If you’re good at more than one language and you’re looking to make some money online, Gengo might be an option for you.
It’s a well-known translation service based in the United Kingdom, supporting translations for over 70 language pairs, like English to Spanish, German, French, Japanese, and Chinese. The platform is open 24/7, so you can work according to your own timetable.
The great thing is that anyone can apply to work for Gengo, as long as you’re at least 18 years old and pass their translation test. It’s a good option if you’re looking to earn some extra money and build your translation skills.
In today’s review, let’s talk about Gengo and if it’s worth considering.
How Much Can You Earn?
The money you can make varies. It depends on the language pair you’re working with and other factors like the industry’s average pay and where you live.
Before taking on a project, you’ll know the pay rate. Although Gengo doesn’t publicize a fixed rate for different language pairs, some online research shows that you could earn anywhere from $0.3 to $1 per word, depending on the job type.
Just remember, work isn’t guaranteed, so your earnings will depend on the demand for your language pair. Some people online say it’s tough to make a full-time income due to the level of competition.
Once you pass their entrance test, you can pick up jobs at will. And, the platform operates on a first-come, first-served basis, offering low rates for translation tasks from what I could read. Translators report earnings as low as $2 to $4 per hour even at a professional level, casting doubts on using it as a full-time job opportunity. However, for those looking to build experience, the low barriers to entry may make it an acceptable option. It’s more of a side hustle from what I can gather. Plan on making about $0.03 to $0.08~ per word translated.
Gengo provides an opportunity for freelancers to pick up jobs without having to compete based on resumes or prior experience. However, those specializing in common languages note that jobs are quickly claimed, reducing the volume of work available. Because of this, how much you can make will greatly vary depending on how fast you at grabbing jobs as well as your skill set.
A few freelancers report monthly earnings between $200 to $800, but this is just a range. You could make much less or you could make a pinch more. This is what most people report, however.
The platform’s flexible work schedule allows translators to choose when they wish to work, though the availability of tasks can be inconsistent.
The application process is pretty straightforward.
You don’t need official qualifications to start at Gengo, but you’ll need to pass some tests on their website. There are various kinds, like a pre-test, a standard test, a pro test, and even one for proofreading. Passing these determines what kind of jobs you can take. It’s typically easier to translate into your native language, but Gengo doesn’t stop you from working with others if you’re confident. And don’t even think about taking a test before you’ve reviewed their style guides; they’re crucial.
You will create a free account, pick a language pair, and then take a two-part translation test. If the language you’re interested in is currently full, you can register your email to be notified about openings.
You’ll have to go through some important guidelines and tips before taking the test. You’ll find out if you’ve passed within a week, and you’ll have up to three chances to pass.
The pre-test is pretty straightforward, mostly multiple-choice questions to see if you know your second language well enough. Then comes the standard test, which involves translating a text. You can’t mess up big time, but a few small errors are acceptable. If you pass this, you’re in, and you can start taking jobs at the standard rate of $0.03+ per word. As you get better, you can try for the pro level test which pays $0.08+ per word, and even aim to become a proofreader.
Once you’re approved to work for Gengo, your next steps include getting used to their style guide and how their work platform functions.
You’ll find available translation gigs through three main channels: the work dashboard on the platform, emails, and even an RSS feed. Because many people are after the same jobs and they’re given out on a first-come-first-served basis, you’ll want to snag opportunities quickly. Just be mindful of deadlines. Make sure you can actually complete the job in the time given before you commit to it.
The types of translation projects vary.
Some might be short blog posts or emails, but larger projects come along as well. Your work dashboard will show you all the key details for each gig—like whether it’s a standard or pro level job, the language pair, specific instructions, and how much you’ll earn.
After you’ve submitted your work, the client has up to 120 days to either approve it, ask for revisions, or reject it. They’ll also rate your work on a scale of 0 to 5. If clients really like what you’ve done, they can mark you as a favorite translator. This gives you first dibs on their future projects, which you’ll notice via a heart symbol on your work dashboard.
Gengo keeps track of your work quality through an average score based on all your projects. Aim to keep this score high to get more opportunities. If your score drops between 5 and 6, expect more frequent reviews of your work. Fall below 5, and you risk losing your qualifications altogether.
Types of Work
Most texts you will translate are pretty straightforward, like emails, customer reviews, or business presentations. If a job requires specialized terminology that you’re not comfortable with, you can decline it without hurting your quality score.
However, Gengo’s job volume isn’t consistently high. While some language pairs like Japanese-English have more demand, others might have you waiting for days. Occasionally, Gengo lands a big client, and then there’s plenty of work for a bit. But generally, don’t rely on Gengo as your sole income source.
Gengo pays exclusively in US dollars, and you can receive your earnings via PayPal or Payoneer.
There are minimum payout amounts and fees associated with each payment option. Payments are processed twice a month, and you’ll need to request your payout at least a week in advance.
The Reviews Online
According to the Glassdoor reviews, working with this company offers the convenience of working from home with a flexible schedule. Additionally, the management seems to be supportive of the workforce. However, the flip side is that the pay is commonly described as low in relation to the quality of work expected. Also, there’s a recurring concern that the volume of available work is decreasing, as well as the rates being paid for it. So while it offers freedom and support, the financial benefits might not meet everyone’s expectations.
On TrustPilot, many claim that the rates are below industry standards, making it challenging to provide high-quality work. They mention unfair or biased tests for job qualification and raise suspicions that reviews are manipulated to exclude new competition. On the other hand, some translators suggest that the quality of work is contingent on the rates customers are willing to pay; higher rates attract more experienced translators, leading to better quality. Overall, Gengo seems to be polarizing, with both customers and translators either lauding its convenience and speed or criticizing its quality and professionalism.
Via a Reddit thread, many users have criticized Gengo’s testing methods as overly simplistic, suggesting that the tests lack nuance and don’t reflect the complexities of language translation. Additionally, the job offers on Gengo’s platform are often viewed as unfair, typically offering low compensation for high-volume tasks with short deadlines. Despite this, some users have found value in the platform as a means to practice translation skills and earn modest supplementary income. People who have successfully passed the tests note that rates are generally low, and the work submitted must go through an approval and review process. Jobs on the platform are on a first-come, first-serve basis and are quickly claimed. While some individuals, especially non-U.S. citizens, find the offered rates sufficient for side income, the general consensus is that Gengo may not be viable for those looking to make a full-time living as a translator.
Final Thoughts7/10In my view, Gengo seems like a solid option for people who want the freedom to work from anywhere and are fluent in more than one language but might not have prior experience in translation. However, don’t count on it for a full-time income. To maximize your earnings, consider also applying to other translation services, many of which I cover here. You might also want to set up profiles on freelance marketplaces such as Upwork and Fiverr.
While some translators have had a positive experience, particularly praising the platform’s support, others caution that Gengo is more suitable as a side hustle rather than a main source of income. Given the mixed reviews, potential freelancers are advised to weigh the pros and cons carefully before engaging with the platform. I would leave it there.
That’s going to do it for now.
As always, if you want to comment on your experience, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
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