Translation agency or Freelance Translator – What’s the best choice for your company translation needs?

By Chiara Grassilli
In Freelancing
Aug 3rd, 2015

Translation agency or Freelance Translator – What’s the best choice for your company translation needs?


It can be a difficult task to choose between a translation agency and a freelance translator. Both options have advantages and disadvantages, so you must analyse well your needs before taking a decision. There are a few things you need to think about when taking a decision:

  • 1 – your budget
  • 2 – the number of languages you need
  • 3 – the timeframe
  • 4 – the quality

This article will focus on the advantages and disadvantages of both options.


1. Your budget

If you have a low budget, the obvious choice is a freelance translator. Sometimes, you will pay half of the price of a translation agency.If you’re not aware of how translation agencies work, this is the process in a nutshell: they get your request for translation, they’ll go through their list of freelance translators and outsource the translation. They’ll charge you something between 0.20 and 0.30 $ or €, paying the translator something between 0.06 and 0.08 $ or €.

The difference between what you pay and what they pay for the actual translation goes into paying the office rent, bills, the translation manager, the accountant and the marketing material. You see how much you could save if you could get in touch with a translator directly? There are other elements of course that you need to consider, for example the number of languages you need.


2 – The number of languages you need

If you need translations in one language, the best option for you is definitely a freelancer. But it’s hard to find freelancers who can translate in more than one language. In fact, you shouldn’t trust a translator who tells you he can.

If you’ve never bought translation before you probably think that anyone who speaks a language can translate into that language. For example, you might think that a French translator who speaks Spanish and Italian can translate into Spanish and Italian. That’s not true, or at least the results will not be as good as if you were asking a Spanish mother-tongue to translate into Spanish.

As a general rule you should always get a translator that translates only into his mother tongue. She might translate from many languages, but always into her native language.

If you need to translate a piece of text into several languages and you don’t want to deal with many translators directly, then an agency is the best option for you because they already have a database of translators that covers pretty much every language combination. They can contact them in minutes and handle all the communication, saving you the time and the hassle of managing the translation work.


3. The timeframe

A single translator might not be as fast as an agency, simply because she has to do everything herself, while an agency always has a list of translators to choose from (if one of them is busy). If you need something done quickly, you can always offer a little extra to the freelancer to put your job on top of her list.

A translation agency on the other hand can simultaneously work on all your projects to get them done faster and you don’t have to wait until a single translator finishes her previous projects before she can begin on yours. It is a great thing not having to bother about deadlines.

It is true that agencies usually deliver work on time. Nevertheless, it is important to search for a good agency. You can read our previous article How to spot a bad Translation Agency if you need help with that.


4. Quality

You might be surprised, but most translation agencies offer worse quality than a freelancer. This is because they deal with huge volumes and many languages, and they don’t have time to check the quality of every single page of text.

Freelancers are underestimated, but they are often more accurate than an agency because they deal with you directly. This means that if they provide you with a bad translation they are never going to get another assignment from you. An agency, on the other hand, outsources the translation to freelancers you don’t know. If something goes wrong they can always blame it on the bad translator, and tell you they are going to send the same translation to another one, hoping for the best.

Furthermore, a translator uses translation memory technology to minimise the number of new words, terms, and phrases that need to be translated in subsequent documents. This results in a faster and more concise translation. So in case you want something of a high quality, you need to invest a little bit of time and do some research to find the best translator who specialise in the subject you need.

All in all, the best thing to do is think about the needs of your business very well before choosing between a translation agency and a freelance translator. Both have advantages and disadvantages, but the key is finding what suits you best.

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About "" Has 117 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

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