Freelance Translators or Language Service Providers

There are moments for most marketing managers and small to medium business owners when they understand that their product is in demand for a new audience speaking foreign language. For example, they may analyze traffic of their crypto exchange and find out that the interest of their Russian audience has extremely increased. To further boost the sales or traffic you would aim to localize the interface and FAQ to increase the user experience for the Russians. But how can you do that? Go to some language service provider (LSP) or a freelance translator specializing in crypto?

The answer depends on several factors. Take a look at pros and cons of working with LSPs and freelance translators and make the optimal choice for you. Here is a table I made for you to easily understand what are the advantages and disadvantages of LSPs and freelance translators.

Let’s first take a look at how an LSP could help you with localization.

How do Language Service Providers work?

Speed and volume. LSPs handle projects faster than freelancers as they have many translators that can work simultaneously. LSPs can start working on your project straight away. There is always a translator in their pool that is available right now.

Quality checks. LSPs have a well-tested process of quality check. First, a translator prepares the translated text in their target language, then the translation is checked by a reviewer. Finally, the project manager looks through the translated material and makes sure that all the client’s demands and requirements are met.

Languages. There are translators with different working languages in LSPs. If you need to localize your project into the most popular languages, for example Chinese, Spanish and Hindi, the LSP can offer such services.

Specialization. If you need to translate the website of your product and some legal documents, as Privacy Policy or Terms and Conditions, LSPs will assign the website translation to a translator specializing in your industry and the legal documents to a legal translator. You won’t have to talk to those translators separately. All the communication is done with a project manager — you’ll save time you’d spent on communication with several freelance translators.

Range of services. LSPs usually offer a wide range of services. Along with the text translation, you can ask an LSP to translate and make a voice over of promotional or educational videos about your project. If you don’t need a full audio localization you can simply ask an LSP to translate subtitles and embed them in your videos.

Communication. Translators working for LSPs can’t communicate with clients directly. It may be hard for them to inform the client of some issues or suggest something as communication is made through the project manager. That’s a much longer route of communication than freelancers have with their direct clients.

Rates. LSP usually charge more as they have additional expenses. For example, they have to pay rent for their offices, make payments to all their employees: project managers, translators, reviewers, technical specialists. LSPs also have to buy various CAT-tools — professional translation programs.

How do Freelance Translators Work?

Speed and volume. Freelance translators are usually busy at the moment you ask them for translation as they can’t afford wasting time without work. They may start working on your project in several days or even weeks because of their workload.

Quality checks. Of course, there are many stages of quality checks in freelancers’ work. The difference from LSPs is that freelancers usually review the translation by themselves. Although, many professionals collaborate with their colleagues and ask other experienced translators or reviewers to check their work. This usually happens when translation is done into a second language of a translator.

Languages. Freelance translators usually work with one or two translation pairs, for example Spanish to English and English to Spanish. So, to translate your documents into several languages you’ll have to hire several translators and discuss all the details of the project with each of them separately. It takes more time and resources than when working with LSPs.

Specialization. Freelance translators usually specialize in 1-2 fields, for example in finance and economics. They are subject matter experts — they know all the nuances of their area of specialization. Specialization guarantees that the translation will be accurate. Meanwhile, it narrows down types of work they can perform: a translator specializing in solar batteries doesn’t have enough knowledge for working with washing machines specifications.

Range of services. As freelance translators usually work alone, they don’t have enough resources to offer a wide range of services. But still, there are freelancers that do translation, copywriting and/or voice over. There are also translators that can help you with SEO and website design. Everybody is unique, so the type of additional service may be from any aspect of our life. More often it depends on translator’s hobbies and background education.

Communication. You have direct communication with freelance translators. Imagine that you want the translator to follow some new requirements or the translator needs more details from you during the working process. You just send a message to the freelancer without any intermediaries. This ensures that the translation meets all your requirements. Freelance translators often come up with suggestions of how to make your product even better for the audience in their target language, for example, they may recommend to leave some parts in English or make transcreation instead of translation.

Rates. Freelance translators usually charge less as they work alone. But they still have to pay taxes, spend money on marketing themself, education, conferences. Freelance translators often work with reviewers that also must be paid.

Now, as you know all the pros and cons of LSPs and freelance translators it’s easier for you to decide how to handle your translation project. If you have a large volume of work that must be done as soon as possible and your budget is enough, go to LSP. If you have smaller documents from a narrow area of expertise and a lower budget — go to freelance translators. If you don’t know where to start looking for them, read my previous article with tips for finding a professional freelance translator.