fill in blanks. You may pay the linguists per word for this step. However, this is a reusable investment.

Once you build a glossary for frequently used terms, you won’t have to translate them every time. They’re already done.


3. Find qualified translators

Another key to keeping translation affordable is using qualified and professional linguists who are able to capture your tone and voice in the translation. Browse a linguist directory like Ideally, you would select two linguists per language for your project: one to translate and one to edit. 

4. Get a Quote

Once you’ve identified who will do the translation, ask for a quote before they start the project. You will send them the content files plus your glossary. Most translators have access to tools that will incorporate the glossary and create a quote that will take into account the terms that are already translated. When you receive the quote, make sure you review it carefully to ensure they do not charge for glossary terms (100% match) and they should provide discounts for words that are repeated throughout your texts (also called “fuzzy matches”). 

5. Build your memory

Once you’ve accepted the quote, the translation team will do their thing. However, make sure you ask them to provide a copy of the “Translation Memory” at the end of the project. This file will allow you to build your glossary and to save on the next time you need to update a page.



Don’t rely on clumsy tools like google translate to convert your text into languages of your target markets. By pinpointing the markets and working smart, you can provide quality human-sounding documents for your clients that will create loyalty and conversions!


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