How to Get the Best Translation Service

Need good translation fast?

Here’s actionable info on how to get the best translation service.

Quick Summary

  • For personal use: Papago or Google Translate
  • Professional use: Fiverr or Proz
  • Advanced use: A reputable company specialized in the language pair you need


So, according to your resume, you’re fluent in a language you haven’t used since high school.

Your boss just asked you to translate an important document.

Google Translate looks tempting; it’s free after all.

But, like an unstable ex, you know it will come back to haunt you.

You look at some translation company websites.

They claim to be the best in every language on earth.

Their customer testimonials sound like they were written by the same person.

Their “customers” look like discount stock images.

You realize that translation is a highly unregulated industry.

With new companies popping up on the internet every day, there’s been a steady race to the bottom.

Quality varies greatly making it difficult to find reliable resources.

We understand the struggle.

Wasted hours searching for document translation at our previous jobs inspired us to start our own company.

After a decade of experience as customers and as service providers, we know the industry inside and out.

Now we’re sharing our knowledge with you.

3 Types of Translation You’ll Need

1. Personal Use

Individuals for images, shopping websites, webtoons, signs and menus while traveling

  • Quality: the overall meaning with potential errors
  • Delivery: Immediate

Use Papago or Google Translate

2. Professional Use

Startups and new business for internal communication, social media posts, user reviews, emails and letters

  • Quality: human translation without QC
  • Delivery: At least a day

Use Fiverr or Proz

3. Advanced Use

Established companies for presentations, legal documents, reports, mobile apps and website localization

  • Quality: human translation usually with QC like proofreading and review
  • Delivery: Longer than a day

Use a reputable company specialized in the language pair you need

The problem is most translation companies claim to be the best at every language pair.

They all have a different procedure and price too.

Here’s what we’ve discovered about the different types of translation solutions after a decade of experience in the industry.

What Are Your Options?

You have three choices (besides learning a second language for 10 years)

Self-motivated, independent translators who usually work alone.Agencies that outsource to freelance translators with the lowest rates and perform minimal quality checks, if any.Companies that usually translate files in-house and focus more on quality. They charge more and keep clients for longer periods of time.

Your Options


+ Pros

Typically eager to work.

A good one will provide reliable, long-­term translation solutions.

– Cons

There are thousands of them, but a good one is as easy to find as a needle in a very spread out haystack.

Their quality varies and is not always correlated with their rates.

They need someone to review their work, especially customer-facing documents and other important material.

∨ How to recognize them beforehand

They usually won’t have a website and their email host will be AOL or Yahoo. You can also find them on Fiverr.

◈ When to use them

They’re great for recurring projects with moderately tight budgets, provided you review the files yourself.


+ Pros

Flexible with their prices and deadlines.

A good option when both are an issue.

– Cons

Quality is not their priority.

They mostly farm out translation to the lowest bidder to keep costs minimal.

Files are not usually proofread, leaving you with the privilege of revising or even re-translating their work.

∨ How to recognize them beforehand

They’re willing to accommodate your price range with aggressive discounts and provide moving target deadlines.

They’ll make vague guarantees that can’t possibly be upheld.

◈ When to use them

When your budget is tight and you need a rough understanding of non-­technical documents.

Just make sure not to post their work on your website before reviewing it for accuracy and readability.


+ Pros

Generally provide better quality translation and deliver on time.

– Cons

They can be expensive as they have high fixed costs (in-house translators, proofreaders, editors, etc.).

This is especially true if they have been around for a while.

∨ How to recognize them beforehand

Their rates are firm and they have set deadlines.

Also, they won’t promise the sun, moon and stars just to get your business.

They’ll see if you’re a good fit as a client before taking on your projects.

When to use them

They’re the best option for technical documents that require a high level of accuracy.

Before you Start

Save Money 

Translators charge by the page, which is determined by word count (e.g. 250 words equals 1 page).

Why do they do this?

Probably to standardize quotes, or maybe just to confuse you.

So, before sending a file, ask yourself what needs to be translated. It’s possible to eliminate text and reduce your costs.

Removing numbers and symbols from the word count is another way to save money.

You can ask your project manager to do this.

It will show that you’re an informed client, or annoy the heck out of them.

Either way, you’ll save some money.

Try to get a discount on duplicate sentences.

Most translators use software that counts repetitions in a file.

Don’t pay twice for the same work.

This is especially true for large projects where repetitions can add up to hundreds of dollars.

Ask for a volume discount on large files.

Some companies will reduce your quote by 5-10% percent if it’s over 1,000 USD.

Remember, the bigger the file, the less admin and marketing they have to do.

Stack the Odds in Your Favor

Find out what their procedure is.

Check their website to see how they manage projects. Or ask them to explain their procedure if necessary.

Make sure they use both a proofreader and internal review system.

This will increase the likelihood that you won’t spend all night redoing their work.

Have critical documents reviewed by a third party before your boss or customers see them.

Get the Most Out of Your Translation

Give the company a terminology list and ask them to keep it updated.

This will be a lifesaver in case you have to switch translators later.

Also, it will keep terms consistent.

Feel free to ask for revisions if necessary.

This will give them feedback and make them pay more attention to your files.

Save Time and Money on Revisions

There are a hundred ways to translate a sentence.

You can either hope your translator is a mind reader or provide a reference when possible.

A reference file shows the original text and the translation side-by-side.

This lets translators know the wording, sentence structure, style and tone you prefer.

Most importantly, it will make life easier for both of you.

If you do not have a reference file, make sure to tell them exactly who and what the translation is for.

The more details you give (i.e. selling cosmetics to Korean females in their 20’s from Seoul), the better your results.

Don’t request deadlines that are too tight.

A good translator can handle between 1,500 to 2,500 words per day.

Any more, and they might split the file with another translator, or pull an all-nighter. Both of which will leave you with a mess of words lacking continuity.

Also, don’t forget to leave time for proofreading and review, otherwise you can add them to your to-do list.

5 pages (around 1,250 words) take at least 48 hours to translate and polish.

Get Consistent Quality

Many translation companies will claim to provide the best results right away.

Great translation, however, doesn’t happen overnight.

It takes a few files for even experienced translators to find the best word choices and sentence structure.

A good translator will consistently search for optimal solutions for you.

Look for people who ask the right questions to provide better results.

Once you receive well-translated documents from someone, let them know.

Make sure to request the same translator and proofreader if you’re satisfied with the quality.

They’ll be more than happy to accommodate you.

A good translation company will be eager to receive any kind of feedback.

Never hesitate to voice your concerns or appreciation.

The Bottom Line

Translation quality comes down to individual talent and sense. 

Education, certificates, experience, association memberships and high rates aren’t the best indicators of high quality.

There are excellent translators with minimal experience and vice versa.

A good way to discover the best ones is to “date” them by sending smaller files first.

We wish you the best of luck with your future translation projects.