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Should You Work with a Freelance Chinese Translator or a Chinese Translation Agency? – What are the Pros and Cons? (Part 2)

Maria Krisette Capati, Author

09 January 2020

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a two-part series about working freelancers and translation agencies. In the first part, we discussed and shared insights objectively about the pros and cons of working with a freelance Chinese translator.

Looking for the right Chinese translation service provider?

Whether you work with a freelancer or a translation agency, your decision is based on the scope and budget. Always go for quality rather than chasing for low rates.

Poor translation will reflect your brand’s image and professionalism. Google and other search engines will give you all the information you need about an agency and even a freelance translator. So, make sure you do your homework and look for client testimonials and reviews.

READ MORE >> 5 Powerful Tips from Professional Chinese Translators for Successful Translation Projects

Remember that working with a freelancer, agency or in-house translators are all good options. Whatever fits your needs, the decision is yours.

Just a recap of our previous post, the pros, and cons of working with freelance Chinese translators are as follows:

The Perks (Pros) The Limitations (Cons)
Low cost Limited languages
Expertise in your niche Slow turnaround time
More transparency Limited specialization

Working with a Chinese translation agency – pros vs. cons

Chinese translation agencies are composed of translators, linguists, layout artists, graphic designers, proofreaders, editors, and others. In a nutshell, you have a team of translators and other skillful people to work on your projects in different sectors.

If you work with a translation agency, you enjoy access to a spectrum of language solutions such as translation, localization, software localization, DTP services, voice-overs, video translations services, and others.

How can you make the most out of this arrangement? Here are the perks.

#1 Structured, streamlined workflow

In general, the project manager is the middleman in this work arrangement. Most of the communication is between you (or your in-house liaison or in-house project manager) and the agency’s project manager.

The project manager is in charge of assigning tasks and also ensuring that the workflow is being strictly followed by the team of translators. Agencies can divide the work and can accommodate as many projects.

If you’re a big company and you have a ton of projects that needs Chinese translation, then you’d have to outsource them to an agency rather than a freelance translator. They have more people and the capacity to meet your deadlines.

#2 Availability of people

There’s always someone to handle translation tasks when you hire an agency. In as much as you enjoy communication with the project manager, the translation agency carries off the weight on your shoulder in hiring and finding the right people.

Don’t have an idea about how to choose a translator? The agency will do it for you. They have class A, B, C, translators and can provide you sample translations from the team to help you make a choice.

If a translator isn’t available, they can always find out to finish the work without compromising the quality and turnaround time.

#3 A host of services and quick turn around time

In connection with the first and second pointers, working with a translation agency means you get to avail of other services aside from translation.

If you’re considering long-term business goals, you might also need other services like Chinese translation of your videos and blogs. Translation work is also paired up with multimedia projects like voice-overs and subtitling.

Agencies are also well-equipped with translation tools. The team uses specific tools to efficiently work together. For example, translating approximately 20,000 words with a fast turnaround time is possible with AZ-Loc because the team already has a system or workflow.

The translators also use the CAT tool and other software to assist them during the translation process.

The limitations of Chinese translation agencies

Now let’s move on with the cons of working with agencies. While you’ll enjoy the streamlined workflow, zero-project management on your part, availability, and quick turn around, there’s a price to pay for these benefits.

#1 Cost is higher than the freelance translators

As they say, you get what you pay for in a service. This is true when working with an agency. You have to be deep-pocketed to maintain the projects. That’s why most corporations and medium and large-sized companies are capable of paying the costs.

You’re paying for the quality of work and overhead expenses, too. Management and consultation are also part of the services. Keep in mind that high cost doesn’t mean that the translators are experienced. So, make sure you compare rates and chase the quality of work.

Don’t be intimidated by the costs. The rates vary from one agency to another. Plus, if it’s your first time to work with a reliable agency, you’d be given welcome prices or discounts (just like AZ-Loc team, we offer 20% off on your first translation with us).

#2 Less control on decision-making when hiring translators

As mentioned in one of the pointers above, the translation agency can help you find translators to handle your projects.

But this is also a limitation for you on your part. You have less control over the people who will handle the work.

Other agencies are considered and will include you in choosing the right translator. You still have the right to approve or reject their suggestions.

At AZ-Loc, for example, we ask clients’ approval in case we need to look for another translator if their first choice isn’t available.

#3 Complexities as layers and silos increase

Compared to hiring and working with freelance Chinese translators, you can exchange emails back and forth in just a few days and utilize them to get things done.

But when you work with agencies, communication can be more complicated. Some agencies will get back to you between 24 and 72 business hours.

At AZ-Loc, for example, the team’s email management system is streamlined, so expect a reply within the day or within the next 24 hours.

Consider the layers and middlemen involved – from project managers to linguists to specialists – so you have to be patient with your point person such as the project manager in the initial exchange of emails.

When to work with a Chinese translation agency?

You only need to consider these things. First, if you need to work on translation projects in more than five languages, then an agency is a good option. Second, you don’t have time to micromanage projects, and you want to focus on your business. Third, you have documents that need translations for about 4,000-5,000 words per day or more.

If you’re dealing with a high volume of work, an agency is the best solution. If you need additional services like localization, voice-overs, and DTP, an agency can accommodate as many projects as possible simultaneously.

Fill in the form below and we will get back to you with a quote on your project.

As we are constrained by resources, we will only serve those deserve our attention and time. We will only focus on clients who are already decided which projects to prioritize and understand the importance of translation and localization efforts.

china market writer

Maria Krisette Capati

Krisette or "Sette" for short is a professional writer and copywriter who loves to cover disruptive technologies, digital trends in China, and a myriad of geeky and innovative topics. She's the Content Strategist at AZ-Loc and currently manages the English website and in-charge of the social media channels. She has been writing about China markets, business, and startups since 2012. She has gained her expertise as a China internet specialist and is fascinated by its business ethics, language, and culture. She's a major of Business Management and Entrepreneurship and an advocate of faith-based non-profit organizations. When she's not writing or dabbling with Sophie and the team, she satiates her wanderlust as a digital nomad. 

If you’re serious enough to take your business to the next level, we’d love to offer you a 20% off on your first project this month. Our promo offer is until 31 May 2020, T&C apply. Rest assured that you will get premium service with more discounts.


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