ProZ and TranslatorsCafe are the only two marketplace businesses that I’ve introduced in detail so far. (If you have not read it, click Two Practical Steps to Get Translating Jobs.) But of course, those two are definitely not the only marketplace businesses. In fact, there are quite a lot. Not only that, but new ones keep popping up as well. And while some of these new ones copy the format of the existing famous ones, there are also many that are trying out new formats. Actually, because I’ve only introduced the above two places to you, I’m a little worried that they’re going to become too congested and the competition will become unnecessarily fierce. So in this article, I would like to introduce you some of the top freelance websites for translators.
If you type the above address into the address bar, you will see the following screen:
This is also a site that I used in my early days. While the number of jobs isn’t as high as at ProZ or TranslatorsCafe, it still has quite a lot. How it works is almost identical to the two places I’ve already introduced to you. If you sign up and pay a subscription fee, you can receive job notifications. On one hand, it sends messages to freelance translators and on the other, it encourages clients in need of translation to upload their jobs there.
The following image shows a screenshot after setting the target language to Korean.
You can see jobs requesting translation from a variety of source languages like English, German, French, Japanese, etc. into Korean. You can also search in other ways; German to Korean or Korean to English, for example.
This is a site that helps women to work from home, and if you get into the translation section, this site provides a list of many very decent companies that they’ve found. Just as this site says, knowing two languages opens the door to many different opportunities.
My site is focused only on translation, so it doesn’t deal much with things like interpretation done at home over the phone, transcription of audio or video, etc. But once you set one foot into the world of translation, there are many different language-related fields you can have as a side branch or completely specialize in depending on your talents and interests. The reason I didn’t introduce these things in my blog is because I’ve lost my sense of them ever since I decided to focus only on translation a long time ago. But interpretation over the phone or Skype is very possible. The biggest reason I stopped doing interpretation was because I didn’t want to drive or commute, but it actually seems like interpretation done over the computer and phone is more common than on-site interpretation nowadays. However, there are separate interpretation agencies for those things. Interpretation jobs are very limited on TranslatorsCafe or ProZ, but if you look into that field through the sites I just introduced, you will find many opportunities. It takes time to establish credibility in that field as well, but from my experience, it doesn’t take as long as it does for translation.
Getting back to the point, try looking for language-related jobs other than translation jobs on this site.
UpWork is a website that uses an algorithm to connect businesses (clients) with freelancers according to the needs of a specific project. Although this is a site for freelancers in general and not just translators, I think the enormous size of the site should guarantee plenty of translation jobs. What’s unique about UpWork is that once you start a project with a client, it provides you with its own online workspace in which you can send and receive files as well as communicate with your client in real time. This helps manage your work by tracking your working hours and automatically billing your client for hourly projects, and setting deadlines for parts of the project for fixed-price projects and releasing payment when you submit each part. Because all invoicing and payment happen through the site, it ensures that you get paid on time. However, UpWork charges service fees to the freelancer based on how much they earn on a job.
Guru is similar to UpWork in that it’s a site for freelancers and all the work processes including the payment happens through that site. However, you need to pass an interview and some tests in order to become a registered translator on Guru because it only takes on the top 3% of translators. This might be good news for experienced translators as it would mean that the clients looking for translators on this site probably expect to pay a good price for quality work and won’t try to haggle for the lowest possible price. While this all seemed promising, it was a bit disappointing when I experimented with the site. Searching for “Korean translation” on this site only yielded 136 freelance jobs most of which only used “translation” as a tag but actually had nothing to do with translation. I’m not sure if this is because I wasn’t a registered member or not but the number of jobs available was disappointing.
This is a site specific to translation which means there will be more translation job opportunities here than on other freelance sites. Similar to other freelance translation sites like ProZ or TranslatorsCafe, translators create a profile and then look for and bid on jobs that they want. While you can still view jobs when you register for a free membership, you need to be a paying member to actually bid on jobs (69 British pounds a year for a standard membership and 99 British pounds a year for a gold membership).
Above, I’ve introduced a couple of marketplace business sites. These are actually things that you can find on your own just by searching on Google. There was a few more sites that I came across before that I couldn’t find on the search engine when I searched for it today to write about them. What this means is that companies continue to pop up and disappear. And not showing up in a search doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Recently, when I searched for my website on Naver, Google, Daum, etc. while I was logged out from it, I couldn’t even find the slightest trace of it. Nonetheless, there are people who arrive at my site through search engines and those people are truly amazing. How they found my blog when I couldn’t even find it, I don’t know… Anyway, what I want to say is that there are plenty of other good marketplace businesses. All you have to do is find them.
Agencies with characteristics of marketplace businesses
Now I’m going to introduce to you a slightly different type of marketplace business. The companies I introduced above, TC, and ProZ made the marketplace business their identity. By contrast, the companies that I’ll be introducing below are in fact individual agencies. They’re individual agencies that imitate marketplace businesses using the Internet (I don’t mean this in a negative way).
