Thursday, April 29, 2010

The art of unplugging

Let's face it, even though we all love to work from home and being freelancers, it is sometimes hard to stop working, to turn off the computer, phone etc. and just relax. It is for me in any case. In fact the only time I am totally unplugged is when I go out in the beautiful Utah wilderness and off the grid, no Internet, no cell phone service. There is nothing else to do but to relax and enjoy time with family and nature. That is exactly what I did last weekend when I took the family to Capitol Reef National Park in Utah.

Beautiful hiking in Capitol Reef National Park

Our home away from home

The opportunities to do this are plenty in Utah, with 7 national parks within the Utah-borders. Nature clears my head, puts everything in perspective, and I come back refreshed and ready to start working and using my computer and social media again. How do you unplug, or can you unplug?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Interview with the author of a new book for translators

There is a new book for all us working as freelance translators. The authors are Judy and Dagmar Jenner, and the book is "The Entrepreneurial Linguist: The Business School Approach to Freelance Translation". Judy Jenner has graciously granted me a "blog interview" for the new book.

1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself

I am a Spanish and German translator and community and health care interpreter in Las Vegas, NV. I was born in Austria and grew up in Mexico City. I came to the US as a teenager to play tennis for an American university and first started my translation career in 1998. I hold an MBA in Marketing from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (summa cum laude, for what it’s worth), and I run a boutique languages services business with my twin sister. It’s aptly named Twin Translations.

2. What is an entrepreneurial linguist?

Basically, a linguist who understands that you have to be an entrepreneur first if you want to run your own business and who has the tools to operate a profitable small business.

3. What is the book about?

It will give aspiring entrepreneurial linguists lots of advice, starting with the paradigm shift from “just” linguist (as if that weren’t enough!). The chapters focus on marketing, social media and web 2.0, accounting and organization, negotiating, entrepreneurship, business development, etc. The entire book revolves around working with direct customers, as many colleagues want to shift from working with agencies to working with direct clients, which is what we due exclusively. The book is intended for both beginning and advanced linguists in all language combinations.

4. What made you want to write this book?

It’s all my dear friend Corinne McKay’s “fault.” Her outstanding book,
“How to Succeed as a Freelance Translator” on how to start your own translation business is really the only book that I know that offers insight into the practical side of translation. During a trip to Boulder, CO, where Corinne lives, she encouraged me to write a book, and after much initial resistance, here we are.

5. How long did it take to write it?

Roughly a year, I would work on it during the weekends and whenever I had a quiet moment. We had three editors, one layout designer, two writers (my twin sister Dagmar Jenner was the other one), one very talented cartoonist (
Alejandro Moreno-Ramos), hundreds of drafts, dozens of revisions, and a six-month struggle until we found a cover design we liked.

6. What recommendations would you have for someone who would like to write a book?

Find a good team! Creating a solid book is a team effort, and I couldn’t have done it without the half dozen people who were directly involved in the process. The main thing I learned during the last few months is that at some point, you have to let the book go – there’s no such thing as perfection, so instead of obsessing over it until 2012, we decided to publish it with our multiple editors’ blessing. I am a bit of a perfectionist by nature, so letting it go was a difficult.

7. What are you going to do next?

I will be speaking at the
CHICATA conference in Chicago on May 1, and at the ATA/DVTA Finance Seminar in Philadelphia on May 2. After that, I am off to Europe to visit friends and family and to speak at conferences in four countries: the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic. And there will be a five-day vacation, too!

Thank you Judy and have a great conference in Chicago and a wonderful trip to Europe!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Selling to Sweden?

Is Sweden Scandinavian or European? Neither! A noted political scientist calls Sweden ".... the most Americanized country in the world, with the possible exception of the United States". Why? The Swedish emigration to America is part of the cultural heritage in Sweden and most Swedes have some relatives in the United States. Almost every Swede is fluent in English and our cultures have much in common.

Why sell to Sweden?

1. Sweden itself has 9 million inhabitants, but if you include its neighbors and the Baltic Sea region, you end up with about 100 million consumers. Sweden's central location makes it attractive as a base for call centers and distribution centers, as well as direct marketing activities.

2. Sweden has among the top standards of living in the world.

3. Sweden is known as a country of early adopters, both for products and trends. Many companies are using Sweden to try out new products and services before launching them on a larger scale.

4. US Foreign Policy has ranked Sweden as the top three most globalized countries in the world, using examples such as Volvo, Saab, Ericsson and IKEA.

