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A common kind of client - should I be cautious working for them? - Translation

Active Member
Henrik V Member Since: Mar 5, 2016
1 of 3

I had a bit of a hard time setting a descriptive topic for this, but please hang with me.


For some context: I translate from English to Swedish and I've been on this platform since January with a top rated badge since April or so.


I wonder if you have run into this kind of client, which to me is very prevalent, yet I feel a bit cautious working for them, which may or may not be a good idea. I have yet to figure out if they are worth my time or not, so I hope that some of you have some insight on this.


The characteristics:


- Obviously agency related, yet not very upfront about it

- The documents are always scanned, in PDF form with signatures and other elements that can't be edited. This is usually the biggest "turn off" for me, as it is harder to set a price when I will be doing tasks that are not in my expertise, e.g editing etc.

- The material is usually some sort of contract, house deed, marriage license, certificate etc.

- They usually don't have any Upwork experience, but sometimes they do. They always communicate off platform. The one time I worked with someone like this, they did pay on Upwork.


Do you guys know what I'm talking about, or am I creating this category of clients in my head? If you have or is working with this kind of client, how do you solve the entire PDF thing efficiently? Any other thoughts on the matter? Any other "client category" this made you think of?




Ace Contributor
Patricia V Member Since: Aug 3, 2016
2 of 3

Hi Henrik!


I'm a translator too (English to Portuguese) and I do see those clients every once in a while. Consideing my own experience, I find it best to avoid them.


To me, it always seems like they want you to do a lot of work - sometimes work that doesn't even have much to do with translation - for ridiculous prizes and in very short deadlines. Also, the off platform communication has never worked for me! You'd think I woul've learned by now...


In one job, the client wanted me to translate dozens of pages of student records, but the files were actually photos of the papers. Really bad ones, by the way! So I was supposed to copy all the information from the awfull, blurry photos into a .docx file, but the client only wanted to pay me for the words translated - not for the huge amount of numbers I would have to decipher and write down, or for things such as students names, towns, etc.


After several such requests, I simply gave up on that type of client. Hope you have better luck than me!

Ace Contributor
Mirjam K Member Since: Sep 7, 2015
3 of 3

I know which kind you mean (I do English->German translations) and I am extremly careful with them. I don't write proposals for these jobs but usually accept the invites and ask for more detailed information on payment and what they expect when. I also give my own rates/estimates as a guideline.
If they gave (unreasonable) details in their job description I sometimes point that out and just send realistic quotes.Usually they ignore the reply or the first message is something like "how about I pay you 1/10 of what you said?". Then I just have to write one "No thank you" message and cancel the proposal.But sometimes there was a genuine "mistake" or the client really didn't think of the extra work of transcribing and so on. Then the work just gets done. However, I would add to your list: If you often see the same client writing the same kind of posts (same phrases etc.) I never bother, because they are obviously used to bad quality and are happy with that.