4 checks you need to carry out before hiring a translator

hire a translator

Reading Time: 3 mins

You have taken the momentous decision to have your content translated for your Spanish audience. Well done! According to the Eurobarometer survey, 90% of European Internet users prefer to browse the web in their own language. Common Sense Advisory’s report on global consumer buying preferences, descriptively entitled “Can’t Read, Won’t Buy: Why Language Matters on Global Websites”, draws similar conclusions.

But now the question you may be asking yourself is how do you find a good translator. Well, the are several approaches – you can type in Google “good Spanish translator” and work your way down the list (not an approach I’d recommend!), you can go to one of the many translators/freelancers hiring sites or you can ask your contacts for referrals. Whichever approach you chose, you will still be faced with the same problem – how to qualify translators when you cannot speak Spanish and evaluate the quality of the work they produce?

Finding and hiring a translator is indeed a daunting task, especially if you do not speak the language, but there are some checks you can carry out before deciding who to entrust with your English material. These checks will not necessarily guarantee the success of your translation project, but they will ensure that:

  • You take an informed decision when selecting a translator, and
  • You hire a trustworthy professional who is most likely to produce a good translation.
CHECK 1 – Is your candidate translator a native speaker of Spanish?

This is an essential prerequisite. Those hilarious translation errors doing the rounds online are for the most part due to non-native speakers attempting translation. Professional translators translate only into their native language. If you need translation into English, you need to hire a translator who is a native speaker of English; if you need translation into Spanish, you need to hire a native speaker of Spanish.

CHECK 2 – Is your candidate qualified?

Translation is a specialised skill – it has to be learnt and practised. Simply speaking two languages is not enough.  You should hire someone who has a degree or postgraduate degree in translation, or a similar regulated qualification.

CHECK 3 – Is your candidate a member of a professional body?

Membership of a professional body signals commitment to high professional standards. The rigorous admissions criteria ensure only top translators make the cut. The two main UK professional bodies are the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and the Chartered Institute of Linguists. Both have searchable member directories that are free to use:

By hiring a translator who is a member of one of these organizations, you’ll go a long way towards ensuring the quality and success of your translation project.

CHECK 4 – Does your candidate have an online presence? And what does this say about them?

Once you have identified some candidates, spend some time reviewing their online presence. Visit their website and find out more information about them – specializations, work carried out, interests, etc. Most translators’ web sites are straightforward and present their qualifications, experience and fields for specialization. If you have done your homework, you may already have all this information about your candidates, but a web site will nonetheless tell you something about how each translator works.

Checking their profiles in social media is also a good idea – what do they post about? Do they keep up with industry developments? Are they well connected? Are there any publicly available reviews of their work? Do they show attention to detail in their posts? If they have typos, errors, etc, that probably tells you something about them.

These 4 simple checks will help you chose a professional translator and ensure the success of your translation project even before translation starts.

Happy hiring!

A Christmas Story

xmas language story

There was once a little girl who wanted to speak all the languages in the world.

“But, sweetheart, that’s impossible,” said her mum.

“It has to be, I want to talk to everyone,” said the little girl.

One day, on her way back from the park, she passed an old man singing and playing an old guitar. It was a cheerful tune and made her want to dance. She thought she would give the old man some money, but she didn’t have any. She looked in her pockets and found two conkers and a stone, and she carefully placed them in the busker’s hat. He didn’t stop playing, but smiled the most beautiful, broad smile, and she knew what he meant.

That night the little girl had a dream. In it, she went by the old man again and this time, when she placed her conkers and stone in his hat, he said:

“You are very kind. I can grant you a wish. Tell me what one thing you most want in the world?”

“I wish to speak ALL the languages in the world,” she said.

The old man closed his eyes for a few seconds and when he opened them again, he said:


The little girl thanked him and went on her way. She wasn’t sure she felt any different but when she bumped into Irek, a Polish boy from her school, she said:

“Cześć Irek”

She then saw Mr. Wei and said:


And then to Mrs. Kapoor:

“ਹੈਲੋ ਸ਼੍ਰੀਮਤੀ ਕਪੂਰ”

And finally, her best friend, Spanish Óscar (as opposed to Little Oscar, who was little and not Spanish):

“Hola, Óscar.”

The little girl was astonished, she COULD speak ALL the languages in the world!

The following morning she saw Irek on her way to school, but when she greeted him, only a plain old “Hello, Irek” came out. And then again:

“Hello, Mr Wei”

“Hello, Mrs Kapoor”

“Hello, Óscar”

Oh, dear, it had been a dream…

After school, she ran to find the old man and she asked him:

“Can you teach me again to speak all the languages in the world?”

