Gaetano is Italian, 29 years old and a full-time freelance translator working in the linguistic combination EN > IT. He worked in a video game localisation company in the United Kingdom (London) for 4 years and has lived back in Italy since May 2011. His field of expertise is in video games.
How did you get started in freelance translation?
During my work experience in London I developed strong abilities in translation and proofreading, as well as in editing, so at some point I decided to work as a full time freelancer as I believed I had gained enough experience and skills to deal with my own business.
When I started to work as freelance translator, I already had some clients thanks to my ex-colleagues who had also left the company to start to work as freelance translators, and they suggested me to their clients. This was definitely an advantage for me getting started in freelance translation.
What have you done to increase your rates over time?
Basically, when I started to have more clients I felt more sure of my possibilities and I could increase my rates with the clients that offered low rates.
What has been the single most effective sales strategy you've used?
When I got the ProZ Certified Pro Network, clients started to contact me more often.
Do you have a favourite 'type' of client?
Not really, the important thing is that the client (agency or direct) replies to queries and is precise in payments.
What was your most successful project ever, and why?
That was a video game strategic guide, where I received compliments from the publisher.
What would you ideally invest in next in order to grow your business?
I would invest in a freelance collaborator who could revise all of my translations, in that case I could increase my rates but I would ensure a complete job (translation and revision) to my clients. Also, launching my own professional website.
Which tools have most impacted your profitability?
XTM, a web-based CAT tool and Translation Management System, and Trados 7, which is required by most clients.
Do you have any advice for others looking to raise their rates?
Increase in small increments over time. A 10-15% increase is hardly noticeable to the clients, but can make a significant impact to the bottom line.
What changes do you foresee in the games industry, having surpassed the size of the film industry? Will it still rely on Excel files?
Given my personal work experience in video games, I think this industry will continue to grow. In my opinion, it is one of those few industries that have been less affected by the general crisis which affected the world economy.
The real "battle" in the video games market between Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo has just started and they are constantly planning new generation consoles and video games. We may include Apple as well between these big names, as we can consider iPhone and iPad as consoles really.
In Europe, for now only a few video game publishers translate their games into languages that are not EFIGS (English, French, Italian, German and Spanish), but I think this is going to change little by little and other languages will come into consideration more often. Of course, this would be a benefit for translators too, as there would be more work for them.
As you mentioned in your question, working in Excel is still the norm indeed, but sooner or later this may change too, as some companies are starting to use web-based CAT tools, which are good to improve the translation process, especially in terms of in-game consistency.
And do you charge in any specific way for the games industry?
For translation services, I only set the price based on the word count. For revisions, sometimes I price by hour. So nothing unusual.