9 Secrets Most Customers Don’t Know About Quotes for Translation Services

Last updated Jan 22, 2024
By Gwenydd Jones

If you need to get a quotation for translation services, this post is for you. This article will give you the information that isn’t included on your translation quote. To make sure you understand exactly what you’re getting for your buck.

Woman signalling to be quiet as a metaphor for keeping secrets about quotations for translation services

Secret 1. Cheap translation agencies can’t afford to work with the best translators

All translation agencies claim they work with top professional freelance translators. Many also claim they can do this while offering rock-bottom rates. Customers want to believe them because everyone likes a bargain.

The best professional Spanish-English freelance translators are easy to find online. In differing degrees, we all participate in forums, have blogs and/or share content on social networks. It’s easy to see that none of us work with translation companies that offer low rates.

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Secret 2. You can save by working directly with professional freelance translators

All translation agencies are intermediaries. That means they get a special price from freelancers, as commission. Most freelance translators would prefer to work directly with you. That way, they get to keep their entire fee. But there’s an advantage for you too: they don’t have the overheads of a translation agency.

Like all creatives, freelance translators quote different prices. These prices are based on their skills and the demand for their services. But, on a like-for-like basis, you’ll get better value if you cut out the agency and go direct. An exception to this is if you’re translating into multiple languages. Then, a good agency or outsourcing translator may mean less work for you.

Secret 3. Top freelance translators work with other top freelance translators

On jobs with a single language pair, like Spanish-English translation, go direct to a pro. That way, you’ll get better value and results. Translation is a global service, but it’s a small world. Professional freelance translators know each other, and we love working together. 

The Translator’s Studio has a wide network of Spanish-English collaborators. We often form teams to provide a translation and proofreading service. Then, on big jobs we bring in members of our network. With all our years in the industry, a Spanish-English translator A-team is always on call.

Like all creatives, freelance translators quote different prices. But, on a like-for-like basis, you’ll get better value if you cut out the agency and go direct.

 Secret 4. Freelance translators work with technology that can save you money

Translation is in the full swing of technological revolution. If you’re working with a professional translator then they’ll be using a range of software. This technology can save you money, in one-off jobs and over the long-term. Translation software can be particularly useful if you have repetitive texts.

If your quotation for translation services is high for repetitive texts, a technology-savvy translator may reduce the price. But, if your translation quote is very cheap, then the alarm bells should also ring. Some translators use machine translation (like Google Translate) without telling you. Machine translation with professional software (not Google Translate) may be an appropriate solution. But the translation provider should tell you what you’re buying. Ask them what technology they’re using.

Secret 5. Most translators can’t produce a native-quality translation in their second language

Don’t let lower prices blind you into making this mistake. Most probably, your translator can produce a native-quality translation only when they write in their native language. So, for me, I translate out of Spanish and into English. Always. Few translators are truly bilingual. I can count the number of translators I’ve worked with who are capable of producing the same level of quality in Spanish as in English on one hand. And I’ve worked with a lot of translators.

Here are some more myths busted, to make sure you buy a quality translation.

Secret 6. There are no requirements for entering the profession

Anyone can claim they’re a translator. You don’t have to be registered with an association or have specific translation qualifications like the DipTrans. Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why people think anyone can do the job. Believe me when I tell you that producing an accurate, natural translation is really hard. And if you want transcreation (what is transcreation?), then add marketing skills into the mix.

Competent translators have appropriate qualifications and are members of professional associations. Not because they have to be, but because they want to be. If you get a cheap quotation for translation services, ask about professional associations. The work of a professional freelance translator will make you more than it costs.

Secret 7. Different providers offer different levels of quality checks as standard

Some providers include proofreading in your quotation for translation services. Proofreading is normally understood to mean that a second translator checks the translation by the first translator. To do this effectively, they should be proofreading in their native language. But that may not be what you’re being sold. 

At their standard rate, some agencies will have their project managers perform quality checks, and that’s it. Lower-end agencies may save by having a non-native do the proofread. The quality assurance process is therefore less complete. This should be made clear on the quote. If it isn’t, make sure you’re comparing like for like by asking exactly what your quotation for translation services includes.

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On jobs with a single language pair, like Spanish-English translation, go direct to a pro.

Secret 8. The best translators have their own direct clients or work only with other freelancers and boutique agencies

The better the translator, the higher the rates they command. Also, the more choice they have about the customers they work with. The best quality comes direct from source, from teams of freelancers, or from boutique translation agencies. This is because that is where the highest rates can be found.

If you’re Microsoft, then you may need the resources that only a big agency can offer. But, if the rates are low, don’t kid yourself into thinking the top translators are working behind the scenes. Go direct to the freelancer or a small translation provider to get the best service and best value for money. The resulting translation will sell, and make you look good.

Secret 9. Professional translators are businesspeople who will strike a deal with you

When you ask for your quotation for translation services, explain as much as you can about the project. If you want a freelance translator to lower their price, try offering payment up front, for a 5% discount. If you want a regular blog translation, ask if you could have a special rate for a monthly commitment. Freelance translators are always fighting with their cashflow. The right deal could be a win-win for both sides.

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Written by Gwenydd Jones

Gwenydd Jones is a Spanish- and French-to-English translator, an SEO blogger and a course creator. She is the founder of The Translator's Studio and the lead teacher on its courses. Connect with Gwenydd on LinkedIn or contact her through this website.

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  1. Daniela

    Nice reading, thank you for pointing out a couple of truths here. The article can be really enlightening for potential customers.

    • Gwenydd Jones

      Thanks for reading and commenting, Daniela.


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