Then old man smiled that open smile of his and said:

“I can’t do that, but I can tell you a secret. Look at someone in the eyes, smile as much as you can and you’ll find that a smile is worth a thousand words.”

And the little girl knew he was right.

Merry Christmas!

3 Steps to Translation Nirvana

Translation process

Reading Time: 5 mins

As a yoga enthusiast, I approach new translations in the same way I do my yoga practice. Yoga and translation? Really? Well, let me explain.

When I arrive for a yoga class, whether morning or evening, my head is full of thoughts – things I need to do, errands I need to run, ideas I need to write down, problems I need to resolve… My mind is full of clutter. This clutter prevents relaxation and stops other, more interesting and less mundane ideas from forming.

When I lay down on the mat, the uncluttering process begins. I start concentrating on my breath or prana -in and out, noting any tightness in the body, and letting go of the thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head. By regulating my breath (a technique called pranayama), I am able to start clearing my head. Then I can move on to my asana practice or yoga poses. The purpose of this is to ready the mind for the final meditation, the most important part of any yoga session and the one that gives yoga its meaning.

When I started thinking about my preferred translation process to share with you in this article, it struck me that when it comes to starting a new translation, I follow a somewhat parallel approach.

Step 1 – Create a draft

First, without trying too hard, I start typing my first draft. I don’t do research at this stage; I simply let myself be guided by the source text, noting any complexities I cannot resolve satisfactorily at this early stage. By focusing on reading and translating, I can clear my head of other issues and daily life concerns that may interfere with concentration. This is my pranayama stage.

Step 2 – Review in full against the English copy

Once I have a first draft, I am ready to flex my language muscles and start the word contortionism required to convey all the messages in Spanish correctly and accurately. These are some of the checks and verifications I carry out during this stage:

  • I research all terminology in detail – I use online and personal glossaries and references; I also use Google.com and Google.es (by the way, if you want to confuse Google’s targeted advertising, try becoming a translator!).
  • I consider all possible hidden meanings and verify my understanding of the English copy is correct.
  • I verify all names and data mentioned.
  • I highlight mistakes, inconsistencies and typos in the English content (mistakes are uncommon in highly visible campaigns, but frequent enough in less sensitive materials).

Once I have completed all of these checks, I have an almost final draft. This stage would be my asana practice.

Step 3 – Review as a standalone text

The third and final step is crucial to ensure all previous work hasn’t been wasted. My final translation stage involves a thorough (and I mean thorough!) review of my translated copy. And I do this by looking at it as a standalone document authored in Spanish and reading it out loud to ensure it flows and sounds natural. This stage is all about style and ensuring the copy meets Spanish audiences’ expectations. These are some of the checks I do:

  • Does it flow naturally in Spanish?
  • Is this what a native author would have been likely to write?
  • Is this the style of communication expected by my audience?
  • Can I make it even better?

I like to compare this stage to the meditation part of yoga, when you concentrate on a superior mode of consciousness or, in this case, a superior translation quality.

Nirvana guaranteed for body and translation!


4 ways to increase your Amazon sales in Spain through translation

amazon spanish translation

Reading Time: 6 minutes

As a busy mum of twins and solopreneur, Amazon is a life-saver. Whether it is a costume for World-Book Day, a hand-made gift for a friend, replacement printer cartridges or new office stationery, Amazon is my first port of call. I type in whatever I need and I am presented with a selection of products that meet my needs. A few more clicks and ta-da my order is placed. The same actions are replicated daily by millions of customers in Europe and across the world.

According to Forbes, Amazon is the world’s third largest retailer (after Wal-Mart and CVS). Analysts predict it will generate the majority of online sales by 2021. The online giant is currently focused on expanding sales in Europe, predicting over 340 million online buyers by 2018.

This represents a unique opportunity for UK sellers wishing to enter the European market without the risks and overheads associated to doing it independently. Amazon allows sellers to sell in all its 5 European markets (UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain) from a single seller account.

Whether you already sell in Amazon’s 5 European markets or are thinking about crossing the online Channel, here are my top tips to make your products more visible and increase your sales:

1 Perfect your product listings in English.

Your product description needs to be informative and detailed for customers to evaluate and compare your products. Give them as many details and be accurate as possible.

Write your copy with your customers in mind. Think of their age group, economics, likes and dislikes, etc. and write to appeal to them. Here are some further pointers specific to Amazon listings:

  • Check your category character lengths. Depending on the device customers use, product titles length will vary from 34 to 160 characters. You need to make sure your titles are meaningful regardless of the length they are displayed at.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing. This refers to inserting as many keywords as possible, but more on this later!
  • Check your category’s Style Guide for the latest rules to adhere to.
  • Write clear and direct bullet points that detail your product features.
  • Use the description section to let customers imagine the experience. How will it feel to own or use your product?

