- Would you like to have your website translated?
- Or do you need foreign language contracts?
- Maybe operating manuals, explanatory videos, content marketing?
Then you are probably faced with the following question:
Who should do this for me?
As in many business areas, there are several options for this service. Here we explain the pros and cons of getting your website from a:
- translate to an agency
- Have your international marketing/sales team translate or even
- hire a best certified translators directly.
When do you need in-house translators?
The question underlying a permanent position is that of need. Do you have to translate every day, or do you always have large projects that need to be translated into a target language? Are these day-to-day tasks that justify the incidental wage costs? And is one language enough?
But please also consider that your translator may be ill and entitled to a vacation. During this time, your only resort to a translation agency again. What kind of texts you need is also a criterion. A foreign-language copywriter is far from legally versed and vice versa.
Have other employees translate
Well, of course, you can also let other employees do the translations who are not translators. For example, if you have an international sales team – all native speakers. You don’t need to pay an agency or an in-house translator.
But let’s take a closer look or look at two examples from our wealth of experience:
Loss of sales due to the use of a sales employee
Imagine hiring a seller to translate part of your website, and it takes them two days. Outsourcing the translation would have cost you EUR 320 (worst case). However, the seller could have made sales of EUR 20,000. That means you make a loss of EUR 19,680. Does it pay off? A clear NO.
(We didn’t just make up these numbers, they came from a customer who came to us for this reason).
Problems with translation due to lack of specialist knowledge
A promising start-up is about to make its first sales to Spain. Since there is not enough time, the tills should ring as soon as possible, and the whole thing must not cost much; the Spanish colleague should draw up the purchase contract right away. This translates the existing contract geared towards Germany and sends it to the potential new customer.
The result: The interested party dropped out at the last minute because the contract seemed clumsy: a lack of specialist vocabulary, incorrect information about customary tax rates and conditions, wrong place of jurisdiction, and much more
Translations by freelancers or agencies – the TOP 10 differentiating criteria
Since the permanent employment of a translator or the translation by other employees only makes sense in very few cases, you are faced with the decision:
A translation agency or freelancer?
That’s why we want to look closely at the advantages and disadvantages of both service providers. We summarize the top ten decision criteria and show you what you have to consider in each case.
So that you understand exactly what you are getting into, we explain each of the points below in detail and illustrate them with examples:
1. Large Orders
Imagine you want to have your entire website translated. A major project that will turn your marketing department upside down. Performance pages, blog posts, content marketing. Simply all content. You will end up with a hundred standard pages. To give you a more concrete idea: A standard page is around 250 words.
And now, let’s make the following calculation together:
A freelancer creates a maximum of ten standard pages per day. He also has working hours from Monday to Friday, eight hours a day. Therefore, he can supply you with a maximum of fifty standard pages per week. So you have to wait a full two weeks for your website to be translated. And that also presupposes that he has no other projects at the time. Dividing the texts to be translated among different freelancers is not advisable since the content is no longer consistent. They will differ greatly in terminology and style.
A legal translation agency England, on the other hand, can very well have several translators working on your project at the same time because server-based technology helps to keep the terminology consistent. For this purpose, an (expandable) customer glossary is created in advance, which lists the terminology used and actively suggests it to the translators.
But do you know what the big advantage is: Your texts are written within normal working hours, during which everyone can focus purely on the project. Due to time pressure, there are no overtired eyes, no late shifts, and no hasty shots.
It is a misconception that freelancers will inevitably work more cheaply. Many freelancers charge similar rates as translation agencies without providing the same scope of services. Let’s go back to the example of the large order mentioned above.
Let’s take the story a step further and say you need the 100 standard pages translated within a week. The freelancer can only meet your deadline if he devotes his weekends and evenings to it. Of course, he will demand a tidy surcharge for this. Due to the possibility of splitting large orders between several translators, there are no other expenses at an agency.
3. Editing for freelancers and translation agencies
A freelancer can work just as well, accurately, and professionally as the translators in an agency. Translating a website or document into another language is only half the job. It still needs proofreading.
The text is corrected several times to eliminate errors in the best case. Few freelancers also offer proofreading by a second person. The reason is very simple: editors are expensive. Therefore, the freelancer would have to give up a large part of his range. Therefore, the susceptibility to errors is much higher in freelance translations than in agencies because mistakes are human, and four or even six eyes always see more than two.
