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The difference between consumer terms is slight at best, and it is easy to get confused when you are deciding which is appropriate. Even native English speakers would have a hard time telling you the definitive rules with which to choose between, say, client and customer. However, choosing the correct term is important, and can be picked depending on the type of business you operate, the relationship you have with the people you serve, and the goal that you want to achieve.

Do you have a customer or a client?

As I wrote in my previous post, the difference between these terms is huge. You can read up on that topic at the above link; but as a quick reminder, a client buys professional services from a business or individual (e.g., translators have clients), while a customer buys goods or services from a business (online shops have customers).

What about a consumer?

Consumers are usually thought of as the end user – the person who actually uses the goods or services purchased. For example, a mother who buys the diapers may be the customer, but it is the baby who uses them that is the consumer. Consumer can be used in place of both customer and client.

Keep in mind that it is a more impersonal term, and is often used in relation to technological products and services. You might want to use this at a board meeting, but not in direct communications.

Okay, I get that. Can you explain patron?

Patron is not used as often as the previous examples. The Oxford Dictionary describes a patron as a person who gives financial or other support to a person, organization, or cause, such as person who takes an honorary position at a charity. In addition, the word ‘patron’ can be used for customers, especially regular ones. For example, you can be a patron of a restaurant, theater, shop, or even the library.

Businesses will use the term patron to enhance the ongoing financial relationship between their operation, such as the opera or the ballet, and their public. However, this is a dated term, and increasingly less likely to be used.

Brilliant. Now, let’s talk member.

Member describes a person who belongs or subscribes to a particular group. This can mean subscribing to the ideas of a group, like a political party, or paying a membership fee in order to reap the benefits of membership, like a Rotary Club or Costco. Patron and member can often be used interchangeably, and the choice purely depends on the specific organization.

Keep in mind that a member can also be a customer, client, or consumer. For instance, the membership cards used by retail stores or other organizations. Their clients and customers may have special privileges, discounts, or reward programs only accessible through signing up for the membership. A great example of this is beauty chain Sephora. Signing up for their membership program is simple, and the more you spend, the more benefits you receive – encouraging members to become repeat customers!

That was a lot! Should we talk about users?

User is one of the easier terms we will discuss. It refers to a person who owns or operates something, especially a computer or other machine. As of late, it is mainly used to describe consumers of computer apps, programs, and other technological devices.

I would not encourage using this term unless you are strictly a technology-based company, or discussing the user experience for your online store. This is a much more detached term, similar to consumer, in that you would not use this in communication with your preferred audience.

When in doubt, ask someone.

The term you choose for people who buy goods or services can significantly change a written text. However, the good news is that it is relatively simple to figure out which is most beneficial for your business. Armed with the above information, you can easily enhance the relationship you have with your public!

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Customer and client: two words that are often mistaken, and cause problems for both non-natives and English speakers. Although the words are frequently used as synonyms, they do not have exactly the same meaning. There has been already a lot of discussion when the word client or customer should be used; the answer is not always easy. The choice of the right word depends on the context. The distinction between the two terms in question is of special importance for business owners and for translators.

As a business owner (including online business owners), you want to be sure that you address your customers/clients correctly in order to gain future business. The distinction is also relevant for translators – not only for the sake of precise translation, but also to help address the customers/clients better.
By the end of this article you will be sure whether to use client or customer in your communication. I have prepared for you the ultimate rules that will help you make this decision.

#1 Know the Meaning

According to Oxford Dictionary, a customer is a person or organization that buys something from a store or business. A manager of a supermarket would call a person who buys a lot in his store a good customer.

A client is defined by the same dictionary as a person that uses the services or advice of a professional person or organization. An example is a lawyer or a translator who has clients, not customers.

Thus the difference between the two words is quite big. Customers buy goods like cookies, books or clothes, and clients pay for services like accounting or legal services.

#2 Think of Continuity

The distinction between selling products and services is not enough. The other thing that will help you decide whether to use word customer or client is continuity. This simple rule tells that a person who comes to your shop only once to buy a product is a customer. However, when this person comes to you every week to buy a product(s) and a relationship is built based on that, that person is a client.

