Hiring a Freelance Translator Vs a Full-Time Employee
To hire a freelance translator or an in-house translator—the decision is not as simple as it might seem. As with any hire, there are advantages and disadvantages to both types of hire.
The key is determining which type of hire best suits your needs for the job at hand. It all depends on what type of service or product you offer, the cost-effectiveness of freelancing vs hiring in-house employees, and whether or not you have the time or resources to hire a full-time employee.
Keep reading to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of hiring freelance translators vs in-house translators.
Advantages and disadvantages of in-house translators
Before deciding to hire an in-house translator, consider the following advantages and disadvantages:
Advantage: Potential cost reduction
In-house translators are the best option if you need a lot of content translated daily. As most freelancers charge by the word, the cost of outsourcing a lot of work might be high.
By hiring in-house translators and paying them a monthly salary, you could save up some money. On the other hand, as explained in an article by Onward Search, “many employers today don’t want to make a new hire to handle one-off projects because they simply won’t have more work for them once the original project is completed.”
Disadvantage: Potential cost increase
It is important to consider that translators typically translate into one language (their native tongue). Therefore, hiring one in-house translator for each language might work out really expensive and you might be better off hiring a freelance translator (or more) instead.
Don’t forget that you will need to cover holidays, health care, pension, and much more! Not to mention training, software licenses, consumables, and maternity/paternity leave. You would also need to hire someone to supervise or review your translators’ work (and cover benefits for such supervisors or reviewers as well).
Advantage: Availability and productivity
In-house translators are always available to deal with your requests during their working hours. Conversely, with freelancers, you need to make sure that you reach out to them in advance. In other words, you need to “book” them beforehand—which is usually solved by hiring a team of freelancers, like us at Crisol Translation Services, that will make sure there’s always someone available for you—.
In the words of Devan Cicarelli from AudienceOps, with in-house translators “you’ll be able to meet with them regularly to monitor how they’re managing their workload, provide instant feedback whenever necessary, and see when they’re ready to take on more work. Your projects won’t be delayed by having to wait long for a response or work around a time difference.”
Advantage: In-depth knowledge of your company
In-house translators are employees who are aware of everything happening inside your company. This is knowledge that they can take advantage of when translating marketing campaigns, for example. Or when building relationships with clients. This also means that their degree of commitment to your company’s success is usually high because they profit from it.
Moreover, knowing your company inside out can help them understand your company’s vision and goals. This allows them to suggest improvements to your material or suggest new ones.
Disadvantage: Less innovation and motivation
Another issue is that in-house translators might not be so interested in doing things differently or trying new software or tools because they usually don’t feel as responsible for the success of your company (that is not what they’re being paid for, at the end of the day).
Therefore, they might not be very receptive to new technologies, like CAT tools that could help them become faster or more efficient, ultimately increasing their productivity and the quality of their work.
Advantages and disadvantages of a freelance translator
If you hire a freelance translator instead of a full-time employee, consider the below (potential) pros and cons.
Advantage: Potential cost reduction
If you outsource translation work and have it done by an independent contractor (freelancer), you also reduce expenses. You won’t need to provide office space, software licenses, training, benefits, stationery and supplies, etc.
Moreover, if you don’t create a lot of content regularly, paying only for what you need works out cheaper than covering all the costs of hiring a part-time or full-time employee.
Disadvantage: Potential cost increase
Because freelancers need to run their own business, which includes paying taxes, buying software licenses, covering costs such as office rent and supplies, etc., their rate (per hour, per page, or per word) will reflect these costs.
You might be able to get a discount if you are a recurrent client, though. Check out this article to learn how pricing works when you hire a freelancer.
Advantage: Good-quality work
Freelancers have an interest in keeping you happy as a client and making you want to go back to them for your next project (and recommend them to others!). While the performance of in-house employees might vary over time, freelancers know their quality is what will make you want to hire them again in the future.
Moreover, because there is no in-house hierarchy that might make them feel intimidated to suggest improvements, freelancers are more likely to be creative and offer unique solutions—resulting in better content.
Disadvantage: Inconsistent availability
The main disadvantage when you hire a freelance translator is that you will never benefit from the same level of reliability as in-house employees. They might be willing to take on new projects, but other times they might not be available due to other clients (or life) getting in the way.
This can sometimes be remediated by negotiating a set amount of work to be done in exchange for a set monthly fee (i.e., a retainer contract). This way, you guarantee a certain level of availability.
Advantage: No need to worry about the work environment
When you hire a freelance translator to handle the translation of your company materials, you don’t need to worry about whether they get along or not with the rest of your employees.
There’s also no need for you to foster a positive work environment to ensure satisfactory performance. All you need to ask is that the translation be of high quality in a timely manner.
Disadvantage: Lack of interaction with other employees
Although this can also be seen as a positive thing, if you hire a freelance translator and hand off the task to them without making them part of your team, you might fail to benefit from the teamwork and synergy that come with having an in-house employee.
As a result, your project might not be as successful or efficient as it could have been if there had been more collaboration between the translator and other stakeholders involved.
Advantage: Time savings
In the same article mentioned above, the author has a good point when he says that hiring freelancers can double the hours of your business. In his words, “virtual employees afford you the luxury of having expertise that spans the globe. This also means you have employees working around the clock and after normal business hours, even if you’re not.”
In other words, if you hire a freelance translator, time will be less of an issue. This means that if deadlines are tight, the freelancer is more likely to deliver on time.
Bottom Line: Whether to hire a freelance translator or someone in-house depends on your goals
There are advantages and disadvantages to hiring freelancers or in-house translators—it all depends on your needs and requirements as a business, the clarity of your expectations and guidelines, the quality of the hire, and, of course, your budget.
Whether you hire a freelance translator or an in-house employee, your translation project will be successful when you ask the right questions, hire the right expert for your needs, and make sure to be a good and respectful client.
Bonus: How to calculate and compare expenses
We thought you might find an online calculator useful in determining what type of translators will cost your company less money: you can find it here.
If you decide freelancer translators will suit your needs best, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us! Click here to send us a message.