How to save money on your translations

We live in a globalised, online world. A world in which content is king. This online world is ruled by the search engines – Google, Bing and the rest… And if you want to be found online, you need these search engines to list your page. How do you do that? With relevant content.

Many of our companies are now truly international in nature. Our clients are scattered all over the world and they don’t all speak the same language.

Language combinations

So how, for example, do companies communicate with the millions of potential customers beyond their own borders?

By translating their content into the languages that their customers speak. Or rather, by working with a professional translation company to get their content translated into the respective languages. It sounds easy, right? Well it is, but there is a cost involved. And translation can be expensive – especially if you have a lot of content to translate.

If you want to find out more about how much translation costs and what different factors affect the price, take a look at this LEaF blog on the cost of translation:

But there are several things that you can do to keep the price down. Read on to discover some great money-saving tips for translations.

One thing before we start…

When you start totting up the potential cost of the translations you need, you may start to wonder if it is really worth it. I mean, Google Translate is available online and it doesn’t cost a penny. Well, here’s a word from the wise: free translations are never FREE!

What you save in initial outlay will come back to bite you in the metaphorical behind. Google Translate is great when you are on holiday and want to know what you have just ordered for dinner. But Google Translate is a terrible choice if you are translating professional content – i.e. text that represents your business; whether on your website, brochure, flyers or in your sales catalogue – as this screenshot from Google Translate shows:

the problem with google translate

Google Translate guarantees five things:

  • No initial cost
  • Literal translations that make no sense (try typing some idioms into Google Translate, or check out this blog on English idioms)
  • A big risk of misunderstandings and inaccuracies
  • Unprofessional-looking, nonsensical content certain to put off potential customers
  • Lost business, i.e. a BIG hidden cost!

Money-saving tips for your translations

So, as free translations are not an option, you are going to have to pay a professional translator to help translate your content.

But, don’t despair. There are some things you can do to keep the cost of translation down and to make sure that you don’t end up overpaying for your translations.

Here are LEaF’s top four money-saving tips to save you money on your translations.

1. Do your research

Translation is a big investment and you can save yourself a lot of hassle and money by spending a bit of time researching the best options before you jump in.

It is extremely important that you find the right translation partner. There are so many different options when it comes to translation services – from freelancers to big multinational translation agencies to boutique translation companies like LEaF. They all have their pros and cons – it is about choosing the translation service that best suits your needs.

Be aware that this might not necessarily be the cheapest option. And I know that sounds slightly ridiculous in an article about how to save money on your translations, but it is more important to find a translation partner who will deliver high-quality, professional translations and who you can build a trusting relationship with, rather than going with the cheapest option and then later regretting your choice.

Translation takes time and really cheap translations are, in all likelihood, done in a rush. At the end of the day, there is not a lot of point paying for a poor-quality translation. You may as well just stick to Google Translate.

One final point regarding doing your research and choosing the right translation service for you is to note that prices do vary massively. Small, agile companies and freelancers are often able to undercut large translation agencies and so you can benefit from savings here. It also means that you are guaranteed to work with a really experienced translator rather than a novice. (The major disadvantage of working with a big translation agency is that you have no idea who is translating your content and it may be someone different each time. Here at LEaF, we always send you the translation profile of your translator, so you know exactly who you are working with and their level of expertise.)

2. Repetitions should be discounted

Make sure that your translation partner offers discounted repetitions. In the world of translation it is standard practice to charge 100% repetitions at a discounted rate. This means that you don’t end up paying full price twice for the same text being translated. (Incidentally, the reason they are discounted and not free is because they still need to be processed and proofread to make sure the 100% repetitions are correct within the specific context.)

One common example of a repetition is a short description of your company that may appear at the bottom of each press release. Some translation agencies may charge you full price to keep translating the same piece of text. Make sure you choose a translation partner who guarantees that 100% repetitions are discounted, like LEaF Translations.

Incidentally, when we are talking about repetitions, we are not talking about individual words, or entire pages. 100% repetitions are sentences that are repeated word-for-word.

3. Avoid last-minute translations

One sure-fire way to be charged more for a translation is to say that you need it back the next day, or even the same day. Rush charges are very common in the translation world and with good reason. Your translator needs enough time to complete the translation and to proofread it thoroughly. Giving the translator a short deadline may mean that they have to work late into the night or over the weekend and your translator is likely to charge more as a result.

4. Make use of translation technology

It is worth finding a translator who works with translation software, such as SDL Trados or Phrase – the translation software we use here at LEaF. Translation software allows translators to create translation memories for different clients. These translation memories, or TMs for short, store all of the sentences ever translated for a client. When similar phrases or sentences crop up in future texts, the TM shows the translator how they translated the text previously. Translation memories also allow translators to work out if there are any 100% repetitions, so the translator can give you a price that reflects the number of 100% repetitions, so you don’t end up paying twice.

Another advantage of translation software is the ability to create a glossary specific to different clients or even different projects for the same client. Glossaries are really important in some sectors, where specific terminology is used. But they also represent a useful way for translators to ensure that they are using consistent language in their translations for the same client.

By combining translation memories and glossaries, translators can guarantee really consistent, high-quality translations for their clients. As such, it is definitely worth asking any potential translation partner whether they use translation software in their work.


1) How do I save money on translations?
Do your research, make sure you aren’t overpaying, but, most importantly, find a translator you can trust. Make sure your translator uses translation software and doesn’t charge for 100% repetitions. And, try to avoid short deadlines wherever possible.

2) What counts as 100% repetitions in translations?
100% repetitions refer to entire sentences that are exactly the same.

3) What are rush charges?
Rush charges are additional fees charged by translators for extremely short deadlines. They cover the additional cost of having to work late or over weekends.

4) What does TM stand for?
TM stands for translation memory.

5) What are translation memories?
Translation memories are databases that store sentences or entire paragraphs that a translator has already translated. Translation memories store the source text and its corresponding translation in language pairs called “translation units” [from Wikipedia].


Translations can be very costly, especially if you choose the wrong translation partner. But if you do your research and find a translation service that uses translation software and offers a high-quality and reliable service, you can enjoy cost-effective translations that do your original content justice. And, at the end of the day, that is what it is all about. There is no point paying for poor-quality content. Find a translator you trust and take it from there.

Do you need help translating a website or document?

About the Author

Lucy LEaF blog 2018


Lucy Pembayun, founder of the translation company LEaF Translations and a Qualified Member of the Institute of Translation & Interpreting (MITI), is a German to English translator with over 14 years’ experience. Her true passion lies in helping great, ethical businesses reach new international customers with excellent quality translations. Lucy specialises in German to English translations, including certified translations, websites, articles, sales brochures and other marketing materials.

Lucy graduated with an MA(Hons) in German from Edinburgh University before being awarded a DAAD scholarship to study for a post-graduate Masters in Germany. She has lived in Bamberg, Fulda and Berlin, and now resides in York, UK, with her husband, two children and fox red lab.

Contact Lucy directly now.