freelance

Tips for Nomad Translators

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Everyone loves traveling —that’s a fact— and working while traveling can be a powerful learning curve that can boost your career and help you grow personally. This “wake up when you want, work from a fancy cafe or from a cute forest cabin, make money to keep traveling and doing what you love” sounds ideal, right? If you’re thinking about becoming a freelance nomad translator or if you are already one, here are some tips that will keep you going and make your life easier.

1. Choose the right countries where you would like to go

Maybe your dream country is not the best one to start if your income is not that high just yet. Look for cheaper countries whose culture might interest you —and even better if they speak any of the languages you are learning. For example, Southeast Asia is one of the most popular destinations thanks to its sunny weather, amazing food and up-and-coming cities where you can find stunning cafes for half the price!

Here you can find a lot of useful information for each country, they even feature some lists and rankings! 

2. Plan ahead

While moving from place to place, if you are flexible on dates, times, airlines and number of stops you will be able to snatch the best deals. Try to book in advance —it is often much cheaper, especially in Europe— and it will be easier to look for the perfect accommodation, as there will be more available hostels and apartments that meet your criteria.

If you plan ahead, you will have more time to do your research. If flying from point A to point B is expensive, maybe it is worth to take a small bus trip to point C and then fly to point B (plus: you get to visit point C too!). Generally, weekend flights and holiday periods are more expensive and “red-eye” flights (those that take off very early in the morning) are statistically the cheapest.

3. Create your perfect on-the-go workstation

You have to keep in mind that to travel as much as you can quickly and easily, you will need to keep your luggage light – you will probably pass through a lot of security checks and border controls. Invest in a light yet powerful laptop with a nice sized screen. A mouse can come in handy sometimes, but I strongly recommend that you purchase an adjustable laptop stand, an ergonomic keyboard and a long charging cable so that you can work comfortably wherever you are.

Some gadgets can save you in some situations too. Portable batteries and USB sticks are pretty obvious ones but remember to check plug transformers before getting to your next destination. 

4. A good co-working space can change your experience

Too much time going back and forth can destroy your schedules and routines or complicate your workflow. That is why it is a good idea to look for a modern co-working space that allows you to have everything you need to concentrate on your tasks: a speedy and stable Internet connection, office desks, other freelancers to chat with, coffee and tea... Many of them can be rented by the day or even by the hour, which is great because maybe with just a few hours you can get your work done and enjoy the rest of the day visiting the city where you are staying. 

If you have a Skype meeting or an important conference call, you will be able to have a room all for yourself – this is not the case if you are working from a cafe or a hostel: the absence of noise and a good background can definitely make a difference! After all, it is important to keep your clients happy if you want to continue your freelancer life.

In addition, many co-working spaces offer courses and activities that will allow you to meet people, create new contacts and grow your network. 

5. Make the most out of your flexible schedule

One of the good things of freelancing is that you are free to work during the hours that are most productive for you. You don’t have to be sitting long working hours, you just have to be efficient. However, very often people struggle with being productive when they can decide their own schedule.

Find the hours during which you work best. If you are an early bird, schedule your most critical tasks for the morning; if you’re a night owl, reserve some working hours each evening to tackle the most demanding translations. Listen to your own body and work when your body is awake and motivated.

Don’t burn out by working all day long during work peaks. A good trick is the Pomodoro method, which divides work into intervals of 25 minutes with short breaks in between and helps you maintain your energy levels and prevents you from becoming frustrated.

Stick to your schedule. A good way to be organized is to sit down once a week and schedule all the tasks for the upcoming week in a calendar so that you don’t forget anything and you can easily take on new jobs as they come by allocating them in the free slots. 

6. Don’t forget to buy a SIM card

Before leaving the airport, take a look to the phone shops. They usually have good deals for SIM cards that will allow you not to miss any incoming project or get in touch with your PM in case it is needed! In some countries, you will get unlimited data and some international call minutes for $15 or less (also, there are groups on Facebook for expats and nomads living in different places, where you can find valuable advice).

7. Tools for freelancers

There are a lot of different programs and apps –free and paid– to keep your business under control. Here some of my basics: 

  • Any calendar app: having an overview of your scheduled flights and trips will help you organize your working hours and meetings and not miss any delivery! 

