Translation Agency or Direct Translator

Two weeks ago I had a very enjoyable cooperation with a direct client and a not so pleasant one with a translation agency. So I am trying to put myself in the shoes of a company manager who needs documents translated into a different language. Who would I choose? Direct translator or translation agency? The advantages of translation agencies would of course include:

  • ‘The Eight-Power Allied Force’: Most translation agencies would have registered translators covering over 10 major languages. So for a document that needs to be simultaneously translated into several languages, it would be easiest to hand it to a translation agency.
  • ‘Rain or Shine': Translation agencies usually have a few translators registered for any one language. So if the initial translator cannot finish the task due to various reasons, there is always someone else available as a back up. We’ll leave aside the style of translation done by two people for now.
  • ‘Flow Line Production’: There are divisions between quoting, accepting projects, delegating work and invoicing etc.

However, there are also disadvantages born out of translation agencies. Many clients must have had the experience of spending weeks and countless hours on the phone looking for the translator who worked on a project, only to be redirected between different phone numbers and different operators. Also, due to the nature of the ‘flow line production’ of translation agencies, it is difficult to decide which link is responsible if something goes wrong. I personally believe as long as the document only needs to be translated into very few languages, the best approach would be to work directly with a translator.

  • ‘Best value for money’: Direct communication safeguards the quality of the finished product. Especially in areas such as advertising, marketing and literature translation, having smooth and direct communication with the translator is crucial to the quality of the final translation. Without the cost on an office rent or administrative staff salaries the rates of freelance translators are always lower than translation agencies. Lower cost, better translator, finer product, why not?
  • ‘Once and for all’. Translation is a relatively stable career. Once the initial cooperation is established, it is very likely that it will continue for a long time. Also, good translators are always organized, so clients don’t need to worry about late submissions or missing invoices etc.
  • ‘Good harvest irrespective of drought or flood': Working continuously with one translator means the quality of translation will always be stable and reliable.

It’s definitely a win-win to work directly with translators. All you need to do is spending a little bit of time and energy to establish the initial communication and cooperation.

This post is also available in: Chinese (Simplified)

14 Comments

  1. avatar

    Depends. A lot of direct translators work for about the same rate as agencies, with better turnaround and quality. Some agencies hire translators who really are not qualified but are willing to work for a low rate. I did some proofreading work for an agency recently and the translation was so bad that I had to basically re-do it all myself.

    Reply
    • avatar

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      Reply
  2. avatar

    And I will speak for myself–very economical and quality guaranteed :P

    Reply
  3. avatar

    Translation agency may seem a bit hard to find. It is best if you find your own translator from that country who could be your perfect guide. If you must, you could attend classes months before you’re going to that country to at least have an understanding of their local language. It would be a bit hard communicating if you only know a few words. But then that also depends which of them suits your needs.

    Reply
    • avatar

      go to google traltnase and type in terrible romance traltnase it from english to serbian. then copy the serbian word and paste it into the box, then traltnase it back into english and look what the traltnased word is

      Reply
      • avatar

        Interesting topic – I am surprised otrehs have not commented.When I started translating 10 years ago I sent out a few CVs and got zero response. On ProZ I responded to some job offers, and got one or two jobs – a very low bit rate.Then I expanded my ProZ profile, and after a very slow start that brought in a growing volume of work mainly thanks to translation companies trawling through ProZ looking for translators. I also signed up with other translation websites and got some work. In short, I am persuaded that registering on translation websites, and playing an active part, is the best marketing. As for social networks (I am on LinkedIn), they are some way from challenging the likes of ProZ.

        Reply
    • avatar

      Right now I’m taking a look at the book Get Clients Now!, which was reemcoendmd by a fellow translator. The book is about creating and implementing a marketing plan for a small service business, and there are worksheets that you can download from the author’s website.I thought I’d try this and see if it improves my marketing efforts, which could use a bit of discipline. However I’m not entire sure that everything in the book is 100% applicable to translators, since the top method reemcoendmd is direct contacts (cold or warm calling), followed only afterward by networking and referrals. I’ve seen quite a few comments by translators lately that they get most of their business by *being found* by clients who are looking for translators, through venues such as Peter mentions above, through referrals, and so on.

      Reply
  4. avatar

    Eva???????????????????????????????????????????????????????
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    Reply
    • avatar

      Sean???????????????????????????????????????????
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      Reply
      • avatar

        Posts like this brghiten up my day. Thanks for taking the time.

        Reply
      • avatar

        Right now I’m taking a look at the book Get Clients Now!, which was reecmmendod by a fellow translator. The book is about creating and implementing a marketing plan for a small service business, and there are worksheets that you can download from the author’s website.I thought I’d try this and see if it improves my marketing efforts, which could use a bit of discipline. However I’m not entire sure that everything in the book is 100% applicable to translators, since the top method reecmmendod is direct contacts (cold or warm calling), followed only afterward by networking and referrals. I’ve seen quite a few comments by translators lately that they get most of their business by *being found* by clients who are looking for translators, through venues such as Peter mentions above, through referrals, and so on.

        Reply
    • avatar

      Many thanks for creitang a truthful attempt to give an explanation for this. I think very sturdy about it and wish to nkwo more. If it’s OK, as you find out extra in depth knowledge, could you mind posting extra posts similar to this one with extra guidelines?

      Reply
  5. avatar

    ????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    For more than thirty years findings in linguistics, pragmatics, cognitive linguistics, comparative literature, cultural studies, etc. have been applied to the study of translation, and striking results have been reported. It should be admitted, however, that the role of the emerging Translation Studies is limited as a consequence of these problems: (1)Various theories can be used to explain the same translation fact, thus indicating a deplorable lack of uniqueness or idiosyncrasy; (2)Great controversy exists over the interpretation and application of the theories; (3)No single theory is capable of interpreting the greater part of the translation phenomena; and repetitive researches abound. To promote further development of translation studies, it is necessary to clarify the three-tier relationship among macro-theory, micro-techniques and language capabilities. Then the possibility of integrating Western theories with Chinese translation techniques will increase, and a multi-level theoretical framework is likely to emerge. Key words: Translation Studies; micro-techniques of translation; language proficiency. Little translation company can do this.

    Reply
  6. avatar

    Google English to Arabic and Arabic to English translation reiles on proper Arabic. Not by dialects. The translation techniques used by Google rely on the statistical machine translation method. This method studies large amounts of translated texts and culture proper translation. Google used UN’s translated text archives as a source for statistical analysis.

    Reply

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