Happy Update: Helping a Colleague Recover

(Update: We have removed the donate button because this campaign has concluded. We are beyond grateful to all our friends and colleagues who have contributed. We are happy to report that Álvaro  now has a full-time court interpreting position in California and is doing much better! We raised more than $10,000 for Álvaro and his wife. Hard to believe, but true! See  here for the final update).

This last post of the year is, without a doubt, our most personal and most important entry. It's a follow-up to our post about the donation efforts for Álvaro   Degives-Más. The last 48 hours, since we posted a blog entry about our dear colleague's medical and financial troubles, has generated so much interest that we've barely been able to catch up on e-mails! We have cried a lot -- but it's happy tears. Every time a donation hits our inbox, our family (we are on vacation in Los Angeles) cheers loudly -- even while driving (OK, we will stop that). The outpour of generosity has been so tremendous that we now have renewed faith in the goodness of humanity. We are absolutely floored by our friends' and colleagues' response. Álvaro Degives-Más and his wife Trish want each and every single donor to know that their gratitude can simply not be expressed in words. Here is a short overview of what's happened:
  • We posted the blog post at 11 p.m. Pacific on Wednesday, December 28. By the end of December 29, we had raised $400. By December 30, we were up to $960. As of 8 a.m. Pacific today, the last day of the year, we are up to an astonishing $3,000. It's hard to believe, but it's true.
  • Yesterday, we spoke to Trish,  Álvaro's wife, who was moved to tears when we gave her the good news. She really did need some good news!  Álvaro was sleeping, trying to recover from his heart attack. We transferred $1,800 of the funds raised yesterday (we kept some in the fund because we received some e-checks that had not cleared). Since then, we've raised an additional $1,200.
  • We've sent a thank-you note to every donor. The donations are coming in faster than we can send out notes -- wow!
  • We have received donations in a wide variety of amounts, from $2 to $475 (really).
  • The donations have come in from more than 20 countries: Israel, Peru, Argentina, Denmark, UK, Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Canada, Ireland, US, etc.
  • How did we do it? We blogged, twittered, e-mailed hundreds of friends and family, and asked permission to post this information on listservs of several professional organizations, including the American Translators Association. We are still completely floored by the response. 
  • Even though PayPal charges some fees, we've been happy with their service. Our IT guru did some research and found that it was indeed the best way to get donations from around the world.
Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts. We've included the donate button once more in case you are interested in supporting this cause. Have a happy and health 2012!

The True Spirit of Christmas: Helping a Colleague Recover

(Update: We have removed the donate button because this campaign has concluded. We are beyond grateful to all our friends and colleagues who have contributed. We are happy to report that Álvaro  now has a full-time court interpreting position in California and is doing much better! We raised more than $10,000 for Álvaro and his wife. Hard to believe, but true! See here for the update and here, too).
We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas/holiday season, dear readers and colleagues. Unfortunately, one of our wonderful colleagues and friends,  Álvaro Degives-Más of Reno, Nevada, did not: he suffered a heart attack on December 23. After a few days in intensive care in St. Mary's Hospital, he was discharged, but his medical bills have proven to be an almost insurmountable challenge. The same week, his wife underwent a painful ophtalmologic surgery without anaesthesia (!) to save funds and the procedure was not successful. They lack the funds for another procedure, and she has lost vision in one eye. They have no insurance. To make things even worse, they also lost their car last week. 
Judy and Álvaro in Vegas this year.

Álvaro Degives-Más is a court-certified Spanish interpreter and Spanish, Dutch and English translator. He's also the co-founder of the Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association and a relentless advocate for our profession. He's donated hundreds of hours to NITA and other organizations, and he's NITA's wonderful webmaster.

This is obviously a very difficult time for him, and we've obtained his permission to post his story here. Would you be willing to join is in a donation for Álvaro? Every little bit helps. Can you imagine how much of a difference we could make if every person who reads this just donates $5? We are getting incredibly excited just thinking about this -- and we know our colleagues are a generous and wonderful group. We've created a PayPal donation account. Thank you so much for reading and for spreading the word. Clicking on the "donate" button will make you feel good, we promise!

Making a donation via PayPal is easy: just choose your amount -- you don't even need a PayPal account. We have chosen this method, in spite of the small fees associated with it, because we wanted to make it easy for colleagues from around the world to donate if they are so inclined. Unfortunately, we don't have time to set up a non-profit, so the donation will not be tax-deductible. 

