Language and translation blog

Translation agency or freelancer? The pros and cons.

Top 3 advantages of translation agencies


  1. Multiple Languages. You need your text translating into many different languages. Translation agencies have a big database of external translators they work with. Often based all over the world. Looking for individual freelancers for all of these language combinations would take up too much of your time. An agency takes care of this administration for you.


  1. Dealing in bulk. You have a huge amount of text that needs to be translated within a short period of time. There is simply too much for a one-woman show. Sometimes a job has to be split up between different translators and an agency will have several translators working with the same language combination. This means that you won’t have to hunt for additional translators yourself – or ask your go-to translator to outsource or project manage. Something that individual translators may have little experience in or little time for – but that agencies specialise in. They have dedicated project managers for organising the translation of large projects.


  1. Speed. Agencies often have translators based in different time zones – so if you need something translating immediately, they will almost certainly find someone who will get the job done.




Top 3 disadvantages of translation agencies


  1. Cowboys. There are a good few cowboys out there. Agencies who use the CVs of talented translators to get a job, but give the work to less expensive ones. Agencies who promise proofreading by a native speaker, but give the job to the cheapest bidder. And those who deliver high quality translations initially, but later give the work to less experienced translators. It can take time to find out which of the agencies are the good guys.


  1. Less communication. It will not usually be possible to speak directly to the translator doing the work. The only option is to pass on messages through the agency. Equally, it is more difficult for the translator to contact you if they have any questions. So if you’re looking for a translator who you can work with directly, who will discuss the text with you and become part of the project, an agency is not the best option.


  1. Less personal. Rather than having one dedicated translator, whose style and working method you know, you are likely to have several different translators working on your texts. The relationship will be less personal and the new translators may not be aware of what makes your company tick – and what is important to you. Your own go-to translator will be more involved in the project, making them more likely to go the extra mile – pointing out inconsistencies, making suggestions and reading through the text that one last time.




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