Wednesday, March 9, 2016

6 Tips for Freelance Translators Using Upwork, Part 1

Getting started as a freelance translator can be really tough, especially when you're trying to do it as a full-time job. When friends and acquaintances find out about my chosen career, their response is usually some variation of "That sounds really interesting... but how do you find work??".

There are actually tons of options when it comes to finding translation work, including creating a profile on a translation network like, advertising your services on your own professional website, or contacting translation agencies. In addition to using all of these techniques over the past two years, I've also regularly applied to jobs on Upwork, one of many freelancing platforms you can find online.

While the platform itself can be frustrating at times and it can be difficult to get your first job, I've found it to be a valuable resource for finding new clients. However, it does take time to learn how to make the most of the platform, which is why I'll be sharing some tips based on my personal experience with Upwork in the next two posts.

If you want to get paid, keep these tips in mind!
1. Never start working for a client before you've accepted a contract.

This might seem obvious, but when you're just starting out and anxiously awaiting your first job, it's easy to let "little things" slide. While there are certainly professional clients to be found on Upwork, there are also quite a few people out there who are just looking for cheap (or free) labor. Luckily I never fell for this trap, but I have been in a situation where a prospective client sent me documents to translate and agreed to payment terms via the messaging system, but then refused to set up the actual contract.

2. With fixed-price jobs, never start working before the project is funded.

Most translators work based on per-word rates instead of hourly rates, so setting up contracts as fixed-price jobs is generally the best fit. However, this means that you need to make sure that the client has funded the project (or first milestone, if you're breaking it up into smaller sections) before you start working. This takes some of the uncertainty out of the payment process, because it means that Upwork has verified that they have the funds for the project and has the money waiting and ready to be released once you've submitted the work (subject to client approval). This shouldn't be an issue, but again, there are some people out there who will try to take advantage of you by setting up a contract and then not funding it, which is much harder to dispute.

Check back on Friday for four more tips on using Upwork as a freelance translator!

Part 1 | Part 2