So John, who bought butter one month ago from you but has not been seen since, can be called your customer. On the other hand, Peter, who buys groceries at your shop every week, can be called both: a regular customer or a client. If you want to put an emphasis on the fact that Peter buys products or services from you regularly and is loyal to you, then you call him a client.

#3 Recognize Different Businesses

Businesses have two main focuses: gaining customers, or gaining clients. Those focused on customers rather than clients are interested in significant numbers of one time purchases – a volume game. Businesses aiming to gain clients are looking for creation of long time relationships with an emphasis on loyalty.

You should take this information into account when creating communication for your business. Want to focus on long term relationships with people who buy services? Call them clients. For the reverse, use the word customer. Use the right word in order not to mislead your audience.

#4 Know for Whom You Translate

The distinction between a customer and a client is important for the quality of a translation, especially in English. In some languages there is only one word used for both terms – such as the Dutch “klant”, the Polish “klient”, or the Spanish “cliente”. Know that in these languages, you won’t have to differentiate in your translation.

However, as a translator you are offering services, for which you had like repeat business. Remember to communicate with your audience as clients, not customers, when applicable, to ensure growing feelings of loyalty.

Remember to use the correct word in your communication, as one word can often make a big difference!

In this ever more digitalized and automated world it sounds almost archaic when you tell someone that you would like to become a writer or a translator. The creation of content and its editing is however more relevant than ever. After all, the internet exists because we create words which we feel are worth sharing with others. The digital world exists of zeroes and ones, and words. Our words.

Since Simply Translate was founded, it has been on the lookout for new talent. New translators, new brilliant writers, but also professionals who like to work with languages besides their daytime job. Although each freelancer is different, there is a set of characteristics to be found among good translators and writers.

Because most of the team members at the office have either been active as a translator or have a great passion for language, it is not hard to distinguish these characteristics.


Whereas one translator will never say it out loud and the other indicate it in every e-mail they send, we recognize the passion for language in almost all our translators. Whereas some of them have learned a second or even a third language out of interest, others are raised bilingually and can easily switch between languages. They are working with language and shape their words until the text sounds appealing and reads pleasantly, something that will make every client proud.

2. Client Orientation

Obviously every translator has his or her own writing style. Whereas one will be poetic, the other one will be more direct. As soon as a translator takes on a project from a specific customer the service reaches beyond nicely phrased sentences and translations without spelling and grammar mistakes. The translator puts him- or herself in the shoes of the client; What does the client need? What does he or she want to achieve? Who is being addressed? This is the process during which great translators distinguish themselves. A text can be written very poetically, if it is not aimed at the right audience, the text will not serve its purpose.

3. Confidence

It is logical that a translator is uncertain or in doubt sometimes. Especially when they have to provide a text for a new client. That is called a healthy dose of tension. That is also what keeps translators sharp. The challenge is to constantly develop, grow and improve as a translator. This stimulates the translator to keep on going. The confidence of a translator increases during the cooperation with a client. In time, the translator and client will become well-attuned to each other.

4. Practice

You do not become a professional translator just like that. It is not like a translator can call him- or herself an all-rounder after translating a text. Creating strong content and commanding different writing techniques comes from practice. When worked with multiple types of texts, the translator learns what clients want and his or her own ‘art’ is. As a translator it is important to keep within your own abilities and strengths.

5. Discipline

The translation industry is characterized by tight deadlines. As a translator, you should not only be able to respond quickly to translation requests, it is also of importance that you maintain a certain pace in your work without jeopardizing the quality. As goes for commanding different writing techniques, practice makes perfect when it comes to developing and strengthening these skills.

6. Dare to ask

As a translator you have to deal with a wide variety of topics. From advertisement leaflets about telecom products to the latest fashion items of online stores. Logically it happens that a translator comes across a topic he or she is not comfortable with. Precisely then it is admirable that the translator dares to ask. Often the client is able to explain the meaning of a word or phrase within a short amount of time. The short lines of communication between a translator and a client make sure that the communication does not become a barrier or an obstacle.

