It’s one thing to approach translation from the point of view of a translation provider. It’s quite another to approach it from the viewpoint of the translation client. And choosing the best translation agency is just one challenge clients have to face when looking for translation providers.
Translation Agency vs. Freelance Translator
Before I move ahead too much, it makes sense right now to talk about the difference between a translation agency and a freelance translator.
Some freelance translators have set themselves up as translation agencies. So in some sense, there really doesn’t have to be that much of a difference between a freelance translator and a translation agency.
The biggest difference, if there were one that existed, would be the mere size of the organization.
A translation company that is run by a single freelance translator is essentially a company of one. A translation agency, however, can have multiple employees. Those employees can be working all in the same language combination (Spanish to English translation) or different languages, the same specialization (medical translation agency) or a diverse set of topics.
However, it’s important to keep in mind that a freelance translator can set her company up as a translation agency. With that, there would essentially be no difference between a freelance translator and a translation agency.
OK, so now that this is explained, it’s time to understand what exactly you should look for in a translation company, whether the company is a freelance translator providing translation services or a translation agency providing the services.
The most important thing you need from a translation agency is professionalism.
Professionalism is not a single act or single event. Professionalism begins even more you contact the translation agency.
Here are some questions you could ask yourself to evaluate an agency’s professionalism:
- Does the translation agency have an updated website?
- Is it easy to contact the agency either by phone or email?
- Does the agency’s website list an actual physical address?
- Does the translation agency outline its focus? Specialization? Language combinations?
- Does the agency have an active online social media presence?
- Does the agency respond back to your inquiries promptly (within a day at the most, adjusting for time differences)?
- Is the agency willing to ask questions about your project to better understand your needs?
- Is the agency only offering you what you need, not trying to upsell you on things that you have no need of?
- Can the agency point to previous satisfactory work it has done or previous clients it has worked with?
- Does the agency have an established process it uses to make sure your translation gets the right treatment, from initial look to translation to quality control and delivery?
- Does the agency make you feel like you’re an important client, regardless of how small or large your project is?
Translators are like everything else these days. There is a huge range from the very cheap to the more expensive.
You have to decide realistically what it is you are willing to pay.
And to do that, you have to ask yourself, “what is my translation worth?”
How good do you need it to be done?
If you have a relatively easy document that is pretty straightforward, you can afford to hire someone that will do it for a cheaper. However, if you want to make sure that the translation is 100% accurate with no issues, then you’re going to have to pay extra.
But remember, you don’t have to go with the first translator you find. As a client, it is OK to ask the translator what she charges and to get a quote upfront for the work that is going to be performed.
Be sure to ask about anything extra costs like formatting, notarization, special delivery instructions, etc. A good freelance translator or translation agency should be more than willing to provide you with that information.
If they don’t, or give you grief about your pricing questions, stop right there from doing any more business with them. Move on to someone else without delay.
I’ve talked previously about the importance of listening to your gut feeling, especially as translators.
As a client, though, you should be doing the same thing.
A professional translator or translation agency will build a positive relationship with you. Make no mistake, a professional wants not only your business right now but for the future as well. A real translator knows that it’s much easier to keep current clients happy as opposed to always finding new ones.
So make sure you feel wanted by the translator. Make sure you feel important.
If your questions or worries are being brushed aside, it’s time to move on to another translator provider.
You should definitely have a positive relationship with your translation provider and he should go out of his way to make sure you feel valued.
If that relationship is not there, leave and don’t look back.
If you’re looking for translation agencies to help you with your work, check out Translator’s Market.