Buying a translation is challenging. In your everyday work, you are probably not often asked to purchase something you are unable to read and the quality of which you are incapable of assessing. But in our increasingly globalized world, the need for translation can’t be ignored. Maybe your company recently opened an office in China, or your largest market is in Mexico, or maybe the region where you are located requires bilingual signage. Whatever the reason, you need a translation.
You may be tempted to use free machine translation engines like Google Translate or a proprietary machine translation engine promising “near-human” translations for a fraction of the cost. The use of Google Translate is fraught with intellectual property issues and even the best machine translation engines produce documents of draft quality, at best. So, what are your other options?
This is where finding a living, breathing translator comes in. You need a reliable, trustworthy partner that is an expert in your field, has impeccable language and writing skills, and can help you reach your intended target audience. Large, multi-national translation companies can do that for you, and in some cases have their advantages, but choosing to use an experienced independent translator offers unique benefits for you and your business. Here are five advantages to hiring a freelance translator:
Advantage 1: It’s probably cheaper
- According to the website of the largest translation company in the world, it has over 6,000 employees working in 27 global solutions centers.
- Another global leader in translation has 55 offices around the globe.
What does this mean for you? It means that you are not only paying for the cost of your translation, you are paying for the company’s overhead as well. Freelancers have much lower fixed costs than multi-national companies, and those savings will probably get passed on to you. Even the most experienced freelancers have rates that are competitive with those of global translation firms.
Advantage 2: Direct contact
By developing a trusted relationship with a freelancer, you know exactly who you are working with. A multi-national will allocate your project to whoever is cheapest or whoever is available, potentially resulting in a gaggle of translators being used. What’s more, you might not even be guaranteed that the selected translator is a native speaker. With freelancers, you know exactly who is handling your project. You can examine their credentials, speak with their past clients, and contact them directly with questions. By corresponding with them, you’ll get an idea of their language abilities, professionalism, and reliability.
Advantage 3: Quality, quality, quality
Professional translators invest in themselves and their skills. They pride themselves on their subject-matter knowledge, linguistic expertise, and exceptional writing abilities. They will work with you to ensure that your text is correctly understood and that it will be properly received by your target audience. You will get a text that reads as though it were originally written in the target language that will wow your end users, whether they are your employees, customers, or shareholders.
Advantage 4: You’re developing a partnership
The reputation of your business may depend on the accuracy of your translation. Add to that the fact that translators’ entire business is translation and their reputation also depends on a job being done well. With so much at stake and converging interests for both parties, you and the translator you hire become partners in success. This symbiotic relationship can last for years, if not decades, creating shared added value.
Advantage 5: Translators aren’t machines, and that’s a good thing.
This past fall, I attended an enlightening talk by Angela Benoit, who blogs about translation here, called Breaking the Mold: Throwing Out Translation for an Intimate Look at the Source Text. During the presentation, we compared original source texts in different languages for remarkably similar businesses in the tourism industry. Despite their similarities and shared goals, the way these businesses appealed to their audiences was strikingly different. An experienced translator will help you to identify these differences and ensure that your content is being perceived the right way by your target audience. No machine can do that.
For more information on purchasing translations, read Translation: Getting it Right, the American Translators Association guide to buying translation.
What other reasons do you have for hiring a freelance translator? Please let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment.