8 Ways to Get the Best Freelance Translation Services

Last updated Jan 22, 2024
By Lucy Williams

There is a lot of misunderstanding about freelance translation services. And there are many different providers out there. So, how can you get the best freelance translation services? This article will give you 8 ways to find the best provider to make sure your text does what you want it to.

1. Don’t rely on Google Translate

This is perhaps the most stubborn myth about translation. Why bother with freelance translation services at all? You can just run it through Google translate. Right? Well, if it’s a single word or a short phrase it might be OK.

But, it might not. A case in point is the Clitoris Festival in Galicia. It was supposed to be a festival to showcase the local vegetable, the grelo. Organisers in the small Galician town of As Pontes were shocked to discover the name translated as the Clitoris Festival. It seems it was Google Translate’s mistake.

The software mistook grelo for a Portuguese word which refers to the same vegetable, but also has a slang meaning. The slang word means clitoris. Being non-human, Google didn’t know the difference. And nobody checked the translation. They say no publicity is bad publicity. But, maybe this is pushing it a bit far. With professional freelance translation services this wouldn’t happen. Paying a professional would have saved money. Money lost on printing publicity materials and altering the website. And it would have saved a lot of embarrassment.There are many different ways a poor-quality translation can cost you money

2. Go to a professional if you want value for money

Freelance translation services means getting professional services. Google might be free, but it can end up costing you a lot. Most freelance translators offer amazing value in view of all their qualifications and skills. As our Clitoris Festival example shows, it’s expensive if all your publicity materials are wrong. It’s expensive if a bad translation puts off your clients. It’s expensive if a mistranslation gets you into legal trouble.

There are many different ways a cheap translation can cost you money. Wouldn’t it be better to pay a bit more and get the right results first time? Not all freelance translation services are equal. Do your homework. Use a qualified professional and you’ll make money in the long run.

How do you know if your translator is a professional? Look at my blog about “Why You Should Use Accredited Translation Services”, for more information.

Have you read about how Google Translate created the first Galician clitoris festival? Click To Tweet

3. Allow enough time and budget

Professional translators use technology to make their work more consistent. This is one reason why they can work faster. But, if you want a professional service, it won’t be instantaneous. Most professional translators can produce between 2,000 and 3,000 words a day. They often use software to recognise repetition. If your text has a lot of repetition, your translator can use their software to translate the text faster.

If your text is urgent, talk to your translator. Most professional translators plan their working day to include some leeway. They’ll often be able to fit in a more urgent project. But, be aware that this will come at an extra cost. This is because they have to work overtime, contact other clients to put deadlines back, cancel dinner with their fiancé. Professional freelance translation services typically have a surcharge of 25% for urgent projects.The only way to get a professional result is to use a professional translator.

4. Provide a good-quality text for the translator to work with

Anyone providing professional freelance translation services will ask questions if they get stuck. This is the mark of a qualified and experienced freelancer. But it adds time onto the translation job. Make sure your source text is good quality. Check that it’s free from errors and makes sense. If not, you’ll slow your translator down. A job full of errors and mistakes is going to cost you more. Because it’ll take the translator longer to do it.

Is 25% a typical surcharge for urgent freelance #translation services? Click To Tweet

Does your text need a creative touch? Do you need a copywriter as well as a translator? You might be better looking for a transcreator. This is a mix of a translator and copywriter. They can work with texts that need recreating for a foreign market. Texts where a certain angle in the source language doesn’t work for the target market.

Want to know more about transcreation? Read Gwen’s blog “What Is Transcreation? Is It Different to Marketing Translation?”.

5. Choose a translator that specialises in your field

Professional translators specialise in particular areas. If you have a scientific article, you need a scientific translator. If it’s legal documents, use a translator with experience and qualifications in legal translation. If a freelance translator tells you they can translate well in any specialist area, beware. Go to a specialist and get it right first time. I talk more about this and other pitfalls in my blog “Five Mistakes to Avoid When You Buy Professional Translation Services Online”.

6. Don’t assume that anyone who speaks two languages can translate

This is a common misconception. It’s understandable why it’s tempting to use a bilingual co-worker or friend. It seems easier. They might do it as a favour and not even charge you. But if you’re looking for a good quality translation, use a professional. Translation is more than an ability in two languages. Professional translators study the art of translation. It’s what they do day in day out. That means you get a professional quality translation, on time. Read more about this in “12 Myths Busted to Help You Buy a Quality Translation”.

7. Choose the right services to suit your text

The clue is in the name. When you buy freelance translation services, you probably have translation in mind. But, a professional freelance translator will offer other services. Depending on the text, you may want to ask them to get another professional translator to proofread it. If it’s an academic article for publication, for instance. Professional freelancers have a range of prices and packages to offer their clients.
A professional translator will advise you about which services to choose. They’ll give you an itemised quotation, so you can see exactly what you’re paying for. This adds an extra level of peace of mind. Gwen and I collaborate on many projects to offer double quality assurance.

8. Always choose a translator who translates into their native language

There are very few true bilinguals. Even those with a very high level in two languages will have different abilities in those languages. Professional translators normally translate only into their native tongue. As Gwen says in her blog post, “9 Secrets Most Customers Don’t Know About Quotations for Translation Services”most translators can’t produce a native-quality translation in their second language . Both Gwen and I translate from Spanish into our native language, English. This means we produce a native-level text. Why is this important? Because to engage with your customer, your text needs to read as if it was written in the target language. Hit the wrong note and you won’t sell.Lucy and Gwen work together to provide high-quality freelance translation services. Working together means we can offer you the assurance of double quality control. Get in touch to find out what we can do for you.

Written by Lucy Williams

Lucy Williams is a subtitler and a Spanish-English translator for fashion, tourism and luxury goods/services. She holds the CIOL Diploma in Translation and is a native English copywriter specialising in SEO-optimised long-form content. Connect with Lucy on LinkedIn.

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