Individual or translation agency – What to prefer?

There a pros and cons to using individual translators and to using translation companies.
There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before making the decision on what kind of resource you are going to use.

  • What is my project budget?
  • Do I need translation only or translation, editing and proofreading?
  • Is it a single language project or a multilingual project?
  • What is my project timeline?
  • What is the word count/volume of my project?
  • Do I need desktop publishing (DTP) or web/software development?

 Once you identify the scope of your project, your budget and timeline, the type of resource you need to complete your translation project will be clearer.
Take the following details into account before making your decision.


Management Efficiency
If you have a translation that would require multiple people to complete either because:
* You need a translator and then a second editor and then another quality assurance step
* Or because you will need more than one person to complete it in the short window of time you have
Then it’s probably easier to turn all of those steps over to a translation company. They will already have teams set up to do all of those separate steps and you know everything will get a final review before it is even sent back to you.
If you were to coordinate all of that with several individual translators, it would take a lot more time and energy. The translation company exists to handle all of that for you!
Translation Memory
Another benefit of using a translation agency is the use of Translation Memory. Translation Memory (TM) is a database of previously translated content which can be leveraged to reduce cost, increase consistency within the translation and can reduce overall time required to complete the translation. A translation agency will be able to leverage any repeat content segments from with the initial source content and for all future requirements within a language pair.
Additional Services
What about desktop publishing or web/software development? Would it be cost and time effective having a freelance translator do the linguistic work and then contacting a freelance desktop publisher for the design part? In this case it is recommended to use a translation agency since they can take care of all the project requirements and even deliver a final version that has been QA'd and it is ready for client delivery.
Translation companies likely have minimum prices (based on word counts or pages or hours) that will be used to determine the price of your project if it’s on the smaller side (this is the reason really small jobs are better for individual translators). They will also have a set of standard rates based on the languages you are working with, level of expertise needed for the subject matter, graphics work, formatting, and quality control. The project manager will outline these things for you and let you know the total cost before confirming that they will take the job. Payment will most likely come in the form of an invoice from the company with a deadline for sending payment.
Freelance translators may or may not negotiate prices with you, particularly for really small jobs. They may have a flat rate that they won’t change. They may also ask you to pay in advance for those jobs, so be prepared for that. Many use payment systems like PayPal that you would need to use as well.
Depending on your specific need, an individual translator might be the right choice or a translation company could be the right one. Be prepared so you know who to ask and what to expect!

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