TRANSLATION AGENCIES OR FREELANCERS: WHICH ONE DOES YOUR PROJECT NEED?
Updated: Jan 18
We have all been there. How many times have we gone online to buy a product or a service, only to close everything off after half an hour, overwhelmed by the choices that we were offered and with more confusion as to what we want to buy, and from whom, than when we started? That is very true for translation and interpretation services as well: the language industry is extremely competitive and its offer is rich: multinational language services providers, translation agencies or freelancers all compete for your business. Notwithstanding, it has never been more difficult to find the right fit for your project: is it better to go with a big, trustworthy multinational or maybe your project is in safer hands with a boutique agency? How about the subject matter of the assignment? Is it an extremely specialised translation or conference? Is an agency capable of sourcing the right person for the job, or is it better to go directly to the source? As we said, the options out there are virtually infinite, so you need to take a few factors into consideration.
Number of languages (and their “rarity”)
First of all, you need to consider the size of your project. Are you a corporate client needing to translate a manual into 20+ languages? Then a big LSP is a safe choice for you, as it can rely on a sizable pool of translators with which it can easily cover all the languages you need. Is your project more modest in size? Then a boutique translation agency might do the trick, but don’t underestimate the power of a freelancer here: if the languages you’re looking to cover are “common ones”, say 3 to 4 European languages, it is not unheard of freelancers joining forces through contacts and previous projects, creating the perfect team to work on your project. This is especially true for conference interpreting: interpreters always work in pairs and will have a colleague ready to assist them on the project, and they will be able to contact colleagues for other language combinations in order to supply a complete interpretation team. But let’s say what you need is just an Italian translation. In this case, the smart choice would be to cut out the middleman and go directly to the source: sometimes it’s just as easy as typing into google “Italian sports translation” or “Italian interpreter” and you’ll have a few good options ready at your disposal. You’ll save time talking directly to a professional Italian translator, quickly get a quote with a price that doesn’t include the agency margin surcharge and talk directly to the person who’s going to take care of the project first-hand.
Volume of the project
In the language industry, size does matter. When the word count is high, agencies can rely on more translators, splitting up the project between more specialists saving time, although this might create issues of consistencies and stylistic differences, which would need an extra layer of revision. If your project can wait a bit, it is worth considering looking for a freelancer who can take on a sizable project: this way you’re guaranteeing your project will be translated by the same person providing a coherent and cohesive final product.
Scope of the project
Are you looking for a one-off translation or interpreting service, or will you need business language solutions on a long-term basis? Taking into consideration what we’ve already discussed, if you need to have a certificate or your CV translated, it doesn’t make much of a difference whether you go with an LSP, a translation agency or a freelancer, although some might offer special rates or fixed prices for this type of services. On the other hand, if you need interpreting and translation services on a regular basis, the decision you make can have an impact on your experience as a client. Opting for an LSP or a boutique agency you might be offered interesting discount rates on volume or a fixed price, but what you are sacrificing is not negligible. Let me give you the perfect example: you’re a company working with partners all around the world, and you regularly have delegations visiting your premises. Relying on an agency, you will be sent interpreters whenever you request them, but nobody can ensure they will be the same every time, impacting the quality of the service. The decision to hire a professional interpreter allows you to guarantee the same person (or a pair of interpreters) will be there every single time, where they will get to know you as a client and as a person, as well as getting to know the ins and outs of the business. They will know what’s going on in the room at all times, understanding implicit references and ensuring continuity to the interpretation service: the best English to Italian interpreters you could ask for, in a nutshell.
To recap, I have created this straightforward flowchart to guide you on your choice if you want to hire an Italian translator or interpreter. If you have any questions or if you want to know more about my freelance Italian translation and interpretation services, don’t hesitate to get in touch.