Last-Minute Holiday Gifts for Translators and Interpreters

If you've had a crazy month and forgot to get presents for your favorite colleagues, then you might be panicking at this point. After all, it's December 22, so there isn't much time left. However, there's no need to give up on gifts even if it's a bit late. The following are the only items we could come up with that are directly related to our profession and require no shipping and no wrapping. Happy holidays!

  1. The Translator's Toolbox: A Computer Primer for Translators  is the perfect guide for anything you need to know about technology (PDf files, operating systems, translation environment tools, terminology tools, online security, and much much more) by ATA technology guru, working translator, prolific writer and all-around great guy Jost Zetzsche. This 400-page, password protected PDF can be purchased via PayPal and is $50 ($30 for ATA members). In addition, there's the premium edition of Jost's incredibly popular newsletter (The Tool Kit), which you can send to your favorite translator (or interpreter) for $15. 
  2. How to succeed as a freelance translator by Corinne McKay. This is the second edition of what we've called "the bible for freelance translators." Without a doubt, this is the best how-to-get-started guide that's available. We love her printed book, but since you are pressed for time, you can order the e-book for immediate download here. It's $15. 
  3. Give the gift of good research by purchasing an annual subscription to the invaluable Payment Practices database. Expertly run by our wonderful colleague Ted Wozniak, there's no better tool than to research an LSP before you take a job than Payment Practices (PP). This might be the best $19.99 gift you could give a translator. 
  4. Chris Durban's The Prosperous Translator. We really enjoyed this very witty, well-written book (have a look at our review here), and it's available for immediate download for $16 here

Make It Meaningful

This is the season to be grateful, and indeed we are. We are also liking the many holiday cards we are receiving from family, friends, colleagues, clients and vendors from around the world. We don't want to sound ungrateful, but we wanted to bring up an important point that can turn a simple card into something meaningful as opposed to something that has no value. Let us elaborate.

A few days ago, we received two cards from two people (actually, one person and one corporation) we had never heard of. Both had just signed their names inside a pre-printed card. There was no personal note nor a hint as to our relationship to the sender. We both had no idea who the folks were, and as much as we appreciate a card, they have turned out to be meaningless. However, they could have become meaningful with a simple note along the lines of "nice meeting you at XYZ..." or "thanks for purchasing our database management software" or "nice working with you on XYZ project." We really do think it's important to take a few minutes to write a personal note on each and every holiday card. If you don't do that, it's just another piece of mail that's not meaningful. We think it's fantastic to go to the trouble of writing cards in this digital area, but let's take them to the next level and show the recipient that we have something nice to say about them. It's also an opportunity to show off your writing skills -- after all, we are linguists. With that, we are off to finish our last cards.

Happy holidays!

Sounds Fishy: Chinese Textile Company

Our friend Jennifer Horne recently sent us this information about a fishy-sounding translation project. We are happy to post it here to share it with colleagues who might have been contacted by this particular person as well.  Of course, one usually doesn't know for sure if the project is a scam until one has actually  been scammed. However, this project surely is full of red flags. 

Does this one sound familiar? If yes, does anyone know how the scam works? Is it one of those where the "client" sends you a fraudulent check? Here is the e-mail we received from Jen.

I know how you are about keeping track on scams and I wanted to share this with you in case you want to share it on your blog.

This job was for a Chinese textile company. The emails with them were very fishy. They were extremely agreeable (possibly a little too agreeable) to all of my rates, and even my travel day fee! I felt as though they were being quite pushy to get me to book the days (they said they would need me for 5 days). 

They were not cooperating with me so I can find out some basic information. I kept asking them to call me so I can ask them some questions before I send my official quote just so I know more about what I'd be getting myself into (type of event, who the other interpreter is, who THEY even are in regards to the Chinese company who is the client...) and they never called. I had no way of calling them of course.

One day I get an email from "Robin" and the next day it's from "Robert". Their email address is from a yahoo address... 

Then after typing the company name+scam I found tons of pages. Here is one.

The Wait Is Over: Mox Illustrated Guide to Translation

As of today, fans of Mox's hilarious translation and interpreting cartoons are in for a treat. Alejandro Moreno-Ramos, Mox's talented creator, released the long-awaited book of cartoons. We'd been keeping our fingers crossed that he would release it before the holidays, and here it is! We can't wait to receive our copies, and this is definitely the gift we've been looking forward to giving to friends and colleagues in the industry. Congratulations to Alejandro for finishing the book! You can easily order the book, which we bet will be a bestseller, via the website and pay by PayPal. The book features 200 cartoons, half of which have never been published before. In addition, you will find articles by well-known translation bloggers.  

Open Thread: What Are You Grateful For?

Ah, the holidays are here. Instead of being relaxed and serene, many of us are running around, stressed out about a million things we have to do. We try to buck the trend and try to not focus so much on stuff but rather on people and on the true spirit of the season -- whatever one's beliefs may be. In that spirit, our tally for items bought on Black Friday: $0. On Cyber Monday: $40 for new business cards, on sale at Vistaprint. We think it's time to focus on the essentials, and we'd rather donate to the needy than buy more things, but we digress.

So here's our question for you. We all have a lot to be thankful for, in our private lives and in our professional lives. What are you the most grateful for this holiday season? If you are grateful to have a specific person in you business life, then pick up the phone and tell them -- or send a cute card. 

For us, it's easy. We are grateful for each other. There would be no Twin Translations without both twins. We are lucky that we get to work with our best friend every day.

We'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment if you'd like. 

Online Survey for U.S.-Based Spanish/English Translators

We were recently contacted by Dina Nicolorich, an Argentine translator who is getting her graduate degree at the University of Heidelberg in Germany. She'd kindly asked us to complete a survey that is part of the research for her thesis, and we were happy to do so (it took less than 10 minutes). In the spirit of collegial collaboration, we promised Dina that we would spread the word, so if you have a few minutes, please fill out the highly confidential (this is Germany, after all) online survey. Dina is looking for translators, translation agencies and translation buyers. Please click on the links below rather than copying and pasting into an URL, as doing so will invalidate the link. This survey studies linguists based in the U.S.

Thanks, in advance, for helping a young colleague with her formal academic research!

1. Translators:
here to answer a survey

2. Agencies:
here to answer a survey

3. Buyers:
here to answer a survey

Password Security: Food for Thought

Password Strength
Today's food for thought comes courtesy of Caitilin Walsh, the president-elect of the American Translators Association. Judy and Caitilin were recently discussing password security, and how difficult it is to keep all our passwords straight. We've written about Keepass, the free password management software that we use. It can randomly assign complex passwords (with letters and special characters) or lets you create your own. However, Caitilin, who is married to a Microsoft engineer, correctly pointed out that recent data suggests that it's easier to hack into accounts that have combinations of numbers and special characters than into accounts with four random words after another. Try it -- just choose four random words from the dictionary. We just tried this with our Mother Jones magazine and came up with defense/sense/similar/common. The image you see here came from this very funny website (visit the site for a larger image of the cartoon). Thanks for sharing, Caitilin!

Discounted Entrepreneurial Linguist Sessions

We rarely promote our own services on this blog, but since the holidays are coming up and many are looking for presents for the translator/interpreter in their lives, we wanted to share an offer we came up with for Judy's Entrepreneurial Linguist consulting sessions. Here are the details.

The regular rate for the completely customized two-hour session (in person in the Las Vegas areas or via Skype) is $300. From November 23 through December 31, 2011, we will be offering a 10% discount, so the price is now $270. Just mentioned that you saw this discount on Translation Times and we will give it to you! If a two-hour session is too much, then you might like the discounted one-hour session (regular: $150) at $135 for either yourself or someone you really love. Now for the small print: sessions must be booked and paid by December 31, 2011 (pre-payment is required), but can be redeemed for up to one year from purchase.

Happy holidays!

Spanish-Language Word of the Day

There's nothing quite like learning something new -- and as translators and interpreters, we do need to learn new things, specifically new words, on a regular basis to expand our vocabulary. We've long been addicted to "La palabra del día" (word of the day), and we know many fellow Spanish translators who also love this daily dose of wisdom.

It's a free e-mail sent by La Página del Idioma Español. The site was founded by Uruguayan journalist and Spanish-language expert Ricardo Soca. The e-mail presents one highly useful word a day and gives you a lot of interesting historical and etymological background on the term. It's a quick, fascinating read, and it makes us feel a bit smarter every day.

To sign up for free, please visit the Spanish-language link of La palabra del día.

ATA Boston 2011: Video Highlights

For those of you who did not make it to the ATA conference in Boston and for those of you who would like to relive the memories: enjoy this video, produced by the ATA!

