Let’s imagine a situation. You have a company that sells products or services, and you’d like to have your website translated in order to reach a more diverse audience. Let’s say in French (my patriotism has nothing to do with that).
You don’t want to use an agency: you find their fees too high. So you decide to use a freelancer, that you source on websites such as PPH, oDesk or Freelancer.com.
You post your job and within ten seconds, you get an answer. You’re impressed. The freelancer has a whole message for you about how not only he can do the translation, but he can also do it very cheaply. You think you’ve just found a bargain!
Very soon, sometimes within a few hours, the freelancer gives you your file back. Again, you think you’ve just found the best deal ever. You read the file quickly, it looks French enough and you leave an amazing review, convinced you just saved a lot of money.
So, what exactly just happened? Well, actually, without even knowing, you just fell into a trap that is going to cost you much more than you were ready to invest.
Indeed, a few days later, you’ll start receiving furious emails from your French customers, telling you that your French website doesn’t make sense. You’ll first think that they’re exaggerating, that there’s probably a few spelling mistakes here and there.
So you decide to hire a proofreader, you will either get a cheap one, who will charge you and give you another bad version, or you’ll try to hire a good one, who will not charge you and will tell you the truth: when it comes to your website, it’s not proofreading that is needed, you need to have it translated all over again, because the cheap translation you bought came straight from Google Translate.
At the end, you’ve doubled your budget, and your deadline is passed, making you lose money. As far as translations are concerned, when it sounds too good to be true, not only is it really too good to be true, it can also be very costly for your company.
Think of translators as cars. If you spend some money and get one that gives something solid for a standard price, you’ll probably keep the car for the next 10 years and never complain about it. But fall into the trap of buying a used car, sold a tenth of the price but that looks brand new and you’ll end up with a broken car in the middle of the highway.