5. Ever since the Vikings, the importance of trade is firmly engrained in the country.

6. Sweden is committed to exploiting new technology and the country invests a lot in research and development. This makes Sweden a good center for collaboration, research labs and innovation.

7. The country provides excellent opportunities for international networking and collaboration with its enormous pool of technical talent and excellent educational system.

8. Sweden ranks among the top recipients of foreign direct investment, with the majority being technology based.

9. Sweden has been called the most wired and wireless nation on earth where most people have a computer and use the Internet daily.

10. The following sectors are popular opportunities for exports: Computer Software, Travel & Tourism, Computer Hardware, Biotechnology, Automotive parts, Telecommunications services, Renewable Energy Equipment, Pollution Control Equipment, Drugs and Pharmaceuticals, Telecommunications Equipment, Security and Safety Equipment, Sports and Leisure Products.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Why you should hire a freelance translator directly

I have one more thing to say about professional translators, and especially freelance translators. Why should you go with a freelance translator instead of an agency?

1. Working with an agency does not guarantee that you get a qualified translator. Agencies do not always know which translator is available when confirming your job and you do not always get the same translator for all your jobs.

2. You cannot be absolutely sure that the person editing the project is a professional editor, with native knowledge in both source and target languages, to make sure that the target text sends the same message, with the same style and voice as the source text.

3. By hiring a freelancer you usually get a better price since you take out the middle man.

4. When hiring a freelance translator you can contact him/her directly with questions or new information to increase the quality of the translation, and the translator can discuss all ambiguities and questions directly with you, to achieve the best results possible.

5. When you hire a freelance translator you get first hand information about his/her credentials, publications and expertise.

6. A freelance translator gives you specialization and niche expertise.

7. By using a freelance translator you can make sure that it is only one person doing the translation for urgent translations, and not several translators working on the same project, which can create a mix of styles and skill levels. If a freelance translator cannot fit in the urgent job he/she can usually refer someone from a trusted network of colleagues.

8. Freelance translators are eager to keep you as a direct client and try to provide the best personalized customer service possible.

In short, hiring a freelance translator can be more cost effective and produce better quality translations.

Do you agree with these? Did I forget something?

Monday, April 12, 2010

8 translator blogs I follow

It is time that I share some good blogs about freelance translation and translation as a business that I follow. I have probably not found all the great ones yet, so please share. Here are 8 blogs that I have found newsworthy: - A great blog about translation (duh!) with tips for beginning translators, blogs, tools, the translation market, and my favorite "business practices". The blogger is Riccardo Schiaffino. - Philippa Hammond runs a blog called "Blogging Translator" with business and marketing advice for freelance translators.

I am also following one of my business localization role models Eve Bodeux, who runs a sucessful localization company and blogs about localization, translation, business etc. at

Jill Sommer has a blog called Musings from an overworked translator at I truly love her musings, opinions and tips about the translation business.

Thoughts on Translations is another translator run blog by Corinne McKay, also the author of "How to succeed as a freelance translator". This one is one of the first blogs I started following. Corinne is a driven FR-EN freelance translator with great business ideas for freelance translators. Her blog can be found at

My new business friend and business consultant Judy Jenner runs a great blog and translation business with her twin sister Dagmar Jenner at Translation Times - the entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna. All this useful information can be found at

Translation Tribulations is run by Kevin Lossner and is about "an exploration of translation technologies, marketing strategies, workflow optimization, resource reviews, controversies and other topics of interest to translators, language service providers and language service consumers.

For more translator's business secrets, go to, run by Joy Mo, a very successful online business woman and translator.

I hope you find these as useful as I do. Did I miss some important ones? I hope you all have a great day!

Friday, April 9, 2010

How to be a wealthy freelancer - book review

I just finished the book “The Wealthy Freelancer” by Steve Slaunwhite, Pete Savage and Ed Gandia and I am glad I did. This book applies to anyone trying to make a good living as a freelancer, translators included. It contains 12 “secrets”, starting with changing your attitude and then proceeding to give you practical steps in how to attract clients, creating a sales pitch, or buzz piece, taking care of your existing clients, maintain good pricing for your services, bringing focus to your business, boosting productivity, achieving a good balance between work and the rest of your life, including a good letter to those around you to make them better understand and thrive with you in your freelancing efforts. As if that was not enough, the book also takes up alternative sources of income to add to your freelancing business, how to handle social media to your advantage and what to do when you get negative feedback.