See you in San Diego next year?

Interpreting Marketplace Study Available for Free

Many of our readers might be familiar with the Common Sense Advisory, the only research firm that studies the translation, interpreting and localization market. Every year, they produce a myriad of in-depth reports and studies about our industry. Their clients are language service providers and companies of all sizes around the world -- and naturally, not freelancers who do not have the need for formal marketing research. However, the data is highly interesting, but also a tad on the expensive side for individual translators and interpreters. That's why we were very excited to hear that Common Sense Advisory had teamed up with InterpretAmerica, a national forum for the interpreting profession run by Katharine Allen and Barry Slaughter Olsen, and had been commissioned to do the first-ever study on interpreting in the North American market. The entire 88-page report is available for free on the InterpretAmerica website. 

Here are some of the main findings as detailed by Nataly Kelly, chief research officer at Common Sense Advisory (CSA), on the CSA blog:

  • Most interpreters specialize in multiple areas. The majority of interpreters reported working in diverse settings and across geographic boundaries, even though associations are divided on the basis of industry sector as well as countries, regions, and states or provinces.
  • By and large, interpreters are translators. The vast majority of interpreters also do written translation work. Nearly eight out of 10 interpreters reported that they also work as translators. This does not mean that the reverse is true (that most translators are interpreters).
  • Interpreters are getting older. The data reveals a clear "graying of the profession," as the majority of interpreters are now getting on in age, while smaller numbers of new recruits are entering the field.

You can download the entire study, titled "The Interpreting Marketplace: A Study of Interpreting in North America" by Nataly Kelly, Robert G. Stewart, and Vijayalaxmi Hegde here. Please remember that the Common Sense Advisory holds the copyright to the report. When citing the data, please be sure to attribute it to the source. Happy reading!

Interpreters: Life/Death

We've really enjoyed sharing this public service announcement video by TAHIT (Texas Association of Healthcare Interpreters and Translators), and many of you might have already seen it. If not, you are in for a very powerful message. Our new favorite newsletter for interpreters, Interprenaut, featured this video in last month's newsletter. Have a look at a situation when interpreters can make the difference between life and death. This is a great video to underline the vital importance of interpreters, especially in the healthcare sector.

Tote Bags for Translators and Interpreters

Our Twin Translations totes.
A lot of great things happened to Judy during last week's American Translators Association (which she attended sans twin), but one of her favorite moments was receiving a surprise gift from fellow translator Tom Ellett. Tom, who lives in Ontario, Canada, is always full of great ideas. You might remember that he was the one who recommended graphic designer Sandra Busta to us. We actually ended up having dinner with her in Santiago de Chile in April earlier this year, but we digress.

Tom's tote and laptop bag.
We could not believe that Tom gave us these gorgeous tote bags that his wife, artist Alison Ruth, had designed and made for us. Judy got a little teary-eyed when she received this fantastic gift. We are very grateful for this thoughtful present and will proudly carry our eco-friendly totes around town and across the world.

Now, we are not getting paid to say this, but wouldn't these make a great gift for a fellow translator, interpreter or small business owner in your life? You can order them on Alison's website, where she also offers a great variety of other useful, unique, handmade and very pretty gifts. Plus, it's nice to support another small business, isn't it? Alison is a very talented artist, and turns out she's been working with a needle and a thread for more than 30 years. We are very impressed, as we couldn't even knit a scarf in school. Thanks again, Alison and Tom!

Upcoming Workshop in Albuquerque: November 12

For those of you in the American Southwest who did not have the chance to attend last week's fantastic American Translators Association 52nd Annual Conference in Boston, there are many wonderful seminars in your neck of the woods that don't include a trip across the country. We wanted to let you know about the Entrepreneurial Linguist workshop that Judy will be giving in Albuquerque, New Mexico, at the New Mexico Translators and Interpreters Association on November 12. Please see below for more info. Hope to see you there!