In addition to the characteristics mentioned above, there are obviously still many features that are unique to every translator, writer or copywriter. Based on the needs of our customer Simply Translate always matches the most suitable translator to that translation job. An unique matching system that has brought our company where we are now: Proud of our services and proud of our translators.

You have been working as a translator for some time now. You like your job because as a freelancer you choose where and when you work. You have already worked on some interesting projects and would like to work on more. However, you feel like something is still missing in order for you to get more translation jobs.

In order to improve your translation skills you first have to realize what you might be lacking and what skills you can improve. That is why we made a list of the most common bottlenecks of translators and we give you tips on how to clear the path to success.

Clients and translation agencies will surely prefer you over other translators if you stick to advice given in this article.

#1 Continuity

Unfortunately, it is quite common for translators to lack continuity. However, this actually concerns a lot of people, not only translators. Lots of people achieve a certain level of their profession, start working and are satisfied with the outcomes of their job and then they… stop studying.

A real pity, because there is always a lot more to learn. A person who want to know and speak a language fluently never stops educating him- or herself. When you do not continue to study a language you will probably start forgetting words, sayings or jargon of your field of specialization, just because you do not use it that much.

How to avoid this? Try to practice language day by day. Read, listen or speak the language, even if it is just for a short time. Practice often, so you are continuously challenged to remember the information!

#2 Passion

Is the time you are working on a translation the only time you spend practising and using this language? That is a shame! When working with languages it can become much more than only a job. It can even develop into a passion.

Have you ever tried soaking in the language? Try to spend some time on reading the news or a book that you have always wanted to read. You could also watch TV, movies or spend more time with native speakers of the language. Unless you are raised bilingually, you should never stop learning.
By making language your passion, you can achieve better results in your work.

#3 Cultural knowledge

It is not surprising that in order to fully understand a language you should also emerge in the culture of the country or countries where this language is being spoken. Some people know a language well, although they lack knowledge about the culture related to it. This means there is still room to learn.

Writer Rita Mae Brown explains why language and culture are inseparable: “Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going.” Additionally, by understanding the culture of a country, you will know more words and that will make the whole translation process easier.

#4 Good Time Management

As a freelancer you know that your job depends on your time management skills. As a freelance translator you are your own boss. Even though some freelancers can manage their work and time really well, there are many people for whom it is really difficult to meet a deadline.

Remember that the quality of your translation prevails. It is key to your future career. The best translators plan everything ahead and leave some extra time for possible changes at the end. You can use several tools like Google Calendar or Evernote to manage your time better.

#5 Good Communication Skills

For most freelancers, communication skills are extremely important. For freelance translators even more so. Good communications skills are crucial when you communicate with your client or translation agency, especially when you only use Internet or phone calls.

On the contrary to physical contact, it is more difficult to express yourself via e-mail or a short message. Experienced translators often communicate with their client in case of questions or issues with the source text. If they spot a mistake in the source text, they report it to the client. If they feel that they will not meet a deadline and they need more translators to work along with them on a project, they inform the client or a translator agency about it.

#6 Good Research Skills

All people who learn a language or translate a text will remember spending too much time on searching a word or a sentence, which was just extremely difficult to translate into other language. That is why good research skills are beneficial to translators or actually anyone who learns a new language.

Finding information, the meaning of words or whole phrases quickly is important as it can make you save time. Remember that you can also learn when you search for information.
Whenever you find new word or phrase that caused you a problem, write it down. This way you can remember it , what will profit you in the future.

#7 Specialization

It is very useful for a translator to have in-depth knowledge about one or more topics and to constantly keep on learning. The best way to thrive your career is to specialize in a field you are interested in or you want to work in the future.

Moreover, in the market there is a high demand for translators who specialize in specific areas like for instance legal, e-commerce or technical translations.

In short, learning continuously, managing your time well and better communication will boost your career as a translator.