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Finding freelance translators for your localization project can be a challenge. Fortunately, with these four methods, you'll find the perfect match in no time.
If you've already read our guide to hiring top freelance translators, you know it's not an easy task to achieve. After considering every important factor, you're left with the question of where to start your search. The fact is there are a few different directions you can take to find the perfect translator for your project, and each has its pros and cons. I'll be covering the 4 best methods here, along with a few recommendations for specific sites you can use.
1. Find freelance translators through word of mouth
This is the most traditional way, and it still has its merits. Ask colleagues and friends from your industry if they know of any good translators they could recommend. This is a great way to get personal recommendations from people you trust. Plus, you'll be getting names that were already tested and vetted - so you're much more likely to find good, reliable suppliers this way.
To reach the best industry advice and recommendations, you can use any of the following methods:
Ask personally - reach out to people you know and trust and get first-hand recommendations and referrals.
Ask on social media - LinkedIn is a great place to start, but you could also try Twitter or Facebook. There's bound to be someone with the right recommendations in your network.
Post on a professional group - this is a great way to cast a wide net and get recommendations from colleagues who may not be in your network. People usually jump at the chance to recommend great freelancers they've personally worked with (and rave about them), so this can be a very effective method of sourcing.
When asking for referrals, be sure to ask for detailed feedback about the translator's work. This will give you a good idea of whether they're a good fit for your project. If you're considering several linguists, this can also help you make a decision about who to hire.
2. Dive into member lists of professional translator associations
Most professional associations have a list of members featured on their site. It's considered one of the benefits of signing up to that association, and it's also a great place to find great linguists. Professionals willing to pay for memberships are often more serious about their career, and so it's safe to assume they'll be more committed to providing quality results and building their reputation.
Start by visiting the member lists of these main associations:
ATA - The American Translator Association has a detailed service directory where you can find individual translators for any project. You can search by language or by translation tool, to find linguists already willing to work in your tool of choice. For some languages, you can also find certified translators with proven credentials. On the downside, it's a bit of a rough interface, and some of the more innovative or new translation tools may not be listed there.
ITI - The institute of translation and interpreting keep a public directory of members, where you can search by source and target language. Results can be filterered by specialties, additional skills, and translation tools, so you can easily narrow them down to find your ideal candidates. The members listed in the ITI directory have all been through an internal assessment process, which is both a good and bad thing - it's a great way to ensure quality, but it also means it may be harder to find enough suppliers for your project there.
IAPTI - The International Association of Professional Translators and Interpreters has a database of registered members you can browse. Use the dropdowns to pick a source and target language, specialization, service offered, and country - or search for linguists by name. Profiles are rather basic, but you can reach out to linguists directly to ask for more information.
When looking for translators for a specific language or locale, try to find a local translator association. Many translator communities have one, and since it's local, you'll be able to find more candidates and even filter by specific variants or dialects.
3. Visit dedicated translator databases
Write about how there are sites meant specifically for the localization industry. Linguists can create a profile, add their credentials and experience, and even upload some samples of their work for your reference. Most of these sites have a free and paid tier, which means you can choose the level of industry commitment you're looking for. But since it's easy to create a free profile, you'll also have access to a lot more linguists in one place - at least, compared to
As these sites are industry-specific, they also offer detailed filters and additional tools meant to help you locate your ideal translator.
Proz.com - The oldest, and probably biggest, translator directory is still the best place to start when you're looking for translators. You've got dozens of search options, from the usual language pair and expertise to more advanced budget and feedback filters. Proz allows clients to rate linguists and agencies on a WWA (willingness to work again) scale, giving you a glimpse into the level of professionalism each one of them has. You can also see if linguists have a pro certification (that means they pay for a Proz.com Pro account), and even receive information on the data security policies each translator employs. All in all, you get a very detailed overview of the linguists you find, which can be very helpful when trying to narrow it down to the best ones. Despite that fact, the profile section at Proz.com is severaly lacking. The 90s-esque design makes it almost impossible to gain any insight from the info mentioned inside. Proz are (slowly, very slowly) improving their UI, so be prepared for some inconsistencies when going through the database.