The New Mexico Translators and Interpreters Association is proud to announce a special session of Judy Jenner's popular and acclaimed Entrepreneurial Linguist seminar, Saturday, November 12, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Who: Judy Jenner
What: The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business-School Approach to Freelance Translation and Interpreting
When: Saturday, November 12, 2011 from 12:00-3:30 pm (bring a brown-bag lunch if you like; light refreshments provided during breaks)
Where: Albuquerque Public Schools City Center Building, 6400 Uptown Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109
How: Email nmtia.mail@gmail.com to register, and send a check for $15 (NMTIA members) or $40 (non-members) to: NMTIA, PO Box 36263, Albuquerque, NM 87176
More details: The seminar's website can be found here: http://www.entrepreneuriallinguist.com/

ATA Conference in Boston: Where to Find Judy

It's hard to believe that it's been a year since the two of us met up in Denver to attend the 51st Annual ATA Conference in 2010. Unfortunately, this year there won't be a twin reunion at the conference. Dagy has other commitments in Europe, and will be in the U.S. for a full month starting in early December. 

As our dear readers might know, Judy is all about meeting up with friends old and new. Here's where to find Judy at the 52nd Annual American Translators Association Conference:
1) Her association, the Nevada Interpreters and Translators Association, will have a small display table with information about the association. Look for the "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign. Judy will be at the table quite a bit.
2) You might like to attend one of Judy's three presentations. Here they are: The Entrepreneurial Linguist: Lessons from Business School, Smart Business for Interpreters and Translators (panel) and Myths and Truth: Preparing for the State Court Interpreter Certification Exam 
3) In the early evenings, try the bar. Judy can be found hanging out with the guy in the cowboy hat, ATA board member Ted Wozniak.
4) Contact her via private message at Twitter (@language_news) or shoot her an e-mail if you'd like to meet up!
5) Judy will join fellow authors Corinne McKay and Chris Durban at a book signing on Friday, October 28, at 5 p.m. at the InTrans Book Services booth inside the exhibit hall. No need to buy a book -- you can just stop by and say hello!

See you in Boston?

Google Adwords: Another $100 Up For Grabs

We've been receiving a lot of these free Google Adwords coupons lately, and we are happy to give them away. There's no catch at all. The only thing is that whoever get it has to be a new user of Google Adwords -- which we are not.

So: we are giving away a $100 certificate for Google Adwords. As usual, you have to answer a question. This one is a bit trickier. We will give the certificate to whomever answer the question correctly (if there are several folks, we will draw names). The certificate must be used by November 30, and we will e-mail the access data to the winner.

Which language is Dagy currently studying? Hint: it's not a Romance language. Good luck!

Sounds of Nature

The "light thunderstorm" theme.
As always, our web guru is responsible for one of our newest obsessions: Ambient Mixer. It's a free website that lets you listen to some very relaxing sound recordings of things like rain, beach, etc. We are particularly fond of the scuba diving recording (even though it's a bit spooky), grassland and rain, rain, rain. There are also some oddball recordings to be found, including a few for Halloween and things like "restaurant in the evening" that can be used for videos and movies -- free thanks to the Creative Commons License.

Listening to the recordings (they are actually mixes of audio files) online is entirely free. However, there is a small fee to download the recordings. Get started here. If you don't find something you like, you can create your own with the handy mixer. Watch this video to get more details. 

Enciphering Web-Based E-Mail

This nifty tip comes from our resident web guru, who's great at finding free new tools that make our lives easier -- and safer. It's an online encryption method that works with web-based e-mail accounts (and Outlook, too). It's also an excellent tool for sending important information via Facebook. There's nothing to download and it's completely free. Here's how it works:

1) You copy and paste the text you want to encrypt on the website https://encipher.it/
2) You create an encryption password
3) You send the message, and in order to decrypt it, the recipient has to enter the same password 

We just tested it using Judy's Gmail account and it worked like a charm.  Update on Outlook (we'd previously said this program didn't work with Outlook): we've been corrected by our web guru and we feel slightly silly. Since this software is cut/paste, it also works with Outlook. Great news! 
Here is some technical information from the creators for your peace of mind:
We use Advanced Encryption Standard to protect your data. All encoding/decoding is performed locally in your browser.

Kiva Needs You: Volunteer Translators (Spanish->English)

As our readers might know, we are big fans of micro-lending site Kiva, and we've posted about their need for volunteer translators before. Kiva just recently contacted us again and asked us to help spread the word about their need for Spanish->English translators. We think doing pro bono translations is a wonderful way to give back to the community. This is also a great alternative for relatively new translators. We think it's infinitely better to do pro bono translations for a deserving non-profit than to work for really low rates. Here's the info we received from Kiva:

Kiva is recruiting Spanish translators!
Kiva borrower Marta Alicia, Guatemala
Kiva is currently in need of Spanish to English volunteer translators to support entrepreneurs all over Latin America. After English, Spanish is the second-highest volume of loans that are posted to the Kiva website, and we’re looking to expand our team of Spanish translators to help us prepare for the busy holiday season and increases in loan volume in 2012. Ideal candidates are native (or near-native) English speakers who have translation experience and are comfortable using new technology. We will be testing applicants through the end of October. Click here to read more about our program and to apply!

