Outsource Your Content Like a Pro or How to Find the Best Freelance Translator

Your company just made it big, your numbers are growing and the demand keeps increasing steadily. You’re now throwing your first timid glances at foreign markets, wondering what it would be like to become a major international player and see your brand become a household name. All that’s left to do now is to translate your content, and before you know it, your company too will be sending rockets to space.
searching for translators

However, how you set about finding a freelance translator that best fits your needs could be the deciding factor between near immediate success and a frustrating period of international stagnation.

Things to look out for when trying to find the best freelance translator

Ideally, you’d want to build a strong team of freelance translators around you as soon as possible. To do this, you will inevitably need to create a lot of accounts on a number of online platforms where non-attached linguists ply their trade. You will then be faced with a seemingly endless list of translators that can be filtered by language combination, rates, experience, etc. So, how do you go about this?

best freelance translator checklist

1. Specialization

One of the important aspects that you should really focus on if you want quality translations is specialization. Nowadays, most freelancers specialize in a particular field (or even several), which should really be your starting point as you’re striving to recruit professional linguists into your ranks. You definitely want to go for someone who knows the industry you are active in.

2. Reviews

It can be a challenge to find a good specialist right off the bat, as you don’t really have a sure-fire way of knowing which translators are actually specialists in their respective fields and who is just blowing their own trumpet all too boisterously. Experience, i.e. the volume of translated words combined with a good rating, is usually a good rule of thumb when it comes to finding a good freelance translator, but keep in mind that you can never be 100% sure, and you’re bound to step on a few landmines along the way.

3. Price

Now it might be a good idea to look at the price. Just kidding, we know that was the first thing you did and that you’re already rubbing your hands at the prospect of finding an outright bargain for that project of yours. Hold your horses for now, as going with the cheapest option is almost certainly going to end up in tears. Good freelance translators know their worth and their rates will reflect that knowledge. Do some research and compare the rates of different translators to get a number that would be considered a normal going rate in the industry for a translation in your respective field, then try to work your way around that number.

With the specialization and the price out of the way, it is now time to get in touch with an actual translator to see if they’re even interested/have the time to work with you. Make sure you don’t try to over bargain with them, as they are in most cases very proud creatures. You are looking to nurture a relationship with them, remember. This could be the beginning of a great friendship, even!

Why go with freelancers, anyway?

The greatest advantage of working with freelance translators is that you work directly with them. If you can supply them with enough work, chances are they will spend virtually all of their working hours doing your evil bidding. This results in a great deal of personal cooperation, meaning that they will be able to fully focus on your projects, which will in turn drastically improve the quality of your translated content. 

Communication with a freelancer is also much easier. As you will be in direct contact anyway, any changes or adjustments can be done quickly and without much fuss. Gone are the days of bombarding a translation agency with e-mails and calls, to little avail. When you work with freelancers directly, they are way more likely to be on standby whenever the need arises.

Positive company culture includes taking all ideas in consideration

Another reason why freelance translators are a great choice is that they will simply take better care of your project. When working with LSPs, you are likely to only ever be in touch with a project manager who will then pass on the tasks to their translators. You will never be in direct contact with them, and all communication between you and the person who will actually carry out the work for you will go through a third person who is simultaneously working on 25 other projects, severely limiting your odds of getting across exactly what you are looking for in a translation.

Last but not least, freelance translators are simply cheaper. If you take out the middleman, you save money. It is that simple. This can be especially helpful if you are just starting to dabble in foreign markets and your budget is still somewhat limited.

how to find the best freelance translator

But what are the potential disadvantages of freelance translators?

While their usefulness can not be disputed, there are situations where opting for a freelance translator might not be your best option. The final decision on what is the optimal solution for your company will likely come down to the size of your business and the amount of foreign languages you are actively trying to target.

A fact that often gets overlooked is that effective oversight of translation projects often requires a great deal of micromanagement. If your company is only working with a handful of freelance translators, this is still manageable, although you will still need to designate a person in your company who will keep the freelancers in check, so to speak.

The problem arises when the nature and scope of your business forces your hand into hiring a small army of freelance translators to work with a myriad of languages. There is just no way for a company to be able to manage them efficiently without losing a lot of money and time in the process.

This is where the benefits of working with a language service provider really come into play, as they will already employ or at least have easy access to numerous freelance translators who are scattered perfectly around the globe, just waiting to pick up your project. All your company will have to do in this case is to communicate your wishes to the LSP and they will take it from there.

Secondly, there is only so much a single person can do. If the volume of a project is simply too great for an individual translator to take over, you have two options, one of which makes significantly more sense than the other. You can either break up the project into several smaller parts and send these fragments out to several freelancers or you can ring up an LSP.

Chances are the first option will cost you less but it will also shorten your life expectancy by a good couple of months as you are trying to figure out why 7 different translators went with 7 different translations for one term, not to mention the sheer amount of (wo)man-hours you will toil away trying to turn this unprecedented mess into a logical entity.

This is not to say that LSPs never have to deal with these issues, only that they are better equipped to tackle them. Why? Because that is all they ever do.

Finally, translation agencies have it easier when trying to find the best freelance translator for you. Their presence on various hiring portals for linguists is probably stronger than that of your company. If they are a good LSP with decent reviews, they will generally find good translators quickly and without much fuss.

So, what’s the verdict?

It all depends on where you are as a company at the moment, really. Correctly assessing the amount of translation work your content is in need of is the first step that will help you decide whether you should stick with freelance translators or employ the services of an LSP. 

Once you have successfully managed to delineate the scope of your ongoing translation projects, you then need to assess your in-house ability to deal with the micromanagement aspect of the process. If your team can dedicate a fair bit of time just to juggle tasks between translators and do post-translation editing, then going with freelancers might not be a bad idea. 

If your company simply does not have the time or resources to do that, then LSPs are the way to go. Their services will hit your pocket a bit harder, but the amount of work they can save you is simply incomparable to that of freelance translators.

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