Vienna in December

Living room. Can you spot Junia?
As our dear readers know, Dagy lives in Vienna, Austria, while Judy lives in Las Vegas, NV, USA. In spite of this formidable distance, we spend a lot of time together. This year, we've already had more than two months of twin time, and there's more to come: Dagy and her other half are going to spend the Christmas holidays in Las Vegas, which is fantastic. The only challenge: finding a good cat-sitter without breaking the bank. Hence, this blog posting: does one of our colleagues want to cat-sit our friendly cat Junia? In exchange you get to spend the holidays in a gorgeous apartment in Vienna for free. It's truly a magical time to be in Vienna. 

View from the 8th floor
The place is located in the newly hip 12th district in Vienna and is a two-story condo --approximately 1250 sq.ft. There's wi-fi in the entire place, and there's a fully furnished guest room with access to a private interior patio. The sitter would get to use the entire condo (exception: master bedroom). It's located a few minutes' walk from the subway (line 6). Downtown Vienna is roughly 25 minutes away by subway. The dates: December 9th, 2011 through January 9th, 2012 (earlier arrival and/or later departure might also be an option).
Junia in the guest room

We are looking for someone who is very responsible and who truly loves animals, especially cats. You are of course welcome to bring a partner, but no children, please. The condo has two bathrooms. If you are interested or have any questions, please e-mail Dagy.

NOTIS Event in Seattle: Last Day to Sign Up

Time flies -- it's International Translation Day again this Friday! Have a great day, dear translators and interpreters around the world. Many associations are putting on events, parties and get-together to celebrate the event, and we even heard that the Florida association is going on a cruise. 

Judy is happy and honored to have been invited to celebrate our big day by giving two workshops at the Northwest Translators & Interpreters Society in Seattle on October 1st. The full-day workshop will be held at a very unique venue: the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field. A gourmet lunch will be provided by McCormick and Schmick's at no extra charge. In addition, attendees will get post-event access to the museum (included in the cost of workshop registration). Judy will present "No Pain, No Gain: Active Marketing to Direct Clients" and "Web 2.0 for Entrepreneurial Linguists." Today is the last day to sign up! Get started here

Handmade Cards for International Translation Day

Back in June, Judy had the pleasure of meeting multi-talented translator Justyna Mackowska in Dublin, Ireland, where Judy gave a presentation at the Irish Translators' and Interpreters' Association. Justyna came bearing gifts: an adorable handmade card with sheep on it (Judy loves fluffy Irish sheep). Now Justyna came out with a fabulous new card in honor of International Translation Day (September 30). Have a very close look at the card -- do you see something that looks familiar? We decided to pick up a few cards to send to some of our friends and wanted to share the information with our readers. These are one-of-a-kind handmade cards -- not the kind of card you could buy at your local store. And no, we have no financial interest: we are just happy customers. To purchase the cards and made secure payments via PayPal, please visit Justyna's Etsy page

Online T&I Courses Offered by Prestigious German University

Our dear colleague Bianca Blüchel of Germany just shared this professional development opportunity with us. The well-known Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz at Germersheim is offering  affordable online courses in both translation and interpreting this fall (classes run from October through December). These are for interpreters/translators who have German as one of their working languages (the website is entirely in German), and the line-up of classes is quite fantastic. The best part? You get to attend classes at this renowned institution for a total of 10 weeks (once a week) for EUR 10 a session. Have a look at the available classes here. The technical requirements are quite basic -- all you need is a high-speed internet connection and a headset. All classes are taught by highly qualified instructors and long-time T&I professionals.

Self-Exploitation, Anyone?

We recently learned about the launch of a new website. Its business model made us wonder if the industry has hit a new low. Meet London-based (we are purposely not providing a link to this site, and you will see why).

They seem to find it appalling that translators, just like any other professional service providers, traditionally charge minimum fees. So they set out to change that, offering clients chat-style “translations” at no minimum charge, live and online, whether they need a few words or merely a few sentences (don’t even get us started on the context issue). Info from their website: “Welcome to the first worldwide live system with translators at your fingertips with one click of a button!”

The website in question, seems to view translators as highly exchangeable commodities whose output is measured and billed by the minute, as if they were phone calls to say, a customer service line. We know that the per-minute billing system is popular in the over-the-phone interpreting world, but we hear that the rates are usually quite fair and professional. However, we are not experts in phone interpreting, so we won't delve into that issue. Back to the website in question. Not surprisingly, there is no information about who is behind this company.

As they are quick to point out, you, as a freelancer, are absolutely free to set your own per-minute rates. At the same time, you are encouraged to stay competitive. Sostranslatorschat claims to have “1500 translators available in all language combinations.” We seriously doubt that, since they’re sending out e-mails recruiting translators left and right.

Thinking about signing up? Think again. It’s translators who are willing to exploit themselves who end up complaining about their dire financial situation, blaming the system they help fuel in the first place. By accepting these terms, you devalue translation services to the detriment of all of us. Know your worth and charge accordingly.

Here’s a thought experiment: imagine that there is a new platform for self-exploitation, but nobody shows up for work. Websites like these will exist as long as there are translators out there willing to work for them. It’s up to all of us to change that. Will you join us?

Fill in the Blank

Now that Judy has gone back to school for one class -- criminal law at a local college-- ten years after finishing her MBA, we thought it was time for one of those "fill in the blank" questions that seem to be so popular on university exams. We were thinking -- what does the internet (or Internet, depending on the style guide) mean to you professionally?

Fill in the blank:
"The Internet is ________________________________."

We'd love to hear what you have to say, dear readers.

Webinar Questions Answered

Thanks to the 100 language professionals from around the world (full house!) who attended Speaking of Translation's free webinar on August 31, which Judy was delighted to present. The topic was "Choosing your clients wisely: the benefits of being selective," and we received a number of good questions at the end of the session. Unfortunately, Judy wasn't able to answer them all, but here are two more questions and two more answers for your reading pleasure.

Question: Do you recommend that translators track the inquiries that they get and see, over time, how many projects they accept and how many they decline? 

Answer: Absolutely! Yes, do track that if you can. We think tracking data is a powerful thing, but it does take a little bit of time. Dagy's boyfriend wrote a nifty little program for us that tracks the number of inquiries and how many projects one actually gets. It doesn't allow you to create a break-down between projects you decline and projects you simply don't get for other reasons, but it's a great, free, web-based application. Check out Inquiry Wizard here. Alternatively, a simple Excel spreadsheet or even a handwritten log would do it.

Question: Is it useful to mention the possibility of late fees in your terms of service, and then to put late fees into practice in the case of non-payment?
Answer: Sure. The more information you can put in either your price quote or your terms of service, the better. We think it's important to be transparent about as much as you can so there are no surprises down the road. Now, enforcing payment of late fees is usually a fruitless endeavor (can you tell one of us is married to an attorney?), but they do the trick as an effective deterrent and let your customers know that you mean business.

To listen to a free recording of Judy's webinar, visit the Speaking of Translation website. Judy also has an upcoming webinar on October 17 through eCPD webinars. It's not free, but quite affordable at £20 (approximately $32 at today's exchange rate), and it's a hot topic: Pricing Strategies for Translators
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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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