Selecting a Linguistic Resource: Freelance Translators vs. Translation Agency

March 20, 2016 Manar Abotouk

As translation industry professionals we know there are many differences between selecting a freelance translator or a translation agency for localization projects. Both resources could be the best option depending on the kind of project you need to launch.

Freelance Translators

Translation Agency


More expensive

Translation only / Editing only

TEP (translation, editing, proofreading)

Single language

Multiple languages

No Project Manager

Project Manager

Takes more time to translate

Takes less time to translate

Handle smaller volume

Handle larger volume

No DTP, web/software development

DTP, web/software development

Identifying Project Needs

There are a few questions you need to ask yourself before making the decision on what kind of resource you are going to use. For example:

  • What is my project budget?
  • Do I need translation only or translation, editing and proofreading?
  • Is it a single language project or a multilingual project?
  • What is my project timeline?
  • What is the word count/volume of my project?
  • Do I need desktop publishing (DTP) or web/software development?

Once you identify the scope of your project, your budget and timeline, the type of resource you need for your localization project will be clearer.

Freelance vs. Agency

gpi-linguistic resource-1

Freelance translators will usually cost less since they do the work on their own, so if budget is the main concern that might be your best option. However, if you need to do translation and editing/proofreading, you need to look for two linguists (or a freelance translator who works with an editor), in that case, you need to be sure you use two very experienced and qualified linguists, and the cost will be a little bit higher.

If you need to launch a multilingual project, an agency is the best option. Once you contact the Project Manager of the selected multilingual translation agency, he/she can take care of working on and delivering all languages directly to you, facilitating your work and saving a lot of time.

Also, if the project volume is high and the time is short, as it generally is, in that case, the translation agency is again your best option.

Another benefit of using a translation agency is the use of Translation Memory. Translation Memory (TM) is a database of previously translated content which can be leveraged to reduce cost, increase consistency within the translation and can reduce overall time required to complete the translation. A translation agency will be able to leverage any repeat content segments from with the initial source content and for all future requirements within a language pair.

What about desktop publishing or web/software development? Would it be cost and time effective having a freelance translator do the linguistic work and then contacting a freelance desktop publisher for the design part? In this case it is recommended to use a translation agency since they can take care of all the project requirements and even deliver a final version that has been QA'd and it is ready for client delivery.


When deciding between a freelance translator or translation agency, you need to go case by case, project by project, and evaluate the above mentioned items and questions and answers in order to decide the kind of linguistic resource that will best meet and accomplish your project's scope and expectations in a timely, profitable and successful manner.

Additional Resources on Language Translation Services

To further understand the entire globalization process, download our PDFs  Language Globalization Guides. You may also benefit from our previous blogs:

Please feel free to contact GPI at with any questions about our translation services. Also let us know if you have any interesting blog topics you would like us to cover in future blogs. You may also request a complimentary Translation Quote for your projects as well.

About the Author

Manar Abotouk

Localization Project Manager. Manar is Syrian-Canadian who has worked and lived in Canada, Europe and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She is a native Arabic and English speaker who is fluent in French. She studied International Business in Switzerland and Canada and then graduated with a double major in History and Theory of Art AND Arts Administration from University of Ottawa in Canada. Manar has experience in event and venue management within galleries, exhibitions, live events and film festivals. Across these events and venues she was responsible for managing day-to-day operations and a range of project management activities including advertising, event promotion and logistics. In her free time Manar enjoys learning new languages, reading and writing and constantly growing and improving herself.

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