Pathway through the social networking jungle

Signpost in blue sky with clouds“Don’t judge a book by its cover”. The social networking virtual world is a true jungle and the wide range of offerings available can be overwhelming: as a translator, which networks should I use? Which ones are useless? What do I need? What can I realistically expect from each network and which networks can help me reach my objectives and/or respond to my needs? Many colleagues have decided – arbitrarily I shall add – that social networking and social marketing are “a waste of time”, “useless and stupid”, “for desperate amateurs” and the like. Is that really so?

This webinar version of my presentation at the ITI conference 2013 and the ProZ.com Porto International Conference has two objectives: hopefully break some prejudices by showing that nothing is black or white, and provide a neutral yet hopefully thought-provocative overview of the main social sites, which ones don’t make sense for our profession, which ones do make sense and are useful , what can be realistically expected and achieved with them.

The aim is to provide students with concrete and translation profession-oriented information. For both industry newcomers as well as seasoned translators – any translator wondering about social networking, considering doing it but not sure how or already doing it.

Date: July 23rd.
Complete info and registration: click here

Individual LinkedIn profile reviews for translators

385960_265050020213274_264923873559222_829098_1029931420_nIt has been on my mind for a while, finally it is there: using the Alexandria platform to offer individual LinkedIn profile sessions for translators.

A very powerful and efficient way of promoting your services to the world, your LinkedIn profile should be a true shop-window of who you are, the services you provide, your expertise and your skills. With the new LinkedIn profile rolling out, many things have changed!

If you’re interested in a tailored, interactive and private review and help with your translator LinkedIn profile, this is a good opportunity – it will take place on April 16th.

There are 5 slots of 30 minutes each available throughout the day in the virtual classroom. Registration is limited to one person per slot, so there are only 5 seats available. If the concept works and if there is further demand, such an afternoon may be organized on a regular basis again.

Make sure you have a microphone – it will be very interactive!

Complete information and registration here

I’m looking forward to help you boost your LinkedIn profile! ;)

7 myths in using Facebook for business (and in general)

amis-facebookRandom thoughts… 7 myths or mistakes you may be doing, without knowing it, on Facebook.

Myth 1: no, it is not possible to know who has seen your Facebook profile, so pleeeaaaaaase stop installing apps that claim the contrary and that post status updates to your profile calling your friends to install it. Really, please, stop.

Myth 2: no, sharing your tweets on your Facebook Profile/Page is not such a great idea. It is counterproductive and extremely annoying for anyone following you on Facebook. And for those following you on both: even worse. Facebook has a very different netiquette from Twitter. You don’t tweet on Facebook. You tweet on Twitter Same goes for “RTing” people on Facebook, by the way: huh?

Myth 3:  no, the copyright and privacy disclaimer that you have to post as a status to prevent FB from using your data is not for real. It’s a hoax, and it’s been ciruclating for months. Please, please, stop sharing it. (“In response to the new Facebook guidelines I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, comics, paintings, professional photos and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berner Convention). For commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!(Anyone reading this can copy this text and paste it on their Facebook Wall. This will place them under protection of copyright laws. By the present communique, I notify Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, disseminate, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and/or its contents. The aforementioned prohibited actions also apply to employees, students, agents and/or any staff under Facebook’s direction or control. The content of this profile is private and confidential information. The violation of my privacy is punished by law (UCC 1 1-308-308 1-103 and the Rome Statute).Facebook is now an open capital entity. All members are recommended to publish a notice like this, or if you prefer, you may copy and paste this version. If you do not publish a statement at least once, you will be tacitly allowing the use of elements such as your photos as well as the information contained in your profile status updates.”)

Myth 4: no, your professional contacts don’t care about your workout stats, so pleeeaaaase stop sharing the runtastic report of your latest run (or any other sport tracking app, for that matter) with said business contacts (your personal contacts are a complete other matter –  you do what you want, personal stuff is personal stuff. But there is personal stuff your business contacts really don’t need to see/read. No? )

Myth 5: no, the status update asking your Friends to hover over your name and change their settings so that friends of friends of friends don’t see what you like or post is a fake too. This is a hoax that has been circulating since May 2011. (“To all my FB friends, may I request you to please do something for me: I want to stay PRIVATELY connected with you. However, with the recent changes in FB, the public can now see activities in any wall. This happens when our friend hits “like” or “comment”, automatically, their friends would see our posts too. Unfortunately, we cannot change this setting by ourselves because Facebook has configured it this way. So I need your help. Only you can do this for me. PLEASE place your mouse over my name above (do not click), a window will appear, now move the mouse on “FRIENDS” (also without clicking), then down to “Settings”, click here and a list will appear. REMOVE the CHECK on “COMMENTS & LIKE” by clicking on it. By doing this, my activity amongst my friends and my family will no longer become public. Many thanks! Paste this on your wall so your contacts would follow suit too, that is, if you care about your privacy.”) – and similar ones, there are some variants of it.