Use high-quality images to illustrate your products and features.

2 Optimise your keywords. 

For customers to buy your product, they need to be able to find it. Amazon works like a search engine and uses keywords in the product’s title to rank listings. Keyword stuffing may seem like a good idea, but product titles have a character limit. The general advice is to use titles to describe your product accurately, rather than trying to insert as many keywords as possible and sacrifice readability.

Having said this, you do need to pay attention to keywords and include words your customers are likely to search for. You can use an Amazon Keyword Tool to find popular keywords and then Google’s Keyword Planner to research how often these appear in searches.

3 Have your listings professionally translated.   

International Amazon sellers question the need to translate their listings into the local language. After all, many German, French, Italian and Spanish speakers do speak English, right? Well, some do, but not the majority and even fewer are confident enough to commit to buying a product based on an English-only listing. Providing good quality copy in the local language increases your credibility as a seller and instills confidence in the quality of your products.

And now, for the elephant in the room – Google Translate. Isn’t Google Translate enough, you may ask? Well, it probably is if all you want is for your customers to get the gist of what you are selling, but sales are not converted based on general ideas, are they? Would you consider buying a “cubrecolchon Standard minicuna elastic, adapts to any mattress with the bottom of the market” as seen in amazon.co.uk. No, I didn’t think so.

Having invested time and effort into perfecting your English copy, you need to make sure its messages and brand voice are carried over to the local versions. This cannot be achieved using literal translations. My advice is to employ the services of a professional translator that fits the following profile:

  • Specialises in translating marketing copy into their native language.
  • Can demonstrate an excellent command of English to fully understand the nuances of your English listings.
  • Understands how Amazon uses keywords and what local customers search for, as this will be very different to the keywords used by English customers. If your product hasn’t been translated using local keywords, it won’t appear in the list.

4 Get reviews and reply in the local language.  

Finally, when answering questions and, rather importantly, dealing with negative reviews, you are more likely to achieve the results you want if you can engage in the local language, especially if you decide to answer bad reviews publicly to mitigate their consequences.

Reviews sell products. I have lost count of the number of times I have stopped looking at a product that looked good on paper, but had no actual reviews to back it up. And as with product listings, local buyers like to see reviews in the local language. Reviews are also important because their frequency and quantity are key to your ranking in Amazon.

So you see, whichever way you look at it, translation sells!

Bonus – Once you have perfected your listings in English and the local languages, what can you do to increase sales even more? My advice – translate your own branded web site! Many Amazon customers will look you up in Google and navigate to your web site. Your chances of conversion increase even more if they find your site also speaks their language.

If you would like me to help you sell in Spain, get in touch.

Happy selling!


Transcreating Georgie Porgie for Nursery Rhyme Week

Reading time: 50 seconds

childrens books transcreating nursery rhymes

One of my early memories of learning English is struggling to learn the following nursery rhyme:

Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie,

Kissed the girls and made them cry,

When the boys came out to play,

Georgie Porgie ran away

Yes, my then English teacher had some funny ideas on how to teach English to teenagers, but nursery rhymes do play an important part in early language development. Today marks the beginning of World Nursery Rhyme Week and to celebrate, I have produced my own Spanish version of this nursery rhyme.

Like old commercial jingles, nursery rhymes are catchy little songs that many say are impossible to translate. I agree that they are impossible to translate literally, but they can be adapted or transcreated to achieve a similar effect in the foreign language.

So, drum roll please, here is my transcreated version of Georgie Porgie:

Jorge Torpe, borde y cerril,

Besó a las chicas y les hizo gemir.

Cuando los chicos salieron a jugar,

Jorge Torpe cambió de lugar.

Think I would have made my English teacher proud!


Years in the dark


Reading time: 55 seconds


I’d like to confess a sin, a particular sin that has been weighing on my conscience. Here it goes (stands up and takes a deep breath):

“Hello, my name is Belén Martínez and I have been away from social media for 51/4  years.”

There I said it.

Now those of you who know me will start screaming “that’s not true”, you’ve been sharing cute (and not so cute!) photos of your kids. True, but as a business owner, I have been away from Twitter, LinkedIn and my business Facebook page for an eternity, especially in Snapchat terms!

I wish I could say this has been intentional, kind of going old school, but it hasn’t. I was simply too busy and concentrated on actual translation work and family file. I dropped the social media ball, and while my business has lived to tell the tale, it is now time for me to pick it up, old and dusty, and polish it until it shines. And so, my end of the year resolution is to engage, share and help others through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and beyond!

If you want to be part of this and see how I get on, you know the drill, follow me:

Twitter: bmart1nez

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/belenmartinezrealmeanings/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/belenmartinezrealmeanings/