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Will I make it here?

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Active Member
Octavio P Member Since: Feb 14, 2015
1 of 10

Hello Odesk Community, my name is Octavio. I'm basically the newest addition to this site (signed up around two days ago), and I specialize, as a freelancer, as a translator. More specifically EN to SP and viceversa. I can also do legal documents, as I have a extensive background in Law studies, and its terms, structure and focusing are something I have great knowledge of.

Well, so much for an introduction for myself and my skills. I actually came here to this forum to ask more experienced freelancers if I have any future here when, unfortunately, I can't certify either my expertise as a translator (besides the few tests I could take), nor my time as a Law student. I checked up on lots of profiles, and they're all certified and have a lot of background and labor experience, and so, it left me wondering if I'll be able to compete in this market.

Any perspective is appreciated. Thanks in advance.

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Active Member
Susan Seawolf H Member Since: Oct 2, 2013
2 of 10

Yes, Octavia, you definitely have a future with oDesk, if that's the avenue you choose.  Translators can be in high demand and well paid also.  As for legal documents, you sound as if you know what you're doing, but that is a sticky wicket, at least in the United States.  In my state, for instance (N.C.), even certified paralegals are not allowed to prepare most documents except under the direct supervision of a lawyer.  Otherwise, it is practicing law without a license, which can get you in hot water.  I would check on that, although I realize hundreds of people are out there doing just this kind of work on oDesk without paralegal or law license.  I speak as a retired attorney.  Good luck! SSH

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Octavio P Member Since: Feb 14, 2015
3 of 10

Hello Susan!

Thanks for the inspiring post. I think I may have worded myself wrongly: although I could prepare such documents, I'm not really confident about redacting them  since our legal roots (your Common Law and my Roman Law) are intrinsecally different, and I'd need to ugprade a bit my knowledge.

What I meant is I could translate them from either language to the other without losing sense or purpose. That's what I'm confident about.

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Community Guru
Aseem B Member Since: Dec 20, 2014
4 of 10

Hi Octavio

I think you can definitely make it here. I will suggest you to add a few portfolio pieces(Perhaps some sample transalations that you have done). Also let clients know if you have some work experience. Another thing I suggest is to hide the scores that are not in Top 30% and retake these tests. 

 

Remember that getting the first job and then landing a new client is always tough no matter how experienced you are but once you start making clients, getting work becomes easy. Most of the jobs I have done are for my existing clients. So patience is a virtue here. It took me 3 months to land my first project but after that within a week, I had an option of 2 full time contracts and had to give up on a few opportunities because I was overloaded with work. Everytime I take a break from odesk, it is tough to land a new client but once that phase is over, you usually have more work than you need.

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Petronila O Member Since: Feb 6, 2015
5 of 10

Hi Aseem

 

First, i really love and admire your contribution to address the problems of many freelancers. Since my problem has not been addressed on the platform, i hope you will provide me with some vital information here.

 

I have confirmed that my account is not under review, however my name is still missing from the list of applicants. This started two weeks ago. I have done my very best to customize my overview and only apply to the jobs within my expertise.

 

My last 3 jobs have been given an excellent feed back from clients and my rating is 4.99.

 

Could my account be suffering from a rare technical glitch that is not the same as an account being on review (or on hold). 

 

Would you kinldy look at my profile and point out any mistake? Is there any use to keep applying for jobs when my applications are hidden?

 

I really need your help because i feel like quitting Odesk because it seems that i will never be hired.

 

My account is 100% okay and i have never violated any of Odesk's policies.

 

Aseem, what could be the problem? Please help.

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Community Guru
Aseem B Member Since: Dec 20, 2014
6 of 10

Hi Petronila

I am sorry to hear about your experience. If your profile is not under review, please confirm from odesk support whether or not all your job applications are being hidden. The odesk uses some algorithm that auto hides some job applications and this is highly unliked by many freelancers.

 

The generic improvements suggested by odesk mods had been to give tests(and score well) that are related to your skillsets, do not copy paste your cover letters. You can check some sample odesk cover letter suggestions by googling. You are already applying to the jobs whose required skills are in your profile so that is covered.

 

I guess if odesk support confirms that all your applications are being hidden and things do not improve after taking tests and improving cover letters then just take a break and try again after 2-3 months as odesk currently is not stable and a lot of changes are being rolled out and many are not well tested. May be in future odesk will work out on it transparency and give actual reasons when cover letters are hidden.

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Community Leader
André U Member Since: Dec 5, 2013
BEST ANSWER
7 of 10

Hi Octavio

 

First of all: Welcome to oDesk!

 

Second: Yes, you can make it.

 

I am a translator myself and registered on oDesk in December 2013. As you can see in my profile, I have had 109 jobs and accumulated more than 500h. Let me give you some insight into how it went.

 

I have started with nothing. Just like you I was looking for some extra money as a student (back then) and discovered oDesk. I registered an account, made some tests, wrote a nice introduction as well as a "template cover letter" (which you really should always adapt to the individual job posting!) and there I was.

 

The first job was providing feedback for some ebook I believe and I got 5$ for it. Well, that's nothing big, but getting the first job is important. Speaking of jobs: Concentrate on one service (translations) and do not be "the guy who does everything": Focus on translations (and transcriptions if you like), but do not offer legal consulations, article writing, manual writing or whatever else you may have in mind. It just looks much better if you really stick to one service.

