e translators are a truly generous bunch when it comes to engaging in dialogue about our knowledge and experiences. In many fields, service providers see each other as rivals, and if Company A isn’t stealing ideas from Company B, they’re concerned that Company B will try to steal ideas from them. Consequently, the conversation dries up, ideas aren’t shared, progress slows, everyone loses….
Until recently, the marketing arsenal of Omega Language Solutions consisted of a sparsely populated webpage, an old second-hand HTC smartphone and a Skype profile I used to communicate with project managers. Then I decided it was time to go for it and get myself out there. The first problem I was faced with, as ever, was the overwhelming mass of software, networks, tools, plugins, apps, and general thingmies and whatsits that promised to make me a faster, better, more efficient professional.
Turns out, not all of these products are actually as useful in real life as they sound on the description page in the app store. It can be hard to work out what will actually end up being useful and what won’t. So I thought share a few of the products and services I’ve tried so far that have actually made a considerable difference to my online presence. Main criteria: the product must be free (or as good as); it must be intuitive and easy to use straight out of the ‘box’; and it also helps if it’s accessible on more than one platform. Here’s my hot list of tools for freelancers so far.
I’d heard great things about Evernote and the wonders it would do for the jumbled mess of half-finished thoughts firing around inside my brain. (OneNote is supposed to be great too, but there’s only so much productivity I can handle before it becomes counterproductive, so I’ll stick with just one leave it to these guys to compare the two: Lifehacker, ComputerWorld, PCWorld, GeekWire… oh, just Google ‘OneNote vs. Evernote’, there’s dozens of them).
I like this product because you can sync your thoughts across all your devices, save notes when you’re offline to be synced as soon as you have a connection, and organise your thoughts and projects in more than one way. This means that if, like me, you have difficulty deciding whether ‘[Client] invoice’ should go in the ‘Invoices’ folder or the ‘[Client]’ folder, the solution is simple – you put it in the ‘[Client]’ folder and assign it the tag ‘Invoices’. Even as a newbie to the Evernote way of life, I’m already noticing a difference in my ability to categorise and order my thoughts and ideas, and I can only imagine how much better it’s going to get once the little elephant and I are better acquainted.
I’m a recent convert to this online graphic design tool, and I l-o-v-e it. Canva not only allows you to bring your creative visions to life (even with no image-editing smarts), but also provides fantastic tutorials to help you get to grips with the interface, as well as a perfectly targeted blog that every Canva user will inherently want and need to follow. “Oh,” say the developers, “You’re using Canva? Then you’ll definitely want to click through to read about: ‘Your Complete Guide to PR‘, ‘Easy Steps to a Winning Blog Strategy‘ and ‘8 Ways to Use Visuals to Market Your Business on Facebook‘.” And you can learn buckets not just from reading their blog content, but also from following their example of how to build a vibrant brand identity that blends seamlessly with an engaging business philosophy. In a recent blog post, Canva’s chief evangelist Guy Kawasaki summed up its purpose: put simply, “Canva democratizes design.” Now that’s a vision I can not only get behind, but also aspire to. Kudos, Canva!
This is hardly news, but HootSuite is ideal for organising and scheduling your social media feeds. With so many platforms out there, so many great insights and commentaries, and so much pressure to be reacting to it all, as well as coming up with your own… Well, it can be overwhelming. If you look up effective social media strategies, the experts are unanimous: consistency is key. Radio silence for three days followed by 15 tweets in as many minutes is no good whatsoever; but neither can spend your whole day taking frequent breaks from your day job to shoot off a quick Facebook post or scroll through your feed in search of something worth RTing. With HootSuite, you can allocate 30 minutes in the morning to setting up all your posts for the afternoon, and then get on with your translation (or copywriting, or graphic design) work and rest assured that your audience will get timely snippets at consistent intervals throughout the day.
This is a Google Chrome browser plugin that works with GMail, Outlook and several other email clients. Once you activate it, the next time you send an email you will have the option of tracking it. This means that you’ll get a notification every time somebody opens your message – perfect for applying to agencies, following up on leads… and invoicing clients! It acts as a confirmation that your message has been received and read, and it also tells you how many times your message has been opened, so you know how much intrigue your business proposition (for example) has created.
I’m sure there’s a wealth of other useful tools out there just waiting to be discovered, but for now there’s four for you to try if you haven’t already checked them out. Chat to me in the comments section, on Facebook or on Twitter if you think there’s anything I’ve missed out, or if you’re using an alternative to any of the above that you think I should switch to; and don’t forget to share this article with friends and colleagues who might find it useful.
June 2, 2014
May 13, 2014
This post is part of a series about building confidence and momentum as a freelance translator. You can read Part 1 of the series here. As a newcomer to the profession, it’s easy to play down your own worth compared to more experienced translators. There’s a little voice inside your head, naysaying: The rest are all better than you,…
May 8, 2014
Starting out as a translator is hard. It’s said that, in your first year as a freelancer, you shouldn’t be surprised if you don’t turn over a profit at all – and this is exactly what I’ve found so far in my career. Making ends meet is challenging enough; making enough money to then re-invest in yourself is…
May 6, 2014
People are often surprised by the ‘news’ that foreign language ability is far from the only requirement for a translator, but in reality it’s often our other skills and attributes that are most likely to determine our success in this line of work. In a market where it is becoming more and more necessary to identify and promote…
April 25, 2014
If you have an interest in languages, or spend much time in the App Store, there’s a good chance you’ll recognise this little guy: the friendly green owl of Duolingo. Duolingo is a platform that allows the user to learn another language in a fun environment and for free, which is a sweet enough deal…