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The difference bw Freelance and Agency
Thread poster: Mohammad Khan

Mohammad Khan
Afghanistan
Local time: 09:20
English to Dari
+ ...
Jul 20, 2007

Hi,

I am a freelance translator for more than a year now. My experience with the agencies is that most of the agency are run by one person and many times I have seen these agency guys being registered as freelancers too.

So what is the difference between being a freelancer and having an agency? Or what are the pros and cons of having an agency?, since I know what is it to be being a freelancer.



Thanks for any comment,

Mohammad


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Paul Merriam  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:50
Member (2008)
Russian to English
+ ...
Outsourcing Jul 21, 2007

Obviously, unless the law prohibits it where you live, it's very easy to become an agency simply by changing the name. Some people become an agency simply to look bigger. They continue to do what they were doing before.

But let's assume you want to do more. You now have as a minimum a role as intermediary. You now have a requirement to pay anyone you hire, even if your client doesn't pay you. You will as a minimum field questions from your clients if your subcontractors don't come through. The amount you can do this way can be much bigger than handling it all yourself. And since there's a differential between what you pay and what you charge, you may be able to earn more this way than what you can do yourself.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
Difference Jul 21, 2007

If you are freelance, you do the work yourself, then sell it to the client.

As an agency you farm the work out to others then sell it to the client.

Some people do both, and some agencies are no more than one guy with a computer and not much money.


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xxxNMR
France
Local time: 05:50
French to Dutch
+ ...
The other way round Jul 21, 2007

I own a company but do most of my work (98%) on my own (I am my own proofreader, except in very special cases such as medical terminology). If I cannot do the work, whatever the reason, I give the adress of a colleague to my client because even as a company I don't want to be responsible for other people's work, don't like discussions on quality issues and don't have the money to pay my subcontractors before my clients pay me. Subcontracting is not a good way to keep your friends.

Henry Hinds wrote:

If you are freelance, you do the work yourself, then sell it to the client.

As an agency you farm the work out to others then sell it to the client.

Some people do both, and some agencies are no more than one guy with a computer and not much money.


The "guy alone with a computer" is likely to have a small cash flow, independently of his legal structure. A new phenomenon is the network of five or six "guys alone" together in a company: each one tries to make money with beautyfully looking company purchase orders, the company looks big but is badly structured, communication is complicated, the PM are located in different cities or even countries, accounting is done every three months, the administrative people "are not there and will call you back", etc.


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Mohammad Khan
Afghanistan
Local time: 09:20
English to Dari
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Direct clients Jul 21, 2007

Thanks for the comments,

But isn't it that by having agency you get some direct clients and as result good rates. This way, even you do most the of yourself, you will be better off than working for someone who is having an agency like you and outsources work to you.


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 21:50
English to Spanish
+ ...
Presentation Jul 21, 2007

You can try to present yourself as an agency and see what happens. Then if you get flooded with work...

Well, that's not bad, is it?


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Mohammad Khan
Afghanistan
Local time: 09:20
English to Dari
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
trying it out. Jul 21, 2007

What I am getting from all this is that there is no harm in giving it a try.

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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:50
English to German
+ ...
Get some professional advice. Jul 21, 2007

In my country, there is a difference between a freelancer and an agency, mostly tax-wise. I.e., as a freelancer I don't pay certain taxes that other self-employed people or companies have to pay. For me this is an advantage.

So, before giving it a try, I would find out if appearing as an agency could have an impact on tax, or if there is a change in legal status that might assume more liability for your "product".

I would therefore recommend to seek professional advice before you embark on something that might end in a personal/financial disaster.

Good luck,

Sonja


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:50
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Freelance or commercial company Jul 22, 2007

Hi Sonja,

I asked my accountant about this subject only yesterday, and he said that it is possible to stay a freelancer, while "supervising" (or handing out translations to) up to five people, and that it is also possible to employ a secretary or a receptionist, and still retain freelance status. The idea appears to be that you co-ordinate the work of the five people, by doing the final proofreading, etc., in the capacity of a freelancer. However, if you employed the five people instead, you would become a commercial company.

Astrid


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Sonja Tomaskovic  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 05:50
English to German
+ ...
Thanks Jul 23, 2007

Hello Elke,

I knew about that distinction, and also that you can employ people as freelancer without automatically becoming a company (in Germany). However, when I work in language pairs that are not mine - and I do so frequently - I may lose my freelance status very easily.

My remarks were merely directed towards those who think that a switch from freelancer to agency may just involve presenting oneself differently to clients.

Sonja


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