memoQ on Linux

As far as I know there is not a native Linux version available of memoQ, but now that I have been running Linux in some form on my desktop computer for more than 17 years, I’m used to this type of situation. memoQ is a great CAT tool that I use for most of my translations, so I have to get it onto my desktop somehow.

Remote desktop

What I have found is, that if I set up another computer, which is running Windows only, I can access memoQ via remote desktop, and get the screen onto the desktop of my Linux computer. This actually works pretty well, when I get all the settings right.

I don’t even have a monitor connected to that extra Windows computer at the moment, which shows, that it’s actually a quite stable setup. Somehow the Linux vs. Windows interface is working well in this case, compared to other horrible cases I’ve seen with other applications.

A second computer

The computer I use for memoQ somehow ended up having more power than my sweet little desktop computer I use as my main computer with Linux. Without a monitor I might as well run it from a storage room, because it makes more noise than my desktop computer.

It might have more computing power, but it also makes more noise, so I stick with the smaller desktop computer on my desk, as my main office computer. After all, it doesn’t take much computing power to run the administrative applications for the translation business itself.

You’ll get far with office programs and a web browser or two. I don’t even think memoQ requires much in terms of hardware, but I might as well throw the best I have at it, since it is a business critical application and it’s running many hours a day.

Linux vs. Windows

The Linux vs. Windows desktop interface is not memoQ specific, but just a general interface between the two operating systems. Any problems in this regard would be a common problem between Linux and Windows, so there’s lots of help available online for debugging.

The program I run on Linux for this is called ‘Remmina’, which is a common program on Linux. On Windows it’s just your everyday Remote Desktop settings you have to set up.
The important thing on Linux is, that you have to install the “RDP – Remote Desktop Protocol” separately, at least on Linux Mint 17. For the resolution setting I choose “Use client resolution”.

Freedom!

It might seem a bit stupid that you have to remote desktop to a second desktop on your desktop, from your main desktop, which is also placed on your desktop, in order to get the right screen displayed, but when you realize, that you can use any computer anywhere in the house, it’s really cool. It’s like you get your own memoQ server, and then I can’t stop dreaming about a private network connection from the nearest computer where I’m at in the world, and back to my memoQ computer.

This is freedom, and a fun way to work!

Why I Upgraded to the memoQ Full Version

Free, open source translation tools are very useful, if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on software. And, it’s not like you have to buy a CAT tool in order to translate.

OmegaT

OmegaT took me a long way, and I still love it, mostly because it’s open source. I’m running Linux Mint 17 on my main desktop computer, which is the leading open source distribution today, so running OmegaT on top of that is a natural choice, because it’s also open source.

I did run into some problems with OmegaT when I wanted to scale up my translation business, which is something I focus on everyday: Translate more words, improve the quality of my translations and make more money.

As a small player on the translation market there are many things that I can’t control, for example what software the big players use. One way of scaling up the amount of words I handle each day, is to work together with the big players.

And when several large translation agencies wanted me to work on translation jobs in a specific file format, but I had to keep declining because my tools didn’t support it, I started to pay attention. It became a question of when I could support it, instead of if I wanted to support it.

Don’t get me wrong, I still love open source. It’s just such an awesome idea, and for something not related to translation, you should definitely check out, what Kodi can do for your experience of online entertainment.

Compatibility

OmegaT and the free version of memoQ could probably be used for building a perfect freelance translators career, if you pick the right clients. I can’t imagine you would face any of the challenges I’m talking about, if you’re translating fiction for example.

The problem I had with OmegaT was, that it didn’t have good enough support for all the industry standard file formats, at least not in a way, which I could solve. In principle, everything is possible, if you have enough time and money, and the people who are developing OmegaT seem to be very nice and helpful, but again, I also want to make money here, so I’m depending on the ability to plug in and get going.

I’m sure every open source program will eventually feature every function people want. Just look at how much pressure Linux has put on Windows.

On the other hand, memoQ actually supports nearly all the industry standard file formats, if not all, but again, it’s commercial and the free version will only take you that long. The free version of memoQ gives you a helluva good taste of what the full version is capable of.

I did a couple of jobs in the free version of memoQ, but the lack of support for XLIFF and SDL Trados Studio files became a very limiting factor for me, when I wanted to scale up my freelance translation business. But hey, that’s okay, the awesome developers need to get paid too.

Translating a couple of Word documents here and there was okay for me to do in OmegaT or the free version of memoQ, but taking on jobs from the bigger boys required plugging into existing standard systems. Actually, as far as I know there are no limits on the size of the documents when using these two programs, so with OmegaT it’s more like a compatibility issue.

