The 10 best Timesaving Tools for Translators
The 10 Timesaving Tools Every Translator Should Use
In the life of a busy translator, time is more valuable than money. Every task that requires 2 hours of our time for example, is taking away 2 hours of work that cannot be done. That’s why today I’m presenting you with the 10 best timesaving tools for translators.
Let’s say in an hour you can translate a 500-word document for which you charge between 30 and 50 euros/dollars. We can then give an hour a hypothetical value of 30 €/$ (we’ll stay at the low end to keep this example realistic).
How much time (and thus money) are you wasting, by doing repetitive tasks such as posting your social media content, preparing your invoices manually, troubleshooting a bug on your blog, proofreading, modifying a picture for your blog articles, and so on?
Imagine all the time you could save by using tools that automatise some of the processes you need to do on a daily basis. And when we give time a monetary value, based on the things you could do instead of the repetitive tasks, you can immediately see how much more money you would earn.
You might say that sometimes you don’t have enough work to fill every hour of the week anyway. Well in that case, the free time can be used to market your services better, research new ways to connect with your clients, do proactive client outreach, write more content and generate more inbound leads.
As you can see, the time you save can be used not only to translate, but also to become a better entrepreneurial translator, to get more work, work smarter and ultimately, make more money.
You save 2 hours a week? That means 60 €/$ that you could earn in the meantime, or invest in marketing activities.
You save 4 hours a week? That means 120 €/$.
You somehow manage to save 6 hours a week? That’s an impressive 180 €/$.
So now that we all agree on the importance of freeing up as much time as you can to invest more wisely, let’s have a look at the tools that allow you to do so.
To get an idea of where you can start saving time, you can think of all the activities you do on a regular basis, which you could automatise or outsource.
1. CAT tool – OmegaT (FREE TOOL)
OmegaT is a free Computer Aided Translation (CAT) tool for professionals.
I’ve been using it since the very beginning of my career, and it is a great tool. It is simple, requires only a few hours to learn how to use and above all, it’s free.
Remember that a CAT tool is not Machine Translation, so it won’t do the translation for you like Google Translate does. However, it will make it easier for you to translate long documents and will help you be consistent. The main benefit of a CAT tool is that as you translate, it will keep a record of the sentences you’ve already translated (in a file called Translation Memory). If, as you translate, you stumble upon bits of text that you’ve already translated in the past, it will offer you the translation you did earlier. If it finds sentences that don’t 100% match what you’ve translated but that do match 50% or 60%, it will notify you that you have a “fuzzy match”, so you can start from the translation you did in the past, and simply adapt the words or parts of the text that are different from your previous translation.
There are many more advanced CAT tools, but OmegaT is a great one to start with because it’s simple and free. If you want to learn more, this is the documentation page: http://www.omegat.org/en/documentation.php
Alternatives: SDL Trados, memoQ, Transdraft
People Per Hour (or PPH) is a UK-based company that provides a platform for freelancers to advertise their work. Thus, it’s also a website where you can buy small services from freelancers, from design to programming to proofreading, and much more (including translation).
I personally get a lot of help from here. Although the site is based in the UK, you can pay in any currency. With just a few £, € or $ you can get a lot of work done. And it’s normally the kind of work that is eating up your time.
I know some of you might think; why should I spend money if I can do it myself? It’s because you need to outsource the repetitive tasks so you can focus on tasks you can’t outsource. For example, you can’t outsource your marketing strategy. You can’t outsource the communication with clients. You can’t outsource attending a conference to meet new colleagues. So in order to free up your time and do these tasks, you should outsource as many of the tasks that do not require your direct presence as you can. You can choose from a variety of platforms now, including Fiverr.com and Upwork.com. People Per Hour (PPH) however, has the benefit of being UK based (so in terms of writing and proofreading you’ll find a lot of professionals whose mother tongue is English, which you can’t find on Fiverr.com for example). The payment is all managed by PPH, so you can be sure the freelancer that you hire will deliver the job, or PPH will give you your money back. If you want to try it out, get a 5% discount on the first service you purchase by clicking here.
3. Google Docs (FREE TOOL)
Google Docs have a huge advantage; they let you collaborate on the same documents with other people.
