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      “What’s going on? I thought these were professionals?” 

      Have you ever thought that after getting a project back from your translation agency? 

      If you have, you’re not alone.

      The problem is that most translation agencies aren’t set up to deliver exceptional, creative translations that are tailored to your business. And most businesses don’t realize that.

      Agencies aren’t “bad”. They’re perfect for some projects — just like an off-the-rack blazer is perfect for some occasions. But sometimes you need bespoke tailoring — and sometimes your project needs the personal touch of an individual translator. The key is knowing when to choose one over the other.

      The tricky thing about translations

      Translations — especially marketing texts and corporate communications — are not simple. They take a lot of time and effort. In fact, sometimes a translation can take as much time as writing the original text. Why? 

      Because to do an exceptional job, we translators have to do more than just translate the words. We need to translate the meaning behind the words. That takes a lot of thought, research, and fingernail chewing…  although maybe that’s just me!

      We also need to adapt the writing style to the new language. We may need to break sentences up, or put them together. Sometimes translators have to totally rephrase an idea for the new audience. Creating a translation that doesn’t sound like a translation is an art form.

      Why your agency translation isn’t what you had hoped

      The way most agencies work guarantees a certain level of quality, but not exceptional work. Many of my clients have started working with me because they were tired of poor writing style, inconsistent quality, and lack of nuance. Here’s why those problems happen: 

      With most agencies, you never know who will be translating your text. Agencies screen their translators, but some translators are better than others. You might get one great translation and one “pretty good” one without knowing why. 

      Agency work encourages translators to play it safe. They don’t know you or your company, and they are usually being rated on their “accuracy.” Under those circumstances, it’s safer to stick to a more literal translation. Although that’s fine for some projects, “accurate” isn’t enough when nuance and writing style matter.

      Lastly, agency translators usually can’t afford to take the time they need to do outstanding work. Tight deadlines and being paid “per word” don’t allow room for creativity — or that essential round of client feedback and final edits.

      Frustrated with your translation agency? Here’s why

      The benefits of working with an individual translator

      More consistent quality: When you work with a single translator, they’ll know you and your brand, and you’ll know who you’re working with. If you were happy with their work the first time around, you can expect similar quality next time.

      More attention to detail: When you work directly with a translator, they have total control over their working process. We can talk to you about tricky bits of text, discuss things with our editors, and review their edits before sending you the files. This all helps us do our best work.

      Better prices (sometimes): Some low-end agencies offer rates that no qualified translator would match. But if you’re already working with a reputable agency, you might actually save money with an individual translator. I can’t make any promises, but it helps that we don’t have the overhead that an agency does.

      Frustrated with your translation agency? Here’s why

      When to choose an individual translator, when to choose an agency

      Although I think you’ll get superb results from a qualified translator, sometimes an agency is a better choice. Here are some things to think about:

      How big is the project? A single translator can typically handle a maximum of around 2500 words per day. If you have a big project with a short deadline, you might need an agency who can split the work up among several translators. 

      Do you need the text translated into multiple languages? Most translators only translate into their native language, but sometimes individual translators will share a multilingual project with a trusted colleague. There are also boutique agencies who offer many of the quality advantages of a single translator, but who do work into different languages.

      Do you need desktop publishing services? If the translation is going to print, someone needs to do the layout. Most translators don’t offer this service, so you’ll either need to do the layout in-house, outsource it to someone else, or work with a translator or agency who can do the layout for you.

      What is your editorial process like? If you work with a large pool of freelance writers, publish writing after a quick quality check, or use AI to create content or product descriptions, then a reputable agency will be just fine for you.

      On the other hand, if you choose authors for their impeccable style and go through multiple rounds of edits, you’re really invested in quality. To maintain that quality, you need a custom tailored translation and you’ll probably be happier working with an individual, qualified translator.

      Frustrated with your translation agency? Here’s why

      Wordsmith, at your service!

      Do you need copy for your website? Content marketing that converts? A translation of your German marketing materials? Let’s make it happen!