Myth 6: no, Facebook will not become a paying service anytime soon, so please stop sharing hoaxes pretending otherwise…

And if you don’t believe me, see Facebook’s FAQ – Common Myths about Facebook.

Myth 7: no, your phone number is not accessible to anyone on Facebook. Unless you entered it yourself and made it public. So, the status update claiming “ALL THE PHONE NUMBERS IN YOUR PHONE… INCLUDING YOURS are now on FACEBOOK! go to the top right of the screen, click on ACCOUNT, click on EDIT FRIENDS, left side of screen and click CONTACTS. you will see all phone numbers from your phone are published that you have stored in your mobile phone. TO REMOVE, go to RIGHT column, click on “this page.” please repost this on your status, so your friends can remove their numbers and thus prevent abuse if they do not want them published.” is just a big hoax… and an old one, from 2010 or so.

There are many more! Which ones come to your mind?

Medical/Pharmaceutical Translations 2012-2013 Trends

Weather Vane with Dollar SignBack in January 2012, I made the following forecasts for 2012 compared with 2011.

  • A higher volume of work
  • An increase in rate levels for qualified translators
  • The social networks growing in significance
  • The specialised ‘tools of the trade’ are required as ever, but the definition of exchange formats and workflows needs to be driven ahead
  • Machine translation has yet to fulfil its promises
  • Translation associations should be looking at extending their range of educational and CPD facilities
  • Representing the interests of the translation profession must be reinforced

The original article is here (only available in German)

Now that the year 2012 has come to an end (and the world has survived – contrary to expectations in some quarters), it is worth considering to what extent these predictions have changed and whether indeed new and interesting trends have developed.

Volume of Work/Rate Levels

Here, we would benefit from data that are more topical and reliable. The first two statements for the medical/pharmaceutical sector are still applicable in my opinion; albeit based upon data from a small group of LSPs with which I maintain close contact in that respect. Nevertheless, I increasingly note suggestions in various blogs and forums that could lead one to conclude that the market should be substantially more dynamic than it is from my vantage point. I would like to see more information about the scope of orders and rates, since information like this could help us to identify seasonal and absolute trends. Using such data, it would be possible to react and the data would lessen the partly hysterical cries about sinking rates which – in my opinion – are certainly to the detriment of our profession.

Social Networks/Internet Culture

The social and professional network tools (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and Google+) are becoming ever more important and the previous translation platforms (Proz.com, Translatorscafe etc.) are suffering from increasingly less importance. This can be seen variously in the increasing number of translation groups e.g. on Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, where more and more business is transacted and also in the range of CPD facilities being made available via these groups.  Professional associations such as the German BDÜ took their time to set foot onto the social networks but in the meantime, they have understood the significance and are presenting themselves professionally on these platforms.

Unfortunately this development does not just have positive aspects. As a freelancer, it is impossible to follow all groups within which interesting projects are posted and also as an LSP, it is becoming ever more difficult to find specialists for specific projects on the various platforms.

For this reason it will be necessary to develop aggregators that bundle the various offers. On Twitter, we have made a first step towards combining job offers from various sources by means of our @Translate_Jobs account. We also offer similar services to embrace news from the translation profession with @Translate_News, interesting blogs and events in the profession with @Translate_Blogs and @TranslateEvents.

These solutions are, however, limited by the facilities that Twitter offers, which is one of the reasons why we launched our Alexandria platform to cover the area of CPD opportunities.

Specialised Tools/Interoperability/Crowd and Cloud Services

In the field of interoperability, good things are happening as the two top dogs MemoQ and Trados benefit from ever more functions to improve interoperability between the individual programs. Here it only seems natural that recent weeks have seen massive criticism of the hermetically-sealed protected design of the across program. I am somewhat more cautious in this respect, since I thoroughly recognize the necessity for closed workflows and would prefer an appropriately optional functionality from other vendors. At the same time, I would naturally appreciate it should across deign to open up.

What I cannot, however, understand is how one can work as a translator with the cloud services that are springing up like mushrooms. This is a TM solution that can only bring disadvantages to the translator with a lack of their own TM, no traceability of tasks performed etc. etc.

