If you have to translate your business content into Spanish but you’re not sure whether to choose a freelance professional or a translation agency, in this post you can find some pros and cons of working with a freelance translator that will hopefully make your decision easier.
Direct contact and quick communication
When you work with a freelance professional, you handle all issues with the same person who works with your texts. This has the advantage that the communication is direct and you are able to make and reply quickly any question or comment that may appear before, during, and after the translation process.
On the opposite, when hiring an agency, you handle any inquiry with a Project Manager who acts as a middleman between you and the translator. This slows down communication and sometimes, even causes misunderstandings among the parts. In addition, as PMs are normally managing several projects at the same time, they may take decisions instead of asking. However, only some PMs are or have been translators, so even if it can save time sometimes, it can also affect the final quality.
Personal commitment and engagement
If you entrust the translation of all your contents to a freelance translator, you can build a reliable partnership. This long-term collaboration ensures the highest quality since there is a personal commitment towards your business.
The freelance professional will know your company, products, needs, preferences and brand values deeper than an agency employer or an outsourced professional. Thus, the work will be made with more engagement and dedication to your success. You can have a strong relationship with a PM but your content will be translated by someone else: usually various translators with different backgrounds and cultures, which you normally don’t even know.
Homogeneous style throughout the content
Branding is very relevant for positioning and for the differentiation of your business, and it includes certain values, tone and style in your texts. When working with a freelance translator, the personal preferences and style (wording, sentence structure, tone, etc.) will find a natural balance with your requirements and it’ll be maintained throughout your whole documentation.
If you work with an agency, the translations you request will probably be assigned to different professionals (sometimes even of different languages variations). This fact makes it almost impossible to keep a homogeneous style, even if you elaborate a detailed style guide.
Specific and accurate terminology
Working with one freelance professional for all your content ensures as well the use of the accurate terminology without the need of elaborating glossaries or terminology lists from your side. A freelance translator will compile them and apply your specific terminology among all your business documentation.
Some translation agencies don’t even filter the translators by specialisation when assigning the projects. This is especially important, for example, for technical manuals or financial reports, where mistranslating a relevant term can change the meaning and have adverse consequences.
Consistency among contents
The mentioned aspects allow as well to keep consistency in your content when hiring a freelance translator since only one person works with your texts. This consistency gives confidence to your audience.
Even if the quality you get when hiring an agency may be enough for your needs (I also work for agencies and provide high-quality translations), your texts will not have consistency among different translation requests because they’ll most probably be assigned to different professionals. This is because inconsistencies appear when the personal preferences of different translators are combined in the same project and affect the quality of the text (for example, some translators working from English to Spanish would prefer to leave “online” and “e-mail” and others would use “en línea” and “correo electrónico” instead).The personal preferences of different translators working on the same project may generate inconsistencies that affect the quality of the text. Click to tweet
Passion and specialisation on specific fields
Professional freelance translators expend a lot of time and effort in training and improving processes. The work is often our passion and therefore it’s worth the endeavour to engage as a self-employment business. Specialisation is key to provide the best results and run a successful business, so we only work in specific fields. Thus, you can establish a strong collaboration with a reliable, efficient, and flexible partner.
Agencies select their outsourced translators through a hard price competition, where deadlines are generally tight and quality is not always a relevant factor. Therefore, in many cases, the translators have little experience and/or low specialisation.
Maximisation of the allocated budget
When you hire a translation agency, your quotation will include overhead costs that you can avoid by working with a freelance professional. Apart from the agency fee, the costs of maintaining such infrastructure (employers, offices, etc.) are huge compared with the low fixed expenses of a freelance translator working from home.
Furthermore, if you hire the freelance translator directly, you maximise your budget getting premium specialised services from a selected professional who match your business and needs. Transparency and confidentiality are easily kept since there are no extra intermediaries between you and the translator. Take into account that some agencies even outsource other agencies, so your documentation can be handled by many people.
Of course, working with a freelance translator also has some cons.
When you need to translate huge content volumes within a short period of time, a translation agency will allocate this volume to various translators for making it possible. If you work with a freelance professional, you’ll have to bear in mind the volume capacity that can be assumed (which is different among professionals), check for availability, and schedule the content creation and translation accordingly.
If your documentation has to be translated into several languages, an agency can select translators with different working languages. However, most freelance translators can recommend you trustworthy colleagues for other language pairs, so that you can have a team of freelancers translating your contents into the needed languages.
Range of services
Sometimes there is a need for various linguistic services and most agencies have a broader service portfolio than freelance professionals. On the other hand, many freelance translators provide services beyond translation such as proofreading, localization, or transcreation. You can always ask for the services you need since freelancers are often flexible and multitalented. A good professional would only commit to providing a specific service with the security of being able to deliver high quality.
Quality controls should always be part of the translation process. In the case of agencies, many of them have workflows where other professionals apart from the translator carry out the revision and QA processes. This has some advantages, but also the disadvantage that, if the revisor has little experience or is not specialised in that specific field, errors can be introduced. Professional freelance translators always review the text before the delivery and some even implement QA processes.
The choice may not be that easy since it depends on your particular needs. At least, it’s clear that both of them are better than working with amateurs or trusting automatic translation tools, right?
How was your experience working with freelance translators or agencies for your translations? See you in the comments area!
If after considering all these factors, you would like to work with a freelance professional for translating your business content from English and/or German into Spanish in the fields of technology, marketing, economics or environment, feel free to contact me. I will be glad to help you and your texts will be clear, natural and adapted to the Spanish audience.
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Technical Translator specialised in Marketing, Economics and Environment. I hold an MSc. in Environmental Engineering and enjoy contributing to the expansion of sustainable businesses with accurate translations, and clear and natural texts.