Freelance vs. Agency vs. LSP – Part I
Your son has the opportunity to go study abroad in Spain! He’s in charge of packing his bag. And you … well, you have to take care of everything else. Including that mountain of paperwork. All in Spanish, of course. The problem is that you haven’t practiced Spanish in a while, probably since high school, and the program organizers are very strict when it comes to the paperwork. You have to hire someone to translate it all, but who?
There are several options available in the world of translation. The three most important ones are:
Language Service Providers
Before we get started we’d like to stress that none of the above options are inherently better than the others. They’re all good, but choosing one over the other depends on the particular circumstances. That being said, today we’re going to talk about the pros and cons of freelance translators.
Freelance translators work for themselves, which means that they’re truly hard workers. Aside from translating, they also have to worry about looking for clients, keeping up an image and a brand, and making their way in a highly competitive market. And let’s not even get started on daily problems freelance workers face (crazy hours, different taxes, job insecurity).
From your point of view as a customer, the biggest advantage of working with someone who works for him/herself is usually the rates. Since it’s just one person that’s doing the translation, costs are generally lower. They may also be more open to negotiating, especially if it’s for a new client.
However, as there is only one linguist involved in the whole translation process, you may pay less, but the service you’re getting is less comprehensive since there won’t be any editors, proofreaders, layout designers, etc. To get the best quality service, it’s recommended that at least one other person edits/proofreads the translated text. Freelance translators may offer additional services for a slightly higher price. Sometimes they even offer proofreading services subcontracted to another linguist. If this is not the case, however, you’ll have to look for a proofreader on your own or settle for an unedited text, which can be a bit risky.
While it’s true that freelancers have a reputation in the translation sector as being tireless workers, they have their limits like any other human being. They can’t translate into all languages nor can they cover all areas of expertise. And their days still only have 24 hours. This means that they can’t accept any job that comes their way and that they’re not always available to take on new projects.
Hiring freelance translators is a great choice if you know someone that’s reliable and that fits the profile that you’re looking for. If you usually need the same type of documentation translated and you have reasonable deadlines, this is the cheapest and most comfortable option.
In in our next article, Part II of the series, we’re going to discuss translation agencies. In the third and final article we will talk about our experience as a Language Service Provider. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or check out our Website to make sure you don’t miss a thing!