Hiring A Translator On Freelancing Websites: False Good Idea?

Over the last years, we have seen the development of freelancing websites such as Upwork or Fiverr. More and more companies hire the services of such websites to find freelancers with various skills: web designers, writers, accountants, and of course translators, among others.

Unlike classic translation agencies, these platforms allow their clients to contact the freelancers directly. The client can then choose himself the freelancers he wants to work with, based on his own criteria. Therefore, freelancing websites are supposed to enable their clients to find freelancers more easily, without having to hire an agency that won’t let you choose who is going to work on your project. Well, that’s the idea, at least.

Things are more complicated in reality, and using a freelancing website might not be as interesting as many say. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits freelancing websites offer and see if they are really worth your time!


Remark: I have personally used Upwork, one of the main freelancing websites. Therefore, many of the information given here are based on my personal experience with this specific website.


Benefit #1: Finding a good translator on freelancing websites is easy


One of the main benefits of using freelancing websites is that they allow you to find a lot of freelance translators at the same place. Instead of browsing the Internet to find the perfect translator for your project, you just have to post your project on a freelancing website and wait for the translators interested in working with you to send you a proposal.

That may sound interesting, but be very careful, as this is actually the biggest drawback of freelancing websites. Here is a short example:

Let’s say you want to translate a text from English to French. In order to find a translator, you register on Upwork and post your project, including your budget, your deadline, and the tasks involved. You’re certainly hoping someone will be interested to work on it… but you shouldn’t worry about that, really. Because you’re going to receive COUNTLESS proposals for your project. Dozens of them, literally. And if you browse these answers, you will realize two things:

– Some applicants didn’t even bother to read the description of your project

– Many of them sent you a proposal with ridiculously low rates, even lower than your budget.


And here is the biggest problem with Upwork and other freelancing websites: they are full of unqualified, cheap freelancers, as well as scams. This means that before thinking of hiring anyone, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff and make a shortlist of the few serious applicants. And this list won’t be very long, trust me…

Now, think about the time you just wasted, and ask yourself if looking for a translator by yourself wouldn’t have been faster.


Benefit #2: Freelancing websites are cheaper than translation agencies


This is definitely true. While some agencies and crowdsourcing websites may charge ridiculously high fees for their services, freelancing websites usually charge at most 20% of the price of the job to the freelancer or the client, which is indeed cheaper than the rates offered by many agencies. That can be easily explained, as projects posted on freelancing websites are automatically processed and made available to the freelancers, while most agencies need to pick a translator and send him the project themselves, hence leading to higher costs.

Benefit #3: Freelancing websites are safe


Many freelancing websites use a safe payment system intended to protect both the client and the freelancer. As an example, Upwork uses a system based on “escrow payment”: when the client pays for the project, the payment is kept by the website until its completion. By doing that, the website can make sure that the freelancer will only be paid after the work is delivered and the result accepted by the client. Thus, freelancing websites can offer the same level of safety as translation agencies, at a lower price.


How to make good use of freelancing websites


As I said earlier, there are advantages in using freelancing websites, such as lower fees than agencies and a safe payment system. However, this is meaningless if these websites can’t help you find the right translator for your project – which is why you are here, after all. Here are some recommendations on how to make the most of freelancing websites:

NEVER publish a public project offer if you can avoid to do so. Browse the profiles of the translators registered on the website by yourself instead, choose the profiles that look relevant to your project, and contact the translators directly if you can. By doing this, you can avoid being inundated with cheap, unserious, or fake proposals. You don’t want to pay someone to translate your content with Google Translate, right?

See also: How to Choose The Best Translation Service Provider For Your Needs?

– If you have to submit a budget for your project, don’t be stingy like too many clients are on freelancing websites, and choose a realistic price: don’t forget that you get what you paid for! About 80% of the clients offer ridiculously low prices, which only attracts even more scammers and bad translators. If you don’t know what a suitable price would be for your project, check this webpage for an overview of the average rates charged by translators in many languages pairs.

– Always make sure the website you’re using includes a safe payment system.


The bottom line


Freelancing websites are certainly not perfect. However, they can be a good solution for you if you want to find a lot of translators at the same place while being free to choose exactly who you want to work with. You just need to be very careful when using these websites, as they’re also a paradise for scammers and cheap, unqualified “translators”. So don’t be passive on freelancing websites: look for your perfect translator by yourself and offer him a fair price: don’t wait for scammers to come to you!


Have you ever used freelancing websites, as a client or a freelancer?