Blog post dated Jan 14, 2019

The Right Translation Partner


The first part of this article comprehensively covered the subject of "Finding a Language Service Provider". It also examined the general challenges associated with the procurement of translation services. Part 2 addresses the search for suitable freelance translators. Here too, you will find practical tips that will enable you to launch your search immediately.

An Article by

Flurina Schwendimann
Freelance Translator

In this article, you will learn how and where to find the right freelance translator.

Collaborating with Freelance Translators

If you decide to cooperate with freelance translators, you will usually be working with sole proprietors. You will have a dedicated contact for every required language.

The advantage is that all your translations in a particular language will come from a single source, which minimizes the loss of information. The translator will gradually become closely acquainted with your products and your corporate identity and can effectively develop your terminology database and translation memory.

The disadvantage is that the translations in a certain language will depend on an individual. If the translator does not have any free capacities, you will have to look for an alternative. However, most translators have a network of colleagues with whom they collaborate in various subject areas. Ask your translator who will take care of the projects when he is not available.

Another solution would be to conclude a framework agreement with your translator in order to determine a certain word count to be produced and translated per month or year. This enables the translator to keep the respective capacity free and guarantees timely delivery of the service.

On this subject, Giselle Chaumien, who has more than 40 years of experience as a translator, author, and consultant in the field of self-employment, writes: "The customer can call off the service whenever necessary (i.e. place the order) and rest assured that he will receive the agreed quantity (number of words) within the contractually agreed period." The company can thus save procurement costs and organizational overhead. Individual agreements can provide for unused capacity to be distributed to other months. For further information (in German), refer to her article "Win-win: Rahmenvertrag – aber echt!".

Another benefit of working with freelance translators is the direct communication

Another benefit of working with freelance translators is the direct communication. Translation errors often occur when questions concerning the source text are not answered. A direct contact in the company can help avoid such errors. Specific questions are by no means a sign of ignorance; rather, they demonstrate your translator's professionalism.

Where and How You Can Find Suitable Freelance Translators

On the Internet, you will come across countless offers that may seem to suit your needs. One of the reasons for this is that in many countries, there are no legal restrictions on the use of the designation translator. However, there are ways to narrow down the search and find a professional, specialized translator. Generally, it is advisable to look for translators with a degree in translation (diploma or master's). However, there are also qualified bilingual career shifters who have become certified translators after years of professional experience in a certain field.

Additional Tip

Ask the translators for their fields of specialization. If somebody claims to be proficient in a large number of different areas, this could indicate poor quality.

Online Databases of Professional Associations

Membership in a professional association of translators and interpreters could be a good starting point for your search for a qualified cooperation partner. With more than 7,500 members, the Federal Association of Interpreters and Translators (BDÜ) is the largest German professional association in the translation industry. Other associations include ADÜ Nord, ATICOM, and VdÜ (literary translators). UNIVERSITAS and ASTTI are the largest professional associations in Austria and Switzerland, respectively. On the respective websites, translators can be found by subject area, language, and even ZIP code. The BDÜ website also provides useful tips on awarding contracts and order handling.

As in many other professions, a certificate of qualification merely represents a snapshot of a translator's career. Just as a degree does not guarantee quality, the absence of a degree does not necessarily indicate the lack of skills.

Online Specialist Lists of BDÜ

For more special subject areas such as technology, business, finance, law, renewable energies, medicine, pharmaceuticals, medical technology, and their specialization as well as for translators and interpreters of "exotic" languages (e.g. Armenian, Hebrew, or Urdu), the BDÜ website features additional specialist lists (in German). The translators are sorted by languages on almost 700 pages. The lists provide names, contact details, language directions, subject areas, document types, and TM systems.

Online Database of the State Justice Administrations

If you need an officially authorized, appointed, and sworn-in translator in Germany, go to the database of translators and interpreters. Apart from searching for names and language combinations, you can narrow down your search by federal states and courts. In total, more than 24,100 translators and interpreters are listed.

Online Network crossMarket

Apart from language service providers, our online portal for the localization industry also enables you to search for numerous freelance translators. With just a few clicks, you can find a suitable cooperation partner and send him a message.

A certificate of qualification merely represents a snapshot of a translator's career.

Checking the Quality of Translators and Language Service Providers

Before making your final decision, you should closely examine the translator or language service provider. Since when has he been in the market? Which software does he use? What references does he have? How was the initial contact?

Many questions by the translator or project manager are a good sign. Did he ask for a style guide, available translation memories, and terminology databases? Was the subject area clearly demarcated (e.g. not merely "Technology", but "Bridge construction")? Were questions asked about special aspects such as the formatting, the translation of images, or the translation software used? Has the subject of data security and confidentiality been duly addressed?

This information is of a general nature. For long-term and large projects, it is advisable to select a language service provider very carefully. In that case, additional factors should be considered. The topic "quality assessment of language service providers" will therefore be addressed in a separate article in 2019.

Additional Tip

Before working with a new language service provider or freelance translator, check for feedback about him on the Internet.


Purchasing translation services is a complex process that requires due attention. Hasty decisions often result in the selection of an unsuitable cooperation partner. If your company sells high-quality products, you will want your translations to reflect this quality.

A poor translation can cause great harm to your enterprise. Before you start with the actual search, analyze your corporate processes. Ask yourself: Who in the company places translation orders? What is the translation volume? How much time is there for the translations? How many different types of texts need to be translated? Into how many languages do the texts need to be translated?

Be sure to choose a cooperation partner who suits your needs. Your product texts and thus your entire business will benefit from it!