One of the best insights the book provided me was about positioning yourself in your market. It goes as follow:

When you’ve identified the market you’ll serve, the next step is to position yourself as the go-to resource in that market. Now before you begin to panic, allow me to tell you something, which I hope will have you breathing an enormous sigh of relief: You don’t have to be the best. All you need to do is to take the value you bring and articulate it in a way that positions you favorably in the eyes of your target prospects.” (Pete Savage, The Wealthy Freelancer)

I found the book very useful for my freelance translator business and will for sure use many of the tips in it. If you go to, you can download three chapters for free and see for yourself.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Did you know this about Sweden?

So I am a Swedish translator living in the US. But did you know these facts about Sweden and stuff that is going on there right now?

Sweden is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. I often get the question if it is not cold in Sweden? It is at the same latitude as Alaska, but the warm “Gulf stream” in the Atlantic Ocean sweeps warm water and air over Scandinavia and makes the temperatures quite pleasant.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about Sweden:
At 450,295 km², Sweden is the third largest country in the European Union in terms of area, with a total population of about 9.2 million. Sweden has a low population density of 21 inhabitants per 54 /sq mi, but a considerably higher density in the southern half of the country. About 85% of the population lives in urban areas, and it is expected that these numbers will gradually rise as a part of the ongoing urbanization.[12] Sweden's capital is Stockholm, which is also the largest city in the country (population of 1.3 million in the urban area and with 2 million in the metropolitan area).

Today, Sweden is a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system of government and a highly developed economy. It ranks first in the world in The Economist's Democracy Index and seventh in the United Nations' Human Development Index. Sweden has been a member of the European Union since 1 January 1995 and is a member of the OECD.

So what is going on in Sweden this year?
The biggest news item right now is “The wedding of the year”. Sweden’s crown princess Victoria is getting married in June. The Swedish people have been waiting for this moment for years. She found her prince many years ago, but he was/is a commoner. There were a lot of issues to be ironed out, but she will finally marry him. The whole country is a part of the wedding plans, so to speak.

Winter Olympics – Sweden took home 11 medals from the winter games in Vancouver, mostly from cross country ski events.

Hans Blix, the outspoken Swedish diplomat who headed the UN investigations of Saddam Hussein’s alleged stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction, has been selected chair of International Advisory Board that will provide United Arab Emirates civilian nuclear program with expertise and knowledge.
A Swedish female police officer has been appointed the top cop for the United Nations.
These were just some tidbits from Sweden. Do you have any others to share?

Friday, April 2, 2010

10 tips for working efficiently and productively with a professional translator

Hopefully you are now convinced that using a professional translator is the way to go, and what to look for in a professional translator. When you have a translation project and contact a professional translator, there are some tips to make the project run smoothly and efficiently for both of you.

1. Provide as much information as possible at first contact to receive a faster response from the translator. This includes the subject, language pair (obviously), target audience, length (words, pages etc.), deadline, if there is reference material, if a specific tool should be used, if a project database needs to be used and all information on how to use it.

2. If project is accepted, send the translator a Purchase Order or sign one from the translator. The purchase order should contain a reference number, fee/price, deadline, payment terms, and contact information both for during the project, when the translator has questions, and for after the project for invoicing.

3. Provide a glossary if possible, or ask the professional translator to make one, especially if the project is big.

4. Provide a contact person to answer any questions the translator might have. This contact should be available as much as possible during the project, and be able to find answers in a timely manner. This increases the quality of the final translation.

5. Give formatting guidelines for the final document

6. Provide as much reference material as possible, previous translations, correspondence, glossaries, translation memories, links to websites etc. This also increases the quality of the final translation, since the translator can see what style has been used before, words that are specific for your/this company, more context etc.

7. Have another professional linguist proofread the document. This linguist can be somebody you use, or somebody that the translator works with. Either way, provide the translator with the proofread/edited document with track changes. This is a great feedback tool and learning opportunity for the translator, plus if the translator has final responsibility for the translation, he/she should be able to approve the changes.

8. If you require a rare translation tool (or TEnT), try to provide this tool at a discount, or for free if possible, and provide as much training and material about the tool as you can.

9. Always confirm good receipt of translation, and ask questions or give comments as soon as possible after receipt.

10. Make the invoicing procedure as easy as possible and the earlier you can pay, the happier the translator gets.

If you follow these guidelines you will create a fruitful relationship with your professional translator, and receive high quality translations that can increase your credibility, and boost your business; a win-win situation.

Do you agree with these or is there something missing?