Machine Translation

I would appreciate having a functional system, but unfortunately have yet to find one. There is nothing more to be said, other than the fact that I will keep my eyes open. What I find interesting are two aspects:

a) We translators are told more and more that there is a an enormous and ever-growing market for bad ( i.e. machine) translations. Well, that is fine for those who are happy to read dross, of which there is an appalling abundance on the Internet. The main problem as I see it is that the time will come when readers actually believe these to be bona fide translations.

b) At the same time, I hear that trained MT systems within limited domains and certain language pairs can produce results that are supposed to be better than those produced by human translators. But the decisive point is that so far, nobody has been capable of showing me such a system or its results. Last year, several MT vendors explained to me just how remarkable their systems were, but when push came to shove, I saw nothing convincing other than impressive statistics that were of no consequence whatsoever.

Now that I have set up Trados Studio with TMs including several millions of words and autosuggest dictionaries of up to 1 GB in size, I can reach a level of productivity where I can indeed ask myself to what extent I need MT for our language pairs and specialized areas.

Education and Continued Training

Here, there is something afoot. Germany’s BDÜ and DVÜD, as well as other providers, have significantly increased the range of their online CPD facilities. In fact at first glance, it might seem to be superfluous that we are entering the market with our own offering (http://alexandria-library.com). However, with the Alexandria Project, we do indeed have several objectives in mind. With it, we would like to create a central platform (by means of collaboration with as many vendors as possible e.g. Diléal and Localize.pl), upon which we can offer continued training and resources for new entrants to the profession and specialists within the various languages. In addition to that, we would like to offer specialists a platform that enables them to present themselves in order to improve their reputation in the profession and with future clients. Thirdly, we want to start using this platform as soon as possible to draw the attention of potential customers to the necessity of qualitatively acceptable translation, whilst attempting to educate them about how they can identify suitable language service providers, or rather what they themselves can contribute in order to achieve optimal results. In that department, we still ‘have the builders in’ but we shall soon be expanding what we have on offer. Feedback and suggestions will be very welcome indeed because Alexandria is – after all – intended to provide an interesting service to as many translators and customers as possible.

The Interests of the Translation Profession

So far, I was disappointed to observe that translation associations carry out too little to promote the profession externally in a way that generates interest. Translators and translation associations seem to be too occupied with themselves (i.e. with translation per se) and enter much too little into contact with possible customers, whose lack of information about translation, quality, processes and rates tends to lead them down into the depths frequented by the so-called ‘bottom feeders’. It would be laudable to see several national associations deciding upon closer cooperation with each other and being outwardly active in terms of customer education and representing the profession. A common European job portal of translation associations could help in this respect. Here, customers looking for translation service providers would at least have the reassurance that the translators fulfil certain minimal criteria of professionalism. This would draw attention away from the Internet platforms such as Proz and TC, where all the cut price vendors who often provide bad quality lurk, since customers seeking quality would finally have a qualitatively more valuable service at their disposal.

Conclusions

I am not sure to what extent much changed in the profession during 2012, but I see a careful trend for translators taking on more responsibility for their own fate and success and emancipating themselves from the clutches of major organisations and company groups. In 2013, this positive development can lead to a wider movement coming together that brings us forward as a profession. I will be delighted if we can make our contribution to that with Alexandria and Trikonf 2013.

Medizinische/pharmazeutische Übersetzungen: Trends 2012-2013

Weather Vane with Dollar SignIm Januar 2012 hatte ich für das Jahr 2011/2012 folgende Aussagen gemacht:

  • Zunehmendes Auftragsvolumen
  • Steigendes Preisniveau für qualifizierte Übersetzungen
  • Soziale Netzwerke gewinnen an Bedeutung
  • Technisierung hilft, aber Definition von Austauschformaten und Workflows muss weiter vorangetrieben werden
  • Die maschinelle Übersetzung hat ihre Versprechungen bisher nicht erfüllt
  • Übersetzerverbände sind gefordert, das Aus- und Weiterbildungsangebot auszubauen
  • Die Interessenvertretung der Übersetzungsbranche muss gestärkt werden

Den kompletten Artikel finden Sie hier.

Nachdem das Jahr 2012 jetzt vorüber ist und die Welt nicht untergegangen ist, macht es Sinn, sich anzuschauen, ob sich bezüglich dieser Aussagen etwas geändert hat, bzw. ob sich neue interessante Trends entwickelt haben.

Auftragsvolumen/Preisniveau – wir könnten zeitnah verlässlichere Daten brauchen

Die ersten zwei Aussagen für den medizinisch/pharmazeutischen Sektor sind meiner Meinung nach immer noch gültig, allerdings basieren sie nur auf Daten einer sehr kleinen Gruppe von LSPs, mit denen ich diesbezüglich im engeren Austausch bin. Allerdings nehme ich in verschiedenen Blogs und Foren zunehmend Stimmen war, die möglicherweise darauf schließen lassen, dass der Markt wesentlich dynamischer sein könnte, wie ich es von meiner Warte aus beurteilen kann. Ich würde mir mehr Informationen über Auftragsvolumina und Preise wünschen. Diese Informationen könnten uns helfen, saisonale und absolute Trends zu identifizieren. Anhand dieser Daten könnte man reagieren und die Daten könnten vielleicht auch dieses, teilweise hysterische Ausmaße annehmende, Hintergrundrauschen über sinkende Preise, das meiner Meinung nach der Industrie schadet, beruhigen.