About the Kiva Volunteer Translation Program
One of the New York Times Magazine’s “Top Ideas of 2006,” Kiva.org is the world's first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to entrepreneurs all over the world. The Kiva Volunteer Translation Program offers the opportunity to use your skills to make a direct contribution, improve your language skills, network with other Kiva volunteers and build your resume. Volunteering from their own homes, Kiva volunteers translate entrepreneurs' profiles into English, which are then posted for funding at Kiva.org

Affordable Promotional Items

Our dear readers might know that we think it's very important to keep marketing and advertising costs low for small businesses. Many small businesses fail because they can't control their expenses, particularly on the advertising and promotions side, so we don't want any T&I businesses to fall into this trap. Luckily, most of our advertising is done on the web, which is largely free except for the cost of our time. 

However, since Judy is a master-level court-certified Spanish interpreter in the state of Nevada, she wanted a small item she could give to lawyers, social workers, clerks, etc. as an effective promotional tool. We didn't want another tchotchke that no one uses, so we went for the one thing that people are constantly looking for and are usually grateful for: a pen. We shopped around, and even though the prices were slightly higher than elsewhere, we found a charming, locally-owned store in suburban L.A., where Judy's hubby grew up. They focus on trophies for sporting events, but also make a wide range of pens. We visited them, chose a pen, and were all ready to give them the Twin Translations credit card. The problem? We never heard back from them and they never sent us the proof we requested, even after several e-mails and phone calls. We know what it's like to be a customer, so we make sure to never leave our clients hanging, but that's a topic for another blog post.

Lots of Twin Translations pens
We ended up ordering from one of our favorite stores, U.S.-based Costco, a membership-only warehouse store. While there is a big carbon footprint because the pens ship from the East Coast, the price was right: roughly $0.35/pen if you purchase 300 (which we did). For a very small fee, Costco did the lay-out for us. It was a bit painful to make all the info fit, but the Costco designers were really patient and worked with us until we were happy -- talk about great customer service! Now every time someone digs for a pen during a deposition or meeting, Judy pulls out her cloth bag full of Twin Translations pen and hands them out. People love them -- and at $150 or so, the investment was quite small. 

Dear readers: do you have a favorite promotional item for your business? We'd love to hear about it.

Upcoming Webinar: Pricing Strategies

Conference season is here and we are excited to attend workshops and events around the U.S. and Europe. However, professional development from the comfort of your own home is also fantastic, and Judy is looking forward to presenting a session on "Pricing for Translators" on Monday, October 17, 2011 at 4 p.m. British Summer Time (see the world clock to convert to your time zone). It is being  offered by eCPD Ltd, a very cool  new webinar company run by fellow translators Lucy Brooks and Sarah Dillon. To register for this event, please click here. The cost is £20.

 All you need is a high-speed internet connection and a headset to listen in. Questions from the audience will also be answered at the end of the session (time permitting).

Here is the abstract for this one-hour webinar.

Pricing: it’s a controversial and complex subject, one that’s almost become a taboo in our industry. However, it’s something that all linguists need to think about very seriously. After all, we love what we do, but we also want to make a good living at it. In order to achieve that, while not having to work around the clock, it’s essential to figure out how to price one’s services. In accordance with legal stipulations and regulations from associations around the world, the speaker will not be making specific price recommendations. However, the following will be discussed:
  • How much do you want to make?
  • Moral/ethical obligations?
  • Brief overview of supply, demand and price
  • The peanuts/monkeys phenomenon
  • Alternatives to very low prices for newcomers to the profession
  • The business case for no free translation tests
  • Surcharges (weekend, 24-hour turnaround, PDF, etc.)
  • Dealing with adversity
  • Adjustments for inflation
  • The professionalization of the industry – what does it mean for pricing?

