How to Translate Amazon Listings (From a Translator Perspective)
Updated: Jul 18, 2019
If you are looking to translate your Amazon listings into Italian, you might come across the “you have to do it yourself”. I like to call it:
The Amazon Problem
According to Amazon’s international seller rules you have to translate your product listings into the local language of the marketplace you want to trade on. Remember that for certain markets, like the Italian one, products of some categories need approval. Amazon offers a great way to quickly translate your product titles and descriptions and reach millions of new customers. The translation is just a click away. Their system will look if your product has already been translated and you will just need to use the translated description that comes up. Real people do these translations. I was one of them for about 2 years.
Although, as we can read on Amazon’s FAQs, "If [the listing] doesn’t exist in the desired language, you will need to translate it yourself.” You might also want to check the price of a translation yourself before sticking to what Amazon offers.
Do not despair and ‒ most importantly ‒ do not use automatic translation systems like Google Translate!
Mistranslations like this one aren’t new, and it goes from bad to worse when the content gets technical. I admit that a machine-translated text is quite of a good quality when it comes to simple documents and dialogues, but it still has a long way to go.
While the greatest machines squeeze their circuits to fully understand the complexity of our language, here are two viable solutions for you to choose from to translate your Amazon listings.
These two solutions do not take into account translation agencies as they put themselves between you, the client, and us, the translators, making you pay more and making us earning less (how do they make money otherwise?).
Solution #1 - Create a job offer
There are many online websites that let you find a freelance translator; UpWork (formerly Elance + oDesk) and freelancer.com area just two of them. These recruitment platforms let you create a job offer that translators can bid on. Recruiters using these platforms seem not to be aware of the fact that they can search for and contact a freelancer themselves, but there is that option as well (or maybe they know it but it’s much cheaper to create a job offer ‒ let’s see why…).
For the sake of this blog post I logged in to my UpWork account and here is the first job offer I see:
Let’s pretend that it is you who posted the first job on this list. You have estimated that 25 USD is the maximum amount of money you are willing to pay for 5 documents of 3,122 words total. At the time I was viewing this job offer 40 freelance translators showed interested in it. You would only need to pick the one who seems to be the most experienced/reliable and in a few days (hours?) you will have your “important product information” in Italian. You’ll be ready "to use it to sell you product”. Since freelancers can place a bid, maybe one of them will offer you 20 USD to get the job done. Pretty cheap, eh?
Don’t get to that conclusion yet…
The translator who wins this job will be earning exactly 0.00800769 cents per word. Maybe it is clearer to you if I say that this translator will earn a little over 2 USD/hour (based on a translation speed of 250 words/hour, a fair average).
Do you think that the translation you receive will be of high standards?
Do you think that the quality of the translation will let you sell more products?
A professional translator, even if just a beginner, would not (and should not) charge less than 0.06 USD/word. This minimum rate is justified by the lack of experience. Also, you have to bear in mind that the rate itself varies according to the field as well. If you want to have an idea on how much a professional translation will cost visit the page http://search.proz.com/employers/rates.
Should you not use these websites?
I am not saying that you should not use these websites. Once you have gathered information on how much a translation in a specific field would charge you can still post a job offer and select a candidate. For general e-commerce/product descriptions the rate is of 0.06-0.08 USD/word. Also, be ready to have to go through dozens of proposals.
Solution #2 - Select a freelance translator yourself
The best way to find a translator is to look for one! As I have previously mentioned, you can browse for freelancers. There are two main websites I suggest you to visit; www.proz.com and www.translatorscafe.com. They are both specifically meant for translators, interpreters and language service providers in general. These two websites let you post a job offer as well, but even in this case the translation quality won't be different from the one of websites like the ones mentioned earlier (because even here translators tend to offer a lower rate to win the job, which compromises the overall quality of the translation). The only plus you obtain by using these two websites is that (generally) freelancers who are on them have more credentials and are more professional.
Let's see a more effective way to find a freelance translator. I will take proz.com as an example because it’s the website that I use the most, but you can apply my suggestions to translatorscafe.com as well.
Here is how the UpWork search option looks like:
One thing you should know is that a professional translation most often specializes. This means that he/she has a deep knowledge of one (or more) specific field (sports, retail, tourism, etc.) and that he/she has translated mainly in that field ‒ thus gaining preciuos experience.
These are the people you should look for.
Looking for specialized translators on websites like UpWork is a bit tricky, because these websites regroup all profiles into a single language combination (i.e. English to Italian) and won’t offer a simple way to skim the results.
Instead, if you visit the page http://www.proz.com/translator-directory/ you will notice that you can search for professionals by selecting specific skills.
The main search criteria to select are:
- Source Language (i.e. English)
- Target Language (i.e. Italian)
- Service Type (i.e. translation)
- Field of Expertise (for Amazon listings I suggest you to choose Internet, E-commerce or Marketing).
Another very useful option is the Keyword Box. Inserting a keyword like "e-commerce" or "product descriptions" in this box will show you all the profiles that contain that specific keyword ‒ but do not forget to select the main search criteria too, or you would lend on a profile of a translator who does not translate into Italian, for example, but who is specialized in e-commerce.
By clicking on Search you will see your results. Freelance translators who appears on the top of the list are the translators who 1) gained the most of points (kudos) by correctly answering to terminology questions posted by fellow translators, 2) are paying members, which means that they invest in their professional career by acquiring the proz.com membership and the benefits that comes with it. These kudos and this membership are a fair indicator of the quality and professionalism of a translator. You can blindly choose any translator who corresponds to the criteria you’ve selected.
Now that you have a list of professionals, I suggest you to contact one translator at the time, or to send a group email to say 3 translators if you’re in a hurry. To choose these translators, look at their profile page so to get a glimpse of their personality and professionalism. What we need to know as translators is:
The type of document, what it’s for, and its format
The total number of words
If it’s urgent or not (urgency = the rate rises. I suggest you to let the translator propose a deadline. Remember that we are busy working on other projects)
A sample of the document (just 2 or 3 sentences. This helps us propose a rate and a feasible deadline).
It sounds like a lot of information, but it really isn’t…
Here is a sample contact email: "I have a Word document of 3.400 words total to translate from English into Italian. It’s a list of sports equipment to be sold on our website. Can you help me with this? If yes, when will you be able to deliver the translation? You can find a sample sentence here under." At this point the translator will guide you and let you know if he/she needs more information.
Here is where this post ends. I hope you found it helpful to choose a way to translate your Amazon listing, or eBay listing or any other website for that matters. One last thing-
Remember that you get what you pay for.