By Marion Rhodes
The time has come to translate your marketing materials into a foreign language to reach new customers. Now what? Should you approach a translation agency or trust an independent translator with your translation needs? There are pros and cons to each of these options, and the best decision may depend on the scope of your project.
Large, multilingual translation agencies may be your best bet if you need translation services for several languages or if you need large volumes of text translated in a short amount of time. Otherwise, especially if your timeline is flexible and you are only looking into adding one or two languages to your marketing portfolio, a qualified, independent freelance translator is in the position to provide you with much better service.
1. A freelance translator offers close client relationships. You only have one point of contact, who is there for you every step of the way throughout your translation project. If you require ongoing translation services, a freelance translator will get to know your business, your language, your style and your specialized terminology, effectively becoming part of your team. A translation agency, on the other hand, will outsource your projects to various translators and, over time, may even have changing project managers working on your account.
2. A freelance translator eliminates the middle man. This not only facilitates communication, it also reduces cost. With a translation agency, part of your payment goes to the agency, while the rest is passed on to the translator. Why not pay a translator directly for outstanding work and cut out the overhead that effectively means you will end up with a cheaper translator? In return, you get to work closely with the linguist, who will be able to come directly to you if he or she has questions, and you will be able to answer them much quicker than if you had to communicate through an agency, allowing the project to move along much faster.
3. A freelance translator puts you in charge of the hiring decision. When you are looking for a freelance translator, you can check out a potential candidate’s qualifications and decide for yourself if this particular linguist is a good fit. Many translation agencies accept virtually any translation project that comes through their doors and worry about finding a suitable translator later – and unfortunately, some are more suitable than others. A good freelance translator will never accept work for which he or she isn’t qualified, and will tell you up front what’s doable and what isn’t.
4. A freelance translator guarantees complete confidentiality for your project. Usually, professional freelance translators have a confidentiality clause in their standard contracts. Most will also be happy to sign your NDA. Either way, you can rest assured that if you send your confidential information to a freelance translator, that’s as far as it will go. With a translation agency, on the other hand, your information may not only end up in the hands of various agency employees but also may be sent out, at least in part, to various translators during the assignment and translation process – which may end up involving numerous translators if the project is large.searc
Luckily for translation buyers, finding a translator is easier than it may seem. Professional associations such as the American Translators Association and its local chapters, such as the Colorado Translators Association, have extensive directories that allow you to search by language, specialization, and other criteria. These organizations also have a strict code of conduct, so you can rest assured that you are reaching out to true professionals in the language industry.