With the current surge in online video content, there has never been a better time for translators looking to move into the world of freelance subtitle translation. At first glance, the idea of translating video content for a subtitling company may seem pretty straightforward. Get yourself a good broadband connection, a snazzy new laptop, set up an office in your spare bedroom where you can work in your pyjamas, and you’re ready to go, right?
Well, not quite. Whilst going freelance may seem like the ‘chilled out’ option in terms of being your own boss, subtitling can be a challenge and if you’re not able to meet agencies’ and clients’ expectations, you may find yourself short of work.
So here’s a run down of some of the challenges of working for a subtitling company in terms of what exactly is expected of a professional linguist.
Working for a subtitling company or translation company often means working to tight deadlines. We’ve all heard that freelance work means you can be flexible with your working hours, but that doesn’t mean you can necessarily be flexible with your working days. The faster you work, the more money you will make and the more reliable you are, the more captioning companies will approach you to take on work. Time is money, and few jobs have turnaround times of a week for you to squeeze into the diary. In addition, if you constantly turn down fast turnaround work, you may not be offered those cushty longer ones.
Numerous Video Topics
If you’re looking into providing online subtitle translation, you can expect to work with an absolutely enormous range of topics. You will likely face some big translation challenges: instructional videos, scientific documentaries and corporate e-learning slides, to name just a few. Video subtitling work can be difficult at the best of times, but outside of standard document translation, the content is often far more interesting to deal with so you will likely never be bored.
Variable Subtitling Systems
When working as a subtitle translator online, it’s best not to put all of your eggs in one basket, as it were. Work can be sporadic from company to company and to keep yourself busy, it’s best to grow as big a client base as possible. One difficulty that arises from this, however, is in IT systems. Whilst some subtitling companies will provide online platforms for subtitlers to use to caption work, others may expect you to have your own software and simply to provide them with output files. A lot of training may be involved in working with multiple firms, and work flows can vary enormously so make sure you’re fully knowledgeable and up-to-date on subtitling software.
Flexibility in Workflows
In an ideal world, every company would use Lean principles, and subtitle translation workflows would always be the same. In the real world, however, this is rarely the case. Depending on client requirements, captioning workflows can change. Translation work can mean translating direct from audio or providing foreign transcription. Similarly, subtitling a foreign film may require translating an SRT file directly, or using a template if lots of other languages are involved. You may be expected to work on spotting transcripts, formatting styles or you may be asked to burn subtitles into video, providing end-to-end services. Working for a subtitling company does have it’s variations which keep it interesting and fresh.
Whilst as a freelancer, it’s obviously your prerogative as to which projects you accept or reject, being flexible can be an important factor in growing a solid client basis and gaining a good reputation within the subtitling industry. Working for a subtitling company can be a great career move but it does involve dedication and commitment.
If you’re interested in being part of our team, take a look at our work with us page which gives you more information on the types of software our subtitlers use and information on how to apply to work with us.