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 www.sostranslatorchat.com (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, sostranslatorchat.com 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

Google Adwords: EUR 50 Up For Grabs

It's time for another raffle -- we love raffles! We recently received a coupon from Google Adwords, but it's only for new users of this nifty online ad system, so we are not eligible to use it. Thus, we figured we'd raffle it off among our loyal readers. It's for EUR 50 and has to be used by the end of September.We will randomly choose a winner from the readers who answer the following question correctly:

Dagmar has recently started learning a new language. Which one is it?

Good luck!

Choosing Your Clients Wisely: Free Webinar on 8/31

We don't know about you, but we love free stuff, especially free professional development! Well, here's a free webinar for you: join Judy this Wednesday, August 31, 2011 at 10 AM Mountain Time (convert it to your time zone) for a half-hour webinar on "Choosing your clients wisely: the benefits of being selective." The webinar is hosted by our friends and industry veterans Corinne McKay and Eve Bodeux through their Speaking of Translation webinar series. 
There's no catch and no string attached. No one will try to sell you anything, but you do have to sign up (takes less than a minute). Corinne and Eve will also raffle off two copies of our book. Sign up here

One Dog, Many Verbs and Nouns

Luna and one of her favorite toys, Foxy.
Happy Friday, everyone! For those of you who haven't seen it, we wanted to share this amazing video of Chaser, the world's smartest dog (not surprisingly, she's a Border collie). Chaser knows more than 1,000 words and successfully responds to commands that involve both verbs and nouns, such as "paw lamb." After receiving that command, Chaser walks over to her toys and puts a paw on top of her toy lamb. As a reward, she gets to play with her blue ball, aptly named Blue. We've tried this with Judy's dog, Luna, who's adorable and sweet, but she's not as smart as Chaser. We asked Luna to bring over her polar bear toy, but she brought the fox instead (we are still proud of her). Clearly, Judy is no university researcher or dog trainer, and Luna is no Chaser. According to psychologists, Chaser's ability to respond to this many human words nearly puts her at the intellectual level of a three-year-old. 

Watch the video here. How many commands does your furry friend know?

Singular or Plural?

We've noticed a strange phenomenon lately. Perhaps you've heard of it. It goes like this: one-person companies that usually offer services have outstanding websites with lots of information about services provided, background, contact information, etc. It's fantastic that all these small businesses have a web presence. The strange thing is that we've realized that many of these solo providers -- whether they be graphic designers, accountants, freelance web developers, translators or interpreters -- refer to themselves in the plural. We know it's not a matter of grammar: everyone knows the difference between singular and plural. However, by reading through the website, it is pretty clear that there's only one person who works there. The question then remains: why do solo providers have "About us" pages and talk about "our services" and "we provide"? Do office pets count as employees? We think that deep down, solo providers oftentimes think that they are not good enough because they run a micro operation, but nothing could be further from the truth, in our humble opinion.

First of all, we think all you solo providers should be incredibly proud of running a one-woman/man show. Most people will never be as brave as you are and decide to go into business for yourselves, yet many economies, including the weak American economy, depend on small businesses (says the American government). So: give yourself a pat on the back -- running your own show as a micro business  is great! Now:  there's no need to make yourself sound like a bigger company than you are. There's nothing wrong with being a one-person company; in fact, it's fantastic. We do think it is misleading and well, untruthful, to speak of yourself in the plural when there's only one of you. We checked with our pro bono laywer, and off the top of his head (disclaimer: he was mowing the lawn when we asked), he doesn't think that misrepresentation is strictly illegal, unless you claim to have a certain number of employees or claim to be able to provide specific services that turns out you cannot. So it's not illegal, but is it ethical? That's a personal decision, but we'd say it's probably not. There's no reason to start your business relationship with every single one of your potential customers by telling a white lie. There's only one of you, and that's a good thing (no co-workers, yay). We think transparency is a great thing. Now please go and update the "About us" section and make it "About me." By the way: since we are twins, we do have an "About us" section on our website, as we are two people. Unfortunately, growing up, many people thought we were one person, resulting in one birthday present on our joint birthday. We tried in vain to convince them that "twins" means two people. But that's a topic for another blog post. 

Readers: what do you think? 

Book Review: The Prosperous Translator

We've recently read several outstanding books about translation and interpreting, and it's time that we reviewed them. First up: Chris Durban's "The Prosperous Translator: Advice from Fire Ant & Worker Bee." Full disclosure: we received a free review copy of this book from Chris, who is a colleague and friend of Judy's. Of course, we receive quite a few books, and receiving a book doesn't guarantee a good review. Quite the contrary: if the book isn't any good, we'll gladly tell you. That said, this book is truly outstanding. Read Judy's review below.

