Freelance Translator vs Translation Agency
Online crowd technologies, such as Upwork and LinkedIn, are making finding a freelance translator easier than ever. Organisations can post their specific project requirements, deadlines and budgets. On the other hand, freelance translators can bid to get the gig. This accessible solution is creating efficiencies and economies of scale for common skill sets. Online recommendations are helpful in evaluating the talent and subject matter expertise of a potential hire. However, they can’t guarantee a high quality result or the service level a translation agency can offer.
As with any project, clarifying the requirements is always the first step. Evaluating decision making criteria comes with knowing all of the parameters in advance. It is only after having a clear understanding within your organisation of your current and future project needs. Then, you will be able to sort through the pros and cons of your freelance translator. Having answers to these questions will also make the vendor evaluation, contracting and project management processes more efficient.
Whether you choose a translation agency or a freelance translator, you will be glad you asked yourself the following questions in advance.
Translation Project Requirements Clarification Questions:
- Is this a one-time translation project or an ongoing translation task?
- What is my turnaround deadline?
- What are the consequences if the delivery is not timely?
- Do I have the expertise to spend time evaluating, screening and hiring one or more freelancers?
- Is this a general translation project or specialised topic requiring an expert?
- Do I need more than one subject matter expert to complete the project collaboratively?
- Do I need a project manager to oversee the deliverables and milestones?
- Am I translating the same content into multiple languages? Does this require more than one translator?
- Is this a common translation language combination or a more unique source and target language combination? For example, a common language combination is French to English. However, Japanese to Swahili may be difficult to find professional translators proficient enough in both languages.
- Does my project require certified translation documentation to comply with the regulations?
- What is the business risk if there is a mistake in the translation? Do we need our freelance translator to have professional indemnity insurance?
Freelance Translator Pros & Cons
Cheaper: Freelance translators have lower expenses. Also, they typically work from home with no staff like project managers, sales staff and administrative roles. Thus, there are no agency fees to cover large business operating costs.
Direct Communication: With a freelance translator, you are typically communicating with the same person from the initial contact to the project’s completion.
Verified Skills: The same person you discussed the project scope with will also be the person completing the translation project. Therefore, you will have a good idea of their areas of expertise and background in advance. Checking references should be easy.
Recruitment & Contracting: You will need to search for, screen and negotiate the project contract with every freelance translator individually.
Service Risk: If the freelance translator does not have the right skills, you will only find out during or after the project. Moreover, if the freelancer does not have professional indemnity insurance, loss recovery is very limited.
Limited Expertise: A freelance translator has limited capacity to their skills and time. Once they reach this limit, you will need to start the recruitment process over again to find supplemental resources.
Translation Agency Pros & Cons
Professional Recruitment: Translation Agencies are only as good as their pool of talent. Therefore, most translation agencies have strict recruiting to ensure only professional translators work on specialised projects.
Verified Deliverables: For each project, translation agencies have a translator and a proofreader. Both translators are fluent in the source and target languages too. Therefore, all of the content is reviewed by two professional translators prior to delivery.
Advanced Technology: As the translation industry grows, translation agencies must invest in the latest translation memory (TM) technology to remain competitive. This technology increases the accuracy and efficiencies in the final output.
24/7 Resources: Translation Agencies often have thousands of translators in their pool of experts. This means that there is never a delay in finding a qualified resource. Tight deadlines are easier to meet.
Turnkey Service: Language service providers often offer a complete suite of services beyond translation, e.g. subtitling, voiceover, transcreation and typesetting. By hiring a competent vendor, your project can be completed efficiently in a one-stop shop.
Guaranteed Results: Businesses often offer satisfaction guarantees to demonstrate their commitment to excellent customer service. If there is a mistake, translation agencies are more likely to carry professional indemnity insurance policies to protect all the parties involved.
Fees: Having resources on hand increases the overheads. Thus, expenses are passed on to the client in the form of agency fees.
Agency Selection: There are many options. In fact, finding a translation agency to partner with is a big decision. Looking at industry trade association memberships is a good first step.
In summary, businesses usually choose to work with a translation agency. On the other hand, individuals may choose to work with a translation agency too, if certified translation is required. Otherwise, individuals may choose to work with a freelance translator.
Renaissance Translations Can Help!
We offer accurate and professional translation services in all languages and subject fields. Get in touch with our team today to discuss your upcoming translation project. Let’s talk to see if Renaissance Translations is a good fit for your organisation’s needs!