Translation memories and termbases

When using the free version of memoQ I found that I wasn’t allowed to use more than one translation memory (TM) and one termbase (TB) for each project, which is a limiting factor when you’re supposed to plug in and continue the work that is already in the system of a large established agency. If I create a new TM for a new job, I can’t load an existing TM from the client, and use them at the same time, and the same goes for termbases.

There are of course ways to work around these things, but your energy could be focused on translating more words instead, and thereby making more money. That’s why I would recommend you get the memoQ full version if or when you can afford it, but also because it’s a freaking cool program 😉

Hanging Out With the Translation Proz on International Translation Day 2015

I’m not sure if they meant pros like in professionals when they came up with the name ProZ.com, but at least the website is used by thousands of freelance translation professionals. This year the site hosted a virtual event series to celebrate the International Translation Day 2015.

I attended the two day event this year for the first time, and it was pretty good. I didn’t attend every single 1-hour seminar, but I did manage to attend some of them, from start to finish.

The event series was organized like a normal event, expect everything was taking place in cyberspace. This way you were able to save a lot of money on travel and accommodations, but of course it doesn’t give you the same intensity as a physical event.

I liked the live part of it, because I had a lot of work on my desk at the same time, so it was almost like meeting up with people, but at the same time I could get some work done during the presentation of subjects that I wasn’t interested in. I don’t think it was Skype that was used, but something similar with video conferencing abilities.

Several experts were doing presentations and people were able to ask questions via chat, and then the presenter would answer those questions together with the host. The first day was about CAT tools and software, and the second day was about different topics relevant for the freelance translator and other language professionals.

As a former electronics engineer I have a natural interest in software too, so it was interesting to hear about the tools on the first day. Kevin Dias is really on the move with his TM-Town, and it was also interesting to hear about how translators work not by typing, but by dictating their translations.

Of course the second day was also interesting and important, with topics focusing on marketing, sales and business. The event was very well put together, and as usual, Drew MacFadyen is an awesome host.


Do you have any networking and training tips that you want to share with other people working with language?

Are You Looking for Translation Jobs?

I have built a list of places on the internet where you can go to if you’re looking for translation jobs. I have found that there are a few big ones, where the jobs originally get posted, and then there are sites, where the jobs are reposted, which are not that useful, if you’re only doing freelance translation work.

You could also be doing freelance work in general from home, and then you could benefit from the sites, who are posting jobs related to freelancing in general. As a freelance translator looking for translation jobs I have found these sites to be the best:

  • ProZ.com
  • TranslatorsCafe.com
  • TranslationDirectory.com
  • Upwork.com (previously oDesk and Elance)
  • Freelancer.com

Although there are lots of jobs to be found on these sites, my focus has changed from the job boards, to the user/member directory of each site. I wrote about the reasons for that in this post: What I Have Learned About Translation Jobs Online

Usually you have to have a profile on a site in order to bid on the jobs, but that profile can be used for other things too. If you build a really good profile, then it will work for you 24/7 as a marketing tool.

The users who are posting translation jobs online can also see your profile, and go directly to you and offer you work. And you can go directly to them and offer your services.

Bidding on urgent jobs can get help you get a foot in the door, perhaps with an introductory offer from you. If not, maybe the clients who are posting jobs have a standard way of signing up new freelance translators, so you can bypass the job boards.

I’m not only looking at the job boards, but also approaching clients via the information on their profiles. There’s little excuse for sitting around waiting for the perfect job in very crowded places online, when you can be proactive and go through a virtually endless list of possible clients.

Do you have any tips for freelancers, who are looking for translation jobs online? Or perhaps offline?

My Own Translators Workplace

As a freelance translator I have been able to build my workplace at home. I amazes me how little it actually takes to build up a translators workplace.

That is of course due to the fact that we’re working with words, not physical materials. It might look simple but most of the workplace have grown halfway into cyberspace.

Cyberspace

I have my desk, my chair and my computer equipment, and that’s pretty much it. From time to time I’m tempted to go and buy physical books or something, but my dictionaries are online and work very well.

There’s always the thought of the risk in the back of my mind, that if I somehow can’t get online into cyberspace, my business stops until the connection is restored. After a while I come to my senses, because an online connection is today almost as important as a connection to the waterworks.

We don’t discuss the connection to the waterworks anymore, so why should we discuss internet connection? It’s something that you just have.

Computers

The most important part of my workplace in the physical world, as compared to cyberspace, is my computer. There are actually three, one Linux desktop, one Windows desktop, and one Linux server.

I kinda like having my desktops for work, but I know it’s a limiting type of computer that I’ll have to be phasing out, if I truly want to take advantage of being a freelance translator.
It would be cool if I could travel around in another country and work, with my laptop, or tablet, to get a better understanding of my source languages, and of course to get new experiences outside of work.

As a freelance translator, or writer for that sake, you have a perfect opportunity to combine traveling with work.