4. Specializations of freelancers in translation fields
The translation agency has another major advantage over freelancers in terms of quality, namely the ability to allocate translations according to the industry. While a freelancer can perhaps cover two or three industries in which he is well versed enough that the technical jargon is not a problem for him, the translation agency chooses from many native speakers.
In any case, you will find exactly the translator who specializes in your industry. Professional translation agencies have access to thousands of translators worldwide who, in addition to studying languages, have also enjoyed training in other areas such as technology, medicine, and business.
This gives you the security that the content will arrive in the target language in the same way it is formulated within the industry.
5. Many target languages
Okay, here we say loud and clear: DO NOT do this to yourself with freelancers! Let’s stay with the website example again :
Contact a translation agency directly if you have them translated into many different languages. Why? The focus here is on local knowledge. A translation is much more than just transferring words into another language. The lyrics must also be adapted to the culture of the country.
6. Technological tools of translation agencies
You have already seen some of these tools here. The server technology, for example, makes it possible for several translators to work on your texts simultaneously and still allows texts to be “from a single source.”
Then there are the so-called CAT tools* and TMS**. These two basic programs make a big difference in the translation quality between agencies and freelancers. But that’s not all the technology an agency has to make your life easier.
Especially in online marketing, you should not lose sight of search engine optimization in your software’s target language. We’ll talk about that in more detail below. And while we’re on the subject of website translation: even importing and exporting the data can deliver enormous time savings and minimize sources of error.
7. Online marketing, what can the agency do, what can the freelancer do
You don’t have to rule out the possibility that freelance translators have the necessary online marketing skills. What we point out here is the consideration of this point of view.
If you have a website translated, it is probably because you want to gain a foothold in the relevant market or get off to a flying start. You put enough time and energy into search engine optimization when programming your website. However, if you don’t take the important SEO measures into account for the foreign language site, it will ruin all the efforts. Therefore, please consider the following information :
8. Insurance with translation agencies and freelancers
Who is liable for damage caused by translation errors? That’s a really good question. Imagine an incorrect translation harms you. Maybe it’s just about financial amounts, but it’s even more important when thinking of the medical field. Just as the German site has to be error-free, so must the foreign-language ones.
But what if something happens now? It is well known that to err is human. And especially when freelancers do without proofreading, the susceptibility to errors increases. So, who is liable for damages caused by the translation? In any case, a certified translation agency has liability insurance that covers claims. Such insurance is difficult to find and, above all, expensive. So you will certainly not find a freelancer who can offer this security.
9. Importing the texts, who does it?
Short explanation: CMS means Content Management System; it’s kind of like the backbone of the website. Content can be fed into the website through the CMS. This means, of course, that the translations must also be included in the CMS. Now you can, of course, do a copy-paste.
Your research and install the necessary plug-ins for multilingualism yourself. Or maybe your web agency too. We will tell you a special feature that distinguishes professional agencies: software has been available for some time that allows you to export the text from the website. This is then professionally transformed into the desired foreign language by experienced human translators and then re-imported into the website. This reduces the susceptibility to errors and the amount of time you would have to spend updating the translation of documents yourself. How does that sound? However, as mentioned above, it is based on quite expensive software that a freelancer cannot offer.
10. The absolute safe option: certified translation agencies
Certifications are an issue for many companies. Be it because you rely on the standards of the norms or because your certifications force you to use norm-compliant services. Industrial companies, for example. Anyone who needs a standard-compliant translation usually knows this themselves. The quality chain at certified companies must not be interrupted for everyone else.
And you can only guarantee this if you commission service providers who are also certified. Of course, not every agency has the appropriate certificates. However, for freelancers, standard-compliant translation becomes difficult simply because the standard according to ISO 17100 and ISO 18587 requires the four-eyes principle.
And since freelancers are usually a one-person/woman show, the four-eyes principle cannot work. Of course, he can ask a colleague to proofread, but he won’t do it because that reduces his margin again. Therefore it doesn’t happen. And no company will want to jeopardize its certifications by forgoing standard-compliant translations.
After our TOP 10 differences between translation agencies and freelancers, do you see the advantages of working with a professional agency? An agency can provide you with a large volume of translations in a short time that will delight your foreign-language customers. The reason is that they are looking for the perfect translator for your project because he is a native speaker and well-versed in your industry.
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