TM Town - for a slightly upgraded version of the Proz.com database, you've got this site. I'm pretty sure it started as an experiment by the Proz.com people, as it's owned and operated by the same company. Since it has a better design and a slightly different claim to fame, it may attract some of the newer linguists out there - so it's a good idea to search both. TM Town profiles often include some sample translation, as well as additional information about each linguist's experience, payment terms, software knowledge, and more. They also link to additioal reviews and information in each linguist's Proz.com profile.
Smartcat Marketplace - A relatively new addition, the Smartcat marketplace lets you find linguists based on a variety of criteria - like language pair, expertise, and even time zone. You can see each linguist's preferred rate, as well as a rating of their quality and deadline compliance. These linguists all work with the Smartcat translation tool, and so you can see how many words and proejcts they were involved in through Smartcat in the past. Unlike other traditional databases, here you're also able to see if your linguist is currently online and even chat with them - which is great if you're a bit in a rush. And if you're short on time, you can outsource the entire process to the Smartcat experts. They'll find and test linguists for you, and get back to you with a shortlist of the best ones they could find for your proejct. Smartcat also claim to be able to handle the entire end-to-end process inside their ecosystem. Once you find your freelancers and they finish the work, you can even pay them - wherever they are - through their payment module.
Translators Base - An oldy, this one may provide you with additional options if the first 3 didn't do the trick. You can only search by language and country, but when looking for linguists in rare languages, you can ideally hopefully find some great options. As with many of the others, you can also post a translation job here and ask translators to reach out with a quote.
Finding the right linguists takes time. Instead of spending hours searching through databases, post a job listing in any of the above and let the right qualified people reach out to you.
4. Cast a wider net with freelance marketplace websites
If you had no luck through the dedicated databases, turn to general freelance marketplaces. These websites provide freelancers with a place to offer their services, and they're a great place to find great, highly-rated suppliers. In addition, they often take responsibility over orders made through their systems - giving you added peace of mind when working with unfamiliar translators.
The downside is these are often the first place freelancers visit when they start their business. This means you're very likely to run into some unqualified people here, so proceed with caution.
Upwork - Upwork is a popular freelancing website that is well-established in the market. With tens of thousands of translators in their database, they're certainly a good place to start. Ratings and feedback from previous jobs will give you an insight on each linguist - and since Upwork gets a lot of traffic, you sometimes have hundreds or thousands of reviews to rely on. It's not a dedicated translation marketplace, but they do have some localization-specific filters to help narrow down your search. You can choose between experts in software, legal, medical, or technical translation, and search by language to find people working with the language pair you need.
Fiverr - Fiverr is a somewhat simpler interface, with freelancers offering their services for as little as $5. While they built their rep on the $5 gig, you're actually able to find quite a few better-paid professionals there, too. Suppliers in Fiverr can also create predefined offers to make it easier for clients to hire them. As in Upwork, there's a rating system that can help you learn a bit more about what it's like working with each freelancer. Fiverr also allows for deeper filtering, and you can choose from a number of services. Plus, you can easily filter by source and target language - making your search that much more efficient. They also offer a Pro program, allowing you to work with vetted and verified suppliers. There are only a few linguists on the pro program for now, as it's a new addition - but it's sure to grow in the near future.
PeoplePerHour - PeoplePerHour is somewhat less well-known, but still has a wide range of translation and localization experts listed. As it's not as prominent, linguists are likely to charge less - though I definitely don't encourage letting price be your main deciding factor. Filtering controls are also quite limited, but they're a good option to have on file if you're looking for an especially rare language or just want more options.
Don't let experience be your only measure. Sometimes, you can find incredible translators with true talent who are only just starting out. If you feel like you found someone who may be a good fit, give them a chance (but of course, make sure you have a thorough testing process in place first!)
No matter which method you choose - whether it's counting on recommendations or searching through the databases - it's important you actively manage communication and feedback. This will allow you to get the best quality possible and build long-term relationships with your linguists. Good luck!
p.s. Did you know we have a Slack community for UX localization? Join right here – and don't forget to join the relevant language-specific channels, too. Can't wait to see you there!
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