Monitors

One of the things I haven’t quite figured out yet, is how I’m going to live without my precious external computer monitors. I have two at the moment, and can’t imagine taking them with me on the road.

Unless I build a translation van and fill it up with all kinds of good stuff – how is that for a translators workplace? 😉

On my desk I have room for more monitors, and I’m going to install more as soon as I can get my hands on any. It will properly require an extra graphics card or two in my desktop computer, so a little bit of work is required to set that up.

Software

On my screen I load up ProZ.com, The Translation Workplace, several times during the day, and I have memoQ 2015 running on my Windows desktop, and my desktop computer is backing up files to my server. All of this takes place on my lovely height adjustable table, except for my server, which is tucked away in another part of the basement, so I don’t have to listen to the noise from the fans.

I have realized that my own translators workplace is something that I can throw cash at just as fast as I can make it. Which is fun, because I very much like the efficiency boost I achieve every time I make an upgrade, even if it’s just a small one.


Do you have anything you want to share about your translators workplace?

What I Have Learned About Translation Jobs Online

I used to spend a lot of time searching for translation jobs posted online. And there are a lot of them, that’s for sure.

I would spend most of my time reserved for marketing looking through the different job boards online, and apply for many jobs. I did find some regular clients this way, but I’m not at all impressed by many of the jobs coming through via the boards.

Most of the time I find that the rate per word is really low. On top of that, most of the clients seem to live by the job boards instead of building relationships with regular suppliers (freelance translators).

I think it should be possible to use the job boards professionally, but I suspect that both parties, i.e. agencies and freelance translators are focusing to much on price, when it comes to hiring and applying. Are you acting professionally if you only look at the price?

What about skills, experience, trust, relationships, etc.? I think agencies often become lazy when they look at the list of bidders, and why not shave a bit off the price, when the translators almost look the same on paper?

And the freelance translators are scared of bidding to high and not getting the job, so they lower their price. The result is that the prices drop.

It’s not sustainable to lower your price every time you go onto a job board. But what is sustainable?

If the agencies get a new translator for every job, because the bidder don’t know what a sustainable price is for running a translation business, then I would say that the quality drops. And that’s okay, because this market is as free as it can be.

You could say that some agencies are depending on a continuous stream of introductory prices – and that is sustainable, although the quality could be suffering. But if the agencies are getting paid for the translations delivered to their clients, then it is sustainable.

It’s like if you want to get your car fixed and you put up a sign, “fix my car – how cheap are you?” and you expect mechanics come running from near and far and fighting over your repair job. Normally, I go to a reputable mechanic, that I know and have used before, and ask for the price.

If they price is not ridiculously high, I get my car repaired, because he charges what everyone else in the market is charging, who are running a sustainable business. Just like when I get a haircut.

I have found some regular clients (agencies) through job boards, who I really like working with and who pays a good price, but I suspect this mostly happens if something goes wrong and the clients have to try the job boards in order to get things solved quickly, because they have run out of options.

I often compare this market to that of the employees, who are looking for a job. I don’t think the really good and high paying jobs are distributed through a big public job board, but rather through networking, which could be initiated by both employers and the employees.

You might as well do that as a freelance translator, and get your card into the hands of potential clients. I would prefer producing quality translations, which is hard if you’re only going for the lowest price.

What is most important to you in the translation industry, price or quality?

How Much Money Can You Make Doing Translation Work?

Is it possible to earn a living doing translation work as a freelance translator? Well, it depends.

It’s not a matter of showing up and collecting a monthly salary. It depends on several things, for instance:

  1. How fast you can translate and still deliver the right quality
  2. How many hours you work
  3. What your rate per word is
  4. How many jobs there are in the market

As you translate more and more words, you’ll get faster and better and be able to deliver more and more, and you’ll make more money. Although there’s only a limited number of hours in a day, and you can’t control the market – you still set your own rate.

The price of a translation is as high as you can get a client to agree to. Urgent or difficult jobs might justify a higher price.

There is a certain reference point, provided by the ProZ.com website, and it is available here:

Average rates charged for translations: http://search.proz.com/employers/rates

It’s a good starting point, when you want check your rate calculations for your rate per word.


Do you have any tips on how to set your rates?

How to Make Money as a Freelance Translator

How does a freelance translator make money? You translate words, right?

There’s a bit more to it than that, because you’re actually running a business. As an employee it might be more simple, but then again, you would make money just by showing up and not necessarily by translating words.

As an employee it’s entirely up to your boss if you make money or get fired, and as a freelance translator it’s entirely up to you, if you make money or not. So let’s leave the magic wand in the boss’s drawer and take a look at some basic things you have to do.

This goes way beyond translating words.

1. Let people know that you are able to translate their words (marketing)

How are they going to send you their material for translation if they don’t know you exist? Create online profiles, approach agencies and direct clients and tell people about your service.

