All articles

How to Write an Effective Translation Proposal in 2024

Marketing11 mins
Marissa Taffer|Updated Mar 14, 2024
a man is sitting at a desk in front of a computer .

Crafting a translation proposal can be like baking a cake for the first time:

You have all the required ingredients - your expertise, experience, and understanding of the client's requirements- but the ingredients alone are not enough. They’re just a big sticky mess in a bowl, right? The magic comes when you combine them in the correct proportions for something that becomes more than the sum of its parts. A proposal that wows, then wins, your prospective client. (Or a nice big, sticky cake to polish off that analogy!)

The article tells you what ingredients you need, when, and in what proportion for the perfect translation proposal. And we even have a template you can use to speed up the process further.

I can tell you’re licking your lips- though that might be all this cake talk- so let’s jump right in…

Key takeaways

  1. Crafting a translation proposal requires understanding client's needs, showcasing unique skills, and outlining a clear approach.
  2. Highlighting unique value proposition and providing examples of past work can enhance the proposal.
  3. Detailing the project timeline and providing a clear pricing quote are essential for transparency and trust.
  4. Encouraging questions and providing contact information can foster better communication and relationship with the client.
  5. Using a translation proposal template can simplify the process and ensure all key elements are included.

What is a translation proposal?

A translation proposal is an introduction to your services. But it's not just about giving a price or listing your previous jobs. In a translation quote, you outline the approach that ensures every word is translated correctly and how you handle tricky tasks such as industry-specific terms or retaining the original tone.

This proposal allows you to showcase your unique skills. Perhaps you have special knowledge in a certain area or can help understand cultural nuances. This is your chance to tell your prospects why your solution matches their needs.

By expressing yourself clearly and positively, you show you know your stuff and that you are invested in their project and its success.

Steps to write a translation proposal: Key elements to include

Creating a compelling translation proposal is crucial for earning your client's trust and business. Here, we'll show you which steps you need to take to make your proposal truly shine, blending your expertise with a personal touch that speaks directly to your client's pain points.

1. Assess the client's needs

Start by taking a close look at the project details. Dig a little deeper than the basic needs. What is the aim of the translation? Who will be reading it? Are there any cultural details or special terms that need special attention? Any information you find will help you to tailor your proposal to your client and improve its chances of truly resonating with them.

2. Introducing yourself

You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so use this opportunity to really stand out. Start by telling a story that's more interesting than what's on your CV. Your education, credentials, and years of work are essential, but what about the path you took to get here? Mention why you love translating, the languages you bring to life, and the cultures you help connect. Let your passion for the written word shine through. Speak about your achievements with confidence and humility (admittedly, that can be a fine line to skate).

Mention whether you are a freelance or representing a larger agency. It's also important that you talk about your areas of expertise. Whether they are legal documents, medical reports, technical manuals, or anything else, and if there are certain business types you prefer to work with.

3. Outline your approach

Start by explaining your translation process in a friendly, easy-to-understand way. Take it step by step, from the first look at the document to the final checks you do to ensure everything is exactly right. Talk about how you'll tailor your work to the project at hand, considering things like the document's tone, the readers, and cultural details that must be handled carefully.

Then, discuss the tools and resources you use to ensure your translations are accurate and consistent. You may use specialized software, dictionaries, or guides to help you with your work. Most importantly, reassure the client that you have a solid plan to ensure top quality without getting too technical or overwhelming.

4. Highlighting your unique value proposition

This is your moment to emphasize what makes you different and better than other translators. The secret sauce that makes your work special.

Start by thinking about what sets you apart. Perhaps you excel at translating for specific fields such as technology or law or have a talent for striking the right tone in marketing materials. Maybe it's your deep understanding of cultural nuances that sets you apart. Those years you spent as an interpreter in Tokyo, that semester teaching in Saigon.

Don't just list your skills; show how they relate to the client's needs. For example, if you're good at legal translations, talk about how your work can help the client avoid mistakes that could lead to legal problems.

5. Providing examples of past work

This is your moment to show your skills, your flexibility, and the real results you have achieved. The proof is in the pudding (and you'd hoped I was done with that cake analogy...).

When choosing projects to present, try to cover a wide range of work that shows the different types of translations you have done. If you can, include projects that match your potential client's needs. Story telling is a powerful way to illustrate each example: explain the problem you solved, how you approached it, and the results.

Be wary of sharing confidential documents or data from another organization. Modify some information to maintain the privacy of your past clients, or request their approval before sharing their documents as an example.

6. Detail the project timeline

A good timeline shows that you know how to organize your work.

Start by dividing the translation work into clear steps. You could start with a first look at the materials, then move on to the actual translation, do a few rounds of checks, and finish with a final review to ensure everything is top-notch. Tell the client how long you expect each step to take. Remember to allow a little extra time in case something unexpected comes up.