Soziale Netzwerke/Internetkultur

Die sozialen und professionellen Netzwerk-Tools (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing und Google+) werden immer wichtiger und die bisherigen Übersetzerplattformen (Proz.com, Translatorscafe etc.) verlieren zunehmend an Bedeutung. Dies zeigt sich unter anderem an der steigenden Zahl von Übersetzergruppen z. B. in Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing, über die zunehmend Übersetzungsaufträge vergeben werden, aber auch im Angebot an Weiterbildungsmaßnahmen, die über diese Gruppen angeboten werden. Die Fachverbände wie z. B. der BDÜ sind zwar erst spät in die sozialen Netzwerke eingestiegen, haben aber inzwischen ihre Bedeutung erkannt und präsentieren sich professionell auf diesen Plattformen.

Leider hat diese Entwicklung nicht nur positive Aspekte. Als Freelancer kann man unmöglich alle Gruppen verfolgen, in denen interessante Aufträge angeboten werden, und auch als LSP wird es schwieriger, auf den verschiedenen Plattformen den Spezialisten für einen bestimmten Auftrag zu finden.

Es wird daher nötig werden, Aggregatoren zu entwickeln, die die unterschiedlichen Angebote gebündelt zur Verfügung stellen. Auf Twitter haben wir mit unserem @Translate_Jobs Konto einen ersten Schritt getan, um Jobangebote aus verschiedenen Quellen zusammenzuführen. Ähnliche Angebote bieten wir für Nachrichten aus der Übersetzungsindustrie mit @Translate_News, Interessante Blogs und Ereignisse aus der Übersetzungsindustrie auf @Translate_Blogs und @TranslateEvents.

Diese Lösungen sind leider durch die Möglichkeiten, die Twitter bietet, eingeschränkt, was einer der Gründe ist, weshalb wir für den Bereich Fortbildungsmöglichkeiten unsere Alexandria-Plattform (http://alexandria-library.com) ins Leben gerufen haben.

Technisierung/Interoperabilität/Crowd and Cloud Services

Im Bereich Interoperabilität tut sich Erfreuliches; die beiden Platzhirsche Trados und MemoQ bekommen immer mehr Funktionen, die die Interoperabilität zwischen den einzelnen Programmen verbessern. Da scheint es nur natürlich, dass in der Industrie in den letzten Wochen massiv Kritik an dem abgeschotteten Design von across geäußert wurde. Ich bin da etwas vorsichtiger, da ich durchaus die Notwendigkeit für geschlossene Workflows erkenne und mir eine entsprechende optionale Funktionalität auch bei den anderen Anbietern wünschen würde. Gleichzeitig würde ich mir natürlich auch wünschen, dass sich across öffnet.

Was ich allerdings nicht verstehen kann, ist, wie man als Übersetzer mit den wie Pilze aus dem Boden schießenden Cloud-Services arbeiten kann. Das ist eine TM-Lösung, die dem Übersetzer bisher fast nur Nachteile bringt. Kein eigenes TM, keine Nachverfolgbarkeit der eigenen Arbeit usw. usw.

Maschinelle Übersetzung

Ich hätte gerne ein funktionierendes System. Leider habe ich noch keines gefunden. Mehr ist dazu eigentlich nicht zu sagen. Aber ich bleibe dran. Interessant finde ich zwei Aspekte:

a) Es wird uns Übersetzern immer häufiger erzählt, dass es einen riesigen, ständig wachsenden Markt für schlechte (d. h. Maschinenübersetzungen) gibt. Das ist ja schön für diejenigen, die den Schrott lesen möchten. Beispiele dafür findet man im Internet zur Genüge. Das einzige Problem, das ich dabei sehe, ist, dass die Leser irgendwann tatsächlich anfangen zu glauben, dass das Übersetzungen sind.

b) Ebenso häufig höre ich, dass gut trainierte MT-Systeme inzwischen in begrenzten Domains und bestimmten Sprachpaaren Ergebnisse produzieren, die besser als die von menschlichen Übersetzern sein sollen. Hier ist der spannende Punkt, dass bisher niemand in der Lage war, mir ein derartiges System oder das nachweisbare Ergebnis eines solchen Systems zu zeigen. Im letzten Jahr habe ich mir von einigen MT-Herstellern erklären lassen, wie gut ihre Systeme sind, aber wenn es ans Eingemachte ging, gab es außer irgendwelchen beeindruckenden hohen Scores ohne Aussagewert nichts wirklich Bemerkenswertes.