Basically, you write a Doc that sits on a Google server, rather than on your computer. You’ll need to be connected to the internet in order to access the document and edit it, but you can also download it to save on your computer. Then you can give your proofreader access to the Google Doc, where they can make changes which will be done on the same document. She/he therefore does not need to send it to you via email, and you avoid the problem that often arises if they use a different version of Microsoft Word, and the formatting is completely messed up.
You can use Google Docs for text documents (the equivalent of Microsoft Word), spreadsheets (the equivalent of Microsoft Excel) and presentations (the equivalent of Microsoft PowerPoint). Try it – you’ll love it. Plus, it’s free!
Alternatives: Microsoft Office
Dropbox is one of my passions. I just love it. With Dropbox you create a folder on your computer that you can share with all your devices in order to see the same content on all of them. Furthermore, no matter where in the world you are, you can simply go on Dropbox.com and you’ll be able to access exactly the same content.
Why is it amazing? First of all, it’s another free tool. They offer you 2GB of space for free, but you can also purchase a more advanced plan if you want more space.
I love it because you can safely keep all your documents in one place, and even if your computer breaks down you won’t lose the content because Dropbox saves everything in the cloud.
Photos, for example, can be safely saved there and your memories will not be at risk anymore. As can all your translations, blog posts, invoices – everything really. Once you put them on Dropbox they’ll be safe and accessible from any device.
So, why is it in my timesaving list? Because I remember how I used to work before Dropbox: using USB drives to copy the content from one device to another, sending content via email, losing months of work when the computer broke down. For me, using Dropbox saves a lot of time.
Alternatives: box.com, Google Drive, Evernote.com
Have you ever had to set an appointment with a client to discuss a project? If so, you’ll know how much time can be wasted in the back and forth via email to arrange a time slot that is suitable for both of you. With YouCanBook.me you eliminate this problem.
YouCanBook.me is a cloud-based booking service that integrates with your Google Calendar. Simply set up your account, link it with your Google Calendar, and give the link to your clients. They’ll be able to see the available slots in your calendar and only book you when you’re actually free.
You can have a free plan that only allows you to link one calendar and carries the “Powered by YouCanBook.me” branding, or you can upgrade if you want to eliminate the branding and if you need more advanced features (see the different plans here).
Alternatives: TimeTrade.com, bookafy.com
We are all aware of the importance of social media to connect with potential and existing clients, to generate buzz around our services and to position ourselves as experts in a niche market. The question is – how do you handle all your different accounts? Hootsuite is a social media management tool that allows you to schedule your content in advance, view mentions, reply, find content, collaborate with others, pull reports and much more – all from one dashboard.
There are different plans; the basic one is free and allows you to manage 3 accounts (for example, your Facebook page, your Twitter account and your Google+ or LinkedIn page).
Alternatives: Sprout.com, TweetDeck.com, Buffer.com
To save time with your invoicing there are many different pieces of software you can use. The choice really comes down to the structure you gave to your business (i.e. are you a freelancer or did you register as a company?) and the volume you normally have to handle. But remember that if you are just getting started, and you don’t want to invest money upfront, you can always build the invoice yourself by using Google public templates.
If you’re a freelancer with only a small amount of business but you still want to get a software program to help you with invoices, the tool I recommend is Simplybill.
They offer a 14-day free trial; after that you can subscribe to the paid plan (an affordable $5 per month subscription), which you can use to send up to 25 invoices per month.
If you have a high number of invoices you need to send to your clients, then Crunch is the best solution.
Crunch will even register your company for you if you’re just getting started. Be prepared that it is a bit more pricey than others, but it really covers you in all your accounting and invoicing needs, saving you a lot of time when you have to prepare your tax return at the end of the year.
Do you have a blog? Do you spend a lot of time online finding nice pictures to add to your blog posts? 123RF.com will help you find lots of good quality pictures for free, or for a very low price.
I started using this website for the free pictures at first, then I upgraded and bought some credits to buy higher quality pictures.
Just to give you an idea, you can get 40 credits for £29. The smaller version of a photo (450 x 300 px) only costs 1 credit, which means you can buy 40 photos for just 72p each.
Pretty much all the pictures you’ll find on TranslatorThoughts.com are from there.
You can also find a lot of guides here: http://blog.123rf.com/category/how_to/
Alternatives: unsplash.com, picjumbo.com
I hope you’ll find these tools interesting!