The translation and localisation market has been growing for many years and has become a multi-billion dollar industry. However the market is changing for both agencies and freelance translators.
Due to the quality of freelance translators around the world and the way the internet allows communication and exchange of information, the price is not in the hands of the freelance translator. Developing countries have significant cheaper translation prices then translators based in developed countries and have forced the price down. As with the typical marketing theories, country of origin (COO) can differ the perception of quality and price can also make quality appear to be better.
The implication for the translation agency is very similar. There have been many agencies formed over the recent years which again has driven down the price. Translation services have been growing in demand but the competitive environment has been growing faster. This has sawed down the price that translation agencies are quoting as customers are often price sensitive.
The sophistication of the freelance translator’s appearance has also improved. Many times the appearance of a translator can be significantly better then what the translator can actually produce. This can tarnish the image of the agency as errors and bad translation are not a good look, the way in which translation agencies select and recruit translators has to be carefully thought out.
Saying this, the quality of translations and the level of great customer service is what will count in the long run. I would suggest that freelance translators should specialise in one particular area and not try to be a jack of all trades. The translation agency should assign translations according to the native language of the translator and the specific field the translator specialises in. The cost of getting it right far outweighs the cost of getting it wrong…