Agency or freelancer?

Are you a newbie when it comes to buying translation? It can be confusing when you realise you need a professional translation……but don’t know how to go about finding the service that’s right for you. If, for example, you search on-line for ‘Spanish translation’ you will most likely come across on-line translation tools such as Google Translate followed by agencies. I will leave discuss of machine translation for another post, but what is a translation agency? How does what an agency offers differ from a freelancer’s service?

Why chose an agency?
As in any industry, there are agencies that cater to all sectors of the market – from high-end specialists to those focused on low-cost high volume sales. The main advantage of an agency is that they often work with a large selection of language combinations. If you are a business that needs to translate your product information or website into a dozen languages with minimum fuss then an agency would be a sensible route. Similarly agencies can be useful if you have a particularly long text. In this case an agency would deliver a translation more quickly by splitting up the text so it can be worked on by a number of translators simultaneously.

Know your translator
However, if you are a small company, organisation or individual looking for translation into a particular language on a particular topic, then it makes more sense to seek out a freelancer translator that meet your needs. If you work with an agency you won’t know the translator who is working on your text, it may even be several people, it will probably vary over time. However, working directly with a freelancer means you can build relationships, creating a two-way conversation that ensures that your translator knows and understands your needs at a much deeper level. This leads to higher quality translations that truly meet the clients needs. Working with a freelancer is also more cost effective as your translation fee does not have to cover the business overheads of an agency.

How to find a freelancer
The best way to find a freelance translator with your specialism and language combination is through personal recommendation. After that there are several on-line directories where you can search for freelance translators according to language combination and specialism, these include ProZ, the Chartered Institute of Linguists (CIoL) and the Institute of Translating and Interpreting (ITI). The ITI also has a great resource for first-time buyers of translation services.

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