If you are at a stage in your business where you need translations, you may decide to start the process by searching the internet for a freelance translator or a translation agency. You will then realize that you have many alternatives to choose from. The question then is: What is my best option? In this article, we want to review the various choices you have.
Freelancer vs. Translation agency
Finding an answer to the freelancer vs. translation agency can be quite a daunting task. While freelance translators definitely come with lower prices, this should not be the only criteria while making a decision. We would strongly recommend that you give the freelance translator a trial task while taking care of the following points:
- Give little volume to translate (5-10 pages)
- Be sure to clarify delivery dates
- Make sure to check if the freelancer can generate invoices or receipts (in case you need them)
- Ask the translator if he or she has experience translating the type of text you require
In spite of running a thorough background check, you may still end up with a freelance translator who is not actually cut for the job. It is also important to remember that you will be giving your project to one single person who will be handling everything – from translating and editing, to proof-reading. Now, the one thing that may make these risks worth taking is the price. Their prices are really low (in most cases). Note: if a freelance translator charges you more than an agency or almost the same, do not hesitate to opt for the agency.
On the other hand, you have the option to go with professional translation agencies. These agencies compensate for all the weaknesses of a freelance translator. This is possible because they have the opportunity to evaluate their translators, review translations, manage large volumes of work, and provide a single point of contact. This is super useful when you request translations multiple times, or most importantly, you have tight turnaround times.
Time, time, and time! If that’s a problem in your life, then you should definitely go with a reputed translation agency, even if you have a low volume of translations. Going with a freelance translator is not a risk that we would advise you to take. It will allow you to go for a coffee without worrying if the translation you asked for will arrive or not!
The Purpose of the Type of Translation
You already have a clearer idea of the pros and cons of hiring a translation agency and a freelance translator. Before talking about prices, we suggest that you define the purpose of the translated document. In this case, we consider it convenient to divide them into the following groups:
- Directed to the general public.
- For the internal use of your company.
- For review by some authority.
Our recommendations as per the groups would be:
- If your translations are aimed at the general public, check if the translator is native to the language to which the document will be translated. It is not indispensable, but it is better that a translation directed to the public in Costa Rica, be translated by a person born in Costa Rica. Doing this will make it easier to put the translation in its right context.
- If the translation is for the internal use of your company, identify the information that will add value to the presentation. For example: If it is very technical, check with your translator to see if they handle any glossary of specialized terms. Otherwise, the personnel in your company will be distracted with terms that they don’t understand.
- If the translation is of a legal nature or deals with a sensitive issue, make sure that the translation is made or reviewed by a lawyer specialized in the matter.
- If it is a financial report, confirm that a proper review process is done. Although the translator may be very good, a pair of extra eyes that will check the numbers will not hurt. We do not want to report a loss in translation if the company is in its prime!
Price, the final decision
Price is an important issue in the translation industry. The quotes that you will receive can be quite varied from one another, making it difficult for you to come to a decision. For example, you will find quotes for the same page ranging from $50 to $180 (considering an English – Spanish translation). These prices do not really represent whether you will have a bad or good translation experience. We want to help you understand a bit about the costs related to a translation, so you will see that everything we have discussed so far makes a lot of sense.
- If it is a translation that does not require revision and has a low volume, only one person will be needed to do it. Here, low prices can be justified. The only disadvantage is that nobody will review it. Which is not bad; it’s just that one should have clarity regarding this.
- If you handle high volume and the response time is a priority (which is almost always the case), the prices will vary. It is difficult for the same person to do all the documents. So it is necessary to have a project manager who can coordinate with several translators for deliveries. This is exactly what causes a translation job to go up in price.
- If you require a documentary review, things get complicated in the administration. It is precisely this type of scenario that translation agencies help you avoid.
- No matter the volume you use, you need the perfect translation for a particular audience. A translation agency that offers you a translator + proofreader is the best option. A proofreader is a specialist in the field who puts the translation in context. He or she is not always a translator, but one of those people with a profile similar to those who will read your document. In conclusion, this price will tend to be the highest.
Finally, there are two more factors that make the price vary. We suggest you be very clear when quoting.
- Pages and pages! This is where many translation providers offer different options. A page is a page that contains a certain number of words. The average is 200 words. So the one who sells you a page of 200 words for $100 will be charging you a little more than the one who sells you a page of 220 for $100.
And what is the page? A page can be a sheet with one word or a page with 500 words or more. This is the worst way you can be charged because you will never know how many words you will get translated. Imagine being charged for 1,000 blank pages!