Work With Direct Clients or Translation Agencies?
Different Kinds Of Clients of A Freelance Translator
If you are Freelance Translator, you can work for direct clients or translation agencies. As we will see, there are positive and negative aspects to both. What’s better for you?
Pro: the freelancer normally deals with the Project Manager. The Project Manager is used to dealing with translators, he knows how they work, so he understands how to best deal with them. He also knows what the client wants, and he can be a good mediator. There are clear deadlines, clear rules, clear rates.
Moreover, the agency deals with all the marketing aspects, such as promoting the services and finding new clients. This means that the freelancer can focus on the pure translation.
Cons: they pay less than a direct client. This is standard. But it is also reasonable – as I previously said they organise the marketing campaign, the promotion, find and deal with new clients, and manage problems. They pay the freelance a rate from 40 to 70% of what they ask to the client. For the freelancer this is still a good rate even though more could be earned from dealing with the client directly.
Pro: if the client knows what he wants and states clearly what he needs, perfect. The relationship could last for many months or years if they trust each other. The client saves and the freelancer earns more. They have direct contact, allowing them to overcome any problems without the hassle of a third person, thus saving time.
Cons: finding a direct client proves more difficult than finding agencies to work with.
You have to start a marketing campaign exactly as any other company (branding, online reputation, website, blog, social media…) to promote yourself.
Companies usually prefer to work with agencies because they are in the business of handling a variety of languages and services which a freelancer is not able to offer.
Secondly, for a freelancer, it could prove to be very difficult in dealing with a direct client.
A direct client, whether an individual or a company, could be unfamiliar with working with translators.
They may not be aware of the specifics of translation, or how translators actually do it.
Moreover, sometimes a client thinks he knows what he needs, but quite often has no clue.
In this case, the translator has to overcome even more issues which would have been otherwise avoided with an agency, forcing the translator to manage many different roles: project manager, translator, personal assistant, customer care, technician. It could be worth the added inconvenience, but it really depends on the situation.
I personally recommend a mix of the two options in order to develop a variety of experiences. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll decide to use all of that experience as freelancer to open up your own agency!