How to Choose the Best Human Translators

Setting off to the right human translators might seem like a daunting task at first. Just as with any other business, there are so many options! Freelancers, agencies of various size, machine translations, and online translation platforms are just a few of the many to choose from. So how do you make an informed decision?

Read on and you’ll find out which option is right for you.


This is a popular option among companies employing bilingual staff. You may think that an employee who’s already familiar with your work would be a good option? Also that it will be the most cost-effective…right? Not necessarily. Before you commission translation from a nice admin lady who boasted having fluent knowledge of 3 languages, consider these factors:

  • Credentials: What kind of translating experience does this person have? Being a native speaker doesn’t guarantee good quality, and not everyone speaking another language will make a great translator.
  • Time frame and cost: If you approach somebody who already has a job, fitting in an extra task may not be time-effective. Not to mention that an inexperienced translator will probably take longer to finish the job and the whole process will be more costly than anticipated.

Best for: Understanding customer comments or internal emails. For all business communications you should hire a professional translation provider.


They work independently from home and often specialize in different areas such as medical, financial, marketing, etc. It’s a cheaper option than a translating agency. Here are key points to keep in mind before hiring a freelancer:

  • You need to do your research: Not all freelancers offer good quality so you’ll have to spend some time “vetting” translators. Check their testimonials, references, or ask for samples of work. It may take some time before you find the right fit.
  • You’re not their only client (and if you are it may not be a good sign): They probably have several different projects lined up, so they will not be available instantly.

Best for: “Out of the box” projects, accurate translations of specialized texts that have a specific deadline.


This technique involves a mix of translators and native speakers collaborating on the same translation document simultaneously. The client uploads the file to the platform, gets an instant quote and after accepting it receives a translation within a short period of time. The cost falls somewhere in between the freelance translator and an agency. Key factors to think about before selecting this option:

  • Certain areas of expertise may not be supported by the platform. If you have highly specialized translation content, contact the online company first to see if it’s something they have experts for.
  • Check which service level is right for you: Many of these platforms offer pricing options based on a service level. The cheapest one is probably good for “cookie cutter” content such as product descriptions or templates. But if you need to have an article about recent DNA research translated, you’d better opt for a premium level (and be ready to pay for it)!

Best for: Multilingual or high volume content. Online translation platforms let you manage everything from one place rather than dealing with several independent contractors.

Tip: Use Mindlink’s LinguistLink platform for free! Learn more. . .


Translation agencies have qualifying process for new hires (basically the applicants have to take different tests that check their translating abilities) and are a safe bet if you’re looking for top quality. You also have a better recourse if you’re not completely satisfied. Before hiring an agency take into account these factors:

  • Size matters: Small agencies may lack certain in-house services such as desktop publishing but usually offer the best rates and are eager to develop connections with customers. Large agencies prioritize large projects so if you only want to have your company letter translated into several languages you may be too small of a fry for them!
  • Fixed translation teams: Most agencies assign a single specialized translator for each translation project which may lead to delays.

Best for: Translation projects with flexible deadlines, projects varying in scope, multilingual content, subtitling, transcription, audio voice over recording, a literary subject matter, screenplays and books.

 Tip: Send Mindlink your files for Quality Translation. Learn more. . .

As you can see each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. Ask yourself these questions: What type of content do I need to have translated? Is my deadline flexible? What budget do I have? The answers should help you hone in on the best choice.


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