Should You Work with a Translation Agency or a Freelance Translator?

Posted on March 10, 2016 · Posted in Translation Services

When you’re looking to get a document translated, you have the choice of going with a translation agency or working with a freelance translator. It’s possible to get good results from both these options.

With a translation agency, all the translators will be vetted in advance so that they only take on people who know the languages concerned very well. With a freelance translator, you may not be sure of their quality of work unless they come highly recommended from someone that you know. Either way, it’s possible to find out soon enough whether that person is worth working with again.

Here are some of the pros and cons of working with a translation agency vs. a freelance translator:

Experience

A translation agency will have a larger pool of translators who have worked with various languages and various types of translation. So they’ll be able to give you good services on a larger variety of projects. They’re likely to have translators who have worked on fliers, brochures, menus, reports, letters, catalogs etc. So they’ll be familiar with different types of business writing in different languages.

A freelance translator, on the other hand, might be familiar with the source and the destination language but may not have worked on a large variety of projects. So they’ll have to familiarize themselves with how it’s done pretty quickly and they might make some rookie mistakes.

Delivery Times

Since a translation agency has a larger pool of translators, they’ll be able to get your project done in a hurry. Let’s say you need to have a letter, a brochure and a report all done at the same time. A translation agency can give these three different projects to three translators and have your translations done in less time.

On the other hand, a freelance translator will have to finish one translation before moving on to another. So they’re likely to take three times as long as a translation agency would. If delivery time is important to you, you should definitely go with a translation agency.

Cost

When you work with a translation agency, you know that part of the money you’re paying them goes to the agency and part of it to the translator. So the cost of working with an agency might possibly be higher.

Freelance translators, on the other hand, don’t have to share their income with an agency. So they can afford to offer you lower prices. Some freelance translators will charge as much as an agency while others will charge you less.

Personal Touch

When you work with a translation agency, you probably won’t be dealing directly with the translator. You’ll have to go through an intermediary—the person who decides which translator gets which document. So if there are any discrepancies in the translation, you’ll have to explain them to the intermediary who will have to explain them to the translator. And something is likely to get lost in this process.

With a freelance translator, on the other hand, you’ll be able to tell them directly what isn’t right with the document and they’ll be able to fix it as per your suggestions. In this way, you’ll be getting the personal touch from the translator.

Stylistic Integrity

When you’re working with a translation agency, the work you assign is likely to get distributed between translators. Even if it is generally given to one translator, that person might end up leaving the agency and will have to be replaced eventually. So you’ll receive accurate translations but they might be in different styles.

If stylistic integrity is important to you, you might want to work with a freelance translator. Or you could request your translation agency to assign all your work to one translator only.

Contact us for more great tips on working with both, translation agencies and freelance translators.