Finding Native Japanese Contractors

Finding Contractors

Because of the greater language barrier, the usual SEO practice of remotely hiring Filipinos, Indians and Russians doesn’t work for Japanese SEO. Some sources for native speakers of Japanese are online freelancer marketplaces such as oDesk and Elance, but the number of native Japanese registered on those sites is small, and they tend to be living outside of Japan.

The sites Web Writing Center and Blog Writer aggregate mostly home-based, moonlighting, retired or WAHM Japanese writers with knowledge in different fields. They are both operated by Plus Net Inc., a small internet content company. After the initial online job submission the process is essentially just like hiring a Japanese contracting company to sit between you and the writer rather than like using a direct marketplace like Elance or oDesk. My sense is that when you create a job it is not sent to the writers you specify for consideration, but rather goes to Plus Net, who then outsource it to the writers you intended to contact, and from there on you only have contact with Plus Net. And at a minimum fee of ¥20 per character, it’s not cheap. I’m not aware of an Elance-like true direct buyer-seller marketplace where Japanese workers can be solicited and the hiring process managed online.

I haven’t tried Asia Writes, but I suspect that native Japanese don’t hang out there much.

In the end, what I have mostly done is to use native Japanese speakers on oDesk and Elance who generally advertise themselves as translators, and try to find ones that are also able to research and write, even though those tasks may not be their main gigs. The advantage of using translators is that Japanese translators are easier to find than Japanese writers, they have pretty good English skills (obviously), and since they are usually based outside of Japan, they are significantly cheaper.

I will supply them with research leads, and maybe even write some draft material for them to translate or expand on. Or I will commission English manuscripts from writers and then have them translated into Japanese. But the latter tactic doesn’t work when the subject matter is extremely Japan-specific and the research needs to be done in Japanese on the Japanese web.

I’ve also used an expat Japanese web developer/translator to take a list of free directories that I’ve scraped up using Advanced Link Manager and MajesticSEO running over competing websites and register my site with them. After that job, I gave her a quick education in advanced Google search techniques like “site:.jp”, “intitle” and limiting searches to Google Blogsearch, and set her on the job of asking sites to link to us, exchange links with us, or sell us links.

Finally, I’ve had a translator create and maintain satellite blogs and fake blogs on Japanese blogging services, linking back to my sites. Translators could probably do link building by contacting site owners if you wanted them to. And a translator with some video editing skills created YouTube and other channels, as well as social networking accounts and accounts on kuchikomi websites.

Between oDesk and Elance, I prefer oDesk, because it lets you keep a close eye on what your contacter is doing via their “work diary,” a somewhat creepy, Orwellian feature whereby a background app on their computer shows you a screenshot every 10 minutes captioned with their description of what they are currently doing. Although I don’t obsessively watch this, it’s really handy with new contractors because you can step in if they are going off on a tangent.

There are specialist translation markets like Proz.com, but the prices are generally higher, and I think the translators tend to be less flexible in doing writing and research, because translation markets are geared more towards traditional publishing rather than internet work.