 

Back to me: The second job was to translate porn titles for an online porn platform. Lovely, is not it? "I was young and needed the money" does fit quite well here. I got paid a stunning $0.01 per title (which consisted of roughly 5-15 words). At the end of the week, I was quite lucky to have $100 in my pockets.

 

As time went by I increased my rate and had better clients. I went into the ecommerce branch (manual translations, product descriptions, ebooks, etc.).

 

Just to give you an idea:

I started with an hourly rate of $8 and a rate per word of $0.01. I simply had no idea which rates were common and what could be charged. As I got more and more jobs (and less time), I increased my rate over the months and now I am at $25/h or $0.04 per word. That's still not the peak of the mountain, though. I have seen clients paying up to $0.09 per word (which is quite nice when the contents sum up to hundreds of thousands of words). Instead of making hundred dollars a week I now sometimes have hundreds dollars a day. But then again, this highly depends on the activity here on oDesk. Sometimes you won't get no new jobs in a week and in another week all your former clients ask you to translate something. It's not really a steady flow of new clients, but rather a slow creation/collection of long-term clients which always come back to you.

 

In short: Simply start doing it. As you get jobs, increase your rate, create a nice portfolio and success should be hard to miss.

 

However: You are a translator for the language pair English into Spanish. As you know, Spanish is one of the most spoken languages ever. What does mean? Great competition among translators (just think of Columbia, Venezuela or other rather cheap countries). Also, the Argentinian Spanish is not very renowned for it being "rather special" (in comparison with the "normal" Latin American Spanish). It might be difficult to:

 

a) win against competition

b) find clients willing to hire Argentinian translators (though most probably have no idea about linguistic differences)

 

I suggest to not follow the race down to the buttom, but to specialise in something (e.g. legal translations) and to set a price which is worth it. Nobody will hire a "legal translator" offering his services for $4.50 - honestly.

 

I also suggest using a better profile photo. Not that mine is perfect, but when I had a look at your profile, I first thought you were Toad from Mario Kart (your hat makes you look like a mushroom). Yes, that's what I see, don't ask me why.

 

That's all for now. Hope it helped!

 

Best,

André

 

 

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Active Member
Octavio P Member Since: Feb 14, 2015
8 of 10

I'm seriously amazed at the hospitality around here. Really, thanks a lot for the comments, they were as insightful as they were helpful.

@Aseem: Yeah, I'm trying to build up my portfolio. Unfortunately I never thought I'd be doing work like this and I didn't save most of my projects, since they were translated as a hobby. I managed to salvage just one ten pages long work for the moment :/.

@André: Wow, thanks for the warm welcome.Your story really helped me get that initial strenght everyone needs at the start of any journey, seriously!. I'm not worrying much about your first point: I know it's counterproductive to be a jack of all trades. Even if I wanted, though, I know myself and I couldn't handle myself well in any job other than translations and transcriptions.

The thing about my rate, I left it initially at 4.50$/h due to two things: (1) I wasn't really sure how much a translator charges the hour. The two or three profiles I stalked for comparison reasons were charging lower than me, and they even had certifications; and (2) I thought I could start low as to, perhaps, entice potential clients. You know, the first job is always in the worst conditions. Once I started building up my rep, then I could rise my prices. If I may ask, what do you think it's a good price for a legal translator?

And finally, I had an honest laugh with the Toad pic. I told a friend of mine and five seconds later he photoshopped and actual mushroom cap with red dots over my beret.

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Community Leader
André U Member Since: Dec 5, 2013
9 of 10

Hi Octavio again!

 

You're more than welcome!

 

@Price: That's really difficult to say as I barely have hourly jobs. Most clients pay on a per word basis. I absolutely never do any legal translation at all (or maybe some very basic terms and conditions of online shops, but that's all). So I cannot really help you either.

 

What I suggest is a doubled price for legal translations. It simply takes more time to handle legal texts than easy website content. More time means a higher price. Given that your initial rate is 0.02, I'd charge 0.04 for legal texts.

 

But again, you need some clients first. Once you have long-term clients, you can still try higher rates and see if you still attract new clients.

 

It also highly depends where you live. I have lived in Mexico and do know that costs differ between Latin America and, let's say, Germany. I have no idea what usual salaries are in your area. However, you should be able to make a living with your work (and that's the minimum rate you should charge).

 

In short: Don't be cheap, but don't aim too high for now. Too low rates won't get you hired as your services are apparently of no value. Too high rates without any experience to show does not look much better, though.

 

Maybe you should just do some smaller jobs (without the focus on legal translations). Once you got some nice feedbacks, you can increase your rate and specialize into legal contents. This will take some time of course. You might even find other fields you are interested in. I am now also specialized in E-learning which I would have never thought of myself.

 

For now, take whatever you can get for the first 2-3 jobs. Then, go only into translations and try to find 10 jobs in this field. You will soon have recurring clients. Then it's time for price experiments.

 

Just to give you another idea:

In Dec 2013 I got a job to proofread hundreds of articles for a Chinese software developer. They have used Chinese "translators". Well, you can imagine the results. I was hired for 11$ per hour back then. I have asked my client to give me a raise every 6 month or so and now I am working for 16$ per hour. My usual rate is 25, but you have to keep long-term clients.

 

Best,

André

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Active Member
Octavio P Member Since: Feb 14, 2015
10 of 10

Thanks so much for the tips and advice! So far, I've applied for eight to ten jobs between my first post and this one, and I've updated a bit my price, making a distinction between legal and non-technical translations in my overview.

Hopefully I'll be able to land that first job rather soon than later!

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