Nachdem ich Trados Studio mit TMs mit mehreren Millionen Worten und Autosuggest-Dictionaries von bis zu 1 GB Größe aufgerüstet habe, erreiche ich eine Produktivität, bei der ich mich frage, ob ich MT für unsere Sprachpaare und Fachgebiete überhaupt brauche.

Aus- und Weiterbildungsangebot

Es tut sich was. Der BDÜ, der DVÜD und auch andere Anbieter haben das Angebot an online Fortbildungsangeboten deutlich ausgebaut. Da mag es überflüssig erscheinen, dass wir mit einem eigenen Angebot (http://alexandria-library.com) auf den Markt kommen. Mit dem Alexandria Projekt verfolgen wir allerdings mehrere Ziele. Wir möchten damit z. B. eine zentrale Plattform (durch Kollaborationen mit möglichst vielen anderen Anbietern, z. B. Localize.pl aus Polen und Diléal aus Frankreich) schaffen, auf der wir Weiterbildungsangebote und Ressourcen für Berufsanfänger und Spezialisten in den unterschiedlichen Sprachen anbieten. Zusätzlich möchten wir Spezialisten eine Plattform bieten, die es ihnen ermöglicht, sich zu präsentieren, um ihre Reputation in der Industrie und bei zukünftigen Kunden zu verbessern. Und drittens möchten wir so schnell wie möglich damit beginnen, mit dieser Plattform potentielle Kunden auf die Notwendigkeit qualitativ hochwertiger Übersetzungen aufmerksam zu machen, und sie zu schulen, wie sie geeignete Sprachdienstleister identifizieren können, bzw. was sie dazu beitragen können, um optimale Ergebnisse zu erhalten. Noch befinden wir uns in einer frühen Phase, aber wir werden das Angebot schnell erweitern. Über Rückmeldungen und Anregungen würden wir uns freuen, denn schließlich soll Alexandria möglichst vielen Übersetzern und Kunden ein interessantes Angebot bieten.

Interessenvertretung der Übersetzungsbranche

Bisher stelle ich mit Bedauern fest, dass die Übersetzungsverbände viel zu wenig (öffentlichkeitswirksam) unternehmen, um die Industrie nach außen zu repräsentieren. Übersetzer und Übersetzerverbände scheinen mir bisher zu sehr mit sich selbst (d. h. mit Übersetzern) beschäftigt zu sein und gehen viel zu wenig auf mögliche Kunden zu, bei denen der Mangel an Informationen über Übersetzungsqualität, Abläufe und Preise dazu führt, dass sich die Pest der Billigheimer weiter ausbreitet. Es wäre schön zu sehen, wenn sich einige nationale Verbände zu mehr Zusammenarbeit entschließen könnten, und im Bereich Kundenschulung und Repräsentanz nach außen aktiv werden würden. Auch ein gemeinsames europäisches Jobportal der Übersetzungsverbände könnte helfen. Hier hätten Kunden, die nach Sprachdienstleistern suchen, zumindest die Gewissheit, dass die Übersetzer bestimmte Mindestkriterien an Professionalität erfüllen. Den Internetplattformen wie Proz und TC, bei denen sich die ganzen Billiganbieter tummeln, die oft nur schlechte Qualität liefern, würde dadurch das Wasser abgegraben werden, da Kunden auf der Suche nach Qualität endlich ein qualitativ höherwertiges Angebot zur Verfügung hätten.

Schlussfolgerungen

Ich bin mir nicht schlüssig, ob sich 2012 in der Industrie wirklich viel geändert hat, aber ich sehe einen vorsichtigen Trend, dass die Übersetzer langsam mehr Verantwortung für ihr eigenes Schicksal/ihren Erfolg übernehmen und sich aus den Fängen der großen Organisationen/Unternehmen emanzipieren. Diese positive Entwicklung kann 2013 dazu führen, dass sich eine breitere Bewegung organisiert, die uns als Industrie weiter bringt. Es würde mich freuen, wenn wir mit Alexandria und der Trikonf 2013 unseren Beitrag dazu leisten könnten.

Social Media Marketing for translators: a must or a should? – replay now available

SocialMediaThe video replay of my last webinar “Social Media marketing 2012 for translators – a must or a should?” conducted with ProZ.com is now available!
If you attended the live webinar, you have free unlimited access. If you did not attend, you can purchase access to the video.
Click here to view the on-demand replay page. Note that you need to have a ProZ.com account (member or non-member) to access the video.

Some feedback from attendees:

“Excellent webinar, highly recommendable”Carolyn Gelsomino

“The webinar was really interesting and helpful.” -Jana Novomeska


View a list of all past and future webinars and training sessions from the GxP team (with links to replays when available) here.

