Translation agencies vs freelancers: who should you go for?

Published on November 28th, 2016

translation agencies

Okay, so you know your company is in need of some translation services – now all you have to do is find the person with the right language skills. For most companies this means one of two options: going through an agency or hiring freelancers.

As always, there are pros and cons to each and knowing what you need is a big factor in the best approach for your project. So today we’re looking at the pros and cons of each, plus which kind of translation project their best suited to.

Agencies vs freelancers: the pros and cons

Before we start talking about freelancers, we would like to make it clear we have no agenda against them. We use freelancers ourselves and we fully endorse the skills of each one we work with.

The pros of freelance translators

  • You don’t pay any agency fees
  • You get to work with the translator directly

The cons of freelance translators

  • You have to find them yourself
  • You don’t always know what you’re getting until you start working with them
  • There’s a limit to how much one freelancer can do
  • A translator may not be able to provide the additional skills you need

In truth, the biggest disadvantage to working with freelancers is you have to find them yourself. The standard of freelance translators is generally very high but – as with any kind of freelancer – you don’t see what they’re capable of until you start working with them.

The pros of translation agencies

  • They find the right translator for your needs
  • Agencies guarantee a certain level of standard
  • They can take on more complex projects and provide additional services
    – translated voiceovers, subtitles, etc
  • They can handle high-volume projects and faster turnaround times

The cons of translation agencies

  • You have agency fees to pay
  • You still have to find the right agency

So, aside from finding the best translator(s) for your project, the big advantage to agencies is they can simply do more. Above all, they can take on larger volumes, which is important if you have a big project or need their services on a long-term basis.

They also tend to offer a wider range of language services for projects that need more than basic translation.

Why should I hire a freelancer?

If you already know a good freelancer with the language skills and availability you need, then go ahead and use them. This will typically be for dual language translations (eg: English to Spanish) rather than multilingual projects (eg: English into Spanish, French, German and Italian).

Freelancers could also be the way to go if you only need small amounts of regular translations needed – the occasional brochure for example.

Why should I hire an agency?

If you have a high-volume project on your hands, then an agency will be the only way to go. Likewise, if you need more than translation a freelancer probably won’t offer the combined services you need. For example, you’ll often need more than translation if you’re dealing with marketing material or you’re working in a sensitive industry (eg: law, healthcare, etc.)

Finally, if you’re ever unsure about what you do/don’t need then it always pays to speak to a few translation agencies first. They’ll be more qualified to tell you what your project requires – and it costs nothing to speak to them.

So don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and give us a call if you’re still not sure exactly what you need. We’ll soon be able to tell you whether you’re better off with an agency or a freelancer and provide you with some tips on what your next steps should be.

Posted on: November 28th, 2016