Growing your business internationally – should you choose a translator or a copywriter?

Want to grow your business internationally? Speaking your customers’ language is vital for expanding into new markets and for your long-term success. Who should you choose to help you, a translator or copywriter?

There are different reasons you might want to have your website or certain content available in another language. For example:

  • You started or want to start selling your products / services overseas
  • To make it easier for foreign partners – importers, distributors, retailers – to find you on the internet
  • You want to increase conversions by catering to the international visitors coming to your page
  • To give foreign customers access to information that they need
  • In order to differentiate yourself and increase your competitiveness over other brands

The question is: What is the best approach to creating multilingual content?

Should you simply translate the source material?

Should you work with a copywriter to develop copy and content from scratch?

Or is it better to use a combination of service providers including a localization consultant, translator, and copywriter?

How you go about it depends on several factors but first, let’s understand the difference between translation, copywriting, and localization.

Translator or copywriter? Who should you choose? This image shows a waving cut-out man and the text "Hello World!"

Translation vs Copywriting vs Localization

Translation: Refers to the process of converting words or text from one language to another. The goal in translation is to accurately communicate meaning.

Copywriting: Refers to the process of writing text that supports, serves, and aims to accomplish certain marketing or advertising purposes. It is essentially text that sells – the text that you see in adverts and promotional materials. What is written is referred to as ‘copy’.

Localization: Refers to the practice of adjusting (or adapting) products / services / marketing materials according to the language and cultural context of a foreign market. That also includes taking political and legal differences into account.

Taking your business global? Keep your winning streak! Consult with Radiant Copywriting for all your English copywriting needs.

Practical Considerations

While the ideal scenario for preparing your international, multilingual content involves translators, copywriters, and localization consultants, hiring as well as coordinating with all three can be too demanding for smaller businesses. That’s why we’ll focus solely on translators and copywriters.

In my experience, who you choose to work with will almost always come down to these 3 main considerations.

Budget

Hiring a copywriter to develop your content and then sending that out to be translated (or vice versa) simply doubles costs. Realistically speaking, you might not have those extra funds for your project.

If you’re on a budget, you’ll probably choose to work with whoever can offer you a more affordable rate. Translators normally charge by the word – so in some instances, i.e. where the source material is short, you’ll get a better deal with them than you would with a copywriter. But whether the translation will resonate with your readers (and increase conversions) is something you’ll only find out in the long run.

Availability

Sometimes your source material is in a less ‘popular’ language where finding translators or copywriters is a real challenge. That’s normally the case for ‘exotic’ language combinations. Other times, you’re simply in a rush. Your projects needs to be completed yesterday.

When it’s hard to find a qualified translator / copywriter to work with or when accommodating your time frame simply isn’t feasible, availability becomes the deciding factor.

By default, that means you’ll choose whoever can help you right now or choose to develop materials in a more universal language like English.

Comfort Level

Sometimes, it’s not so much a lack of options but rather your comfort level that dictates who you choose to work with.

Some of the most talented copywriters are freelancers you’ll never meet since they’re working out of their home offices on the other side of the world.

Sometimes the quickest translation turnaround happens when you submit your work to an online translation agency – your project is picked up by whoever is available at that moment and specialized in that topic.

If a face-to-face-meeting is a priority or you’re opposed to hiring a freelancer / agency over the internet, then you’re left with whatever options exist in your city.

Translator or copywriter? Who should you choose? This image shows two men making notes and working on their laptops.

Translator or Copywriter – What Service Do You Really Need?

All that said and done, the service you choose will primarily depend on the type of material you need. And while ‘best practices’ are ‘best’ for a reason, sometimes you just have to be practical—like if  your budget doesn’t allow for it just yet or you’re in the early stages and taking baby steps.

So what service do you really need? Should you choose a translator or a copywriter?

As a rule of thumb:

  • If the source material needs to be binding, as is the case with legal documents (contracts, terms & conditions, privacy policy, etc.) or business reports (technical, annual, financial) choose to work with a certified or experienced translator.
  • If the source material serves a marketing function, that is you have specific marketing objectives to accomplish and you want to benefit from creative leeway, choose to work with a professional copywriter.

BONUS: Don’t Forget These Practical Points

  • Always take the time to research and understand your target audience.
  • Make sure you think about the tone of your message. What would be most culturally appropriate for your new market? Example: Should your copy be formal or informal?
  • In reworking your content for new markets, don’t lose sight of your marketing objectives – make sure your content is conducive to what you want to achieve.
  • On a tight budget? You don’t have to translate everything. First focus on what really matters – what is important – to your target audience.
  • If you offer content and information in another language then your stakeholders expect that you are prepared to answer inquiries in that language. Plan accordingly!

Going international? Take the lead! Consult with Radiant Copywriting for all your English copywriting needs.