Free PDF Conversion Software Until February 5

PDFZilla is a Windows application that converts PDF files into Word documents, HTML files, JPG images and a variety of other formats.  The program usually costs $29.95, but you can now get it for a grand total of $0, which we like. Our techie guru found this great offer, and we figured we would share it our colleagues who have been looking for an affordable PDF conversion tool. We downloaded it in less than a minute. 
To get started, go to the PDFZilla websiteThe program is free until February 5th, so you only have a few days to get the download.  It runs on Windows 2000 and more recent versions. At 6 MB, it is quite small. 

When you go to the website, you will be shown a registration code. Be sure to write it down (or copy it) before you begin the installation process.  Then, once installed (execute the program as administrator if you run on Vista or Windows 7), click the "Register" button and type (or paste) your code.  Your software will be fully licensed and ready to use. 

Upcoming Webinars

If you would like to brush up on your skills or learn something new without having to leave your house, then webinars are a great option.  They are also excellent for colleagues who live in more isolated areas with little or no access to in-person workshops or seminars. A few months ago, Judy held the first-ever webinar in the new American Translators Association webinar series, and we've been fans ever since. The technology works quite well (with occasional challenges), and you don't need any fancy software -- mainly just an internet connection and a headset. Before you sign up, be sure to check the system requirements to make sure you have everything you need to participate.

Here are three great upcoming webinars:

  1. Corinne McKay's "Beyond the Basics of Freelancing" promises to be an exciting webinar. Corinne is a highly experienced translator and speaker and the author of the best-selling "How to succeed as a freelance translator." We highly recommend her presentations. It is Wednesday, January 26, at 12 noon EST. The cost is $40 (well worth it). For more information, please visit Corinne's website. This webinar is run through GoToWebinar, a top-notch software. 
  2. Eve Bodeux's "European Translators: Adapt Your Marketing Materials to Target US-Based Clients" is offered through Eve is also a great speaker and has 15 years' experience in the localization industry in the Americas, Asia and Europe. The webinar is February 3 at 11 a.m. EST. The cost is $15 and there are still a few seats left. For more information, please visit the education section of's website. 
  3. The American Translators Association continues its highly successful series with a February 17 webinar titled "Accentuate the Positive: Making Your Résumé Sing." The speaker has not been announced yet, but registration should start in the next few days. Visit the ATA webinar page for more information. The cost is $35 for ATA members and $50 for non-members. 
Happy learning!

Humor: Court Interpreter Needed

Sal Esposito of Boston will need linguistic assistance when he has to report to jury duty in Boston on March 23. Can you help Sal?

Enjoy this funny gem, courtesy of the American court system. As we all know, not being fluent in English is not reason enough not to sit on a jury -- that's why we have highly qualified court interpreters! Who is available for this unique job? Read the full story

Dress the Part

While we are identical twins, there are a few key differences. One of them is the fact that Dagmar is the more sporty twin when it comes to dressing, while Judy is most comfortable in dresses, suits and heels. What we do agree on is that in professional situations, it's best to always err on the side of being overdressed.

On interpreting assignments for legal depositions, Judy frequently gets mistaken for the attorney, which isn't a bad thing. And even though we've shown up to assignments in a suit when everyone else was wearing khakis, that's better than the other way around. Most of us work from the comfort of our homes, and there are no rules: wear whatever works for you when you are by yourself. However, when you leave the house to head to a work-related appointment, you should dress professionally. When in doubt, wear a suit -- you are always well-dressed in a suit, and it's nearly impossible to be overdressed in a professional situation (unless you are going to a charity fundraiser at the beach).

Unfortunately, we've heard the term "frumpy freelancer" quite a bit, and there might be a little bit of truth to it that home-based entrepreneurs can get a bit sloppy when it comes to professional dress. We can all help reverse that trend by trying to be the best-dressed person in the room. And dressing well doesn't have to be expensive: we get great deals on suits as discount stores such as Marshalls, Ross, Steinmart, etc.

Charity Donations: Free Deduction Calculator

Tax season is approaching rapidly in the U.S., and we wanted to share a website that our American CPA (whom we highly recommend; we finally found a great one!) told us about. It's a nifty and free tool to help you figure out how much your charity donations are worth. To claim 2010 deductions, can use this tool for donations you made last year for which you have a receipt from the charity, but for which you not yet calculated the value. Then attach a print-out from the software to the dated receipt you received from the charity to make sure you have all the proper documentation to prove your donations. Although this tool is developed by Intuit, maker of the fee-based Turbotax, the deduction tool, aptly named It's Deductible, is free. All you need is a free account -- and yes, they do want your e-mail address (but won't send you unsolicited stuff). It also keeps track of all your donations throughout the year.

We've found this tool to be highly intuitive and quite useful, and it turns out that the donations we made in 2010 (furniture, scanner, clothes, sporting goods, etc.) actually had a higher monetary value than we thought -- a pleasant surprise indeed. Get started and let us know what you think.

5 Myths About Direct Clients

Happy 2011 to all our wonderful colleagues around the world! We figured we'd start 2011 with discussing one of our favorite subjects: direct clients. As many of our readers know, we work exclusively with direct clients, and our experiences have been overwhelmingly positive. We frequently get questions about direct clients, some of them based on some erroneous perceptions/beliefs about direct clients. Keep in mind that our experiences are not always necessarily representative, and that we have been working with direct clients for roughly ten years -- and educating your clients is also a big part of the equation.

Here are the 5 myths that we hear the most often:

  1. Direct clients are difficult to work with. Sure, some clients are more challenging to communicate with than others, but the vast majority of our clients are accessible, easy to talk to, and very professional.
  2. Direct clients don't pay on time. Based on our substantial historical experience, that has not been the case. In ten years, we have only had one client who never paid (he filed for bankruptcy). What is indeed difficult is finding payment data about direct clients, as the fantastic translator databases, such as Payment Practices, only track agencies. When in doubt, ask for partial payment up front. 
  3. Direct clients are never happy. That also hasn't turned out to be true for us. It's your job to make the client happy; whatever it takes. Without an agency as buffer, you are fully responsible for the customer services experience, and if you want repeat customers, you have to ensure that the experience is outstanding. You will need an editor to proof all your documents. Direct clients expect outstanding work -- as they should. We have a five-step quality assurance process, and we make sure that our clients know how thorough it is. If there is a problem, direct clients expect it to be fixed promptly.
  4. Direct clients are impossible to find. While it is true that they are challenging to find, it's not impossible. Growing a translation business is like any other business: you need to combine an offline and online strategy with outreach and social efforts. The more people know about you, the better. This will, however, take time. There's no such thing as immediate gratification when it comes to direct customer acquisition, and it requires some patience (which is not our strongest suit).
  5. Direct clients are too busy to answer the phone. It is true that most of our clients are extremely busy, but they are typically very much vested in the projects we translate: they have either created the documents or are responsible for their publication. Hence, it's in their interest to move the project forward.  Of course, some clients might be too busy at a given time, but it is your job to try to get the question answered, perhaps by an assistant or by e-mailing or calling a few times. 
Perhaps 2011 will be the year that you start working with more direct clients? Either strategy -- direct clients, agencies, or both -- has advantages and disadvantages. Our ideal situation includes long-term repeat direct customers for whom we do projects on a weekly (and oftentimes daily) basis: they are the bread and butter of our business. 
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.

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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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