Translation Agencies vs Freelancers – What to Choose for Your Project

Many businesses consider different options for their translation and content building needs. If you don’t need in-house linguist professionals full-time, you will most likely look for the outside sources. When can you reach for independent freelancers and why should you invest into specialized agencies in other situations?

Due to the recent economic slowdown, there might be a good point in trying to skip costly agencies and contacting individual translators and copywriters directly. Companies need to keep going with their production while cutting their costs dramatically. The attempts to drop the mediators seem to be a win-win result for both sides and agencies are seen as a rather unnecessary luxury during these hard years.

This article reviews both options with their pros and cons, which should be considered before making a decision. What is at stake is either the prospect of your potentially gained savings, or… even more savings lost, together with your precious time.

Complex and Reliable: Agencies


Translation or content building agencies offer very comfortable all-inclusive services including very complex ones, such as multilingual campaigns or complicated software localizations. Most of your demands are usually met under one roof and business customer-oriented agencies understand all your expectations. They provide global solutions together with extensive technical support.

  • Recruitment, paperwork or any additional difficulties, usually related to more complex projects, are solved for you.
  • Quality control during workflow is usually much better than while cooperating with individual translators.
  • Maintenance of multilingual glossaries, naming conventions and translation memories belongs to the standard offer of agencies.
  • Technical know-how and team management works for considerably smoother workflow, minimization of errors and costly bug fixing.


  • Agencies are far more expensive as their rates must cover the work of project managers and support staff.
  • The workflow is a black box – you only see the outcome with little insight into the actual stages you pay for. You have no direct control over the process and additional services that were ordered.
  • Agencies don’t do actual production – they only outsource for the linguists that will work on your project. You can actually find and contact directly the same people who would otherwise work on your project via agency.

Efficient and Affordable: Freelancers


If you cannot afford agencies, your second option might be freelancers – independent linguist professionals who offer their services at much lower rates.

  • You can find them easily online. They do their own marketing and promotion, and you can usually choose between the wide range of languages and working fields.
  • They are generally flexible and ready to adjust to your needs.
  • They mean no additional personal burden as they act as regular service providers. You can finish your cooperation instantly once you don’t need them.
  • It is easier to negotiate their rates than the rates of agencies.
  • They are usually open to long-term cooperation for even lower rates.


However there are many things that freelancers cannot do – the actual project workflow is more complicated than it seems to the outsider.

  • Complex projects need even more complex management as well as supervision over freelancers. The more languages are involved, the more complex becomes the management of particular assignments, terminology and language-specific issues. With freelancers, your company has to manage the whole workflow and if you don’t have a personnel trained in linguist coordination at hand, you risk very poor results and even more costs.
  • You get no technical support, often necessary for software and web localizations, or unknown file formats.
  • Freelancers rarely provide Desktop Publishing services and you need to look for more specialists so that they take care of these aspects of your project.
  • You are exposed to deception or poor quality outcome to the higher degree. It is much easier to claim your rights against the agency – not only the legal consequences are at stake, but also the agencies’ reputation and position among the harsh competition.


Freelancers are a great cost saving option for rather small and uncomplicated projects. Even then, the recruitment and outcome verification is crucial. The results can often be of very different quality and no matter how good pick you think you have made, you should always ensure the independent proofreading too. In case you plan a regular turnaround of freelancers, your company should employ and train human resources specialists to provide support for the well-known outsourcing issues.

Despite their considerably higher rates, services of agencies can pay off. Translation and copywriting business provides rather special services and DIY way can bring you more costs and pain than the actual benefits. To handle more complicated projects involving several languages and linguist teams, you need very well organized hr and project management. Agencies are far more efficient in building well working linguist teams, having their carefully maintained contact books and local knowledge.

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Content & Co. brings new business solution that can help smaller- and middle-scale enterprises carry out with their multilingual projects while overcoming the costly all-inclusive translation services.

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