To explain in a little more detail, agencies normally form relationships with a few more translators than they really need. For example, two or three Korean to English translators are enough. They mostly send jobs to the primary translator, and if that primary translator is busy or on vacation, they send the job to a translator they predetermined as back up. Even with just that, can you imagine how complicated their database must be considering there are several thousand languages in the world? Of course, I’m sure they don’t translate into all of those several thousand languages.
However, the agencies that I’ll be introducing now accept registration from many more translators than they need. Then, when they receive a job from the final client, they automatically send a notification to every registered translator instead of contacting a specific translator through a PM like the other agencies do. This is not bidding. Because each translator’s rate has already been decided. It’s just a matter of who’s available at that point in time. Whoever receives the job notification and claims it first will get the job.
I feel like this is a system that uses a person’s psychology in a very peculiar way. We all know that people tend to get excessively fierce when in competition even when the thing they’re competing for is something trivial. You know when people are in a crowd watching something, you feel the urge to push people to get forward to see it without even knowing what it is? This is that kind of situation. In any event, agencies that operate in this way have appeared.
1. One Hour Translation
I think the company that first implemented the method I explained above was One Hour Translation. (Well, I haven’t researched it thoroughly, but it seems that way to me.) Just as there’s a premium whenever you do something for the first time, I think this company was able to grow at an alarming rate using this method. I recommend this for those of you in stage 1 of settlement (if you don’t know what this is, type in “How Long Does It Take to Become a Translator?” on my blog). This is because there’s really a sickeningly large number of jobs. But of course, as you might have guessed, the rate is quite low. I think it was 5 cents per English word, and although the rate was higher for Korean to English translation, it was still very low because it doesn’t use rate per character. Furthermore, the fact that they didn’t understand the per-character rate while operating a translation agency was unforgivable. So obviously, I quit it long time ago. Although I stopped doing work there, I didn’t withdraw from the site but just left my account to observe and the funny thing was that people were still claiming jobs at frightening speeds despite those low rates. So, as I said before, those of you in stage 1 should try it out temporarily. Do this to fill the empty space in your schedule and increase your earnings. But don’t remain trapped in something like this and end your relationship with this kind of company as soon as you graduate from stage 1.
I think this is a company that was inspired by the success of One Hour Translation and followed it. Translation rates seem a little higher. One difference is that while One Hour Translation leaves the translation process completely up to the translator and doesn’t get involved, MotaWord wants the translator to log into their tool for the translation process. I’ve already explained why this isn’t good for freelance translators in another post, but to sum up, it’s because the translator can’t accumulate TM. (I’m not sure if this company also allows translators to translate without using their online CAT tool and then upload it onto their server.) However, as I said earlier, this is a good site to use temporarily for those of you in stage 1.
This company actually started out as a traditional agency. And at that time, I was working with them. We gradually drifted apart as my rate increased. But a few years ago, this company started to transform their system to the one used by the two companies I introduced above. I like conversing with actual people and dislike automatically sent messages, so this pushed me further away from them. It used to be a really decent company… Nowadays, this company is designing their own new system. My guess is that they’re creating a system that integrates machine translation and human translation that they’re then going to combine with the automatic job notification system. I’m not sure how attractive this is from the translator’s perspective. Depending on the person, I’m sure there will be some who like this. I’m personally not a fan, but the work that this company is doing is worth paying attention to.
I don’t actually know what kind of changes the work that companies like the ones mentioned above are going to bring to the translation industry in the future. These attempts may fail, or they may establish themselves as a viable system. Whatever the case, this is not a big deal for skilled translators.
I haven’t included links for the above three companies (One Hour Translation, MotaWord, Elanga). Google the company name and look for the register button.
While finishing off the post, I’m going to tell you a story I heard on the radio a little while ago. The radio host asked a question while introducing a quartet that makes special music. If you could open a bar in an area of the city where lots of other bars were gathered or on the outskirts of the city where there were no other bars nearby, which area would you choose? Both have their advantages and disadvantages. Many people will go to the place with a lot of bars because they already know there are a lot of places to drink there. For that reason, you can secure customers relatively easily since there’s a possibility that some of the multitude gathered there are likely to try out the new bar. On the other hand, you will have continuous competition. However, if you open a bar in an area with no other bars nearby, you face the possibility of not having any customers for quite a long time. However, when time passes and more people find out about your bar, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of not having any competitors.
This story is actually one that applies to freelance translators as well as the marketplace businesses and agencies I introduced above. Forming a relationship with these types of companies has the benefit of allowing you to establish your place relatively easily by settling down in a place that not many know about. (Of course, you need to be backed up by your skills.) If you do this, you might be able to grow alongside these new small marketplace businesses, lesser-known marketplace businesses, and agencies with a different platform. In the end, this is all a part of your own strategy.