  • CAT tools: In my opinion, these are a must for freelance translators, and everyone should consider investing in one. These tools are specifically designed to boost productivity and the quality of your work. 

  • VPN: It is worth considering getting a subscription to a good VPN to ensure a secure network when you work outside. Other benefits to using a VPN: you can hide your IP address and location, encrypt your communications and stream online faster.

8. Invest in a good backpack or carry-on suitcase

All of us have a backpack that someone gifted us at some point or one that we bought for everyday use, but odds are that those are not good enough to transport all your valuable and heavy stuff.

The luggage of the traveling freelancer should carry the essentials for life on the road, as well as the tools to do your job. Choose a highly functional and durable backpack and prioritize weather resistance, as you'll probably find yourself stuck on a tuk-tuk in the rain at some point.

Alternatively, use a carry-on size suitcase that you’ll be able to wheel around!

It is also worth buying a good theft-proof daypack –with zippers on the back– that will protect your belongings from pickpockets too.

Safe travels!

Super Translator Checklist

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In our previous article, we shared a few tips to set aspiring translators on the path of success.

Now that you have recurring projects from a good number of clients, how do you make sure that you deliver your best work every time?

Here is a quick checklist that might be useful.

1. Before starting a project

  • First, do not start without receiving a PO or written confirmation from your client! Sudden cancelations are not unheard of.

  • Do not wait until the last minute to start!

  • Read the entire document before starting.

  • Check if there is any existing reference document.

  • Read all the reference documents.

  • Identify the terms to research.

  • Communicate any question to the client (BEFORE beginning the project).

  • Secure specialized dictionaries and glossaries.

2. During the translation

  • Make use of all the reference material and instructions provided.

  • Translate non-literally.

  • Choose appropriate vocabulary.

  • Make sure that the style of the target content flows naturally.

  • Verify all names and numbers in the target content.

  • Save the translated content (back up!).

3. After completing the translation

  • Run a spellcheck for spelling and grammar errors.

  • Verify all numbers (and their proper localization).

  • Verify all names.

  • Verify punctuation.

  • Check that there are no typos.

  • Check letter cases.

  • Check the numbering throughout the document.

  • Check all titles and headings.

  • Check that the headings are coherent with the text body.

  • Check that no content was omitted.

  • Review the translation once just after finishing.

  • Review the translation one more time (later).

That's all!

Happy translating!

How to Get Started as a Freelance Translator

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Translation is a popular choice for global citizens who master one or more languages, and who want to start working independently. What does it take to become a full time translator? How can you kickstart your career once you've made up your mind?

1. Education and Skills

It should be obvious, but do not start marketing your services until you have acquired specific skills and some experience translating for several companies or clients.

There are numerous degrees offered by universities around the world that prepare translators and interpreters, and I would not recommend starting off without some formal education in the field. Translation tools are quite complex, and some skills can only be learned from experienced translators or interpreters who will pass them on to you.

2. Specialize!

As an agency, we receive dozens of applications every day, and it can be hard to understand what someone's strengths are. We would rather hear that a translator is specialized in banking and finance only rather than suggesting that he could handle any domain including medical, legal or automotive translation. Picking a few areas of specialization will be far more rewarding in the long run.

Some specializations to consider:

  • Marketing and creative content: high value since the content has to be impactful. Content will be short so adjust rates accordingly.

  • Literary: this is a great option if you are really passionate about literature or about a particular field (sports, arts, etc.).

  • Legal: to be considered only if you have legal training. The best legal translators are also paralegals or lawyers.

  • Technical: although intimidating, technical translation is mostly about being methodical and paying attention to detail. When leveraging CAT tools, it can be a profitable option for translators.

There are a LOT more areas one may consider specializing in. At the end of the day, the best area of specialization is the one only you can do, due to your particular background and interests.

One may also consider specializing based on specific media:

  • Subtitling (or even voice-over),

  • Websites (it helps if you have basic coding skills),

  • Sophisticated brochures, if you can handle InDesign or similar files too.

In a world where a lot of people claim they can translate anything, it pays to be specialized and to stick to what you're the best at.