Social SEO basics for freelance translators: replay now available

The video replay of my webinar “Social SEO basics for translators” is now available online!
If you attended the live webinar, you have free unlimited access. If you did not attend, you can purchase access to the video.
Click here to view the on-demand replay page. Note that you need to have a ProZ.com account (member or non-member) to access the contents.

Some feedback from attendees:

“It was very interesting. Anne explained to us how important it is to know more about keywords, traffic, activity, and backlinks. SEO is a very powerful instrument of marketing – if you know how to use it… Fascinating and full of hands-on advice.”Dr. Tilmann Kleinau

“Excellent webinar, highly recommendable”Carolyn Gelsomino

“The webinar was really interesting and helpful.” -Jana Novomeska


View a list of all past and future webinars and training sessions from the GxP team (with links to replays when available) here.

Internet Marketing for Translators: Websites, blogs, profiles

An absolute basic in Internet Marketing is having a website, a blog or at least a public page on the Web used as a shop window of your services and a place you can refer all of your visitors to (a ProZ.com profile, for example). Of course this is not an absolute must, but it’s somewhat trickier if you don’t have one.

  • WEBSITE

A good website starts with a user-friendly, easy-to-navigate interface. Potential clients ending up on your website should quickly and easily be able to find all the basic information they need about you as a translator, your language pairs, services, areas of specialization, etc. The goal is for them to find all this information in less than 30 seconds and to want to know more, so that they stay on your website and visit its other pages to find out more. You must help them do so with a clean and logical structure to navigate this other information. The site shouldn’t be too loaded down  – even though connections are much faster nowadays, the global average remains slower, so do not include too many heavy images and plug-ins – your site should load quickly. Also, mind your writing – go easy on the colors and avoid WRITING IN CAPITAL LETTERS…

A frequently heard question is whether you should localize your website. Easy answer: yes, I personally think you should, in all your working languages because 1) it’s just perfect for your SEO, 2) it is also an elegant way of showing off your language skills and 3) it might help you get clients from your source language countries.

Keep it up-to-date – regularly doing so helps your Google ranking and makes a much better impression than a website that has obviously been “left to rot” for the past four years. This particularly applies to links – make sure they all work, maintain them, and update them.

Further reads and links on website optimization:
Top 10 Tips to a Great Web Page
10 tips – how to build a good website – Cordis
10 Most Important Web Design Tips
30 Tips for a Good Website
Beginner Tip: 5 Steps To A Great Home Page
What Is on Your Business Website That Shouldn’t Be?

Last but not least, ideally seek the help and guidance of a professional to (re)create your website. I can highly recommend the services of Websites for Translators.

  • PROFESSIONAL ONLINE PROFILES

The good news is that there are plenty of business networking platforms on the Web where your profiles can stand out, show a complete overview of your services and therefore play the role of a website.

ProZ.com

I know a lot of freelance translators who use their ProZ.com profile as their website. And why not? It’s public, so no need to log in to see the profile (like on Viadeo or Xing), it has a very high Google ranking and it is actually meant and designed for translators and for our industry. A well-done and full ProZ.com profile can be a great complete shop-window online, so go for it.

Some resources on profile completion and optimization:
Getting the most out of your ProZ.com profile
Profile completion 2.0
ProZ.com profile: Creating a standout “About me”

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is THE global business network. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is. Sure, it may not be designed specifically for our industry but it offers tools and possibilities that we can use just as well as any other industry – tools and possibilities that really are very powerful. LinkedIn not only has an excellent Google ranking, it also gives us the chance to reach out to other professionals, within the translation world (not everybody is on ProZ.com or TranslatorsCafé) but also outside of it. Through LinkedIn you really can meet potential clients (including end-clients), and network with people who may need your services and who may partner with you. LinkedIn Groups are an extremely practical and powerful networking tool, as are Questions/Answers and similar features. Your LinkedIn profile has great shop-window potential if it is complete and optimized.

Some resources:
6 Steps to a More Marketable LinkedIn Profile
LinkedIn Profile Tips: The 10 Mistakes You Want to Avoid and Why

Check out this upcoming webinar (Oct 24th): “Build yourself an optimized LinkedIn profile” (hurry, seats are selling fast)

Xing 

People ask a lot about Xing during workshops and webinars. To be honest, Xing is useless unless you’re doing business with German clients since they still widely use this network. However, recent LinkedIn stats showed that it was slowly gaining a lot of German users, so my guess is that Xing will slowly decay. It still remains a solid platform however, and having an additional profile there as “just another static page”; presenting your services never hurts and is good for your SEO. Simply make sure the profile is accurate, up-to-date and SEO-friendly but I would not invest time and money in it anymore.

