Finding translators – why small translation agencies are often a better choice

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Bigger isn’t always better and this principle also applies when looking for translation agencies. In fact, quite the opposite: often a smaller partner is a better choice. We will set out below why this is the case and the reasons in favour of a small translation agency. We will also give you tips on how you can find the right translator for the job.

If you’re looking for translators for professional translations, you can generally choose between three options:

  • individual freelance translators

  • small translation agencies

  • large, international translation agencies.

Which option is best largely depends on your needs. If you work for an international company that not only needs a wide variety of translations in various languages, but also regularly requires additional services such as interpreting, copywriting or editing, it is worth looking at large providers.

However, in many other situations the picture is quite different.

Advantages of small translation agencies

Even small translation agencies are often not small in reality because they work with a large number of freelancers across different countries.

They also have a number of features that are conducive to successful cooperation with you as the customer:

  • Transparent structures: With small translation agencies, you often have a dedicated contact. It is also highly likely with regular orders that you will always work with the same translator, and this has an impact on the quality. Ultimately, that translator will know what is particularly important to you and will even be familiar with your brand language, for example.

  • Personal contact: Even in the 21st century, quickly picking up the phone is often the best way to solve a problem. With a small translation agency you can generally get in touch with your contact directly at any time, without having to go via a portal or switchboard. You may even be able to find an agency that is local to you.

  • Good price/benefit ratio: With large translation agencies, you can quickly end up paying for services that you don’t actually need.

  • Specialisation: Small translation providers are rarely a ‘jack of all trades’. However, this can be an advantage, for example if you’re looking for a partner that specialises in technical translations. Ultimately, you do not need an all-rounder in that case but a specialist.

How you can find the right translator

Whether large or small, freelancer or agency, you should consider the following points in all cases in order to find good translators.

  • Native-language translators: You should have your translations carried out by native-language translators because they are most familiar with the target language. They will also be aware of the small pitfalls that separate average translations from really good ones.

  • Specialist knowledge: Do you need to have accounts, technical documentation or contracts translated? If so, you should ensure that the translators are not just familiar with the languages in question but also with the subject matter. Specialist knowledge is essential for technical translations. Just think about the serious consequences that could result from a single specialist term being translated incorrectly.

  • Experience: How long has the translation agency been in business? What do other people say about them? What references can the provider show you?

  • Likeability: Finally, your impression of the translation agency also plays a part. What is your gut feeling when interacting with a potential provider? Do they seem trustworthy? Are they interested and approachable?

  • Speed: If you have an urgent translation, you need an agency that can offer an express service.

  • Dual-control principle: Even the very best translators make mistakes. That is why reputable translation agencies offer you second checking in accordance with ISO 17100.

Even if you follow these tips, there is no guarantee that you will find the perfect translator for your needs at the first attempt. However, it does increase the likelihood that you will be happy with the finished product.

One last tip: While machine translation is improving all the time, for professional translations you still need a human translator. You can find out why this is the case in our article ‘Maschinelle Übersetzung – trojanisches Pferd unserer Zeit?’ (‘Machine translation – a present-day trojan horse?’)

Are you looking for a partner for technical translations? Contact us now and benefit from 20 years of experience and a global network of professional native-language translators.

Photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash