Working in Japan: Getting Started as a Freelance Translator on Gengo

Although I still get some work with oDesk, it hasn’t been nearly enough to make ends meet.  On top of that, I’m finding that for quite a few companies that advertise, outsourcing to freelancers = way to get away with paying less than minimum wage for work.

Seriously, I just did a timely estimate of website translation job (privacy policy, user agreements, the whole shebang) for a company that originally approved my character rate, only to be met with the response that they were looking for something more in the range of $0.01 – $0.015 a character.  What a time waster!  (For reference, a $0.02 – $0.03 character rate is pretty much minimum wage for Japanese > English translation work.)

So in light of that, I started branching out more.  In March I registered with Gengo, one of the bigger translation sites, and it’s currently one of the places I’ve been receiving steady work from.

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Working in Japan: Getting Started as a Freelance Translator on oDesk

Thanks for sticking with me through this Working in Japan series!  I was wrote it as I was going through the job hunting process myself, during which I received a few hiring offers.  One of those was a great paying, part-time teaching position that I ended up going with so I’ll have time to pursue more translation work and help build my freelance translation portfolio from April onwards.

One of the ways I’ve been getting into freelance work is with the freelancer website, oDesk.  If you’re interested in translation or freelancing in other fields, I definitely recommend giving it a click.  The site itself is pretty thorough with its explanation on how to use and make money with it, but I’ll be addressing a few things that apply to freelance translation or my personal experience with the site.

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Honyaku Konnyaku

© Shogakukan

Doraemon holding his honyaku konnyaku (translation jelly), that lets him understand any language.
© Shogakukan

I’ve been translating requests from friends or work, and song lyrics for years, but this week I was offered a part time position where I’ll actually be making a little money to translate articles for the fashion and idol news site Tokyo Girls’ Update.  It’s my first time working for a real Japanese company (and all the paperwork that goes along with it), so I’m sure it’ll turn out to be an adventure!

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