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août 15, 2019 |

Freelance Translator or Translation Agency – Which Is Better for Your Business? 

So, your business needs translation services but you have no idea what type of language service provider to work with? Should you go for a freelance translator or a full translation agency? 

Unfortunately, there’s no universal answer to this question. Mostly, it depends on the scope of your translation project and how quickly you need things done. These aren’t the only elements to consider, however. Your budget, the type of translation services needed, and the industry in which you operate will influence your decision as well. 

The Advantages of Working with a Freelance Translator

Freelance translators are excellent resources not only for businesses looking for accurate translations, but for agencies as well. Usually, these translators are passionate about what they do and dedicate much of their time to educate themselves. Often, they become Subject Matter Experts that can perform complex translations in their niches. 

Here are some of the advantages of working with freelancers:

You have direct communication with the translator

When hiring a freelance translator, you’ll be able to communicate directly with the person who does the translation. He or she is the project manager, the virtual assistant, and the expert that chooses the best terms to describe each concept. With a direct line, miscommunication is less likely to occur, reducing the risks for translation errors. 

The freelancer is usually cheaper than an agency

If you’re a small or medium business with a tight budget, a freelancer could be a better match. Working with an individual instead of a company costs less, and you don’t necessarily need to sacrifice quality. 

You get to choose your expert

With freelancers, you have control over the hiring process. You get to select whom you work with based on references, job interviews, or any other method you consider relevant. Of course, that means you’ll work harder to find the right match–compared to an agency, where they choose the experts for you and you rarely have the chance to choose your team. 

The Benefits of Working with a Translation Agency

Translation agencies, too, bring a series of advantages to the table. They have the power of numbers on their side, plus significantly more resources they can dedicate to your projects. 

Let’s see the benefits of hiring an agency:

You get fast turnarounds

The larger the language service provider, the bigger its team of translators. If you have large projects to handle and are already running out of time, a translation agency can find the right people. They have an updated database with translators, linguists, and language experts who can step in immediately and help you meet your deadlines.

You receive more than simple translations

Agencies provide a wide range of services within the industry. From localization and transcreation, international SEO, and other technical services, you can benefit from their experience in more ways than one. They have the experience and infrastructure in place to help you overcome language and cultural barriers. 

Agencies have trained project managers for increased efficiency

Most of the time, agencies will assign you a project manager, who will go above and beyond to make sure you get the best value for your money. That could be helpful when you feel overwhelmed by the idea of going global with your business. 

You can start right away

Freelance translators (especially the good ones) often have their services booked for months in advance, so you might have to wait before getting your translations. On the other hand, agencies are available right when you need them thanks to their large number of collaborators. 

Agencies implement rigorous quality checks 

One of the best advantages of working with an agency lies in the accuracy of the final translation. It has nothing to do with the translators’ skills, but with the workflows and protocol inside a translation agency. Even the most skilled translator can make mistakes, but agencies have a proofreading system in place that can detect errors in real-time. 

When to Go for a Translation Agency?

As you can see, agencies have the power of numbers on their side, plus significantly more resources they can dedicate to your translation projects. But, as previously mentioned, there are other elements to consider when making the decision. 

Roughly speaking, you should work with a freelance translator when: 

  1. You’re a small company that needs some language-related consultancy for contacts or short translations. In this case, the skills of a highly-specialized legal translator could fit much better than any agency. 
  2. You only need to translate your documents or website into one or two languages, in which case putting together a small team of freelancers could be cheaper than hiring an agency and its army of experts. 
  3. You have to stretch every dollar. In this case, working with freelancers may be better than hiring agencies. Fast services are often more expensive and, if you don’t need the translation right away, there’s no reason to go for an agency. 

Outside these specific situations, you may want to think twice before hiring someone. For high-volume translation and localization projects, agencies are almost always the winning choice. You get all the tools and experts you need in one place, with multiple advantages for your bottom line. 

Final Thoughts

Some projects are simply too big to be handled by a freelancer or a team of individuals who have no previous experience working together. When you need multi-language support and have set rigorous deadlines, an agency can help you meet your business goals. They’re reliable and work fast thanks to their experience and significant resources. 

Depending on the size of your projects, you may even choose to work both with an agency and freelancers. There’s no one-size-fits-all model, so see which way works better for your company and stick with it.