Make it clear how important it is that your customer gives their feedback and approval at certain points. Explain that their quick response will help everything run smoothly and minimize delays. Late feedback can delay the completion of the project.

Also, show that you understand and respect the customer's deadlines. If they have given you an important date by which the translations need to be ready, you must ensure that your plan aligns with this schedule.

7. Provide your pricing quote

When offering your services, strive for a clear explanation that shows the customer exactly what they're getting for their money.

Start by detailing your offer. Explain how you set your rate based on the number of words, the time it takes to complete the project, or a fixed price for the entire task. Pre-empt and clarify any questions from the start. Mention any additional services, such as research or revisions.

Also, be honest about any additional costs or discounts you can offer. If the complexity of a project could lead to higher prices, mention this upfront. Don't forget to talk up the value you bring to the table -- you're a pro, and your offer should reflect that. Your client will not be just paying for your time, but all the other skills you’ve built up too.

8. Encourage questions and further discussion

Start by inviting the client to ask you any questions, whether it's about your proposal, how you work, or your previous projects. Let them know that every question is important. This gives the client the feeling that you respect them and reassures them that you're there to clear up any confusion. It's like saying, "I'm willing to listen to you and shape my work so that it's exactly what you want."

Then, suggest making an appointment to talk more about the proposal if they want to. Be flexible about the nature of the conversation, whether by phone or video call.

9. Provide your contact information

Following your invitation to communicate, list all the ways your proposal recipients can contact you. Include your email address, phone number, website, and social media profiles.

Also, indicate when you're available for a chat or meeting. If you can usually talk on the phone at certain times or prefer to meet on certain days, mention this. Use this as a Call To Action, encouraging them to ask questions or simply start a project. Tell them you're looking forward to hearing from them and starting a good working relationship.

Example of a translation proposal template

Starting with translation proposals can seem like a big task, even for the most experienced translation pro, but it doesn't have to be. Qwilr's translation proposal template is here to help, giving you a simple way to begin and build a proposal that wins clients over. This template contains everything you need to highlight your services and understand your client's needs.

  • Introduction: Kick things off by warmly greeting the client and briefly introducing your translation services. This executive summary sets a welcoming tone for the subsequent proposal.
  • Understanding Your Needs: Dive deep into what the client is looking for here. Show that you've thought about their project's details and what they're trying to achieve.
  • Your Priorities: Reflect on what the client has told you are their biggest concerns, like whether they need the project done quickly and accurately or to ensure it fits culturally. It reassures the client that what's important to them is just as important to you.
  • Success Looks Like: Describe what a successful end to the project looks like. This is your chance to be optimistic, showing the client the great results they can expect from working with you.
  • Our Approach: Explain your plan for the project in this section. It's about being clear on your work and reassuring the client that you have a solid, well-thought-out method.
  • Our Services: List your services, focusing on how each benefits the client's project. Here, you can show pride in what makes your services stand out.
  • Our Achievements: Talk about your past successes, including relevant references or client testimonials. This part of your proposal helps build trust.
  • Our Team: Introduce the people on your team, highlighting their skills, experience, and enthusiasm. This makes your proposal more personal.
  • Investment Required: Be clear about your prices here. Explain the costs and show the value the client will get for their money.
  • CTA: Encourage the client to take the next step, like setting up a chat, asking more questions, or getting the project started. This gentle push is about moving forward together.
  • Conclusion: Finish with a heartfelt thank you and restate your eagerness to work on the project. This ends your proposal on a positive note, keeping the conversation open for more.

Final Thoughts

Creating a translation proposal is all about finding the right mix of professionalism and personality. Use these tips to help align your specific solution to their specific need, and you’re one step closer to winning the business

If you're looking for a place to start or want to simplify your proposal-writing process, check out Qwilr's Translation Proposal Template. It'll help you pack everything you need into a proven layout for visually-impressive proposals in a fraction of the time.

About the author

Marissa Taffer, Founder & President of M. Taffer Consulting

Marissa Taffer|Founder & President of M. Taffer Consulting

Marissa Taffer is the Founder & President of M. Taffer Consulting. She brings over 15 years of sales and marketing experience across various industries to a broad range of clients.

Frequently asked questions

The best format for a translation proposal combines clarity with persuasiveness. A comprehensive translation proposal (or document) should have a well-organized structure that begins with a warm introduction, explains your services in detail, and clearly outlines how you plan to approach the project and what it will cost. This format makes it easy for the client to understand why you're the best choice.

To stand out from competitors, emphasize your unique selling points, such as specialized expertise in certain languages or industry sectors, superior quality control processes, or innovative use of technology to enhance accuracy and efficiency. Offering personalized service options, such as dedicated project management or custom workflow integration, may further distinguish your proposal.

Avoiding vagueness about services and costs is crucial; a proposal should be as detailed and transparent as possible to build trust and avoid misunderstandings. Neglecting to tailor the proposal to the specific needs and context of the prospective client is another common mistake; generic proposals are less likely to resonate.