Freelancers vs. LSPs – what’s better for my business?

Let’s be honest, there’s a bit of rivalry between freelancers and LSPs within the language industry. With both providing pretty much the same service, it’s often hard for clients like yourselves to know which option is best for your business. With pro’s and con’s to both, we decided to take a look at freelancers vs. LSPs so you can make an informed decision about what’s best for your business.

Pricing
With pricing one of the ruling factors in translation (unfortunately!), we thought that we’d tackle that issue first. In the majority of cases, freelancers are cheaper than LSPs. This is because LSPs have extra costs like technology subscriptions and project managers to factor in. While at first glance, it may seem like going for an LSP is a waste of money, there’s a bit more to it than meets the eye. Which leads us on to our second point…

Ease of service
We’ve heard some awesome success stories from companies working with freelancers. As the company is only dealing with one person, they’re able to have a really close relationship with that person, and almost integrate them into the team. Another thing is that companies can train up the freelancer so they’re experts on their products.

However, if you’re dealing with more than one freelancer, things can get a little bit tough. With so many freelancers out there, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to separate the good from the bad. Speaking a foreign language doesn’t make you a translator, just like how being able to write doesn’t make you a writer. When you use an LSP, they’ll do the recruitment for you so the minute you start working with them, you know that you’re working with the best translators out there. Secondly, this can be really useful if you don’t speak the language and don’t have the resources to test the freelancers beforehand. With an LSP it’s simple, you send over the documents, and you’ll get them back translated. Their PMs will do all the hard work for you.

Multiple languages
If your company translates into many different languages, managing freelancers gets a bit more complicated. You have to deal with everyone individually, which multiplies the amount of work you have to do by the number of languages you need. With an LSP, they have a database full of translators so they’ll manage all of that for you. They also have the expertise to quality check Bulgarian into Thai, for example, which is a seemingly impossible task for someone inside a company.

Technology
Just like any other industry, the translation industry is constantly evolving. With an abundance of new technology, it’s often too expensive for freelancers to keep up. While freelancers usually use 1 or 2 CAT tools, LSPs can handle them all, and like to invest in the latest machine translation engines etc., too. They have the expertise to take a look at your translation needs and come up with the optimal solution for you, saving you time and money.

Illness/holiday
One other issue we’ve realised that clients have is down to illness and holidays. We know us translators are famous for working 24/7, but we do need time off every now and again. When you’re working with a freelancer, that could complicate things if they’re on holiday and you need a translation fast. However, the main thing for this is to be prepared. Find out when they’re off in advance and make sure you stay on top of everything you need translating. Then, if you do find something that needs doing, you can always call up an LSP. We are happy to help when your freelancers are off or too busy, just to give you that safety net.

We hope that we’ve given you some food for thought on the time old freelancers vs. LSP debate. Remember – there’s no right or wrong answer, you’ve got to do what’s best for your business. And if you do decide to go for an LSP – we’re here to help.