2. Provide potential and existing clients with offers (sales)

When someone decides that you might be the right person for their translation job, you need to negotiate price and deadline. Answer the phone, reply to emails, start a chat and follow up.

3. Translate (production)

Set up a project and handle translation memories and termbases. Deliver the translation to the client and make sure they have received it.

4. Bill the client for the work and get paid (accounting)

Create and send invoices, track your numbers, do your taxes, and make sure you actually get paid by checking your accounts. Follow up if payments are late.

5. Make necessary changes to deliveries (support)

In case of misunderstandings you may have to tweak your delivery a bit. You want to make sure that your clients are happy.

6. Improve your relationships with existing clients (sales)

You can connect on social media, and maybe also talk about other things that translation work in order to build a stronger relationship and trust. If people trust you they are more likely to buy from you again.

That’s the basic recipe for making money as a freelance translator right there. Remember to add a nice thick layer of training covering the whole thing.

What improvements have you made that have boosted you income?

How to Enable Google Translate in OmegaT

Machine translation can be helpful during translation work, but how do you enable it in OmegaT? Of course you shouldn’t use it, if your clients have a policy against it, but that is most likely only a problem, if you’re translating confidential information.

I run OmegaT on Linux, and I start OmegaT from the terminal. In order to enable Google Translate I have to run the program with a special option like this:

java -jar -Dgoogle.api.key=*************************************** OmegaT.jar

OmegaT is a Java program, which is great because it will then run on many different platforms. The special option which is used to enable Google Translate is:

Dgoogle.api.key=

I’m using my own key which I got from Google (39 characters). They use it for billing each month, based on the amount of characters I have used, but it’s a very affordable service.

Replace the asterisks in the above command line with your own key to enable Google Translate in OmegaT. Also, make sure that Google Translate is selected in the OmegaT / Options / Machine Translate.

Do you have any CAT tool tips that you want to share?

10 Reasons Why I Love Working as a Freelance Translator

What you focus on grows, right? So let’s remember why it’s so great to be a freelance translator after all.

Of course there are ups and downs like with every other type of work or business, but why is it an attractive path to be on or seek out? Here’s my perspective:

1. I can listen to music all day long while I work

Although translation work is seldom related to music, it can still be a big part of my life. This is something that freelance translators have in common with a lot of other people, like painters, carpenters, drivers, gardeners, etc.

I work from home in my own office, so I just crank it up whenever I feel like.

2. I sell words, not hours

This gives me a large degree of freedom, because I don’t necessarily have to stay in the same place until the clock says it’s okay to leave. As long as I meet my quota for the day, I can take breaks at strategically important points in order to increase my overall productivity significantly.

Sometimes it’s just cheaper to do something right now, instead of postponing it until later. Perhaps you forget, or perhaps an opportunity is lost.

3. I have more up-time during a year

If I’m starting to feel ill I can catch it before it develops, because I am able to rest when it’s really important. It’s amazing how much good an hour of sleep will do at just the right time.

You might be able to pull through eight hours when you feeling ill, but it could very well cost you forty. Compare that to sleeping one hour and work fifty afterwards.

4. I’m building someone else’s business but I’m also building my own

Although I don’t own what I produce, I can’t really do the work without building my own business. I need to get my own tools, I build my own memory and termbases and my list of contacts grows constantly.

This is very motivating, which again helps fuel the growth of my business.

5. I can work instead of travel to work

I normally have a couple of hours extra per day, where I can work, because I work from home. A laptop with CAT tools lets you work wherever there is an internet connection, so you’re not even limited to staying at home in order to work.

6. My income is robust

I have many clients who receive my work. I can’t get fired by one person and loose all of my income.

If one client won’t buy anymore words from me, I can serve somebody else. This is a much more real form of stability.

7. I can choose how close I want to be to the consumers of my work

Do I want to be the only one separating a man and his newfound love overseas, due to the language barrier, and let the feelings roll? Or do I want an agency to just hit me with everything they got, until I just haven’t got any time left to spend all the money I make in the process?

It’s all about freedom.

8. My income is highly scalable

What’s more important? Translating, or learning a new skill?

The more I translate, the more money I’ll earn, to be able to pay someone with the right skills to do something for me. If I want to learn how to do it myself, I can take time off, earn less, but keep what I have made myself.

This goes all the way up, and all the way down.

9. I open up a completely new world to people who don’t know my source language

This is how I got into translation, and it’s probably how I’ll exit. When you put aside all the focus on money, this is really what it all boils down to.

Helping people, letting them in.

10. It doesn’t matter if the rain is pouring down or the snow has blocked the front door

I’ll just keep translating, one segment at a time, until the sun shines again and the snow has melted.