Is it worth the time and effort for a freelance translator to register on a site like Upwork?
Alright, so today, let’s talk about whether or not it’s worth it to put your resume or to advertise for jobs on a freelance website like Upwork.
So Upwork has been around for a while. Before they were Upwork, they were called Elance but basically offered the same type of service and that service is basically connecting clients and providers for all different types of freelance jobs.
For any type of freelance work that you can think of, there are people on the site that offer freelancing jobs. In terms of translators offering services, there are also a good number doing that.
The question, then, is what are the advantages or disadvantages to signing up for an account on Upwork.
Upwork: Disadvantages for Translators
Let’s take a look at some of the disadvantages first.
Disadvantage 1: Lots of Low Priced Workers
One of the first things to know about Upwork, or any of the other freelance type sites out there is that there can often be a lot of noise on the site, which can lead to clients wanting low-priced workers.
What do I mean by that?
What I mean is that while there are of course a lot of people offering their services, frankly, a lot of those people are probably not very good at the services that they offer. And the problem with that is that a lot of potential clients that go on these sites to hire contractors won’t end up finding the best person for the job.
Because in the end, a lot of people go on Upwork to hire not the best person for the job but the person that can offer the cheapest price.
So if you’re a freelance provider and you’re not willing to offer the cheapest price for your line of work, then you might have less potential clients choose you for the particular job that they want to be done.
Disadvantage 2: It takes time.
Another disadvantage is that it can take time to get some good jobs and good clients.
It’s one thing to go in, set up an account or profile, and upload your documents, like your CV or other qualifications.
That’s going to take time anywhere.
What I’m talking about here is the time it can take to start bidding on jobs and managing your bid flow.
Bid flow is the process you’ve set up to monitor new jobs, bid for new jobs, and discard or ignore jobs that don’t fit your criteria.
That’s what takes time.
And that’s time that could be spent marketing other more lucrative places
Disadvantage #3: Low return on investment.
A third disadvantage I’ve noticed about Upwork, and one that goes along with the previous point I mentioned in #2 above, is that in the end, your return on investment might not be very high, which could very easily lead to a sense of discouragement.
If nobody hires you for a job and you’ve applied for multiple jobs, it can be discouraging, which in turn can affect your well being or affect how you think of yourself or even affect your confidence level. You can start to question how confident (or competent) a translator you think you are.
And once you start doing that, it’s a spiral that only goes down, and is one that you want to avoid at all costs.
Upwork: Advantages for Translators
So those are some some disadvantages that there are using Upwork to find freelance translation jobs. Now, are there any advantages? Of course. There has to be some at least there are lots and lots of people on the website that are making money and that are finding jobs that are right for them, getting clients and making money.
Advantage #1: You can stand out.
Remember how I said up above that there are a lot of low quality translators on the site?
Well, that disadvantage can also be a great advantage to the site if you’re willing to work and put in some effort.
As I mentioned earlier, there’s so much noise on the site that it could be easy to get lost, amongst the low price providers. But on the other hand, it can be easier to stand out if you offer a superior service and you have superior skill as compared to most people on the site.
Personally, I’ve used Upwork to hire people to do some jobs (not necessarily translation-related) for some other projects that I’m working on.
And just recently, actually within the last month, I hired somebody who seemed like a good fit for the job. However, in the end, they ended up not doing the job for me for whatever reason. So I wasted a month waiting for them to do what they were supposed to do and I ended up having to hire somebody else. And now I’m in the process of waiting for waiting for that person to be done.
So if you can stand out as somebody who offers a superior service and as somebody that can do the job the right way the first time, you’ll rise to the top for clients that want to hire someone based on skill and not on lowest price.
Advantage #2: Another revenue source.
Another advantages that it’s another revenue. It’s another potential revenue stream. I’ve said it before the numbers matter:
And really, all it comes down to is finding those clients. And the best way to find them is by advertising more reaching out more, and essentially doing those things that will put you in front of more potential clients.
Upwork, then, offers another platform where you can advertise your services and potentially find more clients. And yes, it will take a little bit of time for you to set things up and do things on the system but if you’re able to get clients that have a have a good experience with you, and you establish a good relationship with them, then you can transition those clients to regular clients off of the platform.
Plenty of people have done that.
It’s definitely possible to find long-term clients on Upwork and long-term clients are really worth their weight in gold for freelance translators because they provide stability.
While short-term clients are important, having one-off clients always mean that you will be trying to find new work coming in. Long-term clients provide that stability that is so important in a freelancer’s career.
And believe it or not, Upwork can provide that if you put in the work and impress your clients.
So what should you do?
Should you join Upwork or any of the other freelance websites?
Unfortunately, that’s a question that every translator has to answer for him or herself.
You’ll need to weight the advantages against the disadvantages and see if either one outweighs the other.
If you already have plenty of clients and don’t see that drying up anytime soon, then maybe it’s something that you don’t need to worry about.
However, if you’re trying to flood the market so to speak with your resume and skills and trying to find any new clients that you can to get started, then it might be a good option for you.
Word of warning.
I would say, however, that you should try not to fall prey to the idea that you have to accept a half a cent a word as payment for your translation services.
Remember, what you charge says something about what people perceive about you. Perception is reality. So you want to make sure that people perceive that you’re a professional and that you know what you’re doing, that you want to work and that you want to do a great job for them.
If you do decide to try Upwork, let us know in the comments below what you think and what your takeaways are. If you do that, we can all learn a little bit more about what works and what doesn’t work and all be a little better because of it.
P.S. For more tips on how to become a successful translator, read my book.