3. Finding clients

Once you have chosen your area of specialization and the type of service you intend to provide, what is the best way to find clients?

  • Use your network: update all your professional profiles online, and let your friends, family and former colleagues know what you are doing.

  • Agencies: some people prefer to work directly with end clients, for various reasons, but agencies can actually be a great source of projects. Look for lists of popular agencies online or on ProZ and contact them all. Having 5 to 10 agencies you work regularly with is a good way to create a constant flow of projects and you will be able to focus on translating.

  • Online presence: make sure all your general and translation specific profiles are up-to-date: LinkedIn, ProZ, TranslatorCafe… but also well-known freelancing sites such as Fiverr, UpWork, Freelancer.com. If anything, it will help your visibility to have profiles on all platforms.

  • Direct clients: working directly with companies or individuals in your network is a great way to grow your own brand and negotiate the best terms for your contracts.

  • Conferences and trade fairs: are also a great way to meet potential clients. Check out what is happening in your local area online.

  • Professional networking groups: it can be very useful to join professional networking groups and mingle with other entrepreneurs, whether online or in your home city. Sites like Meetup or Eventbrite always suggest suitable events depending on your interests.

When looking for clients, it pays to have a system to keep track of communications, i.e. using a CRM. A favorite of mine for a few years has been Pipedrive, but even a simple spreadsheet can do.

4. Growing your personal brand

An aspect that is often overlooked by translators, especially once they have a regular flow of projects, is the need to grow their personal brand online.

The following will not take much time daily but could help you secure big clients and interesting projects:

  • Create your profile on all marketplaces and ask for recommendations from all your clients, your friends, their friends… you get the idea. For example, the “willingness to work again” on ProZ influences search results when clients look for translators. Great LinkedIn reviews may be very useful too, especially if you are considering other career opportunities!

  • Write a personal of professional blog: some translators have gained huge notoriety from writing successful blogs. One good example is Dmitry Kornyukhov's blog.

  • Contribute to knowledge bases and groups: ProZ KudoZ help network is a great place to get noticed and acknowledged by your peers, and a good ranking will also help you attract clients. LinkedIn has a large number of groups focused on translation too.

  • Create your personal website: creating your own website is very easy and affordable nowadays. Check out Squarespace and use one of their great-looking templates to create your own site!

5. Being an excellent translator

Translation is a noble profession and there is always room to grow and improve one's skills. Here are a few tips on how to keep improving:

  • Own specialized dictionaries, or bookmark online resources. Translators find a unique pleasure in finding bilingual glossaries that might save them hours of research.

  • Read (a lot!) in your area of specialization, both in your source language and in your target language.

  • Take an interest in IRL events related to your field of specialization (for example, attend Bitcoin meetups if you work on blockchain content!)

  • Maintain good communication with your clients. Asking them questions and requesting reference material is a great way to improve your service and gain their trust.

  • Go on holidays in countries where your source language is spoken.

We hope you found this post useful! There will be follow-up articles on the specific tools and workflows translators use and we hope you'll enjoy them too!

Do not hesitate to leave a comment or reach out on Twitter if you would like to discuss further!

How to Apply as a Translator?

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How to apply as a translator?

Are you a qualified professional translator looking for freelance work?

At Kotoba Translation, we are always looking for great translators and proofreaders who have relevant experience in the Blockchain and FinTech fields.

If you meet our requirements and would like to be part of our team, don’t hesitate to apply via our website!

There's a lot more to being a professional translator than being able to speak another language, so we also require our translators to:

  • Be a professional translator. Please state clearly your qualifications and any professional memberships on your CV.

  • Be a native speaker of the language you are applying for.

  • Have content knowledge and related experience in relevant terminology (Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, FinTech, Networks, Banking and Finance).

Applying is easy and intuitive. If you feel that you meet the criteria, complete the short registration form on our website. Fill it in carefully and thoroughly and please be aware that quality of written language is part of the selection process, so pay attention to detail!

State clearly your language combinations, qualifications, and areas of knowledge. Include your rates for translation and any other services offered.

If we find your profile suitable for us, we will contact you to register your information in our database and you will receive brand new credentials for our portal.

We look forward to hearing from you!