Viadeo

Viadeo is even more useless, unless you do business with France. For some reason I can’t quite understand, French people registered there en masse;  like Xing contains mostly German users, Viadeo contains mostly French people. The problem is that nobody else visits this platfrom (I know, I’m simplifying) and Viadeo profiles cannot be seen unless you’re a registered user (which is extremely annoying when you’re Googling someone and the only online business profile available is their Viadeo profile). As is also the case with Xing, it does not hurt to have that additional result showing up in a Google search (Viadeo has a good Google ranking) so why not take one hour to create another static page briefly summarizing your services and offerings? However, do not spend too much time on it either. Remember that even static profiles have to be updated as needed.

Facebook

Facebook is a tricky case. You don’t have to use it as a marketing tool – it is meant to connect with your personal contacts (family and friends). However,Facebook marketing has proved how useful and powerful it could be, particularly for B2C businesses. This is not our case in the translation industry but still, there are agencies using their profiles or pages to post jobs or call for translators, colleagues sharing job posts, etc. You need to make a decision: do you want to use Facebook for marketing or keep it for private use only? If you decide to use Facebook for personal purposes only, make sure your profile and all its content are private and not available for the whole Web to see. However, if you’re considering Facebook marketing, the first question you should ask yourself is: page or profile? My take is that Profiles are the ideal solution for freelance translators. It allows you to “Friend” agency profiles, it suits you better than a page and – very important – it does not require the same amount of time to maintain as a page. A page needs to be alive, to be regularly updated, to post content in a consistent manner. It is a lot of work.

So, Facebook marketing with a profile: either you use your existing personal profile and use Friends Lists to make sure business contacts you are friends with only see what you want them to see, or you simply create a second profile for professional purposes only and therefore maintain a clean separation between your personal and business lives (this one can be public and indexed by Google).

Twitter

Your Twitter profile is a particular case in this context: you don’t want it to be the page you refer all your visitors to. There’s simply too little space and flexibility there to make it a true shop-window of you, your skills, services, expertise, etc.

Google+

A Google+ profile/page could be an interesting shop-window strategy because of the Google ranking; however, I do not recommend making it the page you refer visitors to – there is not enough there to make it a true and good shop-window. As an additional place from which to refer people to your main page/profile/blog/website however, it is a great tool.

  • BLOG

Many of you often ask: “Is a blog a must?” No, it isn’t. The truth is, it’s better not to have a blog than to have one you don’t have time to maintain – not having a blog does not impact your online presence negatively, but having a dead one that’s been abandoned for 11 months after only three posts does. That being said, a blog remains a very intelligent strategic move in an Internet marketing strategy. You don’t need to post everyday – you just need to be consistent. This means that if you decide to write a new article every month, that’s great, but if you say it, stick to it – people who follow your blog should know they can expect news from you once a month (at the beginning or end of the month).

Once you’ve made the decision to start a blog and have defined a posting schedule, the big issue now is content. On an almost daily basis, translators ask me “what should I write about?”. I can’t answer this question for you, but I can give you some general tips on directions to take.

You first need to define/decide what your goal is with a blog – here are just a few examples:

- sharing and expressing your views and opinions on industry politics/developments?

- offering reviews of new tools (those related to the industry as well as those not directly related) – CAT tools, MT solutions, TM tools, etc.?

- showing your expertise in a given field/topic as part of your marketing strategy (e.g. you are a legal translator so your blog will primarily deal with legal matters)

The good news is that you can elect to apply more than just one of the above; you do not need to limit yourself to just one direction.

Your blog may be used as a website if the platform used is flexible and scalable enough to allow for clean and clear structure and different pages (like WordPress). By all means, a blog is definitely one of the greatest and most powerful Internet marketing tools.

How (not) to contact a translation company (Part 2)

This is the sequel to How (not) to contact an agency.

We keep receiving this email (see below) from the same translator, on average twice a week – and this has been going on since June. This is a good example of what has been outlined in the previous article, so let’s have a closer at that email.

First red flag – and a big one – is the fact that this exact same email continues to be sent weekly, sometimes two or three times a day. This is my definition of spamming, yet there is no way to unsubscribe and my numerous replies begging the sender to stop were never responded to. At first I thought it was a bot, or even a scam (though I fail to see the point of such a scam) but funnily enough, the emails stopped during the entire month of August and resumed last week, so this has to be an actual human being. I tried to Google her name and it seems she really does exist, though there were not many hits. Result? Her emails became such an annoyance that I blacklisted her – and now she goes straight into my spam folder. I stopped wasting time by asking her nicely to stop the spamming. So, while she may think she’s doing herself a favor by repeating the same message over and over again to translation companies, it has completely backfired… and she has no idea.