What do the Stockholm Syndrome, the poverty cult and office clutter have in common? They all make appearances in The Prosperous Translator, a book edited and compiled by French-to-English financial translator and industry superstar Chris Durban. The book is entirely composed of columns in a question/answer format, so don't expect an A-to-Z guide to translation, as Chris correctly points out in her introduction. That's what the recently published second edition of Corinne McKay's highly popular book, How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator, which we will review later this month, is for. 

The columns might sound familiar to careful readers of the online Translation Journal, where the Fire Ant & Worker Bee column ran from 1998 through 2010. Chris and her co-author Eugene Seidel dispensed excellent no-nonsense advice for linguists of all levels. In 2010, Chris decided to create this book, which has, not surprisingly, been very well received.

To call Chris the Ann Landers of the T&I is probably not doing her justice (she's a better writer than Ann Landers). She's funny, witty, spot-on and she dispenses the tough love that many of us truly need. The book is well-organized into overarching chapters, each focusing on essential parts of the business such as pricing and value (my favorite chapter), ethics, marketing and finding clients, getting started, payment issues specializing, etc. I recently heard from Chris that she hired a professional indexer to help her perfect the index -- and it shows.

There's been much speculation about whether the questions asked of Fire Ant & Worker Bee are actual questions from actual translators. Chris has insisted that they are, and I agree: you can't make this stuff up. As president of my local association of translators and interpreters, I am on the receiving end of a myriad of good, bad and outright baffling questions about our industry. Chris answers them all in her trademark honest and informative style. 

I could not agree more with Chris on her main points (all of her points, as a matter of fact). The recurring themes include a quest to defeat linguists' so-called poverty cult.  Ready for some tough love? It goes more or less like this: no one is forcing you to accept low rates. If you accept them, you are partially responsible, so stop whining and look for more profitable customers. Too tough for you? Well, she's right. The recurring theme is that translators write in saying that the barriers to entry are too low (true), there is a lot of competition (true), that they don't get paid what they are worth (whose fault is that?) and that there is no market for translators at the higher end of the market (Chris and I beg to differ). 

This is an empowering book that will drive home some of the most important points in our business, including the one that translators have to be gifted writers in their target languages. I think that's a crucial point that perhaps hasn't been emphasized as much in other books, and it's essential: if you are not a strong writer, this is not the right business for you. Chris proves that she's an eloquent, funny, witty and straight-forward writer, and emphasizes time and time again how essential it is to hone your writing skills. Chris is very generous with her advice and provides plenty of resources and advice on how to find the help you need, even though she gets some pretty silly questions from readers.

I am incredibly relieved that this book exists and have been sending many of the "I need answers about the industry" e-mails to her website in the hopes that this book will clear up many of the questions. It's ideal reading to keep on your nightstand as a quick reference and as an empowerment tool. No one said running a translation business was easy, and it's not. Those readers who are hoping for a highly lucrative business that involves little work are better off looking for the latest online sales strategy. A caveat: while many of the lessons discussed in this book also apply to interpreters, this book focuses mainly on translators -- as the title implies. 

The book's main point is beautifully illustrated by the very fact that the book exists. Not surprisingly, Chris is on the very high end of the translation market herself. She charges adequate rates for her professional services and doesn't have to work around the clock to pay her bills. Otherwise, how would she have time to write this book? She does emphasize that high rates are always earned, and one of my favorite quotes in her book is that "good clients do not buy translations from anonymous providers over the internet" (page 161). Even in the age of the internet, proximity to your clients is paramount; so find a way to reach your customers in person. 

The verdict: this book should be required reading for both beginning and seasoned translators around the globe. Especially for those starting out, $25 is a steal considering how much time and research this book will save you. Just like many books in our industry, this book is self-published, so please support Lulu.com by purchasing it on their website. Happy reading!
Join the conversation! Commenting is a great way to become part of the translation and interpretation community. Your comments don’t have to be overly academic to get published. We usually publish all comments that aren't spam, self-promotional or offensive to others. Agreeing or not agreeing with the issue at hand and stating why is a good way to start. Social media is all about interaction, so don’t limit yourself to reading and start commenting! We very much look forward to your comments and insight. Let's learn from each other and continue these important conversations.

Subscribe by email:


Twitter update

Site Info

The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

Translation Times