The 3 Freelance Translator Attributes That Translation Agencies Love

By Chiara Grassilli
In Translation
Apr 13th, 2015

3 Little Lesser Known Freelance Translator Attributes That Translation Agencies Love


Some freelance translators find working with translation agencies to be an agreeable professional experience. One of the more attractive things to translators in working with translation agencies is that companies conduct marketing campaigns to attract clients, and incur those promotional expenses which can be considerable. Translation agencies also provide translators with a measure of financial risk buffering since reputable agencies will pay translators for their work even in instances when end clients default on project payment.


At our translation agency we work with a number of freelance translators as well as a few small translator groups that specialize in regional languages. We prefer to work with the same core group of translators for most projects rather than spread out assignment to many different translators.


What do we look for in the relationships with translators that work with us regularly? Naturally things like consistent translation quality and keeping to promised delivery schedules are important. Perhaps less obvious, but still high in importance, are the three translator attributes listed below:


1) Communication Responsiveness

Quick response times to clients are a definite competitive advantage in the translation business. Sometimes regular clients need just a phrase or a paragraph translated urgently. Other times a project has to be completed on an expedited schedule basis and agencies need to make a firm representation to a client that it’s possible. The ability to expeditiously confirm translator availability and arrange any special project requirements can sometimes be the difference between getting a project or not.


Translation agency project manager virtually live online. The translators we work with do too, at least during regular business hours. It’s sometimes mind boggling to consider that we’ve done thousands of dollars in project work with a few of our longtime translators over the years, and have never met in person or even spoken by phone. The ability to receive quick responses to emails is a big advantage.


2) Dedication to Work Through Problems

The translation process involves human beings. That said, challenges and occasional problematic issues can come up during the course of a project. A client might request an alternate translation, or in rare cases be unhappy with a translation. In those cases we cooperatively work through any issues as quickly and efficiently as possible.


Sometimes it’s necessary to go above and beyond the call of duty. Occasionally agencies might even lose money on an individual project in order to keep a client’s business long term. By sticking with clients through difficult projects, lasting relationships are formed. Translators that persist in working issues through to a satisfactory resolution stand out and our confidence in them becomes stronger.


3) Spirit of Partnership

Once we assign a client’s work to a translator we consider that our client’s account then belongs to that translator. When future projects come in we assign the same translator to the client. This practice has numerous process advantages including translators becoming familiar with client-specific preferences and unique requirements over time. An advantage to our translators is that their good work is rewarded and their potential pipeline of regular business builds over time as repeat clients return for additional projects.


We look for a sense of ownership and investment in the work of our translators as it relates to the accounts and projects they work on. We watch for indications and signals from translators that a sense of partnership exists. When we see those things we know we’re on the right track.




Author Ron McCoy is the director at Affinity Translation, an established multi-language translation and localization services company based in the US city of Denver, Colorado. Affinity Translation works with businesses, professionals, government agencies, and individuals to help them communicate and operate effectively using the world’s languages.

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About "" Has 116 Posts

Since an early age I have been passionate about languages. I hold a Master's degree in Translation and Interpreting, and I have worked as a freelance translator for several years. I specialize in Marketing, Digital Marketing, Web and Social Media. I love blogging and I also run the blog

2 Responses to “The 3 Freelance Translator Attributes That Translation Agencies Love”

  1. “Translation agencies also provide translators with a measure of financial risk buffering since reputable agencies will pay translators for their work even in instances when end clients default on project payment.”

    This is either not true, or in more than 27 seven years I have never worked for a reputable translation agency.

    The first rule of translation agencies: If something goes wrong, shoot the translator. That way you won’t lose any money.

  2. Thanks for the great post Chiara. I’d say communication responsiveness is number one factor in a successful relationship not only with agencies but pretty much with every client. Availability plays a crucial role sometimes and being able to respond to a client’s problem as quickly as possible is always appreciated on their side.

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