How to Launch a Profitable Side Hustle as a Manga Translator, or Game Localizer—NEW for 2021.

by Doc Kane

by Doc Kane

Updated: May 12, 2021

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1. Why Start a Side Hustle as Manga Translator, or Game Localizer?

You likely aren't aware of the droves of people part-time and full time operating as localization experts helping to translate games, manga, anime, and websites into other languages. If you're bi-lingual, and enjoy editing and writing, this can be a wonderful, and fairly unobstructed military spouse job.

Dig Manga? Japanese movies? Games? How's your Japanese in general? Don't laugh if it's horrible. If you're a proficient editor of English, at least, you just might just find yourself on a localization team working to support the gaming industry here in Japan and abroad. Or, helping professionals, newspapers, and magazines fine-tune their work as a native-checker, or UX writer.

I do all of this… except gaming and UX writing (for now, at least!), and there are many people who work in these fields here in Japan, and full time to boot. These careers can provide a stable income, positions are mostly (if not always) remote.

Not everyone living in Japan is a fluent speaker of Japanese. Some, residents have very little to none. I personally know of people who have been here for nearly two and three decades who are can barely speak a lick, so don't let the idea that you can't speak Japanese hold you back from being on a localization team. Why? Because there are a number of people on a team and usually before work makes its way to an editor like you, it's been reviewed and combed over by a J-to-E translator. And, believe it or not, in the case of native checking for newspapers, magazines and online press outlets, many of these publishing ventures actually prefer you don't have Japanese skills, just like many eikaiwas and other teaching establishments prefer you haven't mastered a single JPLT test as well.

In fact, most most preferred is having good chops as a proofreader or line editor. Developmental editors are less in demand, as product teams and newspapers don't really want us fooling around with what has already cleared the translator… they simply want us to check for grammar troubles. They pay is good (sometimes around 10 yen a word), so, even if the work takes you some time to get though (and believe me, some of these first paragraphs you'll proof in newspapers will make your head spin), the effort is well rewarded money-wise.

Lets' take a look at how this world works a bit, and view some of the resources that can help you determine if this is the right sort of side hustle for you. Again, like many of the things I'm mentioning here (if not all of them), … they can (and almost should if you'd like them to) become a regular well-paying gig for you. Okay, saddle up… more after the jump.

Dig games and Manga? Good with words, and at least two languages? Create a new career for yourself as a game localizer, or manga translator. There is more need than you know. Check out Rocket Languages and jumpstart a career in Localization this year.

Doc Kane in Japan

About Me

Howdy, all, I'm Doc. I live in the beautiful port city of Kobe, JAPAN with my wife Reiko. Together we co-founded the Japanese literature translation firm, Maplopo. Nihon Hustle grew out of my desire to help others interested in working with, or starting, a business Japan—or anywhere else in the world!

We all wear different hats and my job is to help you find the one that fits you best. Thanks for reading, and go get 'em!