Then of course there’s the actual content of the email. I have obviously removed her name and her language pair to protect her privacy.

Dear Messrs.:

I was checking your website, http://gxplanguageservices.wordpress.com/about/, and I am very interested in working for you and being part of your staff as a AA in BB, BB in AA, CC in BB, BB in CC Translator.

I am attaching my curriculum vitae. As you can notice, I have a degree in Business Administration. Although I do not have a Translation degree, my command in AA is very good, and of course, my mother tongue is BB. On the other hand, my experience of 14-year track record in different businesses and industrial settings has let me work with different documents in both languages, and has let me develop the creativity, the accuracy, and the promptness.

Likewise, I have working tools such as SKYPE and MSN, and a very good laptop. If you need to contact me for further information, please do not hesitate to email me. I will be more than glad to enlighten any doubt about my persona and my professional background.

Awaiting for your kind and positive feedback.

Okay, there are a few points here I would like to highlight:

-  “Dear Messrs.:”
See my opinion and suggestions on this in the other article. It’s even more annoying when that person has been writing you for months and you have replied using your own name asking her to stop (which still makes me wonder from time to time if it is not indeed some kind of new bot).

- The second paragraph
The first two sentences are fine – she honestly and openly admits she’s no background translator and gives her actual background, which is fine – there are many excellent translators who do not have a translation degree but come from other industries. This is more than okay. However, we are a medical LSP and she fails to give me a brief summary of what her areas of specialization are – but since she has a degree in Business Administration, I guess she does not do clinical trials or SPCs. Clearly, as stated in the previous article, no research has been done to see what the company does and what kind of translators they need.

-”(…) has let me develop the creativity, the accuracy, and the promptness”
Well. This is not exactly an exceptional quality. All translators are supposed to be creative, accurate and to deliver on-time – this is nothing that makes you stand out from the competition because it’s something your clients expect from you. Right?

-”Likewise, I have working tools such as SKYPE and MSN, and a very good laptop”
Yay!

To clarify: I did not post this to make fun of her or anything like that. If this was my intention I would have left her name in the email. I have merely used this email as a representative sample of emails that PMs receive and that can really hurt your credibility as a translator, because that sample illustrates some simple principles that, in my opinion, are not adhered to – not to mention the worst part of all, which is the actual spamming.

On the other hand I am perfectly aware that there are a lot of PMs miscommunicating with translators and who do take spamming-like approaches. Being listed as a freelancer/outsourcer on ProZ.com, I receive a lot of those as well, so I’m not questioning that. My goal here is to give freelancers a few easy tips to help them improve their applications to agencies and LSPs.

Now however, here is an interesting question I don’t have an answer to: how important is the cultural factor? Is it my culture that makes me react negatively to these emails? Is this kind of email perfectly fine and normal in other cultures? Culture does play a role in business communication in general; we can all cite examples of exchanges with translators/PMs from another culture, where the codes and etiquette of communication are really different. Though this translator does come from a similar culture as mine, I don’t believe that any culture would tolerate being spammed with the same email over and over again despite numerous requests to be unsubscribed. Nonetheless, how important is the cultural aspect in this?

Lyon conference workshop – Boost your use of Twitter

Last weekend, I attended the annual ProZ.com France conference in Lyon, which was not only a great opportunity to return to the city where I studied and lived for five years, but also to see the French translation crowd again – many I hadn’t seen since the Nice conference in 2009, the Paris event in 2008 or for some, even the Aix en Provence conference in 2007! We had a great time and the atmosphere was relaxed and happy.

The event was the opportunity to give a presentation on Internet Marketing for the first time ever in French – which is quite amusing when you think about it, given that I am French. Anyway, it was also the first time that I spoke to a French audience on those topics and I was curious to learn about the relationship between social media tools and my own fellow translation country(wo)men. Although the group was very small, the presentation was extremely interactive – just the way I love it! Actually, forget I said “presentation”. It was a discussion, and a very interesting and lively one at that. It was a pity I didn’t have more time – again, I know! How time flies when you’re in good company with interesting questions and feedback.

The topics I presented were 1. Twitter (how to use it to gain visibility and boost your online reputation) and 2. Facebook – privacy issues to protect your personal life and reputation on the Web (unfortunately not enough time for that one, we had to rush through it, but we covered some main points presented in this article and in this one in very basic terms).

Here is the Twitter presentation (in French) available for download: Twitter presentation FR Lyon 2012 -

- many thanks to the attendees. I hope you enjoyed the workshop and more importantly, that it helped you in some way. That was, after all, the objective. And as promised, if you have any questions or need anything, just send me an e-mail!

Thanks again to John for once more giving us the opportunity to meet, exchange and party. I’m really looking forward to the 2013 French conference!